Grand Conqueror

The Indomitable (Spring 2024)

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  • The Indomitable (Spring 2024)
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  • Basics Brawler
    3:22 PM, Friday April 19th 2024

    This was a way more detailed breakdown than I expected and I must admit, it did explain a couple of things for me. A system where the most regular and trusted users of the service are bringing the biggest loss, is somewhat counterintuitive, but I can see good reasons for it working that way.

    I've canceled my patreon subscription when I was done with all the materials, but after reading this, I decided to support you a little bit and resubscribed on the 'Backbone of Society' tier. This will probably be just for a month or two, but I hope it helps. For reference, in my country minimal wage, actually is just over $3.33/hour :P.

    And please don't take this in bad faith. I'm not doing this to appease you or because I felt like you were fishing for it. I genuinely believe this program deserves a lot more and I am currently in position give some, so I'll gladly do. Take this as yet another honest Thank You.

    9:12 PM, Tuesday April 16th 2024

    Thanks for the feedback, as always it is genuinely enlightening. I feel like an asshole complaining after all this, but I just want clear 2 things up. Merely explain my stance, since I doubt that I am the only person using this line of logic and I believe knowing it, might be useful to you.

    This challenge was the only time I eased up on focusing on every singe line in equally high measure, because I was under the impression that the specific care put into the ghosting method and using the whole arm in this course was done for the benefit of helping Me, with improving the confidence in longer lines and deliberate thoughtfulness while drawing (among other things).

    "(...) having clean linework helps to ensure that I can see the student's intent, and more accurately interpret what they were thinking about, and what they may not have been thinking about, when making their design decisions."

    I'm sorry, but I struggle to see how this means that I must follow all of the guidelines regarding the line making techniques in this course. Ballpoint pen can make very clean lines by carefully layering and connecting short strokes made with wrist or maybe even just the fingers (to be clear, I did not do that here). I agree that clean linework in this challenge was key, but that is all the more reason to not be forced to use the whole arm, even for smaller marks, or making 2 passes at each ellipse for example. These are extra hoops I'd have to jump through, in order to get the lines as clean as possible and convey the design as clearly as possible (especially hard when adding thickness and small details), which seems to be the main goal here.

    Another matter is my moan about the amount of work required here.

    The only reason anyone would do this exercise is to help train their creative muscles and design thinking. From the perspective of the student, feedback at the end, is there to help point out where they can improve and practice better in the future. The problem with the amount is that doing 50 designs before receiving any feedback, takes a lot of time and effort. It's a little unreasonable to expect students to practice for tenths of hours, over a span of many weeks, with a concern that they are making the same mistakes 50 times over and developing bad habits, just to learn that at the end. But that is exactly what's expected here. It might not make it a bad challenge - and I'm aware that nobody made me take it on, so these complaints might seem a little silly - but I feel it would be improved by giving a more reasonable amount of work to students and encouraging them to continue to practice after a shorter amount of time spend on chests.

    Right now, thanks to the feedback, I feel more confident that I see how I can improve my future designs, but as I joked earlier, I don't want to design any more treasure chests for a while, so this confidence is nigh (at least for chests specifically). This was not a problem for me with other challenges, since things like boxes or cylinders are easier to self critique to some degree, with each example produced. But here, I felt a little blind.

    I don't like that idea about earning feedback. Positive feedback should feel earned to the student, not just any feedback at all. I empathize with your perspective as a business owner, but I really don't understand how having less examples to pick from, would make giving feedback harder. You'd have to look at less pictures, so if anything, it would take less time, no?

    Regardless, thanks again, not just for the feedback above, but the course as a whole. I truly cannot express how much I owe it, and therefor You.

    2:45 PM, Saturday January 27th 2024

    Yeah, sorry about the structure of what I wrote, I wanted to get it all out of me and this was not the place, my bad. Glad to hear that textures overhaul is coming up, I'll definitely try this again when it does. Thanks again for the extra help.

    2:56 AM, Friday January 26th 2024


    Sorry for the long rant, I don't even really expect you to read it all. This is more for me to get my frustration out.

    Thanks for the feedback, as always, it does seem like you genuinely want to explain all the main laps in my understanding, as per what my work shows. However, this time, I will confess that I understand way less about textures than you might expect. This topic has been with me since June, I've spent more time on this than I did on any other lesson - more than most of them combined probably. I read and reread and watched and rewatched all the materials like 15 times, went through 10ths of feedbacks given to other students and analyzed their works in extreme detail. I even got a huge extra explanation after lesson 2, which I read enough to quote in my sleep by now. I discussed it with some members of the community on discord after many attempts to understand it myself and changed my approach to thinking about this exercise several times. But each time, I actually 'get it' less and less. The results of what I produce might not show it, but as far as what is going on in my head while doing these textures, it all made less sense by the end of the challenge, than it did at the beginning.

    I initially thought it was quite simple. This is how I thought about and visualized these textures: Textures are just a bunch of simple, tiny forms, laid flat in a pattern (not always a regular one, but each with some internal logic to the way it spreads these shapes around). These shapes exist in a 3D space and have height, width and depth. They cast shadows, which correspond to their shape and the surface they are cast onto. All I have to do is draw just the drop shadows they cast and ignore their outlines, local value and shading.

    However, the first step in each texture is doing a detailed study of the reference image. That is (to my understanding at the time), look at all the drop shadows and transfer them to the page. This, of course, creates a bunch of random marks in a square that look nothing like the reference. I always thought that the result doesn't matter (draw-a-box exercises after all are not about making pretty images) and that this part is there just to make me look at the texture in extreme detail, to help identify the 'simple forms' and their patterns. So that is what I would do, while making notes about the things I observe. Then I would move to the third rectangle and draw these shadows, getting longer on the left and smaller/shorter on the right, with some smaller forms not casting any shadows at all, the closer to the light source they got. This, of course, created a bunch of random marks on the page that looked nothing like the reference, or what this texture, in these lighting conditions, would look like in real life. This again, didn't worry me too much, since I followed the instructions and making pretty images is not the point here. I hated doing this, but I felt like at least it made some sense.

    Then I looked at what other students you gave positive feedback to were doing and I noticed that there was clearly something massively wrong about my approach. Their textures actually looked more like simplified versions of the real images. They often broke all the rules I followed and extended or out right added extra shadow shapes where they had no right being. They also removed others that should be there, but would probably make the picture messy. The way they did studies in the first square, looked more like distillations of all the details in the texture and simplification to a nice and readable design, that was maybe vaguely based on the drop shadow shapes, but did not follow it literally. Now, the word 'design' is used all over the texture materials and even this feedback, but it is never actually explained what it means. I still don't really know how to understand it, let alone apply it’s principles, since I don't know what they might be. But I’ll get to that later.

    Comparing my work to others, made me think that this exercise is more about conveying the impression of the texture as a whole and that focusing on drop shadows is the most important part of the process, but that I'm suppose to 'design' (again, I don't' know what that means still) the image as a whole, so that the forms can be clearly defined and texture readable. In order to do that, I deliberately tried to exaggerate certain parts of the texture and ignore others. This produced - as you very aptly noticed - such textures as the brick or ice cream, though fur was the first one of those, if I remember correctly. The reason I added some form shading to the corn, was that I thought it would help define the round shape of it, which drop shadows would make much less readable. It didn't sit right with me at first, but looking at the result, it was pretty obvious that it's meant to be corn, so I thought I'm doing something right.

    Couresly, the feather texture was still done with the mind set that it's all about drop shadows. The reason they all have an outline, is that in the reference I used, tips were slightly curved up along the entire border, so these lines that look like outlines, are actually shadow shapes. I knew what it looked like and I expected to get the feedback I got for it. It was actually the main reason I switched my approach - because in some textures, shadows outlined shapes in a way that looked like explicit marks. Every texture with deep crevices had that problem, like the tires, which had such small and deep indents, that they looked the same no matter their distance to the light source. There were many textures I avoided because of that, which also didn't sit right with me.

    The funniest one might be the soapy water, which I will maintain is actually correct. In the reference, the bubbles protruded out of the surface, yes. But they were transparent and would not create any shadows. The shadows I drew were actually the result of the holes, said bubbles created in the dense soap. That is why the biggest shapes are round circles, as opposed to the elongated dome like shapes the protruding bubbles would create. I point this out not to defend my work (believe me, I think you were kinder than I deserve), but to showcase how drawing only drop shadows often makes textures impossible to read. This is one example where I know you misunderstood my intentions, but I wouldn't be surprised if there were other similar cases which you simply did not point out, but incorrectly noted as mistakes. Not that I blame you, as I wrote earlier, homeworks you complemented the most, tend to look like pretty, stylised simplifications of the reference, meaning they are not accurate to the drop shadows 100%, which this texture pretty much is. It's just that these don't look readable, so I would get fooled too if I didn't know what the reference looked like.

    Anyway, to cut this whole manifesto short, here is what I struggle to understand the most. I filled in the cast shadow shapes in this image and below I circled all the differences between the actual shapes and the final 'design'. All the differences are very small, but they add up. I believe that this step of making pretty much every single shape just a little more readable and adjusting them slightly, as well as adding some more, is what this whole 'design' idea is about and I simply do not get it. I don't even know what I don't know about it. I'm not even sure if it is the missing element that makes these random marks on the page, read as a cohesive texture. Especially since you write that the design step takes place earlier. Hence my confusion increasing, compared to June, which is when I started this nightmare.

    After this feedback, my confusion did not decrease. Now I know that feathers and soapy water read as wrong, despite having only cast shadows. At the same time, form shading on the corn was a mistake, despite making the texture more readable. Also, now I know that this exercise is not about getting the impression of the texture as a whole down, if what it takes is making erratic lines. So I can't just put down shadows as they are, I can't add indication with lines, but also not with form shading, I have to 'design' shadows shapes, but I still don't know how... What was all this for?

    I'm sorry if my tone sounds bitter, I'm actually laughing while writing this. I went through 5 stages of grief with textures and at this point, I accept the fact that I will just never understand them xD. Unless you read all this and think you can somehow help, but please, do not feel any pressure to. I doubt I’ll touch textures again anytime soon anyway and right now, I’ve got 100 treasure chests waiting for me.

    1:20 AM, Wednesday December 27th 2023

    These are very kind words, I'm actually quite touched by the last paragraph. Thank you. I intend to move to the 25 texture and 100 treasure chests challenges next, so I'll stick around a little longer xD, we'll see after that.

    I actually started going through the materials and doing the demos for lesson 7 few days before uploading 25 wheels challenge, so these last 2 weeks were mostly drawing just 6 vehicles (since I submitted the first 2 demos). The whole lesson took me more like 2 and a half weeks, but that was all I drew for that time, so I'm probably like 50+ hours behind on the 50/50 rule. How convenient that Winter promptathon just started :D. Thanks again for the motivation and encouragement, it really means a lot coming from you.

    11:10 PM, Sunday December 17th 2023

    Perfect, thanks a lot :D

    8:53 PM, Thursday November 30th 2023

    Oh my god yeah I think you nailed it! It was an arbitrary point I eye-bolled on one side and projected through the middle to the other and it looks right on the orthographic, but all the measurements in the 3D drawing added up to a big discrepancy. Thanks for a suggestion on how to counter that in similar cases - might be useful in lesson 7.

    11:35 PM, Tuesday November 28th 2023

    Hey, thanks a lot for the feedback! Never expected my work to be directly compared to another student here, but I must admit that it felt really good in this context :P. I will actually confess that you called me out on the warm-ups painfully accurately. I try to do the most confusing and challenging exercises too (even organic perspective is getting less and less scary, also, rotated boxes are my bitch at this point xD), but I really struggled with self assessing the quality of my form intersections, which made me feel like I wont get as much from repeating them as I do from other warm-ups, which I can see that I improve at (or still make obvious mistakes). Textures are another weakness of mine, which will probably bite me in the ass at the wheels challenge. That is of course entirely my fault, as I would probably start to notice mistakes I didn't before in my previous warm-ups, if I would do more than the few I did. So this is just my little therapy session, sorry bout that ;).

    On a serious note, I will focus on textures now, before committing to the wheels full on, but I got an extra question regarding this lesson if you don't mind. I'm not too happy overall with the water bottle, but there is a specific point that bothered me the most and I was hoping you could explain. I see how I messed up the contour, by measuring it before projecting the cylinder down and then shifting it to the right spot with a few measurements, the bottom is also a little too accurate to the orthographic and kinda ignores the real life reference, but I sill cannot figure out why to cap at the top is so long. This really bothered me for like an hour and no matter how much I starred at it, no obvious mistake stuck out. I compared it with the orthographic view and the real life reference, and I can see that the length discrepancy is literally cartoonish, but all the measurements in the box look correct to me and perspective shift is way too subtle to cause that. So what is it? Please tell me, I'm going insane! :D

    7:00 PM, Wednesday October 11th 2023

    Ahh yes, this explanation does actually make sense. Looking at my less successful constructions with rectangular eye sockets, there was an awkward gap because of the shape of the muzzle and trying to fill it messed up a lot. That diagram is great, thanks! :D.

    8:34 PM, Tuesday October 10th 2023

    Hey Dio, thanks for great feedback again. Regarding the eyes having 5 side, I feel bad saying this, because you already gave me so much material to explain this, but I have to admit, I still struggle to comprehend it. The reason I gave some of these constructions 4 sided eye planes is because I thought it would work best for that specific reference. I can see on the finished pieces that that was not the case, since the ostriche head is probably that best construction and I used 5 sides for that one, so I don't necessarily need convincing that 4 sides don't work as well as 5, but I think it would help me see that in the reference better if you try to explain it again. Sorry if I'm being difficult, but you know how it is - if I don't ask now, it might grow to a bigger problem later :P.

    P.S. This is completely unrelated and probably a question for the community, so you don't have to answer, but out of curiosity; I noticed something that seems strange to me and I was wondering if this is normal or maybe there is an obvious reason for it. When I was trying to redraw the same animals as I did before the feedback, but implementing the feedback you gave me, I found it almost impossible to do. All my attempts somehow came out way worse than the initial ones. Then I did some from new references and you saw that there was a noticeable improvement. I found it odd that I seemingly got worse when trying to work on same subjects, but when trying new ones, I felt like I could apply the methods much more easily and better. Is this something that others experience too, or am I freak? xD.

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