Lesson 5: Applying Construction to Animals

7:38 PM, Friday December 4th 2020

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Found this Lesson the most difficult one thus far. But at the same time, I had a lot of fun with it! Went a bit overboard with the contour lines on the birds. After realizing that, I re-read the lesson instructions and your critique on my lesson 4 submission, which was really helpful!

Well anyway, as always: Looking forward to your feedback! ;)

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5:29 PM, Monday December 7th 2020

You've definitely shown a great deal of progress throughout this lesson. In order to do my critique, I focused primarily on two separate drawings, one from earlier in your set and one from later on.

To start, let's look at this rabbit. I marked out a bunch of things to consider right on the image, but I'll list the major points here:

  • First and foremost, while we want all of our forms to be informed by what we can see in our reference image, it's important to think about what we know about the world at large to help us with what we ought to be looking for in our reference. For example, especially in rabbits, the leg structure can be a little obfuscated. In your drawing you missed some joints. Remember that all animals' legs have the same number of joints - hip, knee, ankle, ball of foot.

  • You drew some rather flat shapes for the feet. While what we're drawing is indeed a shape (a silhouette is a flat shape after all), corners in the silhouette can imply the meeting of separate 3D planes to make it look more three dimensional.

  • When constructing heads, make sure that you fit all your pieces together, like a three dimensional puzzle.

  • When drawing fur, don't be haphazard trying to pile on as much as you can. Instead, use your time to design a few specific, intentional, purposeful tufts. Our job here is merely to convey the idea that something is furry - not to draw all the fur realistically.

  • For the additional mass along the back, I'm actually going to elaborate on this in the next drawing.

The next one is this antelope from much later in the set, which I think shows a LOT of improvement. The head construction's improved, the general structure is coming along much better, etc. but there are still a few areas where things could be better.

  • Your head construction, as I mentioned, is much better though you did still leave gaps between the brow ridge form and the eye sockets. Don't leave gaps. Treat this whole thing like pieces that are all fitting together. You did this very well for the other forms - the eye sockets, the muzzle, the cheek area.

  • When drawing the horns, you started with a simple structure and then drew segments such that they cut into the silhouette of the base structure. This is incorrect, because it undermines the idea that we're building up solid, three dimensional forms and then building up around them. Here's a more detailed explanation of why it can flatten out our drawings.

  • Similarly to the rabbit's feet, you drew the hooves here as simple flat shapes.

  • When adding additional masses, it's important to be aware of how much you're trying to accomplish with a single form. Generally when a form ends up larger, with a lot of complexity to it, it's likely that it may be better off broken down into separate forms built on top of one another as explained in these notes. The best quality we get out of these additional forms comes out of how they create little pinches along the silhouette of the resulting structure that imply a lot more interesting complexity while retaining overall solidity. In trying to do everything with a single additional mass, we smooth things out artificially and sidestep this opportunity to capture the nuance and subtle features of musculature.

  • Furthermore, choosing where to place complexity in an additional mass is a pretty big deal. When floating in the void, an additional mass starts off like a simple ball of soft meat, made up of nothing but outward curvature. Once it presses against an existing structure however, it curves inward at the point of contact, and creates sharp corners/turns where we transition from an outward curve to an inward one. It is critical that we ensure that every inward curve is in reaction to something concrete that we're aware of. So looking at the masses along the antelope's back, specifically near its shoulder, you had some inward curve along its top edge where nothing else was pressing against it. This complexity was not merited. Conversely, where we do have the form pressing up against something, it should curve inward to respond to it, to show that interaction. You can read more about this in these notes. Lastly, it always helps to actually define the forms our mass is pressing up against - you can see me drawing lots of forms, even thouse along the interior of this dog leg's silhouette to ensure that the shape of my additional masses makes sense. I also do this in this ant's leg. Like the head construction, everything fits together like a puzzle.

The last thing I wanted to touch upon was your hybrid. Honestly, it was much more in line with the earlier drawings in your set, and didn't convey quite the level of understanding and spatial reasoning skill as your later animal constructions/studies did. As a whole, I think you could have done much better, specifically in thinking about how you could push the complexity of your hybrid's structure further than the bare minimum. Also, that tail entirely breaks the principles of working from simple to complex and just looks like an entirely flat shape (or a bit like the hybrid farts fire, but I won't judge). Here's a very quick exploration of how it could have been pushed further.

All in all I am still very happy with your progress, but with continued study and practice you will be able to improve a great deal more. I will leave you to do that on your own, and will go ahead and mark this lesson as complete.

Next Steps:

Move onto the 250 cylinder challenge, which is a prerequisite for lesson 6.

This critique marks this lesson as complete.
12:54 PM, Wednesday December 9th 2020

Thanks a lot for your thorough critique! And yeah I have to admit, that I was a bit lazy didn't put as much time and focus into my hybrid as I probably should've done.

I will definitely keep practicing them on my own!

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