In character art, especially animation, it's usually best to create a character with an identifiable feature. The problem comes in some cases when that feature might only be visible from certain angles, or might be reduced to something less than its full iconic status (or even misinterpreted as something else). Some might see this as being a Lazy Artist, and so overcompensate for the problem. For some characters, the usual rules of proportion and perspective are ignored, and that feature is drawn anyway. Commonly, characters with tails or ears might have those drawn even when they should be hidden by other parts of the head or body. This is known as a 'cheat'.
Of course (say it with me now) Tropes Are Tools. Sometimes cheating angles is preferable—be it to keep that distinctive feature visible, or to avoid a distracting tangent (having to tell the audience whats happening because they can't see for sure for example) that would be caused by drawing it "correctly".
A subtrope of Distinctive Appearances. Unmoving Pattern is the subtrope of this for patterns that don't move with what they're attached to. Compare Cheeky Mouth. Social Semi-Circle is in the same spirit.
- Same goes for Astro Boy's iconic headspikes. Action figures of him usually end up looking extremely awkward as a result.
- Pokémon: Pikachu is almost never drawn without the tail projecting outward and prominently visible, even when it should be behind him or otherwise blocked.
- In Nurarihyon no Mago/Nura: Rise of the Youkai Clan, the main character's hair in his demon form is always shown in its entirety from any angle.
- Page picture: Goku from Dragon Ball has a very distinctive shape to his hair that is always maintained no matter which way you view him, it even has the ability to completely flip direction based on the direction he's looking. The 3D videogames do a good job of rendering it in a way that preserves the shape when viewed in profile and head on.
- Akagi. Generally speaking, Nobuyuki Fukumoto's character designs have a bunch of very specific-looking angles and slotting them together is left as an exercise for the reader.
- The most distinctive part of Yuno in Hidamari Sketch are her X-shaped hairpins that she puts on both sides of her head. However, those were often drawn on the back of the head when the angle required it—and in the cover of the sixth volume of the manga, to compensate for her hair being covered by a hoodie, she drew X's on the hood over where her hairpins should have been.
- Many Nanoha characters are drawn with a distinctive poof of hair that to gravitates towards which ever side of their face is less-shown by the angle of the shot.
Comic Book[edit | hide]
- Marvel artists' notes on how to draw Nightcrawler from the X-Men say how they must draw his tail with a curve in it (when character is drawn from the front, with legs apart) so the tail wouldn't look phallic.
- It's extremely rare to see Chilean comic book character Condorito facing front.
- The two 'horns' of Doctor Strange's collar are typically drawn to retain their hook shape, even when one of them would be straight-on from the viewer's perspective.
- The title characters from the Franco-Belgian comicbook The Smurfs have round caps with a rounded end pointing forward (in their first appearance in Johan and Peewit, they were pointy hats bent at the end, until Art Evolution changed it). They mostly appear at a 3/4 view, sometimes at full profile, and rarely in front view, at which point (no pun intended) the hats still are shown facing sideways.
- In Mulan, the topknots on Shang and Mulan are cheated up slightly to keep them visible even when they would otherwise be blocked in a front angle view.
- In Shrek 2, when Puss in Boots is introduced, his upper and lower halves are separated. The scene is dark enough that you can't see it, but they wanted the head and boots farther apart than they would actually be.
- Pride Rock from Disney's The Lion King for some reason is always seen from the left and from nowhere else. The only time we ever see it from a different angle is an overhead shot of Rafiki holding up Baby Simba at the very beginning of the film.
- 1 1/2 shows Pride Rock from several angles early in the movie, along with dramatic music and Timon narrating.
- In The Lion King II, Pride Rock is now always seen from the right.
- The closet doors from Monsters, Inc.. When they're closed, they're always seen directly from the front. But when they're open, they're always seen from a 45 degree angle (only Boo's door is actually seen from the front when opened). And for some reason, the doors are never seen from behind!
- Not exactly a perspective error, but in Star Wars, the Death Star is always shown so the superlaser dish is facing the viewer. The only exception is the occasional view from behind when the superlaser is firing, but it's never shown without the laser visible in an establishing shot.
- This is also true with generic clip-art of certain real-life astronomical objects. The Moon is always shown with its near-side (the side facing the Earth) facing the viewer, the planets Jupiter and Neptune are always shown in a way so that the Great Red/Dark Spot is facing the viewer, etc.
Literature[edit | hide]
- In Discworld's Pyramids, it's implied that one character actually "walks like an Egyptian"—whether he picked it up from being around the art for so long, or people started drawing like that because he was around so long, isn't clear.
- Kipper the dog has a huge forehead when seen from the front, but his forehead shrinks when he turns to the side.
- The title character of Li'l Abner always has the part of his hair towards the reader regardless of what angle he's being shown from.
Video Games[edit | hide]
- The Mario Bros. from the original Super Mario Bros game always have their head to the side they're walking towards, even when they aren't moving and the rest of their body is facing the screen. The only time they ever fully face the viewer is if they're dying.
- In just about every Mario game up to World, however, they're depicted at a 3/4 view all around, creating the odd appearance that they're running slightly off to the side of where they're actually facing.
- Rosalina's face for some reason, is never seen from the right. Occasionally, her Peek-a-Bangs are drawn so they cover the left side of her face instead, allowing us to see her right eye, but that is only because of an illustration error.
- Orignally, Goombas stood and walked the opposite of the Mario Bros.: they actually walked sideways, so that they always face the viewer, much like a crab.
- Sonic the Hedgehog when in 2D will have three spines showing off the back of his head regardless of angle. This results in Sonic never being seen from the front or the back in official artwork. This obviously doesn't apply in his 3D form.
- Sonic X took this rule and ran with it, so that no matter which way Sonic was facing, only three spikes would show. This made Sonic look odd from the front, and downright ridiculous from the back.
- The birds and pigs from Angry Birds are always seen from the front, but the Green Bird and the Eagle are always seen from the side.
- Hazama's Lifelink Aura is always angled to appear as a perfectly circular ring around him. Possibly justified by Hazama's true nature.
- Both Homestar Runner and The Cheat for some reason are never seen from the front.
- Some older cartoons actually do portray Homestar from the front (and, though camera angles conspire to keep it to a minimum, he does, occasionally, get seen from the front in Strong Bads Cool Game for Attractive People). There appear to be two reasons why he's not drawn like this anymore: First, his characteristic underbite is incredibly hard to portray like this, and second, in order to stay in view, his eyes have to drift, flounderlike across his face as he turns.
- This is especially awkward in Homestar's real-life puppet form, where there is no such fluidity. Check out the old music video shorts for the weirder side effects of this trope. The eyes are even felt so they can be moved between shots.
- One strip of Casey and Andy mentions that the cartoonist had to move the cat around slightly between frames because otherwise it wouldn't be visible in one of the side and top view.
- In Dan Thompson's stylized comical adventure strip Rip Haywire, femme fatale/love interest Cobra's black hair is nearly always behind her head, no matter the angle, effectively framing it.
- In Slightly Damned, Buwaro's pet rock Thadius is always drawn exactly the same way regardless of angle, because otherwise the readers wouldn't be able to tell it apart from other rocks.
- In the Web Comic Out There, the lead character Miriam has two strands of hair that stick out from the top of her head, and always do so at the same angle, whether she's facing you, in three-quarters view, or in profile, as this strip shows.
- Mike of Something*Positive is almost never shown straight on, probably because of his enormous wedge-shaped nose.
- Kevin of Kevin and Kell always has one ear flopped over - the furthest one from the audience. Which technically means if he turns his head, his ears are flopping and unflopping. The author readily acknowledges this in the FAQ as a stylistic choice, and even points out the Li'l Abner example.
Web Original[edit | hide]
- Some typical memefaces, but especially Trollface and Yao Ming. Most of them are really jarring, though.
- The classic example is Mickey Mouse, whose ears are a legacy of his original rubber-tube design. Now, even as the rest of his design has been updated, the tradition of keeping the Mouse-Ear logo visible stays true. (This also applies to Minnie and any other mouse characters.)
- Mickey's nose is also cheated. From the side it points up, but viewed face on, it appears flat.
- This is so familiar that attempts to model him in 3D with static ears like on the character at Disneyland just looked...off. Subsequently in Epic Mickey, the ears were animated specially to fit the familiar look.
- Played straight in the first Kingdom Hearts game, but averted in every sequel, where his ears don't always face the screen. His various official art from the series do, however feature it.
- Family Guy's artists have to cheat Stewie's head to keep the football-like shape prominent.
- Lampshaded in a conversation between "Griffin Peterson" and "King Stewie" in a flashback:
Griffin: Hey, you're the guy whose profile's on all the coins! You know, your head looks really weird from the side.
Stewie: Yeah, we didn't...think that through when we started...
- Brian is rarely ever seen from any angle other than 3/4, especially the front.
- Commissioner Gordon's cowlick in Batman the Animated Series. In an audio commentary, one of the artists lamented that the cowlick was always slightly to the side, even when it should have shifted with the angle.
- Dr. Girlfriend in The Venture Brothers first season had a hair curl that didn't lend itself to changing angles (but worked fine in the deliberately static design) - when the animation later became more fluid, it looks like her hair was altered to 'read' better.
- Phineas and Ferb's faces are very rarely shown straight on.
- Mordecai from Regular Show is almost never seen head-on. And when he is, his head feathers are still at a 3/4 angle.
- And whenever Rigby is seen from the front, his nose actually moves to where his forehead would normally be! This only applies when Rigby needs to look exaggerated, though, as at one point he is seen from the front in a mirror, and his nose is where it should be from that angle.
- Leela from Futurama always has her bangs covering the side of her eye and forehead, regardless of which way she's facing. This also means you will almost never see her face drawn from a straight-on view. Similar cheating means Fry's cowlick keeps its distinctive shape, regardless of what angle you're looking from.
- Chef from South Park is almost always seen from the front, even when he's walking to the left and right. He was seen from the side in early episodes, but the creators decided this looked too weird.
- SpongeBob SquarePants, despite being one of those rare characters whose design lends itself well to unique angles, is rarely, if ever shown from the side. The one time he is, it ends up looking awkward.
- Extremely noticable with Banana Joe from The Amazing World of Gumball where even though his face and limbs shift when he turns around, his body doesn't.
- Francine's hair in American Dad is only ever draped over the shoulder closest to the camera.
- Ren and Stimpy. Ren's mouth always looked good when either facing left or right, but animators seemed to have issues when drawing him faced head on. Sometimes they had his mouth pointing down, other times they drew a "side mouth," and other times the animators just didn't bother with making his lips pointed.
- Older Than Dirt: Ancient Egyptian artists did not use or value realistic perspective. Images were meant not to represent actual appearance in 3D space, but to create a representation or even microcosm of the whole of the individual or event pictured. For this reason, Egyptian artists drew different body parts from different angles, making each as recognizable and complete as possible without overlap, even though the resulting posture is physically impossible.
- It is possible, and is where 'Walk like an Egyptian' comes from.
- Maps. The problem of trying to represent a round world on a flat surface inevitably leads to distortions of size, shape and relative position—you want to be accurate in one area, you have to completely sacrifice another. Hence the popularity these days of the Robinson projection and other maps that just go ahead and imitate the curvature of a globe, which means they're somewhat inaccurate in all categories but give you a better idea overall of what you're looking at. The only hugely distorted spots on these maps are the poles, and who cares about the poles unless you're going there?