Lesson 5: Applying Construction to Animals

2:45 AM, Wednesday May 4th 2022

Lesson 5 2 - Album on Imgur

Direct Link: https://i.imgur.com/0HgBPRs.jpg

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I have a very personal question to you as an instructor, if that is okay by you.

So I I’ve had the chance to be around a lot of different instructors and classmates since last year.

However through experience I’ve noticed that people aren’t always that respectful outside the class as when they are in front of their instructors.

Aside from real life, a good example I can point to is the forum site 4chan.

Where there’s just outright discrimination towards the instructors by people that claim that they’ve taken their classes.

And this somehow bothers me. Like, you could be teaching the shittiest human being ever without knowing.

As an instructor would you reject a student due to their behavior outside your classes? (For example: disrespecting, discriminating, anything shitty in general)

Like do you view education being separate from personal opinion? (If you know what I mean)

Anyways about the lesson.

When i uploaded my drawings to Imgur I noticed that there’s been a lot of occasions where I didn’t think quite through (nose area, ears, feet)

But I decided to upload anyway (not sure if that was the right choice.)

The drawings should be in the order I did them in, which took roughly a month. (Although I’m not really that satisfied with my work)

Anyways looking forward to your critique, and thank you as always.

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11:03 PM, Wednesday May 4th 2022

To answer your question, I'm uncertain. Given the way the student/instructor relationship exists for this course - even considering the many students with whom I engage with on discord - it's unlikely for me to find out about any such behaviour without the student going well out of their way (and probably breaking some of our discord server rules) to make it known. While I am entirely aware of what folks on 4chan say about me, I have never been put in the position where a student's said any of that stuff to my face. And so, I've never had to decide whether I would be willing to teach someone with views with which I fundamentally disagreed. If anything, I'd prefer not to know.

Anyway, continuing onto your organic intersections, your work here is coming along quite well. Your forms are drawn such that they create a believable relationship between the forms, establishing how they stack together, under the continuous force of gravity. You're also drawing your cast shadows in such a way that it reinforces the curvature of the surfaces upon which they fall, whilst abiding by a consistent light source - though in the second page you appear to have neglected to draw the shadow that would fall upon the ground.

I have just one very minor suggestion - when you've got an organic form with an end facing the viewer, I would draw a full contour ellipse upon that tip. This is no different from any other contour curve, except that since the surface is facing the viewer more fully, we'd be able to see the full way around the entire ellipse, rather than just a partial curve. This can serve as an easy way to make those forms appear yet more solid.

Continuing onto your animal constructions, as a whole you've honestly done a fantastic job. I do have a few suggestions to offer, but as a whole I'm very pleased with how you're working through these spatial puzzles. You've leaned heavily into the idea that these drawings are themselves exercises, where we build up in a desired direction (not necessarily reproducing the reference image perfectly), focusing on how our forms fit together in 3D space, and always holding to the structures we've put down - even if they're slightly off - rather than attemptiing to correct or redraw them.

The first thing I want to talk about is head construction. Normally I leave this towards the end, but I think in this case it's a good starting point. 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.

Looking at how you're building up your heads, you're already doing a lot of this, though not necessarily in the specific manner shown in that demo. For this reason, I feel your head constructions have generally been very successful, and while I would suggest you make some small changes (as per the informal construction demo), I think yours is a case where you've been able to piece together across the many demos in the lesson to ultimately pull out my intent - even when it wasn't quite as clear to me at the time, and where it could definitely have been explained more clearly (as it will be in the future).

I would still encourage you of course to follow the informal head construction demo as closely as you can (as per the specifics I raised above). 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.

The next point I wanted to discuss is the use of additional masses. Overall you are indeed doing this quite well, with a few little discrepancies and considerations I wanted to call out:

  • I didn't really see this much in your work, but it did stand out when I saw it on your elephant construction - as shown here along the top, that mass above the elephant's shoulder had a rounded corner/outward curve, creating something of a "blobby" appearance. Here a sharp corner and an inward curve would have stressed better how the mass wraps around the torso structure.

  • Also called out on that same page, note how I've stretched the mass further down along the elephant's side, to press it up against the shoulder mass (something I blocked in with a simple ball structure, to represent the muscle groups that are generally found at the shoulder and hip, and help the animal to walk and run). Finding places where we can press our forms up against one another can be very valuable - it helps produce a more grounded impression, where all of the elements are contributing to each others' solidity. It's very similar to how we wedge everything in the head constructions together. You can also see this applied here on another student's work. This approach will help you avoid the tendency towards including a lot of arbitrary corners in your masses, as we see here. Your masses can only develop complexity where they press up against another defined structure, otherwise it's just arbitrary complexity that will undermine the solidity of your form.

  • To that point, I noticed that you tended to focus the masses you'd add on your animals' limbs primarily on those masses that impact the limb's silhouette. Considering the internal masses is also important, as these help determine how the masses at the edges fit together, completing the puzzle, as shown here on another student's work.

  • One last thing - avoid the urge to make everything run smoothly together, as you build up additional masses. As you can see here along the legs of your tiger construction, you basically end up with a very smooth, featureless edge running down along its length, despite it being made up of several separate structures. Each new mass brings its own thickness and volume to the mix - this is something you should actually be working with, rather than eliminating. Your reference certainly did include a similarly smooth edge there, but that simply means that the tool you'd want to focus on there is the original sausage structure, to capture that smooth of an edge. When you end up using additional masses, you're both solving problems, but also adding new ones that each mass brings of itself. But this isn't a bad thing - this is how we consider the subtle elements that help imply the presence of musculature, and help build up more engaging complexity to our constructions. At its core, it's about accepting that every step pushes us in a direction, and that may not always be straight towards reproducing our reference. And that's simply something we have to work with. So, looking at that same tiger leg, here's how it would appear if each mass was given its own thickness.

The last thing I wanted torovide is just a quick suggestion on how we can tackle feet a bit more effectively. As shown here, we can make use of "boxy" forms - that is, forms with clearly defined corners that help to imply the presence of internal edges, distinctions between the different faces. We can lay down a boxy form for the core of the foot, then yet more for each of the toes, giving us a more solid structure. The approach you used in cases like this fell back more on altering the silhouette of the form, rather than building upon it in 3 dimensions.

And that should about cover it! All in all I've given you plenty of things to work on, but you're still progressing very well, and should be good to practice these on your own. I'll go ahead and mark this lesson as complete.

Next Steps:

Feel free to move onto the 250 cylinder challenge, which is a prerequisite for lesson 6.

This critique marks this lesson as complete.
2:56 AM, Thursday May 5th 2022
edited at 2:23 AM, May 14th 2022

Thank you so much for the answer and the critique! I however have already completed the cylinder challenge.

I’m still uncertain if I want to tackle lesson 6 at the moment, as I’ve been planning on figures (the Michael Hampton one)

Is that a good decision? I have never done much of perspective cutting and edge defining so I have no idea how applicable it is to organic subject matters.

edited at 2:23 AM, May 14th 2022
7:35 PM, Thursday May 5th 2022

So the thing to keep in mind most of all is that Drawabox isn't about drawing animals, or plants, or vehicles, or organic subject matter, or hard-surface subject matter. It all works together towards the specific, limited goals discussed back in Lesson 0's first page (primarily developing students' spatial reasoning skills). Lessons 6 and 7 continue to develop this, but through a very different lens from the previous ones, which helps students explore the problem from a very different angle.

That doesn't mean you are in any way required to push through the whole course - you should feel free to branch off into other things whenever you like - but I did want to clarify what appeared to be a general misunderstanding of how the course itself is structured.

When it comes to figure, Michael Hampton's a good choice, though my preference (as far as online resources go) drifts more to Steve Huston, specifically because he teaches in an analytical fashion that matches how I learned from a class with Kevin Chen. Hampton's definitely analytical as well, but the specific methodology used in the class I took was really helpful for me, so I was pleased when I found someone teaching the same way online recently.

8:41 PM, Thursday May 5th 2022

Ah yes Steve Huston, I remember watching his 3 hour long free class sample on YouTube back when I first started out.

Anyways it wouldn’t hurt to try out both instructors, see what fits best.

As for lesson 6 and 7 I’ll definitely go through them soon.

Thank you.

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