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1:39 PM, Saturday December 2nd 2023
edited at 1:51 PM, Dec 2nd 2023

Hello TurtleBelowski, I'll be the teaching assistant handling your lesson 5 critique.

Starting with your organic intersections, these are working well. You're wrapping your forms over one another and capturing how they slump and sag with a sense of gravity, and you clearly understand how these forms sit in 3D space in relation to one another.

You're doing well with projecting your shadows boldly, so that they cast onto the forms below, and I can see that you're using a consistent light source for each pile.

Things to keep in mind when practising this exercise in your warm ups:

  • Try to keep these forms simple (like for the organic forms exercise) as this helps them to feel solid and 3D. I've noted some complexity to one of your forms here.

  • Keep pushing for that smooth confident execution for your lines, there are occasional signs of hesitation, which may be contributing to the complexity of your forms and undermining their solidity.

  • Resist the temptation to redraw things to make corrections. This also applies to your animal constructions, and the course as a whole. I discussed the reasons for this in your lesson 4 feedback, so please give that another read, and feel free to ask questions if something about that is confusing to you.

Moving on to your animal constructions, this critique's going to fall into two main categories. Firstly, there are a number of points from my previous feedback that you have not fully addressed here, so I'll call them out again, and then I've got some advice on how you're approaching new techniques for this lesson.

We talked about giving constructions as much space and time as required, and how this is necessary to do the work to the best of your current ability. I'm happy to see that you're generally drawing a bit bigger, though there are still cases like this squid and this armadillo which occupy less than half the space on the page. These constructions could have been drawn larger, or you could have made better use of the space on the page by drawing two constructions, if you feel that these were given as much space as they require. When it comes to time, there is evidence that some of these constructions are a little rushed, such as this second elephant which features mistakes that were not present in your first elephant construction, and in your own words on Discord, your hybrid was rushed. Giving yourself as much time as is required to complete each construction, draw each form, ghost every line, is part of your (very limited) set of responsibilities as a student. If this idea seems unfamiliar to you, I urge you to re-watch this video which explains how to get the most out of Drawabox.

A significant portion of your lesson 4 feedback consisted of explaining the difference between taking actions on your constructions in 2D and 3D. You were provided with several diagrams and examples showing how to build constructions using complete 3D forms. I can see that you've made some effort to take actions in 3D by drawing complete forms to build on your constructions, though you are quite frequently taking actions in 2D by extending your constructions with one-off lines and partial shapes. Here are some examples on one of your armadillos. It is not an issue on every construction, your springboks are quite solid, but it certainly persists in your later constructions, such as these examples on this elephant.

I also discussed the benefits of the sausage method of construction, and provided some advice to help you apply it more correctly. It looks like this information is being applied intermittently, and to varying degrees across the set. There are some pages where it looks like you've tried your best to stick to simple sausage forms and others where it doesn't look like this was a priority for you. There are some constructions where you've remembered to include contour curves for intersections at the joints but they are absent more often than they are present.

Additionally, in my previous feedback I highlighted how we can combine the sausage method with the use of additional masses to build up those structures further. You do this somewhat, but fairly minimally, and you'll often also focus on adding individual, independent masses to capture specific bumps in the silhouette of the leg. Instead, there's a lot of value in actually thinking through the entire network of forms that can be built up around these structures, as shown here in the ant leg I shared with you before, as well as here in another student's work. Defining not just the masses at the silhouette but those that exist internally within it as well can help us to think about how these forms all fit together. This in turn helps us make the structure feel more solid and grounded as a whole.

To the above issues, I strongly recommend that you go back over the feedback you received from Lesson 4, as this is a good sign that you perhaps did not give yourself enough of an opportunity to apply and absorb the feedback I'd provided there, and that perhaps your approach for assimilating that information needs adjustment. That is to say, perhaps you need to go back over past feedback more frequently or perhaps you need to take notes so you can have summaries of the major issues open beside you as you work through the next lesson, or whatever other strategy works for you.

Okay, moving on to new information for this lesson.

The first key area to discuss is head construction. If I recall correctly, I have previously pointed you in the direction of the informal head demo over Discord, citing it as 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.

There are a few key points to this approach:

  • The specific shape of the eye sockets - 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 eye socket with an ellipse) helps a lot in reinforcing this idea of engaging with a 3D structure.

I can see that you've been carving out pentagonal eye sockets on the majority of your head constructions, though you seem to be experiencing some difficulty fitting the pieces of your head constructions together like a 3D puzzle. This highlights some specific issues and here I've made some corrections to your armadillo to construct the muzzle in 3D and fit it against the edge of the eye socket.

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 as shown in in this banana-headed rhino it can be adapted for a wide array of animals.

The next point I wanted to discuss is additional masses, and how to design them so they attach to your construction in a way that feels convincing and reinforces the 3D illusion. 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.

So, I've applied this logic to a few masses on your springbok. I've pulled the masses down from on top of the spine (or upwards, with the one under the belly) to wrap them around the sides of the body. I've also enlarged the shoulder mass (with the blue ellipse) to represent some of the bulky muscles in this area that help the animal to walk. We can then use the shoulder as a structure to press the additional masses up against and wrap them around. The more interlocked they are, the more spatial relationships we define between the masses, the more solid and grounded everything appears. I noticed on this elephant that you appear to be wrapping the mass on top of the back around the rib cage and pelvis masses. I appreciate the 3D thinking that went into this, and you're not far off, but if we think about the structures that are present here, the rib cage and pelvis are already fully engulfed by the torso sausage, so they do not protrude and cannot be used to introduce complexity to additional masses. The shoulder and thigh masses do protrude from the torso sausage, so they are better suited for this purpose.

Here I've shown how we might use additional masses to flesh out your armadillo, instead of the large 2D extension you had employed. The green masses are attached to the neck and torso, the red ones to the legs.

Let's take a moment to look at feet. There are some constructions, such as the elephants, where they've been tacked on to the bottom of the legs as flat partial shapes. In other cases, such as the armadillos, you've done a much better job of constructing them from 3D forms, although I think you may still benefit from studying these notes on foot construction. These notes demonstrate how we can leverage 'boxy' forms - that is, those with clearly defined corners that help imply the distinction between separate planes without having to specifically draw those internal edges - and then build upon it with yet more boxy forms for each of the toes.

One last little note before I wrap this up. Remember to draw around your ellipses two full times before lifting your pen off the page. You do this sometimes, but not consistently, often stopping at one and a half turns around the ellipse. As discussed in this section this is something we ask students to do for every ellipse drawn freehand in this course.

Now, I have called out a number of areas to work on and will be assigning some revisions. This is not a punishment. This does not mean that you are bad, or your drawings are bad. It is just the case that there are enough points that needed clarifying that it is necessary for you to complete some extra pages to demonstrate your understanding of these points before moving forward.

As I've mentioned earlier, some of these issues are intermittent. I can't say for sure, but very often when issues come and go in this manner it is due to not being fully aware of each individual action we take with these constructions. This often occurs when we allow ourselves to rely on our instincts to draw, but the thing is, for these constructional exercises to be fully effective, we have to consciously think through each line we draw (using the planning stage of the ghosting method) and by being aware of the actions we take at each step we actually train our instincts, so that they will be stronger when we want to rely on them for drawings outside of the specific exercises in this course.

Please complete 4 pages of animal constructions. In addition, when tackling these pages I'd like you to adhere to the following restrictions:

  • Don't work on more than one construction in a day. You can and should absolutely spread a single construction across multiple sittings or days if that's what you need to do the work to the best of your current ability (taking as much time as you need to construct each form, draw each shape, and execute each mark), but if you happen to just put the finishing touches on one construction, don't start the next one until the following day. This is to encourage you to push yourself to the limits of how much you're able to put into a single construction, and avoid rushing ahead into the next.

  • Write down beside each construction the dates of the sessions you spent on it, along with a rough estimate of how much time you spent in that session.

Next Steps:

Please complete 4 pages of animal constructions.

When finished, reply to this critique with your revisions.
edited at 1:51 PM, Dec 2nd 2023
5:55 AM, Monday December 4th 2023

Hey hey, thank you for the indepth review.

I hope its okay if I ask a question or two. Yesterday I completed my first of the four pages, a bat, here is the picture and reference:



And I noticed a few things.

Firstly is it okay if I maybe do the next ones on A3 paper instead of the recommend A4? The reason I always drew a tad small was because I am really bad at judging sizes, this is normally not a problem with pencil and eraser, but it is here, even when I take measurements beforehand I often make mistakes like here where the wings are way too short, especially the right one. You also said my squid is too small, I personally disagree as it almost takes up the entire page, the only way to make it bigger would be to make it wider but then I also have to make it longer which is impossible with the page size. So either I use A3 paper to have more room or we have to accept weird out of proportion creatures. I know that proportions arent really the point of Drawabox but I think you can understand that its not nice to be limited like that.

Also I had massive problems when it came to the head thanks to it looking straight at me and not to a side. I think I did okayish almost but I didnt really know how to connect things.

The same also applied to a lot of the additional masses. The almost triangle shape on the circle (Oh yeah, I hope its okay I just made one big circle for the whole body, the structure of the bat just fit better for it to me), the wings themselfs, a lot of it is infront of other stuff so again I didnt how to really do that and improvised. I also felt bad for not being able to do the feet better like you said but the bat really didnt offer itself for that.

Kinda regret not taking something simple like a deer now haha.

And I am also not sure what you meant with "drawing 2D" in my elephant example. I mean I understand what you mean but how are the lines you highlighted more or less 3D than any other?

Sorry for all the questions, I hope thats okay. If you have any other things against my bat please tell me. I swear I wont send a message like this after every construction, I just wanted to write you before doing the others so I can see my mistakes more clearly in one recent drawing instead of doing four wrong and not learning anything.

Thank you for reading and have a wonderful day- ^^

12:02 PM, Monday December 4th 2023
edited at 8:42 PM, Dec 4th 2023

Hello TurtleBelowski, in future it will help if you limit your responses here to questions you would like answered, as long, conversational responses do make it more difficult and time consuming to pick out the questions that need addressing. This might seem like a small thing, but with the number of students we provide feedback to it can add up quite quickly. I think it is probably best to start by answering your two questions about the feedback you've already received.

1- I didn't say "your squid is too small" I said it occupies less than half of the space on the page, and I stand by that statement. Here I copy pasted your construction to show that there is room for two constructions of this size on the page. I didn't scale your construction, just moved it. Making use of the space on the page isn't easy, and I did acknowledge that you're doing better with it. Treat this section of feedback as encouragement, not chastisement, it was not a factor in my decision to ask you for additional pages, but tied into the point about giving yourself as much time as is required, which was a more substantial concern. If you have A3 paper on hand that you'd like to draw on, that's fine, but be aware that this won't help you get better at planning the sizes and judging the scale of things, that will only get easier if you keep practising. If you do complete homework on lager paper, be sure to state that in your comments when you submit. TAs assume all work is done on A4 paper unless stated otherwise, so I wouldn't want you to get dinged for working small when it is just that the paper is large. Also remember that if you run out of room you can "cap off" a section of the construction with an ellipse, instead of breaking the proportions or running it off the page. I showed an example of this in your lesson 4 feedback, and you'll find Uncomfortable using this technique for the tail in the running rat demo. I should say that in regards to the proportion thing, it's both important and less important than you might expect. At the end of the day, observing our reference carefully and frequently will help make our drawings more realistic in a lot of ways - proportion only being one of them. It comes down to picking up on some of the more nuanced, subtler elements that play a role in an object, being able to identify the major structural elements, and then the smaller forms that may be attached after that, gradually whittling down from big to small, simple to complex. If, despite your best efforts, the construction comes out a little out of proportion, that's not actually the end of the world, what matters most is that the construction feels solid, and that you do not undermine the 3D illusion under any circumstances.

2- The areas I marked in blue on the elephant are the same idea as the areas I marked in blue on this armadillo and supplied solutions for here and here. When you extend off existing forms with a single line, we have no idea how that addition actually connects to the existing structure in 3D space, so it will look flat. As explained in this section of lesson 3, altering the silhouette of your forms with single lines only really works for forms that are already flat, such as leaves or insect wings. Take a look at this diagram I shared with you previously, the lower section shows how, instead of extending off the sausage forms with single lines, we draw complete forms with their own fully-enclosed silhouettes. By doing this we show how the new additions wrap around the existing structure in 3D space, and develop our spatial reasoning skills. Here is another example, which I may not have shown to you before, which shows the various actions we can take when interacting with a sphere. The extensions I marked in blue on the elephant are examples of what we see in the lower left of the diagram- addition in 2D. Instead, we want each addition to the construction to be examples of what we see in the lower right- addition in 3D, drawing a whole new form, and explaining how it connects to the 3D surface of the forms that are already on the page. Perhaps the distinction between adding a partial shape and a complete form will be more apparent if we think about how they would exist separate from the existing form we wish to build upon. Here I've demonstrated this with one of your elephant's feet. In blue I've pulled one of the flat extensions I'd highlighted previously away from the leg, to show more clearly that it is only a partial shape. The viewer can only really interpret this as a line on a 2D piece of paper. In red I've rebuilt the foot with a series of complete forms, then duplicated and separated them to show that each one has its own complete, fully enclosed silhouette. If this is still confusing to you please let me know and I'll find another way to explain it. This 2D vs 3D thing is an important concept to grasp for you to make the most out of this lesson.

With regards to your bat, unfortunately we don't have the resources for TAs to critique work piecemeal, and so you do need to submit everything together, as assigned. While that puts more work on you (in terms of giving you more room to end up making the same mistakes more than might feel necessary), it is necessary to put that on the student (as explained here in Lesson 0) due to the extremely low price at which our feedback is offered. If you'd like additional feedback before all 4 pages are completed you can post on the Discord server, and another student may chip in with advice, or I may take a look if I have some free time.

If you had other questions about the lesson content or feedback you have received, I apologise for missing them, please ask again in a clear concise manner and I will provide answers.

edited at 8:42 PM, Dec 4th 2023
5:52 AM, Thursday December 7th 2023

Hey hey, I asked on the server and was told to send the extra pages here, I hope thats correct. I hope they're better now. :)


3:31 PM, Thursday December 7th 2023
edited at 4:04 PM, Dec 7th 2023

Hello TurtleBelowski, yes that's right, now you have completed all 4 pages this is the correct place to post them.

I apologise if my previous reply was confusing in this regard, I'm happy to give feedback on your work here. Seeing all 4 pages together provides a body of work that gives me a clearer idea of what you understand than analysing each page one at a time as you complete them.

Thank you for your hard work on these, I'm seeing much greater attention to taking actions on your constructions "in 3D" and your work is looking more solid. These are progressing, though I'll take some time to offer some additional clarification on a few areas.

Leg construction

I'm happy to see that you're sticking more closely to sausage forms, more consistently here. There are a few spots where these forms are more like "stretched spheres" or ellipses than true sausage forms, which as noted on the lower left of the sausage method diagram, will make your constructions stiff. It is not happening with every leg form, just some of them, and they're much more solid than partial shapes or over-complicated forms, so you absolutely get points for that.

There are a number of places where I can't see a contour line for the intersection where the leg sausages join together. There should be one at each joint, as highlighted in red on the copy of the sausage method diagram I shared with you above, and as shown in blue on this diagram I made for you back in lesson 4. If I zoom in on your work, I think it may be possible that you're going back over the existing edge of one of the sausage forms where they overlap, much like how we use additional line weight to clarify overlaps. What we're trying to do with the leg joints is a little different to this, rather than showing which form is in front, we're showing where they intersect in space, just like with the form intersections exercise from lesson 2.

Additional masses

You've made a big step forward by drawing complete forms when you want to build onto your constructions, rather than partial shapes, great work. The next step is to think a bit more about the topography of the underlying structures that you're trying to wrap the additional mass around, and how they will affect the design of your mass' silhouette.

Take another look at this section where additional masses are introduced. See where the masses meet the top of the shoulder and thighs, they change trajectory, form inward curves, and wrap around those underlying structures. Something that may help you here, is to think of your additional masses a bit like the organic intersections exercise (which you are able to do pretty well) as shown in these diagrams by Meta.

So if we take for example these two big masses on your deer construction, right now they're maintaining a fairly consistent trajectory as they run across a number of different structures. In general, I'd advise keeping each mass more limited in scope, so it can achieve a more specific purpose, rather than trying to achieve a great deal with a single mass (which is inherently more difficult, and can lead to accidentally over complicating the mass and flattening it out). In addition, when designing your additional mass, consider each individual form it attaches to one at a time. So with the green mass on top of the body, we'd wrap it around the neck, then where the additional mass transitions from the neck to the torso sausage, we'd need to think about how that might change the shape of the additional mass, and again, where we encounter the top of the thigh, how will this change the trajectory of the silhouette.

So, here is how I might have handled the addition to the top of your deer. I started by making the shoulder larger, and placing it further up the side of the body, with the blue ellipse, much like I showed you previously on your springbok. I've broken the additional mass into smaller, more manageable pieces (red, then purple, then green) and used pink arrows around the first mass, to more clearly show the thinking of wrapping around the specific structures of the neck, then the shoulder, then the torso. Once the masses are in place they become part of the existing structure and any more additional masses we add in this area must wrap around them like any other form. So the purple mass wraps around the red ones, and changes trajectory where it transitions from wrapping around these red masses, to wrapping around the torso sausage.

Notice that each mass I've drawn has a complete silhouette, and where they overlap they do so in 3D space. I was happy to see you using a separate mass for each bump on top of your rhino, rather than trying to do too much with one mass, but there are places where it looks like these pieces are being cut off where they pass behind one another, such as the pieces I've marked with red and blue here. Cutting them off makes it harder for the viewer to understand how they exist in 3D space. Try to draw each mass in its entirety, as we have discussed previously.

Head construction

I'm happy to see you carving out eye sockets and wedging a solid boxy muzzle form snugly against them for your bat, deer and rhino constructions, well done. For your frog it looks like you plonked the eyeballs straight onto the cranial ball. In all fairness, frogs are pretty tricky, and I do understand what you saw in your reference and why you chose to do this. As I explained on Discord when you first started this lesson, vertebrates do have eye sockets even if they are sometimes difficult to observe in the reference, and drawing eyeballs directly onto the basic ball form of the head is better suited to insect and arachnid constructions. I can see from your other pages that you are developing a stronger understanding of head construction so overall I'm not too concerned about the frog, it's just something to keep in mind for the future.

Core construction

I noticed in your original submission that you tend to draw the pelvis mass pretty small, but decided not to bring it up, as it's a fairly minor issue compared to some of the other points I needed to talk about. Think of this section as bonus information that I hope will help you in the future, not as a "mistake" that you've made. Looking through your pages, in most cases you're not far off having the pelvis occupy about a quarter of the length of the torso sausage, which is quite correct, as per this section of the lesson intro page. These proportions work when we look at the animal from the side. However, when we see the animal from a three-quarter angle, we need to apply foreshortening to this concept. Here is approximately where I think the pelvis mass should be on your rhino, occupying the space between the thigh masses. This makes the gap between the pelvis and the rib cage appear to be smaller, due to how the forms have turned in space. If we look at the animal from more of a front view, the rib cage and pelvis may even overlap on the page, as shown in the puma demo.


While there is scope for further growth here, your methodology is correct. You're starting your constructions with simple forms, and gradually building complexity, piece by piece. I expect your ability to fit these pieces together like 3D puzzle will continue to develop over time with practice.

The next section that comes up takes a pretty significant turn from the kind of construction we've been tackling for the last three lessons, so the the points I've brought up here shouldn't hold you back from exploring those, and I expect tackling that material may help further develop your spatial reasoning skills, ultimately making the concepts covered in this lesson easier for you to understand in the future. I'll go ahead and mark this as complete, so you can move on to the 250 cylinder challenge, which is a prerequisite for lesson 6.

Next Steps:

250 cylinder challenge

This critique marks this lesson as complete.
edited at 4:04 PM, Dec 7th 2023
9:46 PM, Thursday December 7th 2023
edited at 9:46 PM, Dec 7th 2023

Hey hey, thank you for the feedback, I just have one question.

In your first reply to my lesson 5 homework you said:

"noticed on this (https://imgur.com/DxSzMSz) elephant that you appear to be wrapping the mass on top of the back around the rib cage and pelvis masses. I appreciate the 3D thinking that went into this, and you're not far off, but if we think about the structures that are present here, the rib cage and pelvis are already fully engulfed by the torso sausage, so they do not protrude and cannot be used to introduce complexity to additional masses. The shoulder and thigh masses do protrude from the torso sausage, so they are better suited for this purpose."

But here you tell me I should of wrapped forms around each other. I actually went against my instincts of wrapping them over each other in these last four pages, so I am a bit confused on when I should be wrapping and when I shouldnt.

Thank you

edited at 9:46 PM, Dec 7th 2023
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