PUTTING THINGS INTO PERSPECTIVE, WITH MARSHALL VANDRUFF

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[dropcap]T[/dropcap]his past few weeks, I decided to put my Figure Drawing book to one side, and start tackling Perspective. If I’m honest, I always thought Perspective would be one thing I’d never get my head around, but fortunately, Marshall Vandruff came to the rescue with his 12 part video series.

I had set my sights on learning Figure Drawing a few months back, this may sound naive, but I thought I’d be able to pick up a figure drawing book, study it intensely for a year or so, practising over and over again until I got to grips with it on the book alone; it didn’t pan out this way. Learning the basics of Figure Drawing is very challenging. I’ve managed to get my head around the concept of gesture drawings, the first step of figure drawing, an exercise you’ll be practising for the rest of your life, so that’s all good :)

The next phase however, applying structure on top of these free flowing gestures, has proven to be probably the hardest thing I’ve tried to learn since I started drawing. It took me a while, but I soon realised that I had to put the figure drawing to one side, and study the basics of Perspective first. It was no use trying to place these basic shapes in space, when I didn’t understand how they should actually look in space first.

I already own a Perspective book called ‘Vanishing Point – Perspective for Comics’ by Cheeseman Meyer. However, a complex topic like perspective I felt was going to be too hard to study from a book alone. I needed to watch someone doing it, explaining it in a way I could understand, so as to learn the basics.

This is where Marshall Vandruff came in. I’d remembered watching a Proko YouTube video with Marshall Vandruff, where he referenced some Perspective videos he had on his website. I sort of fell in love with Marshall’s persona, he was funny and had this way of speaking I found captivating, so I decided to invest in his video series. I will say right now, this is the best £7.50 ($12) I think anyone wanting to study Perspective could spend!

They may be dated, everything is played out on a chalkboard, but the content is timeless. You can purchase this 12 part video series on his website, at only $12 (£7.50) for approximately 7 hours of content, for me it was a no-brainer.

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I made a little video showing some moments from the videos, to give a sense of his character and how he will make learning fun :) The video is referencing my old

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In Keys to Drawing, by Bert Dodson, Bert said something that has stuck in my head ever since, and now, whenever I find myself struggling to draw something, it always into my awareness. He said, “The one simple rule to follow is, at each point of frustration or confusion, as yourself. What do I see?” This one quote has helped me so many times. I think Marshall Vandruff has a quote of similar importance that will prove to be very helpful when dealing with perspective in the future, he says

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“IF YOU’RE HAVING TROUBLE WITH SOMETHING IN PERSPECTIVE, GET IT OUT OF PERSPECTIVE. SOLVE THE PROBLEM. THEN FIND A WAY TO GET IT BACK INTO PERSPECTIVE.”
– Marshall Vandruff

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In the videos Marshell explains, with examples, how you go about getting things in and out of perspective. Before watching these videos, perspective was alien to me. In a way I was slightly afraid of it, it seemed so complex. Marshall, however, has this way of breaking it down into manageable, understandable, and dare I say it, fun, chunks where topics flow seamlessly into the next. He explains everything in such detail, yet so simply; you’ll never feel lost or confused!

If you’ve ever played the videogame Portal, watching these videos and learning perspective started to give me a similar vibe to the satisfaction you feel when you solve a tough puzzle in that game. I kept having mini aha moments as stuff suddenly clicked in my head; such a satisfying feeling! You soon realise that Perspective isn’t really that hard at all.

Everything makes sense when it’s broken down by Marshall, very simple rules underpin what at first seem like complex concepts. I honestly cannot sing Marshall Vandruff, or his video series, enough praises. If you plan to learn Perspective, these videos are a great way to get started! They’ve helped me so much.

How I studied from the videos

Below is a little guideline about how I studied from the videos, and how I intend to carry on studying Perspective in the future.

Basically, there are 12 lessons in total,
01 | Introduction
02 | Right Angles 1
03 | Right Angles 2
04 | Right Angles 3
05 | Circles and Ellipses 1
06 | Circles and Ellipses 2
07 | Circles and Ellipses 3
08 | Right Angles and Circles combined
09 | Inclined Planes
10 | Depth Measuring 1
11 | Depth Measuring 1
12 | Plan Projection

I broke each one down into days like so –

Day 1
1. Watch video 1 – NO note taking (16 mins)
2. Sleep on it

Day 2
1. Sketchbook, try to remember everything from Video 1 previously (5 mins)
2. Re-watch Video 1 – this time pausing, taking detailed notes (about 40 mins)
3. Watch Video 2 – NO note taking (30 mins)
4. Sleep on it

Day 3
1. Sketchbook, try to remember everything from Videos 1 & 2 previously (10 mins)
2. Check notes from Videos 1 & 2 to correct any errors
3. Re-watch Video 2 – this time pausing, taking detailed notes (about 2 hours)
4. Watch Video 3 – NO note taking (30 mins)
5. Sleep on it

Basically, I repeated this process for each of the 12 videos, until I finished watching all of them. I now intend to practice practice practice what I’ve learnt, referring to both the videos and notes when needed. I even started pre-making my sandwiches in the morning, just so I could save time and multi task eating sandwiches and learning, that’s how fun these videos were :)

Hopefully, when I return to my Figure Drawing book, I’ll be able to actually concentrate on trying to draw the figure, instead of going around in circles trying to figure out how to draw basic shapes in space! In the videos, Marshall says, to master these topics, you need

“1 part theory, 50 parts practice”

…best go practice :)

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“Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.”

Thomas Merton

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