100 Treasure Chest Challenge

As of October 8th 2016, after roughly two years of offering free critiques, I will now be limiting my own critiques to patreon supporters ($10 or more for this lesson specifically). But don't fret - you are still welcome to freely submit your work and questions directly to the /r/ArtFundamentals subreddit to be reviewed by the community.

I'm going to start this off by saying I'm sorry. It only occurred to me near the end just how much work I'm asking for-

Actually, no. You know what? I'm not sorry! You're going to do this challenge, and you're going to goddamnwell enjoy it! And by the end of this challenge, the hundred chests will be used to store your tears.


  1. Lesson 1
  2. 250 Box Challenge
  3. Advanced Box Exercises
  4. 250 Cylinder Challenge
  5. Lesson 2

This challenge combines (relatively) simple construction and design, the latter being something we haven't really dug into at all here. I think this is a great opportunity for many of you to get your feet wet with the idea of creating things from your imagination, and understanding what is involved in doing so. That said, it's important that you've already immersed yourself in the lessons and challenges listed above - if you haven't, you are more than likely going to be biting off way more than you can chew.


Unlike other lessons and challenges, you are not restricted to a specific set of tools. While I'd still prefer that you not use pencil/charcoal/etc (these drawings require a good bit of precision), you are welcome to use whatever medium you are most comfortable with - be it ballpoint pen, digital, etc. as well as rulers, ellipse guides and whatever else will help.


Big long hour-and-a-half video about this challenge

Advanced Box Exercises

Ellipses in Planes

Constructing to Scale

The challenge should be broken up into three sections. That doesn't mean I want you to do all of one section, then all of the next, and so on. I want you to do all of the sections in a given sitting, but in the recommended proportions.
  • Closed Chests

    25/100 should be "Closed Chests." These are really simple. Take a box, and place a cylinder on top such that half of the cylinder is submerged into the box. Draw these at many different angles and orientations.

  • Open Chests

    Another 25/100 should be "Open Chests" - essentially the same deal as the previous section, but now the lid needs to be rotated on the axis of its hinges. I explain how to do this in the challenge video. The giant ellipses you see below are effectively creating circles in 3D space aligned to the rotational axis. Like before, these should be drawn at all different angles.

  • Detailed Chests

    Finally, 50/100 chests with detail. They can be open or closed (there should be a healthy balance of both here).

    USE REFERENCE! PureRef is a great free cross-platform tool that will let you compile many different reference images into a single board, which you can then save and take around with you as a single file. Reference is extremely important here because your visual library is going to be considerably blanker than you think, especially on this topic. By learning to use reference images to inform your decisions, you will gradually commit different kinds of details and decoration to your imagination, which can then be used later. Observe things carefully - there's always going to be a lot more going on in these images than you think.

    Chests can come in all shapes and sizes, with all kinds of little flairs. Some are banded with iron, some are rusted, some have additional planks of wood, some have filigree, handles, different kinds of locks.. The possibilities are endless. This is your chance to really push yourself to find new things.

    Just remember - you will make mistakes. You will end up with MANY failed designs. That's no reason to be timid - be bold, all the time. Try new things, experiment, and when things go wrong, accept it and keep at it. This challenge is not about creating a hundred beautiful pieces of art. This is about producing a hundred pieces of crap.