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hfo1's Sketchbook

  • Sharing the Knowledge
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  • Tamer of Beasts
  • The Fearless
  • Giver of Life
  • Dimensional Dominator
    10:57 AM, Tuesday September 20th 2022

    Hi, thank you very much for reviewing my homework! I understood everything and I'll try to fix those mistakes going forward.

    As for the cart thing (it's an ash tray :3), I took some creative liberty with the approach as I was pretty confident it would work. Instead of using one box, I used two boxes for the two major masses that are present because I don't think one big box would serve a purpose in this case. I wouldn't gain a meaningful landmark with its subdivisions and it would also not help me when determining the position of the top part. The approach I used is better here because I have the knowledge that the ash tray can close and open with the pivot point being the cylinder in the back. Using this information, I know that the top box has to rotate on a circle (ellipse in 3D space) that has the center point on that cylinder. This curve right here is part of that larger cylinder. It's a consistent way of getting the relation of the top and bottom part of the ash tray correct. I eyeballed the size of the top box by guessing how much bigger it is in relation with the bottom box. I dunno how you would calculate that correctly lol.

    For the spherical objects, I just placed them into boxes as much as I could. That didn't work so well in the second picture, as the object was pretty weird. I realized too late that my approach could be better here. If you look closely, you can see a triangle in there, I think that's the way to tackle the position of the "legs", but I added it too late here so it had no effect. I had to search up how to place a perfect triangle in a circle and I already forgot how. Anyways this was a complex subject, most circles/ellipses in 3D space can be confronted with this method from lesson one, but applied on subdivided planes multiple times (one for each edge/landmark of the spherical object, then connected at the end).

    I was actually in the process of making those 5 critiques, but you were faster haha. I heard that you could also upload the same lesson as many times as you want (as long as you wait a week in between) from Uncomfortable himself, so I decided to try both ways.

    5:11 PM, Friday September 16th 2022

    Truly amazing work, it's very visible how you fought against our brain's natural instinct to flatten things out in the arrows exercise, the results speak for themselves. The middle arrow on the right side on the 2nd page is just perfect, try to aim for that when exercising in the future.

    You did the sausage exercise very nicely as well. My only critique is that some are pinched in the middle, try to avoid that.

    For the last one, I actually asked you to do organic intersections (the one where you lay sausages one on top of another), not form intersections. I asked this just so you can practice the sausages once again, but in a bit more complex way. It's fine though, you did amazing so you can move onto the next exercise! :) Besides, you can always draw some organic intersections as warmup before future lessons.

    Next Steps:

    Move on to lesson 3. Good luck! :>

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    5:27 PM, Wednesday September 14th 2022

    Hi! I'll review your Lesson 5 submission.

    Organic Intersections

    You did a good job here, still there are a few things I'd like to point out.

    Firstly, some of your sausages ended up squished because there's no more room on the page. If there's no more room, that's fine, no need to add additional sausages.

    Secondly, your shadows are sometimes sticking to forms, for example the top left one on the first page.

    Finally, I'm a bit confused as to what's going on with the right sausage on both pages. Our goal was to make them short and simple, so just regular stacking one on top of another is fine, no need to complicate things.


    Generally you have pretty decent results here, I'll try to give you some insight on what you should try to improve in the future.

    At the very start of your construction process, I'm noticing that your ribcages are always angled more horizontal than they need to be and this causes some animals to look stiff. Also when you angle the ribcage horizontally, you have to connect it to the pelvis with straight lines rather than curves and that introduces more problems later on. Just like the human body, animals have an asymmetrical ribcage and pelvis, meaning if the pelvis is angled downwards at the front, the ribcage will be angled downwards at the back. Don't be afraid to exaggerate these angles as you'll easily fill up the rest of the space above with additional masses. Here's a rough diagram of what I mean.

    Try to avoid ending the additional masses in a sharp point. Rather try to imagine that they're water balloons, you're essentially stacking one mass on top of another. When you stack an object with a mass on top of another object, it doesn't completely stick to it like glue, it still preserves some of it's mass and that's mostly visible on the area I pointed to. What I'm saying is, if you make the edge curve a little bit before it touches the mass below, it will look more believable as an object in 3D space. Here's another diagram, it's a bit exaggerated to prove the concept. You have to do it on the left side as well. If you find this ruins the silhouette of the animal, you can just add an additional small mass on top to correct it.

    In some of your head constructions (cat and dog), you seem to be relying on guesswork instead of using the construction method. It's easy to get lost without it, so I recommend always drawing it to produce the most consistent results. Professionals use it, even if they don't explicitly draw it they're still thinking about it in their heads. Here are some head construction examples:



    On that note, I want to add that no matter what the head, every problem can be solved with this construction method. I noticed that you deviated from the circular head method to an oval head when you drew the cute cat. This resulted in a somewhat elongated head, which is not what we're looking for in this scenario. Even though this specific cat's face is quite round and bubbly, it can still be done with the standard construction method with additional masses on the side. You would only have to enlarge the primary construction sphere to accommodate.

    I've heard that the crosshatching method of further legs isn't encouraged anymore by Drawabox (lesson 5 still isn't updated), but I'm not sure. Either way, I want to note that if you're gonna cross hatch, do it consistently on every object that's at the same distance from us. In the flamingo example, don't only do it on one side of the wing, do it on the whole wing in the back and the further leg as well.

    Regarding the texture of the silhouette, remember that our goal is not to copy the reference exactly, but rather represent it in a way that conveys all of the necessary information to the viewer. On your first cow example, I'd recommend using the silhouette bumps way more sparingly. It's the same reason why you wouldn't draw every single hair strand on a person or fur strand on an animal. It comes down to how we process information visually, even more so when it comes to silhouettes.

    I recommend being more bold when it comes to connecting the legs to the body. A lot of valuable information here is usually hidden by the body, but thankfully the cow reference perfectly illustrates my point. This is how far the legs should connect (take a look at the original reference after you see mine, you'll see the connection clearly if you look for it). Also, try to find a flow in the legs, even when they're standing straight. As I've mentioned before, asymmetry is everywhere in the body, both for humans and animals. It's there because it serves a function, think of it like a spring mechanism for the body. You can learn to see it eventually if you continuously look for it. My point being, try to make your leg sausages reflect the natural flow that happens in the legs. Don't worry about being accurate to your reference, that's not the goal here. You can fix the likeness with additional masses later. Also, here's some asymmetry in the human body.

    To conclude, I think you got the gist of the exercises down, so I'll mark this lesson as complete. You're moving in the right direction, just keep it up and you'll end up where you want in no time. Even though you don't have to do revisions, I urge you to do the organic intersection exercise and draw an animal from reference as warmup from time to time, while keeping my critiques in mind. These things need time to be remembered and that can only happen if you keep your brain warmed up with practice. Good luck on your future lessons!

    Next Steps:

    Proceed onto lesson 6 and don't forget to do these exercises as a warmup!

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    10:13 AM, Tuesday September 13th 2022

    Hello! Congratz on finishing lesson 2. I'll try my best to give you a solid critique :)


    Good job on keeping your lines flowy and confident, keep it up! However, a consistent problem I'm noticing is that your arrows often end up distorted on one side, flat when they should be overlapped or messy and unclear. I know how hard it is to adapt your line path while you're making the line, but thankfully that isn't necessary. All of these issues can be solved by proper planning. The first line can be drawn however you want since it's laying the groundwork for the second one. The second line, however, needs to follow the first one or else it won't look right. So when you're making the second line, try to imagine it's exact path, from the start of the arrow to the end of it, leave no questions unanswered. Think of how it has to overlap to avoid distortion and you'll have no trouble when you actually draw it.

    As for the 3D aspect, most of your arrows follow along the 2D surface of the paper rather than back into space. You had the right idea on the bottom left arrow on the first page, now it's only a matter of applying the 3D techniques everywhere. There's two things you need to worry about when drawing arrows that flow in 3D space, and those are: 1. Keeping the arrow size consistenly growing and 2. Not being afraid of overlaps. On your other arrows I'm noticing that their size is changing at a negligible rate or not at all. To show you a concrete example of what I mean, here are some arrows that follow both of those principles. I do want to recommend that you try to be more extreme with arrow sizes (going from tiny to so large that they don't fit on the page). Ofc this is not required from the lesson, but I recommend it because I think it's easier to imagine them existing in a 3D space this way.

    The shading is mostly fine, I'd still say it could be better. I think the biggest issue is that it feels like you're rushing it. Remember to put the same amount of care into shading as you do in drawing the arrows themselves. Your shading is sometimes distorted, and sometimes too uniform (it needs to go from dense to sparse gradually).

    Organic Forms/Sausages

    Moving on to your organic forms, I immediately noticed that your sausages are often pinched on one side. Keep your sausages simple as this will solidify their construction and believability as real objects existing in 3D space. If you're having trouble keeping them simple along with drawing confident lines, remember that confident lines don't need to be drawn speedily. You can draw them pretty slowly, as long as you know where you're going with your hand.

    As for their rotation in 3D space, I want you to avoid overly complex rotations where they turn multiple times like this one. Your goal should be keeping the contour line rotation as simple as possible and consistent, just like you did here (although if you think about it, the "hole" at the end shouldn't be visible since the contour lines indicate the sausage is turning away from us at that point).

    I do wanna emphasize the importance of contour curve degree consistency since that too plays a large role in making the sausages believable. What I mean specifically is, the contour curve degree can either gradually increase, or gradually decrease as it travel across the sausage, it can't fluctuate. The only place where that changes is at the exact point where the sausage starts turning towards us/away from us, a.k.a. the point where the contour curve turns into a line due to perspective. This was kind of hard to explain so feel free to ask for more clarification if it wasn't clear.

    Here's a bunch of useful images that may help you understand contour curves in 3D space better. A wonderful user shared it with me in his critique and he got it from the discord server:




    Texture Analysis

    Your textures are pretty good, here are some notes/things to watch out for:

    You should blend the black border with the shadows better, right now it's obvious where the textures stop, especially on the third example. Even though on the first two examples the edge is seemingly perfectly blended, it's still apparent that it's there due to the sudden increase in shadow density. This holds true for the white border on the right as well. To combat this, you should add much more shadow density on the left side and significantly decrease it on the right. I mean it, this exercise is about implying texture and not explicitly drawing it, so actually reducing the amount of texture on the right side and letting the viewer's brain do the work is extremely important.

    Other than that, I don't see the references but I do feel like some more information could be extracted from them. Right now you have solid primary and secondary shadows, but tertiary shadows seem to be absent. What I mean by tertiary is just some stuff like scratches, imperfections in the paper and such.

    Texture Dissections

    The results here vary, I'd say the issues are the same as in texture analysis, on some sausage textures there's not enough texture density variation. On others it's not apparent that the textures are laying on the 3D forms of the sausage so I'd watch out for that. The easiest way to fix that is by imagining a contour line from the sausage ellipse exercise and making the shadow follow it, then using that as a reference point for your other shadows. I know, easier said then done, so here's an example: take a look at how you made the scales skewed and blend into the kiwi. If you were to draw contour lines following the shadows, they'd be skewed as well. The biggest takeaway from this is, try to actively think about the 3D form while drawing and be aware of the contour lines.

    To address the density issue here, take a look at the stones/pebbles sausage. You made the transition to pure light too sudden, the light in real life works much more gradually so that's how you should aim to represent it. Also the darkest part of the shadow is still too light. I won't assign you these exercises at the end as I know how tedious they are, but I do strongly encourage you to take on the "25 textures challenge" through the Drawabox course as we learn these concepts slowly over a long period of time.

    Another thing I want to briefly mention is that you should avoid using lines as shadows. Here's an alternative. Your usage of lines is the most apparent on the fur sausage. This is the tricky part, our goal is to imply the texture fur with shadow shapes and not draw every single fur strand explicitly. Try drawing most of your fur texture in the transition area (a.k.a. the midtones on a real piece) and keeping the dark and light areas mostly empty. I think you'll find that that produces much more pleasing results.

    Form intersections

    You show a solid understanding of 3D space here. Some areas (mostly organic forms) have incorrect intersections, here's a useful album that will help you: https://imgur.com/a/6Inx5Bz

    I do wanna note that some of your boxes have dramatic foreshortening and you should avoid that. In real life, most objects viewed from a standard distance have very little foreshortening. Also, dramatic foreshortening makes it harder to have all of your forms be consistent throughout the page.

    That's really all I have to say about this section, you did good! Some of your spheres look like eggs, so watch out for that.

    Organic form intersections

    Same as with the sausage exercise, your biggest focus should be on keeping the width of the sausages consistent and not pinched on the edges. Of course this is harder to do in 3D space, but hey, we're here to learn.

    As with arrows, the contour lines here indicate that the sausages are going from side to side and not towards/away from us in 3D space. Take a look at what Uncomfortable does with his contour lines in his example, specifically on the two bottom left sausages. When a contour ellipse is facing straight towards us in 3D space, it almost looking like a circle. I think your sausages lack those circle-like ellipses.

    One thing I forgot to mention before is that you should view the "hole" on the edge of the sausage as a contour line as well. It's not an arbitrary hole floating in the air, it actually is a small contour ellipse at the very edge of the sausage. That means it can't dramatically differ from the previous contour ellipse, it has to be consistent with it's degree growth as I've mentioned before.

    Some of your shadows are not following the surface below it (like the bottom right one on the second image). Making this mistake multiple times in a real painting ruins the illusion of 3D, so it's essential to get it right as often as you can. When in doubt, always imagine (or draw) the contour ellipse going across the surface, that's the path the shadow should take as well. Some of your shadows also feel like they're sticking to the forms (for example all of the ones on the left on the first page) when they should extend further then they do.

    Final Thoughts

    You're heading towards the right direction, so keep up the hard work! As this lesson serves as the basis for lessons 3-7, I hope you'll forgive me for giving you some homework. I think it'll greatly benefit you if you redo some of these exercises with my critiques in mind as it'll enter into your muscle memory.

    The first thing I'll ask of you to read my critique again and make notes of what you think the most important things are. These can be one word bullet points, serving just to remind you of what you should keep in mind. Trust me, it's very worth it to do this, even if it doesn't seem like it. It helps you remember stuff and it will serve as a reminder in future lessons when the new information you gain eventually makes the information from this lesson cloudy in your mind.

    After that, I'll ask of you:

    • 2 pages of organic arrows. Focus on the aspect of making the arrows flow in 3D space, just like the one's I've drawn in my example.

    • 1 page of organic forms with contour lines. Focus on making the sausages simple (no pinched edges) and the consistency of the contour lines.

    • 1 page of organic intersections. Focus on applying what you've learned in the previous step here as well.

    After that, reply here so I can take a look. Good luck!

    Next Steps:

    • 2 pages of organic arrows

    • 1 page of organic forms with contour lines

    • 1 page of organic intersections

    When finished, reply to this critique with your revisions.
    1:57 PM, Sunday May 15th 2022

    Thank you for the feedback!

    8:31 AM, Monday April 25th 2022

    Ah okay, they do seem to tackle a bit more complex constructions.

    7:32 PM, Sunday April 24th 2022

    Thank you very much for the detailed explanations and examples! You raised very good points, I'm always impressed how community members catch subtle mistakes I would have missed otherwise. I'll write them in my notes so I don't forget. If I may ask, where did you get those examples? I can't find them in the official lesson.

    10:15 PM, Sunday February 20th 2022

    I feel silly saying thank you after every comment, but you really helped me a lot (especially the diagrams). I'll be returning to this comment when I eventually have trouble in future lessons. The contour lines indicating hard plane changes is my favorite critique! I remember when that was said in the lessons, but I forgot to apply it (also I failed to observe the different planes in the reference).

    12:12 PM, Saturday February 19th 2022

    Wow, in my head I imagined the ant cranium sphere being much larger, but that large sphere would only make everything harder. Thanks for all the answers.

    Here are my revisions.


    I know the top sausage curves are a bit too same-y. In the top right sausage, I intentionally made the middle contour curve flatter since I wanted to make the sausage go like this: facing us -> facing away from us -> facing us again. Same with the bottom left sausage. Not saying I succeeded, just explaining my thought process. I tried to copy what Uncomfortable did in this vid (7:47), but now that I look at it again this pattern might just have been an inconsistency. I probably overcomplicated it.

    I failed the cast shadow of the first insect. Adding contour curves on the tiny bumps on the back might have been a mistake, but without them the shapes looked flat (I hope they aren't considered detail). Thoughts? I also had trouble representing the bottom part of the abdomen in a 3D way, so I just added a contour curve.

    Same on the second insect, the (shell?) had no natural contour curves so I added mine to describe the form. The two circles in the front are probably overkill.

    Feel free to assign me additional exercises if you think it's necessary. Also, don't hold back on pointing out repeated mistakes.

    5:40 PM, Thursday February 17th 2022

    Thank you very much for the long critique! Before I move onto the revisions, I want to ask a few questions. I understand everything because you explained it so eloquently, this is just to be 100% certain on some things.

    • How would you go about constructing the two bumps on the head of the ant when making the cranium into a sphere? I assume the answer is not cutting into the form, as that would undermine the construction. I also assume the correct answer would be to just build them up from the cranium, however that requires 2 very accurate long curves.

    A thing I see constantly is that your base forms lack: 1. curves that reinforce the 3D feel

    • Been a while since I've read the lesson, but if I remember correctly it was said that "we should use natural contour curves instead of forced ones where it's possible" (for example shells). Is that also outdated or should I use both of them always? Btw regardless of your answer, I do see a lot of areas where I should have used them, like the back of the ant for example.

    The flat line that goes over the abdomen really demolishes the 3D illusion

    • What should we do with the contour curve if we're looking at the insect from perfect side view? I remember that being the question in my head when I was constructing that one, I didn't see it mentioned anywhere.

    This question is unrelated to your critique: Do you know why we're supposed to use only one pen? I think it would help me a lot if I could use both a 0.1 and 0.5 fineliner (.1 for base construction, .5 for refinement and line weight). Some of the smaller areas of insects get really messy for me. I know they're supposed to be messy, but it gets to the point where even I can't tell what's going on anymore.

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The Science of Deciding What You Should Draw

The Science of Deciding What You Should Draw

Right from when students hit the 50% rule early on in Lesson 0, they ask the same question - "What am I supposed to draw?"

It's not magic. We're made to think that when someone just whips off interesting things to draw, that they're gifted in a way that we are not. The problem isn't that we don't have ideas - it's that the ideas we have are so vague, they feel like nothing at all. In this course, we're going to look at how we can explore, pursue, and develop those fuzzy notions into something more concrete.

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