Perspective is one of the more daunting fundamentals when beginners learn to draw, and many shy away from it entirely. It’s just reminiscent enough of geometry that artistic types don’t want to go near it.
As is the case with all fundamentals, once you master perspective, you can do loads of exciting things with it. It’s far more pliable than textbooks make it look.
Carter begins with a gesture drawing. For those of you who are new to the term “gesture drawing”, all it is is a loose and imprecise sketch that starts off your drawing in a way that’s full of movement and not too committed to lines that may not be placed correctly until there’s more groundwork done later.
Draw from the shoulder if possible rather than from the wrist, and the looseness should come naturally. This beginning sketch is where Carter establishes the warped perspective in his illustration style.
Now it is time to ink with a fine liner pen. I didn’t have the exact size that Carter had, so rather than starting small and moving up to a larger size for embellishments, I used my one medium-sized pen the whole time and then went over to smooth out my mistakes as well as I realistically could. Thankfully this is an informal sketch, and also watercolour hides many line mistakes.
I didn’t have the same watercolours as Carter, so I mixed my own colours to replicate what he was doing. My green was some yellow ochre and umber mixed with a more saturated green, and it did the same thing as sap green.
My grey was umber and Prussian blue together with a hint of the green mixture if my memory serves me correctly. Limited palettes are good for you!
I improvised with what yellows, greens, and blues I had at my disposal for the foliage. To deepen the green, I added more umber and blue.
I’m very pleased with my substitute for a lovely purplish-grey Carter was using; I made a mixture out of umber, Prussian blue, and a hint of a cool red.
My windowpanes and sidewalk turned out a little wonky in the end, but since the perspective is so warped in this sketch anyway, I decided not to be upset about it. Carter was having fun in his sketch, so I decided to be a little more relaxed than usual and have fun as well.
I added a little wash for the sidewalk to round things out, and now I consider my sketch finished. I learned from past mistakes not to correct areas where my paint bloomed because trying to fix it will only spread the bloom. Watercolour does unexpected things sometimes.
I have an additional note on this topic of “perspective made fun”. While it’s true that using more casual warped perspectives on sketches takes out some of the requirement for precision, using this technique does require an understanding of technically correct perspective to get right.
There is a vanishing point, and the objects warp and curve differently depending on their proximity to the horizon line.
Suppose you go straight from having no experience drawing in perspective to drawing a Carter- esque fun building. In that case, you may confuse yourself a little because Carter uses the rules of perspective, albeit creatively and loosely.
At the end of the day, perspective is just like anatomy or any other fundamental, where you have to be well-acquainted with the rules before you break them.
Once you are good at anatomy, drawing cartoon characters becomes a whole lot easier.
Once you know about light and shadow, you can paint a scene in a different type of lighting than the reference.
Once you understand colour theory, you can change a colour scheme entirely from the original reference and maintain perfect colour harmony. And, as Jeff Carter so brilliantly shows us, once you know perspective, you can make it very fun indeed.
For more of Jeff Carter’s whimsical style and delightful explanations, you can head on over to his Mini Workshop on the link right here! You will enjoy his down-to-earth manner and benefit from his knowledge.