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10:54 AM, Sunday September 10th 2023
edited at 10:58 AM, Sep 10th 2023

Hello Giovany, I'll be the teaching assistant handling your lesson 4 critique.

Starting with your organic forms with contour curves there is something to call out, it seems you did one page of contour ellipses, though the assignment was for both pages to be contour curves. Not a huge problem, but it does suggest that you may want to be more attentive when reading through the instructions.

Most of your lines are smooth and confident, which is great. I'm noticing quite a few of these forms have some subtle swelling though their midsection, so they become a bit bloated. We're basically aiming for the properties of two balls of equal size, connected by a tube of consistent width, as introduced here.

It is good to see that you're starting to experiment with varying the degree of your contours. Keep in mind that the degree of your contour lines should be shifting wider as we slide along the sausage form, moving farther away from the viewer. This is also influenced by the way in which the sausages themselves turn in space, but farther = wider is a good rule of thumb to follow. If you're unsure as to why that is, review the Lesson 1 ellipses video.

There are a couple of spots where you've drawn a contour ellipse on an end of a form where the contour curves tell us the tip faces away from the viewer. I've crossed them out and added one that was missing here. Remember that these ellipses are no different from the contour curves, in that they're all just contour lines running along the surface of the form. It's just that when the tip faces the viewer, we can see all the way around the surface, resulting in a full ellipse rather than just a partial curve. But where the end is pointing away from us, there would be no ellipse at all. Take a look at this breakdown of the different ways in which our contour lines can change the way in which the sausage is perceived - note how the contour curves and the ellipses are always consistent, giving the same impression of which ends are facing towards the viewer and which are facing away.

Remember to draw around the small ellipses on the end(s) of the forms 2 full times before lifting your pen off the page. This is something we ask you to do for every ellipse that you freehand in this course, as explained here in lesson 1.

Moving on to your insect constructions these are coming along well. You're showing a good understanding of how the forms you draw exist in 3D space, and you're doing a good job of building your constructions gradually from simple forms, without attempting to skip steps. I also like that you're "drawing through" most of your forms and including the parts that you can't see where things become obscured in the reference. This is great, as figuring out how the whole form exists in space and connects to the rest of the construction will help you to develop your spatial reasoning skills, so please continue to use this approach as you move forward.

I do have some points that should help you get more out of these constructional exercises in the future.

The first of these relates to differentiating between the actions we can take when interacting with a construction, which fall into two groups:

1 Actions in 2D space, where we're just putting lines down on a page, without necessarily considering the specific nature of the relationships between the forms they're meant to represent and the forms that already exist in the scene.

2 Actions in 3D space, where we're actually thinking about how each form we draw exists in 3D space, and how it relates to the existing 3D structures already present. We draw them in a manner that actually respects the 3D nature of what's already there, and even reinforces it.

Because we're drawing on a flat piece of paper, we have a lot of freedom to make whatever marks we choose, but many of those marks would contradict the illusion you're trying to create and remind the viewer that they're just looking at a series of lines on a flat piece of paper. In order to avoid this and stick only to the marks that reinforce the illusion we're creating, we can force ourselves to adhere to certain rules as we build up our constructions. Rules that respect the solidity of our construction.

For example - once you've put a form down on the page, do not attempt to alter its silhouette. Its silhouette is just a shape on the page which represents the form we're drawing, but its connection to that form is entirely based on its current shape. If you change that shape, you won't alter the form it represents - you'll just break the connection, leaving yourself with a flat shape. We can see this most easily in this example of what happens when we cut back into the silhouette of a form.

For example, I've marked on your ant and your bee in red where it looks like you cut back inside the silhouette of forms you had already drawn. One thing I did notice is that many of the instances of cutting into forms (though not all) came down to the fact that your ellipses would come out a little loose (which is totally normal), and then you'd pick one of the inner edges to serve as the silhouette of the ball form you were constructing. This unfortunately would leave some stray marks outside of its silhouette, which does create some visual issues. Generally it is best to treat the outermost perimeter of the ellipse as the edge of the silhouette, so everything else remains contained within it. This diagram shows which lines to use on a loose ellipse.

On the same images I marked in blue where you'd extended off existing forms using partial, flat shapes, not quite providing enough information for us to understand how they actually connect to the existing structure in 3D space.

Instead, when we want to build on our construction or alter something we add new 3D forms to the existing structure. Forms with their own complete silhouettes - and by establishing how those forms either connect or relate to what's already present in our 3D scene. We can do this either by defining the intersection between them with contour lines (like in lesson 2's form intersections exercise), or by wrapping the silhouette of the new form around the existing structure as shown here.

This is all part of understanding that everything we draw is 3D, and therefore needs to be treated as such in order for both you and the viewer to believe in that lie.

You can see this in practice in this beetle horn demo, as well as in this ant head demo. You can also see some good examples of this in the lobster and shrimp demos on the informal demos page. As Uncomfortable has been pushing this concept more recently, it hasn't been fully integrated into the lesson material yet (it will be when the overhaul reaches Lesson 4). Until then, those submitting for official critiques basically get a preview of what is to come.

The next thing I wanted to talk about is leg construction. It looks like you tried out a few different strategies for constructing legs. It's not uncommon for students to be aware of the sausage method as introduced here, but to decide that the legs they're looking at don't actually seem to look like a chain of sausages, so they use some other strategy.

The key to keep in mind here is that the sausage method is not about capturing the legs precisely as they are - it is about laying in a base structure or armature that captures both the solidity and the gestural flow of a limb in equal measure, where the majority of other techniques lean too far to one side, either looking solid and stiff or gestural but flat. Once in place, we can then build on top of this base structure with more additional forms as shown in these examples here, here, and in this ant leg demo and also here on this dog leg demo as this method should be used throughout lesson 5 too.

So, a couple of things for you to do to apply the sausage method more successfully:

  • Make sure you're drawing complete forms for each leg section. I've highlighted some partial shapes in blue on this page.

  • Try to stick to simple sausage forms for your base armatures, as closely as you can.

  • Remember to include a contour curve at each joint to show how the forms connect together in 3D space. You're doing this some of the time, but not consistently.

Now the last thing I want to discuss is in regards to your approach to the detail phase, once the construction is handled. On this page, you appear to be getting caught up in decorating your drawing (making it more visually interesting and pleasing by whatever means at your disposal - pulling information from direct observation and drawing it as you see it), which is not what the texture section of Lesson 2 really describes. Decoration itself is not a clear goal - there's no specific point at which we've added "enough".

What we're doing in this course can be broken into two distinct sections - construction and texture - and they both focus on the same concept. With construction we're communicating to the viewer what they need to know to understand how they might manipulate this object with their hands, were it in front of them. With texture, we're communicating to the viewer what they need to know to understand what it'd feel like to run their fingers over the object's various surfaces. Both of these focus on communicating three dimensional information. Both sections have specific jobs to accomplish, and none of it has to do with making the drawing look nice.

Instead of focusing on decoration, what we draw here comes down to what is actually physically present in our construction, just on a smaller scale. As discussed back in Lesson 2's texture section, we focus on each individual textural form, focusing on them one at a time and using the information present in the reference image to help identify and understand how every such textural form sits in 3D space, and how it relates within that space to its neighbours. Once we understand how the textural form sits in the world, we then design the appropriate shadow shape that it would cast on its surroundings. The shadow shape is important, because it's that specific shape which helps define the relationship between the form casting it, and the surface receiving it.

As a result of this approach, you'll find yourself thinking less about excuses to add more ink, and instead you'll be working in the opposite - trying to get the information across while putting as little ink down as is strictly needed, and using those implicit markmaking techniques from Lesson 2 to help you with that. In particular, these notes are a good section to review, at minimum.

Conclusion

Overall your work is coming along well. I've called out a few things to work on, but they can all continue to be addressed into the next lesson, so I'll go ahead and mark this one as complete. Please refer to the advice in this critique (and the various diagrams and demos I've shared here) as you progress through the next lesson, this should help you to tackle your animal constructions.

Next Steps:

Lesson 5

This critique marks this lesson as complete.
edited at 10:58 AM, Sep 10th 2023
6:26 AM, Wednesday September 13th 2023

Thank you for your review. I will apply your advice for the future

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