Lesson 5: Applying Construction to Animals

5:59 PM, Friday September 23rd 2022

Draw a box lesson 5 - Album on Imgur

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Hi Uncomforable,

It took me a while to finish all of this. I obviously struggled a lot with the faces but overall I see a big improvement throughout the past few months and I really had a lot of fun with the hybrid. Thank you for your critique!

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7:04 PM, Tuesday September 27th 2022

It's pretty clear that you've put a great deal of time and effort into your work here, although there are some notable choices you've made here that, to varying degrees, contradict some of the feedback I'd provided previously - primarily when it comes to the point about avoiding modifying the silhouettes of the forms, but rather always engaging with your construction in three dimensions - not as a mere set of lines and shapes on a flat page.

This issue comes up in two main ways - there are the places where you've just ended up modifying those silhouettes (in very much the way I advised you not to), as shown here (as before, in red where you cut into the silhouettes of your forms, and in blue where you extended off them). There are also the places where you've ended up modifying the silhouettes of those forms, but perhaps unintentionally, by going back over your existing linework in trying to add line weight somewhat overzealously. That is to say, when going back over a form's silhouette to make it darker and thicker, you might have deviated from its path here and there, causing unintended alterations to it. There are also circumstances where you may have tried to apply the same stroke of line weight across multiple forms, jumping from one to another, and in so doing "bridging" from one to the next and accidentally enclosing a bit of 2D space against the structure, effectively extending that structure's silhouette out - something we can often see very small instances of on your animals' legs, although we can also see it here as you have your line weight jump from that additional mass back to the main torso's silhouette.

While the first point is something we've already discussed at length - although being that it was back in May, you may not have done what you required in order to keep it fresh in your mind at all times and thus may have forgotten the bulk of it, working off a shadow of a recollection - the second point relates back to points addressed further back in the course as well. Specifically, these notes advising students against separating their drawings into a lighter, fainter, "rough" sketch followed by a darker "clean-up" pass, as well as these notes which explain how line weight should be used in a much more limited extent, only to clarify the overlaps between specific forms, in the localized areas where those overlaps occur, rather than as generally as you've used it here.

While we do not expect students to produce perfect work, or even good work, what we do require above all else is that the student invest their time in every way they need to execute the work to the best of their current abilities. That can mean taking as much time as one needs in the construction of each form, the drawing of each shape, and the execution of each mark. It can also mean taking plenty of time to observe one's reference - not just at the start of a drawing, but frequently throughout its process to inform every choice and decision we make. And moreover, it also means taking the time you require to ensure that the feedback that has been provided in the past - not just in reading through it the first time, but in revisiting it as frequently as you require to keep that information fresh in your mind as you work through the homework, or whatever else you may require to do so. For some students that means taking notes so they have what they need to keep in the forefront of their minds open in front of them as they do their next work.

The reason this is particularly unfortunately is really that a lot of your other work is coming along quite well. I can see that you're making considerable efforts in how you're using your additional masses - although the excessive use of line weight does cause them to kind of get smoothed out together, reducing their benefits as 3D forms, and instead flattening much in your drawings into two dimensions. I do however have a couple points of advice where your those additional masses' silhouette designs can be improved further.

One thing that helps with the shape here is to think about how the mass would behave when existing first in the void of empty space, on its own. It all comes down to the silhouette of the mass - here, with nothing else to touch it, our mass would exist like a soft ball of meat or clay, made up only of outward curves. A simple circle for a silhouette.

Then, as it presses against an existing structure, the silhouette starts to get more complex. It forms inward curves wherever it makes contact, responding directly to the forms that are present. The silhouette is never random, of course - always changing in response to clear, defined structure. You can see this demonstrated in this diagram.

I do believe you understand this to a fair degree, and I can see that you're thinking through at least parts of your silhouette designs with this in mind. That said, I did also notice a number of places where you'd use a sort of outward curve, or even something one might think of as a "soft" corner, where a sharp corner leading into an inward curve would have better established a relationship in 3D space with the existing structure. Here's what I mean. In each of the masses on that giraffe that I highlighted, you've got one end with a nice sharp corner, but the other with a softer one. As shown below, soft corners like this do not establish any relationship in 3D space - rather it's more like the mass exists on top of the existing structure, pasted on top like a sticker over a drawing. The sharp corners on both sides are important to establish how they relate together in three dimensions.

Here's how we might put this into action, with clear and purposeful thought behind where we place every component of each silhouette - each outward curve, each inward curve, and the nature of the corners between them. You'll also note that I allow them to build upon one another - because as soon as a mass is added to the existing structure, it becomes part of that existing structure, and thus whatever comes next has to deal with it as well. This is why thinking about our constructions strictly in three dimensions is so important.

You'll also note that the masses at the hip and shoulder, where we get all those big engine muscles that allow these animals to walk around, we can take advantage of these structures because they give us something to wrap our masses around, giving us more spatial relationships being defined, and thus helping everything to feel more grounded and solid. In many cases taking advantage of such things requires us to stretch our masses further down along the sides to "reach" those areas - but doing so merely increases the "grip" those masses have on the overall structure.

Now before I call this critique done, there's one last topic I wanted to touch upon - head construction. Lesson 5 has a lot of different strategies for constructing heads, between the various demos. Given how the course has developed, and how I'm finding new, more effective ways for students to tackle certain problems. So not all the approaches shown are equal, but they do have their uses. As it stands, as explained at the top of the tiger demo page (here), the current approach that is the most generally useful, as well as the most meaningful in terms of these drawings all being exercises in spatial reasoning, is what you'll find here on the informal demos page.

There are a few key points to this approach:

  • The specific shape of the eyesockets - the specific pentagonal shape allows for a nice wedge in which the muzzle can fit in between the sockets, as well as a flat edge across which we can lay the forehead area.

  • This approach focuses heavily on everything fitting together - no arbitrary gaps or floating elements. This allows us to ensure all of the different pieces feel grounded against one another, like a three dimensional puzzle.

  • We have to be mindful of how the marks we make are cuts along the curving surface of the cranial ball - working in individual strokes like this (rather than, say, drawing the eyesocket with an ellipse) helps a lot in reinforcing this idea of engaging with a 3D structure.

Try your best to employ this method when doing constructional drawing exercises using animals in the future, as closely as you can. Sometimes it seems like it's not a good fit for certain heads, but with a bit of finagling it can still apply pretty well. To demonstrate this for another student, I found the most banana-headed rhinoceros I could, and threw together this demo.

As a whole it's clear to me that you've stumbled here. You've put the information you were able to recall to good use, but in neglecting to go back and review past feedback as much as you required in order to apply it, you've unfortunately undermined those efforts, and not held to your responsibilities as a student here. These things happen - but hopefully it will be an opportunity to reflect upon how you approach the information imparted to you, and will be able to revise how you approach such things for your betterment going forward.

I've assigned revisions below. When doing these revisions, I want you to note on the page the date of each session you spent on it, along with a rough estimate of how much time each session was given.

Next Steps:

Please submit 5 pages of animal constructions, once you've given yourself the time you need to review the past feedback.

When finished, reply to this critique with your revisions.
2:45 AM, Wednesday April 19th 2023

Hi Uncomfortable,

I have attached a link to my new drawings. The first 4 are from right before I took a little break and the last 3 are more recent. I welcome your feedback and understand if you think I should go back in lessons.




7:42 PM, Thursday April 20th 2023

You are certainly moving in the right direction, and I will be marking this submission as complete, but there are issues you'll want to continue keeping in mind and working on as you continue to push forwards.

  • I noticed that while you're definitely doing better when it comes to breaking complex masses into separate simple ones, there are still a lot of occasions where you're prone to allowing individual masses to have elements of complexity - like inward curves - that occur arbitrarily, rather than in response to direct contact with other structures.

  • I'm noticing areas where you frequently use more rounded, softer corners where sharper ones are required. For example, here, specifically the mass you've added along the joint along the left side of that leg. The portion touching the leg structure itself has an inward curve, but on either end it starts from a rounded corner. These would be situations where we would have sharp corners leading into those inward curves as shown here. If you for whatever reason are drawing your masses with a single stroke, don't. When the trajectory of that silhouette's edge needs to change, due to the form pressing up against another structure, it is appropriate to lift your pen up and plan out another stroke.

  • Always remember that every new mass you add is going to have its own thickness to it, meaning that they will impact the silhouette of the overall object as you build it up, by sticking out from them slightly. If we look at this area where you've added a little mass where the cat's neck meets its torso, we can see that the mass appears to create a perfectly smooth and continuous edge down from the neck and right into the torso. If we look more closely at the edge along the outside of this additional mass's silhouette, we can see that it uses a slightly inward curve, even though there's nothing pushing in on that edge (and so it should use a simpler outward curve). This would be more correct - the mass contributes its own thickness, causing a slight protrusion, the outer edge of that mass is drawn with a slightly outward curve, and that very smooth transition from neck to torso gets broken up in a more realistic fashion, and ultimately conveys a stronger sense of solidity for the whole structure.

  • You do not appear to be applying the head construction demo I shared with you correctly - you tend to draw the eye socket with 6 sides, which is quite different from the shape shown in the demo. This would be more correct.

  • Working off the previous point, I also noticed that with that cat you drew eyelids around the entire sphere of the eyeball. This is incorrect for a couple reasons - firstly because the eyeball itself is larger than what we can see between the lids, and secondly because you're drawing individual edges, one at a time, rather than actually considering how what you're drawing is the result of actual forms that are present. As shown here, it'll be easier to remember that the eyelids are structures that exist in 3D space and actually wrap around the surface of the eyeball, if you draw each lid as its own separate additional mass.

As you continue to practice on your own, be sure to periodically review the feedback and diagrams I shared with you here, and in my previous round of critiques. As promised, I'll 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.
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