Lesson 5: Applying Construction to Animals

10:06 PM, Saturday February 20th 2021

Lesson 5 animal construction - Album on Imgur

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You will find below the references I used:


At the beginning I had some difficulty, I still struggle with the head part and especially with the texture. For the lion's mane, how should I have done it ? Because I know it looks quite ugly/messy when I tried to draw it.

I think I started making process starting with the 2nd deer.

Thanks for your critique.


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9:05 AM, Tuesday February 23rd 2021

It looks like the google drive folder with your references you shared isn't public. Fortunately I don't need them for the critique!

Across your set, I can definitely see areas where you are definitely improving, as well as areas where there is much more room for growth. Let's look at each of them in turn.

There are a lot of signs across your constructions that you're attempting to use the tools at your disposal to build your way up to solid, three dimensional structures. You're clearly thinking about how many of these forms relate to one another, especially in how you're wrapping your additional masses around the existing structures in certain cases - like the mass along the middle of this lynx's back.

That said, there are some areas where those relationships are not quite as well established, or where certain additions to your constructions are not drawn as complete forms. For example, if you look at this mass along the chest of one of your lions, you'll see that here you actually just added a line to extend the silhouette of that torso. Don't forget that we discussed the importance of ensuring that every addition to a construction should be its own complete, enclosed, solid three dimensional form. Fortunately I didn't see this kind of mistake made too often, but it does happen in some other places - like this lump near the same lion's neck.

When you do draw those additional masses as complete forms, the way in which we draw their silhouettes can be tricky. I noticed that here where you added a mass to the lynx's thigh, you felt it didn't feel quite 3D enough, so you tried to reinforce it with additional contour lines. Unfortunately, when it comes to additional masses, a lot of their 3D quality comes from how their silhouettes are shaped, such that they convey a clear 3D relationship with the existing structure, selling the illusion of how they "wrap around" the existing forms.

It's easiest to think about these additional masses by looking at how they exist, like a soft ball of meat or clay, floating in the void. Here the form's silhouette would be in its simplest state, consisting only of outward curves. As soon as we press it up against another structure however, we start to encounter more complexity along the side that makes contact. Here we get inward curves, and corners forming, in direct response to the contact being made. You can see this demonstrated in this diagram.

What this essentially mean is that the different curves of our silhouettes are not arbitrary, and they're not to be guessed at. They are in direct response to the forms that are already present in our existing structure. Moreover, when we add a mass to the structure, it becomes part of that existing structure - and so anything that follows may need to consider how it's going to wrap around that previous form too.

Now, there are areas where you're kind of doing this - or at least trying to - although you don't always succeed in conveying the remaining thickness of these additional masses. For example, this lynx's back legs have a few additional masses added to them, and some of the curves along their silhouettes work pretty nicely, while others may need more thought. Here are some notes directly on the drawing.

Note that I drew on top of the face construction as well. Throughout your drawings you kind of jump between keeping your facial elements (the eye sockets, the muzzle, etc.) fitting together a little more tightly, and having them float loosely. Keeping them fitting together like a puzzle is what we're after. Be sure to read this explanation of how to think about head construction. When I get around to redoing the video content for this lesson (I'm currently doing it from the first course, starting way back at Lesson 1), the explanation available there will be the basis of that new content.

Continuing on through your constructions, I can see that you are making a fair attempt at applying the sausage method when constructing legs, and you actually do a pretty great job in many cases, so good job on that! Just don't forget to put a contour line at the joint/intersection between those sausage forms. There are some places where you've missed them.

The last thing I want to mention is a more general point, but it's very important. I think one of the areas you improve in most in your later drawings is the care you put into your observation and study of your reference. This is definitely something that can wax and wane though - so make sure you're always doing it purposefully. Most of our time should go into observing our reference, taking only a moment to look away and make a very specific mark, transferring a form we've identified into the construction.

I've laid out a number of things for you to work on, so I'm going to assign some additional revisions below. Work on applying them, and when you come back we'll see if there's anything else to call out.

Next Steps:

Please submit 4 additional animal constructions.

When finished, reply to this critique with your revisions.
8:01 PM, Saturday February 27th 2021

Hi and thanks for all your advices.

I tried to apply everything you said to these 4 more construction drawings:


Could you show how you would have done the lion's mane (if it doesn't take too much time) please ?

Thanks again


7:30 PM, Monday March 1st 2021

These are a huge move in the right direction. As a whole I'm very, very pleased with your results.

So I've got 16 critiques and a handful more revisions to take care of today, and I was going to just leave you with a bit of advice - but in the end I decided I'd throw together a very quick demonstration of how you could build the mane using constructional principles. You'll find it here.

In essence, you build up big masses to represent the bulk of the fur, laying them over the head as though you're piling sacks onto the structure. Then you add tufts of fur (as per these notes), being mindful not to overdo it. Make sure you design every individual tuft purposefully.

Anyway, 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.
5:34 PM, Wednesday March 3rd 2021

Thank you very much :)

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