First encounter with anamorphosis

It was one of those tired evenings after work; I came home to a cranky cat and dinner alone (Kris is still out there, somewhere, sailing) and I wanted to do some small creative thing to cheer myself up.

Thought, “I might paint something.”

I took a small canvas, and attempted to splash and drip a base layer of bright happy colors all over it. It didn’t look like anything much when I’d done, and somehow the colors had gone all pastel and sickly looking. This always happens when I haven’t worked with color for a long time…it’s like I have to re-learn what works, what doesn’t, and how to make the paint do what I want it to. Getting rusty. 😦

Mood had sunk even lower by this time. I sank deeper into my chair, chewing on my fag end, eyeing the bottle of acrylic ink that was sitting on top of the canvas on the desk before, and a thought about those street artists who draw amazing, 3D images on the sidewalks, popped up.

I’ve looked these anamorphic drawings up before, and have seen some tutorials on Youtube, mostly using grids on Photoshop to distort an image, or a webcam to flatten the image to a single-point perspective.

I wondered if I could do a small anamorphic painting without those aids or gimmicks? Like, what if I just shut one eye (so that what I saw was from a single-point perspective), kept my eyes at the same level as I drew, stretched my pencil hand out in front of me, and tried to get the pencil lines to evoke the ink bottle from that one perspective.

anamorphic first attempt

The pencil drawing itself didn’t look like anything, but as I started to paint in the shape (still sitting low down and back from the canvas, with my arm stretched out) a little bit of that 3D-ness started to creep in.

anamorphic first attempt

By the time I got to the point you see in these pictures, it was 2 a.m…EEP! The picture above, even with such a sketchily done painting of the bottle, looks much more convincing, because this is the lighting I painted it by, and the shadows/highlights of everything else on the desk around are bathed in the same light.

The pictures below were taken the next day, in sunlight…the illusion is less convincing because the slant of light, the shadows (or lack of shadows) and subtle messages the eye sends the brain are telling you that something is not right.

anamorphic 4

anamorphic first attempt

Here’s what the painting looks like, when viewed straight on. I haven’t finished the painting, yet, but even when viewed from the correct perspective I can see that I haven’t made the black rubber dropper bit at the top long enough. But I’m definitely going to be playing a bit more with this tricksy sort of painting, it’s heaps of fun!

anamorphic first attempt


8 thoughts on “First encounter with anamorphosis

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