Monthly Archives: February 2016

A Super-Handy Perspective Drawing Tool!

Perspective drawing by Suzanne Forbes 2016Perspective is everything in life.

No, not emotional perspective, silly! Perspective drawing, the technique for translating three-dimensional space seen by the artist into a two-dimensional picture plane.

The Battle of San RomanoPerspective as a system for artists was mostly devised by the painter Paulo Uccello, in the late Middle Ages. He was obsessed with the vanishing point, and also birds (cute!).

You can see him working out the concept in his most famous painting, The Battle of San Romano, where the fallen spears on the ground are used as perspective lines towards the single vanishing point. But these days artists most often use a two-point or even three-point perspective to draw a scene.

Last week I gave my students a horrible unpleasant homework assignment, and a tool to help.

I had them draw an U-Bahn or S-Bahn car interior from one end, which is the worst kind of observed perspective drawing- a deep, narrow space with many rectangular objects. In order to draw something like this, you need to accurately measure the angles of the objects in the scene as they appear to you.

Measuring the angles is hard, even using the traditional tool of a long paintbrush or pencil, because your brain is fighting you.

Your brain says, but I know that seat is really horizontal, it only appears to be angling away from me at 45 degrees. Your brain pushes the angle down, tries to make you draw it too shallow. I thought there had to be a way to fight this tendency of the brain to convert the visual information observed by the eye back into what it knows the space to be. So I made a little tool!

You can make this tool too, in about three minutes. All you need is the clear plastic lid of a takeout food container, a Sharpie, and a round dish.

Perspective tool by Suzanne Forbes 2016Cut off the edges of the lid so it’s a flat plane, and trace the circle of the bowl (or any other round thing about 9cm/4″ across) onto it using your Sharpie.

Then draw a clock face on it. Include the numbers! Take your plastic pane and use the hour hand of the clock face to measure the angles of the space you’re drawing, and say to yourself, 3pm, or 8pm, as you measure.

This will help you retain the information more accurately as you go to use it in your drawing.

In class I set up a diorama with the plastic kitchen organizer shelves I use to display my action figures and a 6″ Spidey figure. You can set up a diorama to practise this at home with any rectangular objects on a table, before you go out into the world to practise it in a cafe or bus.

This kind of precisely observed perspective drawing is like wheatgrass for your draughtsmanship. Do a couple of these, and your next drawing will be better. I promise.

More Mermaid Madness!

Evil Mermaid by Suzanne Forbes 2016I decided to rework a mermaid sculpture because I wasn’t really satisfied with it. For one thing, her boobs were really noticeably different sizes.

Evil Mermaid 2011 Suzanne Forbes(This is her before.)  In the intervening few years, I’d learned a bit about doll-making materials and acquired soooo much mermaidy stuff. This was an opportunity to play with some of these materials and techniques.

The wonderful thing about polymer clay is that you can sculpt new clay onto a piece and rebake it, even some years later. #fixedthoseboobs.

I mean, one of mine is a little smaller than the other, it’s not like I was judging her- it just looked super awkward in her particular pose.Evil Mermaid by Suzanne Forbes 2016


And I’d learned you can sand the cured clay, which is great for super-smooth fleshly areas. So I improved the sculpt, and then I gave her some fancy swag to wear!

I also used a mixture of materials, which I talk about in this “Learning to Sculpt” post. I made the driftwood tree out of a tinfoil armature covered with epoxy clay and painted. Fork tines made the bark lines, though that was the end of that fork!

Evil Mermaid by Suzanne ForbesI used Liquid Sculpey on her fingertips and webbing to make them more unpleasantly translucent. I also varnished her to up the translucency of the “Transparent” Fimo, and I used Sakura 3D Crystal Lacquer to put a dome of clear gloss over her eyes.

As you can see her boobs look very nice now. Ten years ago I was at a miniatures show, admiring a beautiful naked fairy, when the artist who made her surprised me.

“Check out her bodacious ta-tas”, the lady in her seventies said, “I always make sure the nipples are nice and pink!”. No reason a doll can’t have a nice bosom!


Evil Mermaid by Suzanne ForbesI also made her hair ombré so she could be on trend.

In the end I am enormously pleased with her and her mean little face! Here she is in her dome prison.








Tentacle Grotto Mirror by Suzanne ForbesI STILL had mermaid stuff left over, so I made this evil tentacle grotto mirror.