This method of “cheating” the perspective change is very similar to a magician’s sleight-of-hand trick, where you distract the audience by moving something in front of them to get their attention while you’re hiding the card or coin in your pocket. In animation
by changing the background you accomplish the same thing. Using two separate backgrounds that are changed one for the other while the overlay fills the screen will give you the illusion of a perspective change.
With these tricks it’s very important to know the timing of the scene. You’ll have to adjust the artwork to match the speed of the scene. There’s always been controversy with the term “cheat.” Some use the term to discount their lack of knowledge, and others use the term to correct perspective elements that are drawn in correct perspective but might not look right or pleasing to the eye.
When working in animation it’s easy to change perspective on objects that move, but it’s much more likely that a perspective mistake or oddity will be seen on backgrounds and still objects, simply because they are on the screen throughout the entire scene. A “cheat” doesn’t mean you disregard all basics and put whatever you want in a scene in any position. The horizon will always be an anchor point, but there can be multiple vanishing points and horizons depending on how complicated you make the composition.
A “cheat” gone wrong is when two vanishing points are too close to one another on the horizon, which will warp the lines closest to the picture plane or, as said before, placing objects on the horizon. These usually appear in the “Z” plane as it is known in 3-D terms. The “Z” plane starts at the picture plane and vanishes at the horizon. Lines on the “Z” plane are perpendicular to the horizon.
In the 2-D world you can “cheat” the size of objects to create a sense of foreshortening or making objects appear larger than they really should be to accentuate scale. In live-action and 3-D animation you can use different lenses or focal lengths to accomplish the same thing. When pushing the scale in 2-D animation you will have to give the animator an accurate grid combining the two scale changes.
Excerpted from Layout and Composition by Ed Ghertner, © 2010 Elsevier Inc. All rights Reserved.
Ed Ghertner is a renowned Layout Artist and Character Layout Artist who has spent over thirty years in film and animation. He has worked at Disney Studios and Disney TV. He has worked on some of the great Disney classics including “The Fox and the Hound”, “Beauty and the Beast”, “The Lion King”, and the “Huntchback of Notre Dame” and “Mulan.”
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