Uncomfortable

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  • Sharing the Knowledge
    1:20 PM, Wednesday July 10th 2024

    It looks like DIO came back around and reviewed your revisions after your reply, and found them to have addressed the issues adequately enough for this to continue forward onto lesson 5 where you will continue to work through similar concepts, so your next step would be to continue into lesson 5, keeping his feedback in mind.

    10:28 PM, Tuesday July 9th 2024

    Now that your Lesson 1 work has been marked as complete, your "warmup pool" as referenced here in Lesson 0 now consists of the exercises from Lesson 1, so you will indeed be spending the first 10-15 minutes of a session on them.

    10:27 PM, Tuesday July 9th 2024

    DIO passed this onto me, as the matters you've mentioned aren't really things our TAs are equipped to handle. In principle, neither am I, but I do have a few things I can mention.

    Before we get to the latter part though, first a point about your concern regarding textures. As discussed in this section of reminders from Lesson 2, we're not looking for the cast shadows in our reference images and copying them onto our drawing. We're looking for whatever signs there are implying the presence of physical forms along the surface of the larger object, and then using our understanding of how those forms sit in space, in relation to the surfaces around them, to design the shapes of our shadows. Design is a key word here - we're actively deciding on how to craft those shadows based on our understanding of the spatial relationships, rather than pulling them directly from our reference. This also means that texture isn't especially different from the rest of what we're doing here - it's just more spatial reasoning, albeit in a different context, and expressed using a different approach (cast shadows instead of outlines/contour lines/defining intersections/etc), and given that this course as a whole is designed to train our spatial reasoning skills (specifically through these kinds of constructional drawings in lessons 3-7, with the lessons that precede those being more focused on getting us the tools we need in order to explore those concepts, and introducing the kinds of spatial reasoning problems we'll be digging into). So, rest assured - you're still fairly early in that process.

    This however does segue fairly smoothly into my response to the second half of your concerns: you're not thinking about what we're doing in this course as learning. You're mixing it up with performing - that is, the actual use of the skills you've developed to produce work for a given external purpose (whether to impress others, create a portfolio, produce work for a client, work on a personal project, etc) - and so you're concerned with the results you're producing now as though they are what is important.

    They're not. Your results are a byproduct. What matters is the actual process you're working through, because what we're doing here is an exercise. The way in which you execute that exercise matters a lot, because it's that process which actually works at rewiring the way your brain understands the things you draw, in relation to the things they're meant to represent. What we're doing from lessons 3-7 are constructional drawing exercises which, in effect, have us solving 3D spatial puzzles. We have to, very intentionally, break down what we see in our reference image into the core forms that are represented, then think about how, as we construct those forms on the page, they relate to one another in 3D space. This process forces us to, while drawing in two dimensions, think very intentionally about these 3D spatial relationships. That is what is critical.

    A student can copy a reference perfectly using other methods, and it would not be useful to us. I've had plenty of cases where students submitted beautifully rendered drawings of animals for Lesson 5, only to be assigned a full redo because they didn't follow the process, and thus did not benefit from it. Conversely, there have also been situations where the resulting drawings weren't great, but the process was followed to a tee, and so I was confident that the student was clearly developing that understanding of 3D space, and so they continued on.

    That is why back in Lesson 0 - and I recommend that you review the video from this page - I stress the importance of not letting your own judgments of your work get in the way. The fact of the matter is that students are here because they have things to learn, and there are a lot of aspects of learning to draw which are not obvious, and which do not mesh with the ways they've learned things previously. And so, they approach with expectations of how things should work, but no actual idea of how they actually do work.

    Of course, it's not exactly an easy thing to set aside all of these natural fears and concerns and trust in the guidance you're given - but it is something we have to continually remind ourselves to do, to make a concerted effort to quiet those doubts in our minds and ultimately, to trust that you're following this course because you trust us. It's actually something that comes up often enough for students that I made a comic to illustrate the idea in a bit of a different way.

    It is perfectly okay to decide down the road that our methodology simply isn't working for you, and your doubts have accumulated without enough return on your investment of time - but it doesn't seem like you're there yet, and until you get to that point, always remind yourself that until you change your mind, you're choosing to follow this resource as it is designed. So, allow yourself to trust in it, to follow it whole-heartedly (or at least as much as you're able).

    As to your concern about following other courses alongside Drawabox, that's entirely fine, and frankly something I encourage for those who have time for it. I simply ask two things:

    • One, that we keep our expectations in check. If you're taking a course on spatial reasoning (Drawabox) at the same time as learning concepts that rely on spatial reasoning (like figure drawing), it would be completely unreasonable to expect your results in the figure drawing course to match the results of those who are better equipped with the skills that concept relies upon. That doesn't mean you're necessarily better off doing everything in sequence - rather, I myself learned figure drawing and many of the concepts we develop here (albeit in a more diluted form) in parallel. What I found from doing that is that while my figure drawing skills were embarrassing for quite some time, what I was doing there fed back into what I was learning about spatial reasoning. Facing the same problem through different lenses helped expand my overall grasp of it, allowing me to gradually pick up those concepts more quickly - that is, at least once I started hitting certain points of understanding. To put it simply, I've found that doing things in sequence, one by one, is a slower and frankly less fulfilling way of doing things, and that you'll get more out of doing them in parallel (assuming you have the time to give both the attention and time they demand) - as long as I'm not tormenting myself with unreasonable, over-inflated expectations, based on little more than my own idea of how learning should work, untethered from the reality of how things actually tend to unfold.

    • Two, that we don't mix between the courses. That is, each course is likely to have its own internally consistent set of rules and recommendations. Drawabox of course is a pretty strong example of this, as it's quite strict in terms of requiring that we draw with fineliners/ink, that we engage our whole arm from the shoulder, never the elbow, when drawing a stroke that requires a consistent trajectory and smooth flow, that we use the ghosting method for every mark we freehand, etc. but these rules only apply within this course, and it would be incorrect to apply them to, say, a figure drawing course which may opt to approach things in a fundamentally different way, with different tools. There is no universal right or wrong - there's simply the concepts a course attempts to teach us, and the structures it puts in place in order to achieve that goal as effectively and efficiently as it can, by following a particular teaching and learning methodology.

    So, explore whatever courses you wish, no matter how advanced they are, just keep your expectations in check and always respect any hard rules/recommendations a course imposes (unless they specifically present them as something that is optional).

    I hope that helps.

    1 users agree
    5:34 PM, Monday July 8th 2024

    For what it's worth, I spent the first ten years I was drawing as a regular hobby doing so digitally - at least, onwards from the age of 14 when I was able to get my first tablet. I improved plenty, but I had a ton of holes in my fundamentals, and so what I was producing was still very inconsistent.

    When I finally pursued more formal training at the age of 24, which constituted of saving up money from my full time job, quitting, and moving across the continent to take two terms of Concept Design Academy, the first term was entirely focused on traditional work. While I expect the fact that I had a lot more experience in drawing by that point (12ish years to your 4 months), adapting to the change in medium was not easy. Where digital tools allowed me to hide a lot of my issues, the ink we were working with - as we do so here - highlighted every mistake and made it impossible to hide.

    That's why we use it. If your goal is to improve your skills (which it doesn't have to be - there is nothing that says we have to strive to improve on a technical level with the things we do as a hobby, although many don't really approach it in the sense of a "pure" hobby, in which case your technical skills wouldn't matter), then that is done by being made to face our mistakes. Not to fear or hate them, but to recognize their value in telling us (or more accurately, those helping us out) what issues we still face, and what we should do next to tackle them.

    I still do just about all of my artwork digitally, but focusing on traditional tools in that first term armed me with a foundation and basis that fed back into my digital work. Changing mediums will always have its troubles, as one has to learn the ins and outs of that specific medium. Each piece of software has its particular ways of doing things, just as a brush, a pencil, a fineliner, a fountain pen, a ballpoint pen will all have different considerations and issues for us to grow accustomed to accounting for. But that is not the entirety of what you're learning - that is just the smallest piece of it.

    What you learn about drawing, about leveraging your arm and your body, about understanding the things you draw on a flat page or canvas as existing in three dimensions - these exist entirely separately from the tools you happen to be using at the time. But every concept you learn is going to have tools that work against their principles, and tools that work with those principles to help teach the concept more effectively.

    And that is why working with ink is something we recommend when working through this course, and why using digital tools for what we learn here isn't.

    5:18 PM, Monday July 8th 2024

    One thing to keep in mind is that what we learn throughout this course isn't really about technique. There are certainly techniques in there - or more accurately, things that can be extracted as techniques - but the goal with everything we introduce to students throughout this course are exercises. We're teaching you how, and what, to practice, in order to work towards certain results.

    When it comes to the Y method we employ in the box challenge, it shifts the focus to the convergence of our lines, especially when combined with line extensions. That isn't to say that every box we draw in the future will be drawn with this methodology - as you noted, it specifically leans towards 3 point perspective - but boxes are made up of sets of edges that are parallel in 3D space, and there's only two ways in which they're going to be drawn: either they converge towards a concrete vanishing point, or they converge towards an infinite vanishing point (that is to say, they don't converge when drawn on the page and remain parallel).

    As each exercise is introduced in a lesson or challenge, and confirmed that we're doing it correctly, it becomes part of our warmups - and so by continuing to practice the use of the Y method by drawing those kinds of freely rotated boxes as prescribed by the box challenge, we continue to practice this limited area of spatial reasoning, in order to improve our ability to leverage the convergence aspect of drawing boxes. The rest - keeping lines parallel on the page - doesn't require as much active practice generally, although if we start thinking of the methodologies we use as general techniques (in the sense that, if you want to draw a box, use the Y method, regardless of its orientation, despite the fact that it as a technique doesn't work as well with 1 and 2 point perspective) we might end up with tunnel vision, and stop leveraging the other things we've learned.

    That's something we want to avoid - any situation where we think of what we learn here as step by step recipes. They aren't - at most they're tools for dealing with specific problems, but more than that, as with everything we learn throughout this course, the goal is to rewire your subconscious understanding of 3D space. The end goal that we're working towards is that all of the "how" of drawing sinks into our subconscious, allowing us to focus on the what of what we're drawing instead. Of course, in order to get there, we have to be extremely conscious of every choice we make, and why we make those choices, for the homework we do in this course.

    Taking a step back to your question, keep in mind that the box challenge isn't the only place we encounter boxes - the plotted perspective exercise has us working with 2 point perspective (where our verticals are drawn parallel on the page), and the rough perspective exercise has us working with 1 point perspective (where our verticals and horizontals are drawn parallel on the page), and so those are things you may wish to review. At the end of the day, even if a box is rotated entirely independently of the ground plane, horizon, etc. as we see in these challenges, they're still functioning off the same basis of concrete vanishing points and infinite vanishing points.

    5:06 PM, Monday July 8th 2024

    The intent of the challenge is to serve as a reminder - if it were mentioned explicitly in the lesson material for the challenge, I would have assigned revisions. It has however served its purpose. When you review the Lesson 2 texture material, you'll see some bits where I talk about how texture is essentially any case where we've got forms arranged along the surface of another structure, so by that definition, our tires definitely apply. For anything that fits that description, implicit markmaking becomes an effective choice, and so that's how we'd approach it in this course - but outside of the course, it's just another tool for you to decide how to employ.

    7:37 PM, Sunday July 7th 2024

    Looking good. I'll go hijack Tofu's account so I can mark this challenge as complete.

    0 users agree
    9:49 PM, Friday July 5th 2024

    Jumping right in with your cylinders around arbitrary minor axes, one thing that immediately does jump out at me is that while this isn't something you're doing consistently, you appear to be drawing the side edges of your cylinders as parallel on the page somewhat often - as we see in cases like 112, 114, 116, 120, 123, 125, and so forth - which is noted in this section of reminders as specifically being incorrect. Seeing this very infrequently could be explained as the result of you trying to achieve very slight convergence, but accidentally ending up with parallel edges, although with this frequency that does not seem to be the case. I also noticed that you'd written "Good?" next to 123, which further confirms that you may have been under the impression that this would be something to aim for.

    The rest of your cylinders are generally okay, although your linework also appears to be showing signs of not employing the ghosting method - those signs include an absence of having those start/end points marked out (I can see them on your minor axis lines, although not on the side edges), and those side edges frequently being at least a little hesitant and wobbly (which isn't always immediately noticeable, but is certainly present). Remember that the ghosting method must be used for all of the marks we freehand throughout this course - straight lines, ellipses, curves, etc. - in order to continually reinforce that our first priority is to the confidence of our execution. We achieve this by investing our time into the planning and preparation phases, so that when executing we can simply push through with what we've prepared, but when students start drifting away from this process without realizing it, they tend to do so gradually. First they spend less time in the planning and preparation phases, and in turn they later end up compensating by investing more time into the execution phase, which undermines the methodology as a whole.

    So, be sure to reflect upon exactly how you're going about making your marks - we always want to be hyper-intentional with every choice we make when drawing our homework, as this is how we rewire our instincts, so that when we draw outside of the course we're in a better position to apply what we've learned without having to think about it.

    Continuing onto the cylinders in boxes, your work here is definitely more consistently better in your execution of the instructions. I'm pleased that you noticed the relevance of the boxes' own proportions, as that is a key aspect of this exercise - though perhaps not in the way you might have thought. This exercise is really all about helping develop students' understanding of how to construct boxes which feature two opposite faces which are proportionally square, regardless of how the form is oriented in space. That is to say, it's about the box itself, not the cylinder we draw inside of it. We train this not by memorizing every possible configuration, but rather by continuing to develop your subconscious understanding of space through repetition, and through analysis (by way of the line extensions).

    Where the box challenge's line extensions helped to develop a stronger sense of how to achieve more consistent convergences in our lines, here we add three more lines for each ellipse: the minor axis, and the two contact point lines. In checking how far off these are from converging towards the box's own vanishing points, we can see how far off we were from having the ellipse represent a circle in 3D space, and in turn how far off we were from having the plane that encloses it from representing a square.

    As a whole, I can see that you're applying the line extension methodology as instructed, and that you're steadily applying what those line extensions tell you to adjust your proportions accordingly in later attempts. Additionally, your linework does appear to be more confident and consistent here than it was before.

    Anyway, I'll go ahead and mark this challenge as complete. As a whole you're on the right track, although do be sure to go through that reminder section I linked earlier, avoid drawing your cylinders' side edges as parallel on the page (or more generally, avoid forcing your vanishing points to infinity if the orientation of those edges in 3D space does not specifically allow for it), and keep an eye on your use of the ghosting method.

    Next Steps:

    Move onto Lesson 6.

    This critique marks this lesson as complete.
    0 users agree
    9:20 PM, Friday July 5th 2024

    Jumping right in with the cylinders around arbitrary minor axes, your work here is largely well done. You've got a good variation of rates of foreshortening across the set, and I'm pleased to see that you've been quite fastidious in checking the true alignment of your ellipses' minor axes, catching both minor and more significant issues.

    I did see a couple instances like 110 (which you'll find on this page) where your side edges are running parallel on the page, which as explained here, is incorrect.

    The bigger concern I do have though - and it's just something you're going to have to keep in mind and continue working on in your warmups - is that you do not appear to be applying the ghosting method to your linework here. I'm not seeing the usual signs of the start/end points for your straight edges, and both your ellipses and lines tend to show signs of hesitation, which also suggests that the core goal of the ghosting method (which is to separate the process into distinct stages so we can focus our time on the planning/preparation phases, allowing for a smooth and confident execution where we commit to what we've prepared) is not being followed as closely as it could.

    It is not uncommon that students gradually get used to going through the motions of the method without being as conscious or aware of what it is they're actually doing - and so they end up gradually spending less time on planning/preparation, and then to compensate they end up investing more time into the execution phase, at which point they're no longer really following that methodology at all. So, be sure to pay closer attention to what you're actually doing, be more intentional in applying the ghosting method to every mark you freehand throughout this course, and of course be sure to engage your whole arm from your shoulder.

    Continuing onto your cylinders in boxes, your work here is largely coming along well - and I should note, the execution of your linework (especially the straight edges) is markedly improved. This exercise is really all about helping develop students' understanding of how to construct boxes which feature two opposite faces which are proportionally square, regardless of how the form is oriented in space. We do this not by memorizing every possible configuration, but rather by continuing to develop your subconscious understanding of space through repetition, and through analysis (by way of the line extensions).

    Where the box challenge's line extensions helped to develop a stronger sense of how to achieve more consistent convergences in our lines, here we add three more lines for each ellipse: the minor axis, and the two contact point lines. In checking how far off these are from converging towards the box's own vanishing points, we can see how far off we were from having the ellipse represent a circle in 3D space, and in turn how far off we were from having the plane that encloses it from representing a square.

    As a whole I can see that you've applied that methodology correctly and completely throughout the set, and your estimation of those proportions certainly reflects that. While there's always room for continued improvement with practice, as it stands you should be well equipped to move onto the next stage.

    I'll go ahead and mark this challenge as complete.

    Next Steps:

    Feel free to move onto Lesson 6.

    This critique marks this lesson as complete.
    0 users agree
    8:57 PM, Friday July 5th 2024

    Based on your description of the troubles you ran into, I can't help but feel a little validated in that ultimately students generally discover that it's best just to stick with what we recommend in the instructions. They will of course still attempt to find other paths, especially when it comes to thinking of their situation as demanding changes, which itself is unfortunate as it means more of their cognitive resources are going towards working against the instructions, thus getting in the way of them applying them as completely as they could have, but it is what it is.

    Anyway, jumping right in with the structural aspect of the challenge, there are a few points I wanted to call out, although you're still handling this reasonably well:

    • Firstly, it seems that you're skipping the step of including an ellipse through the midsection as shown here in the instructions. You tend to draw the ellipses on either side, but when it comes to ellipses that would be visible through the form (in the sense of how we draw through our boxes), you seem like you might be avoiding it in favour of a cleaner result.

    • Secondly, you seem to skip the spokes/rims on a lot of these, and in the cases where you do include them you seem to only be considering the outward faces as we see here and here, skipping over establishing the thickness of those structures. This one is better executed in that you've included the side planes to show thickness, but as I noted towards the bottom right, you've got a few that continue on in space instead of cutting off where they hit the inner rim.

    Continuing onto the textural aspect of the challenge, this is an area where I expect you had ended up investing the most time and running into the most complexity. It is undeniable that you've put a lot of effort into this part of things - but, as most students do, you've stumbled into a bit of a trap in this regard which definitely had a lot to do with this extra work you put in.

    Being as far removed as we are from Lesson 2, it's very common for students to either forget entirely that we have different approaches we employ when delving into texture, or to remember vaguely that there was something, but still not go back and try and figure out what it was. In your case, I expect it was the former - it seems you forgot about it entirely, and as such you ended up employing purely constructional/explicit markmaking techniques, rather than those involving implicit markmaking that were introduced in Lesson 2's texture section.

    Looking at any of your wheels in isolation, floating in the void, they look great. But as soon as you incorporate them into, say, an illustration of a car, all of that dense detail and visual complexity that you've needed to define the tire tread structures will draw a lot of attention, creating a focal point in the illustration whether you want it to or not. That isn't ideal, as it takes the ability to control how the viewer's eye experiences the image out of our hands. That's where implicit markmaking, and its focus on drawing the shadows forms cast, rather than the forms themselves, comes in.

    As shown in this diagram, depending on how far the form is from the light source, the angle of the light rays will hit the object at shallower angles the farther away they are, resulting in the shadow itself being projected farther. This means that even if we're depicting the exact same texture, the exact same arrangement of forms, it can result in it being depicted with very little visual complexity/contrast (in the case where all the shadows are so big they cover most of the surfaces and merge together, or where the shadows are so small they barely appear), or in it being depicted with lots of visual complexity/contrast (in the case where we're somewhere in between, lots of shadows and lots of lit areas). It also means that this can change as we move along the surface of the form, and don't have to stick to one level of detail density all the way through (hence why we practiced these concepts with the gradients from the texture analysis exercise).

    So, as shown here, instead of drawing the textural forms themselves as we would construct any other form (by outlining and defining its volume with edges), we instead have to perform the more mentally taxing task of trying to keep track of how one of these textural forms sits in space, and what surfaces surround it, in order to design a cast shadow shape that reflects that spatial relationship. In the end, what's drawn isn't the textural form, but the impact it has on its surroundings.

    Another issue that can arise in regards to all of this is that when it comes to those tires with shallow grooves, or really any texture consisting of holes, cracks, etc. it's very common for us to view these named things (the grooves, the cracks, etc.) as being the textural forms in question - but of course they're not forms at all. They're empty, negative space, and it's the structures that surround these empty spaces that are the actual forms for us to consider when designing the shadows they'll cast. This is demonstrated in this diagram. This doesn't always actually result in a different result at the end of the day, but as these are all exercises, how we think about them and how we come to that result is just as important - if not moreso.

    Anyway, I'm still going to be marking this challenge as complete, as these textural issues are expected, and we prefer this challenge serve as a reminder for students to consider what else they might have left behind, and might be worth reviewing. At the very least there's these textural concepts, but do spend some time reflecting on whether or not anything else may have been allowed to slip through the cracks.

    And of course, stick to our instructions/recommendations - don't try and find ways to tweak them to suit your situation better, as that's going to take cognitive resources that could otherwise be spent on applying those instructions as they're given.

    Next Steps:

    Move onto Lesson 7.

    This critique marks this lesson as complete.
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