Lesson 5: Applying Construction to Animals

12:14 AM, Thursday August 5th 2021

Drawabox lesson 5 - Album on Imgur

Direct Link: https://i.imgur.com/nyZFxec.jpg

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References for animal constructions are available here: https://imgur.com/a/BgP3daS

Back in mid-April, when I was waiting for my fineliners to arrive so I could start on lesson 1, I looked over the lessons of this course. I distinctly remember that when coming across lesson 5, I thought to myself that I would never be able to get good enough to draw animals and complete this lesson. Well, with this submission, I can finally tell my past self that I was completely wrong. I'm really glad to have been wrong.

I hope this celebration isn't premature.

Thank you very much for the lessons and critique.

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10:29 PM, Thursday August 5th 2021

Starting with your organic intersections, I feel for the most part these are coming along well, and you're demonstrating an improving sense of how the sausage forms slump and sag over one another under the force of gravity. I can also see that you're making good progress with the use of cast shadows, and that you're trying to maintain a consistent, singular light source. I do feel that as a whole you will continue to improve on this exercise with practice, but you're certainly moving well in the right direction.

Continuing onto your animal constructions, I do agree that you're definitely making good progress here, and that you should definitely be proud of your growth. I can see quite clearly that you're making considerable effort to apply the principles shared in the lesson and its various demonstrations. What stands out most is that you're thinking a great deal about how your forms all relate to one another in 3D space, and how the silhouettes of those structures can be shaped and designed to more clearly establish the way in which one mass may wrap around an existing structure.

Now, that doesn't mean that there aren't a few concerns I have, but they're nothing out of the ordinary. The main one comes down to the fact that you're putting a ton of focus and time into thinking through the construction of your three dimensional structures that you're prone to perhaps not spending as much time observing your reference, or at least not doing so as frequently and as constantly as you should be. This is actually an issue I see quite a bit amongst students who lean hard into figuring out all the relationships between their forms and structures, that there's simply only so much one's mind can manage all at once.

It's not an issue that is overwhelmingly present in all of your drawings - or even most of them. It's just something that comes up now and then. For example, if you look at this cheetah from early on, much of the construction itself is in many ways fine - that is, the forms all fit together, you're wrapping them around one another, and so on - but the proportions definitely do end up feeling somewhat out of whack.

There are also cases where there are subtler elements in your reference that you may not be picking up on - for example, with the white tailed deer, in your reference its front leg isn't so completely vertical - it's somewhat more angled. These are small, but important aspects of the deer's pose and gesture which, when left out, can make the leg feel much more stiff than it actually is. These things happen of course, but it simply means that you need to balance your priorities and ultimately invest more time to allow for more mindful observation.

Of course, there's a flipside to this - once such observational hiccups are made, you did make the right call in sticking to what you'd constructed, rather than trying to correct or alter them in ways that would undermine the solidity of the structure. In this regard, you're in many ways that matter a great deal, you're approaching your constructions correctly.

I particularly did like your second red fox - the way it's angled, coming towards the viewer, can be quite tricky to capture, and for the most part you handled it very well. I would however recommend that you have those masses along its back dip down further along the side of the body, to really wrap around it and "grip" it more solidly. Right now they feel more like they're resting gently along the top - not like they're going to fall off, but like they're not as important as parts of its musculature as they should be.

Honestly, as a whole I feel your approach to construction is coming along really well - you just need to put more time into the actual observation of your reference, squeezing in more room for that in between each form you put down. I suspect that as you build those forms up, you're so focused on the relationships between the forms that you may be relying more on your memory in deciding what form to draw next, rather than consistently going back to your reference and identifying the nature of every new mass in a specific manner.

The last thing I wanted to mention is that while your head construction is definitely improving over the course of the set, I do think that you should try to draw the eye sockets themselves to be larger. Same goes for the eyeball itself - drop in a nice, big ball form for it, so you've got something more concrete to wrap the eyelids around, one at a time, as shown here. I am certainly pleased though with how you're considering the manner in which those eye sockets wedge into all the other elements of the face, creating a nice, three dimensional puzzle.

I think your work is coming along very nicely, but I am frankly interested in seeing what you can do if you put in a little more time overall to address the observational concerns I called out. So, I'm going to assign a couple additional pages below.

Next Steps:

Please submit 2 more pages of animal constructions. Don't be afraid to really take your time on these, and feel welcome to split them across multiple days to really stretch the process out.

When finished, reply to this critique with your revisions.
4:11 AM, Saturday August 7th 2021
edited at 4:12 AM, Aug 7th 2021

Thank you for the critique! Please see linked my revisions:


and the references used:


I promise I did take my time on these. I get half days off on Fridays, so I've spent most of the evening drawing, as well as some time yesterday as well.

I have two questions below, but they involve a bit of self critique, so feel free to come back to them after you have reviewed the work.

  • I think the biggest challenge I'm having regarding adding the additional masses is controlling their curvature. Many times I make the mass too thick or too thin, and I don't really notice until after I've drawn it. It may be because the underlying construction is curved, and that's throwing off my understanding of how to draw the mass to match what I observe. I assume that this is just a matter of practice, but if you have any particular insights it would be much appreciated.

  • Head construction is probably what I find the hardest in these exercises, and in particular how the muzzle is constructed. I just can't seem to get it to look the way it looks in the reference. I assume again this is a matter of practice, but if you see anything particularly wrong with how I've approached it, please let me know.

Thank you again!

edited at 4:12 AM, Aug 7th 2021
7:38 PM, Saturday August 7th 2021

I will admit that it definitely is worrying when students come back this quickly. Your work is for the most part fine, but in general remember that there's more to absorbing and processing feedback than just jumping back in and drawing. The time in between, that negative space, also contributes to how our brains go over what has been explained, as does the time committed to rereading feedback, going back over lesson material, etc.

Anyway, you're definitely demonstrating much more care when it comes to observing your references, and your proportions are notably more realistic as a result. You've also continued to develop your understanding of how to shape the additional masses, and push how they wrap around the existing structures.

I do agree that head construction is still something you're struggling with, and it always comes back to applying the principles shared in the head construction explanation on the informal demos page. As shown here, you're still deviating from that approach in some ways, which suggests to me that while you've read through it, you're not necessarily specifically trying to apply it to your constructions, but rather are trying to apply its general idea. Think of it as a repeatable technique you can use.

Also, try to start with smaller cranial balls - you may find it makes things easier.

Anyway, 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.
8:38 PM, Saturday August 7th 2021

Thank you!

I actually wasn't sure if the head construction was actually just a general idea or a specific technique to use on each head. Will definitely try to apply it more strictly in the future.

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