Saturday, March 21, 2009

Why Teach Perspective or Anatomy?

It is still pretty common for K-12 art teachers to include lessons on perspective and figure drawing even though few contemporary fine artists use any of these skills in their work. Many university art majors are no longer even required to take a life-drawing course. About the only artists who are required to have very high skills in drawing people and drawing in perspective are designers, animators and comic artists.

Jim Lee, possibly the top comic book artist working today, did groundbreaking versions of both Batman and Superman in two separate series for those iconic characters. These popular culture works provide excellent examples of 3-point perspective, foreshortening, anatomy and figure drawing skills rarely seen in fine art today or taught in art schools.

Many art teachers forbid students to use such "low-brow" sources in their art work but some students are highly motivated to emulate the drawing skills of comic artists like Jim Lee. These students want to be designers rather than artists. They want to work in film, animation, architecture, game design, illustration, fashion and a variety of fields where these skills are still needed. They can learn a lot about 3-point perspective, foreshortening, and anatomy by studying and copying these examples the way we have fine art students do Cubist, Impressionist and Surrealist "studies".

Click on the images above to see larger versions and look at the 3-point perspective backgrounds, anatomical details and foreshortening.

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