250 Cylinder Challenge

5:03 PM, Sunday January 16th 2022

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Cylinders in boxes:

After attempting the 250 cylinders challenge, I kept shifting from shoulder to elbow while drawing lines. When I draw from the shoulder, the lines always turn out overshot/undershoot and inaccurate. At some point, I stopped using the shoulder and left all of the handy work to my elbow. The elbow compensates for the accuracy with a limited range.

The same goes for the ellipses. Confident but inaccurate. For them, however, the elbow can't help me there.

Is there a way another way that I can improve the accuracy of both my lines and ellipses? Because I've hit a wall that won't allow me to improve them no matter how many I draw.

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6:20 AM, Tuesday January 18th 2022

If I understand your predicament correctly, you were having trouble with maintaining accuracy when drawing your lines from your shoulder - and so you opted to work with the elbow instead as a solution. Unfortunately, that doesn't solve the problem - the problem being that you're struggling to achieve accuracy from your shoulder. It's merely side stepping the issue, and avoiding the mileage that would ultimately help you correct the problem.

Unfortunately there's no secret I can provide - you simply have to put more practice into working from your shoulder, engaging your whole arm. That said, since you mention that you're kind of bouncing back and forth between shoulder and elbow here, I'd imagine that there are a fair number that were drawn from your shoulder - but they all look more or less the same to me, and in general your lines and ellipses are quite well executed. Yes, the ellipses could be tighter, but what I'm seeing is not any cause for concern in my eyes. It's not uncommon for students to be needlessly critical of their own work, exaggerating small discrepancies and imperfections into issues that are far larger than they are. Worse still is when they actively change their approach as a result. That's precisely why we leave the critiques to others who are less likely to be biased in one direction or another.

Ultimately, don't forget what's written here in Lesson 1. Drawabox specifically has you choose between your wrist and your shoulder for all your marks. No elbow is allowed. Why? The elbow is generally sufficient for most lines, and so if you're allowed to use it, you're never going to get all that much mileage in with your shoulder.

Jumping right in with your cylinders around arbitrary minor axes, these are by and large well done. As I mentioned already, your ellipses are smooth and evenly shaped - they could be tighter but this is entirely normal for a student at this stage. Note that ellipses are by their very nature quite challenging, and will continue to need plenty more mileage going forward, which you'll need to do on your own using the exercises we've already introduced. Past this point in the course however, we, do encourage students to avail themselves of ellipse guides, to simply eliminate unnecessary distractions and keep them focused on the core of each of these last lessons. That comes from understanding that ellipses will continue to have their challenges, and thus are better improved with the exercises we've already learned.

Continuing on, you're also doing a good job of identifying the correct minor axis alignment, and I'm pleased to see a wide variety of rates of foreshortening across the set. One mistake I often look for - where students specifically and purposely draw their side edges with no convergence - does come up on occasion, but only very infrequently in cases like 77 on this page. The reason this is incorrect is that in order for lines to stay parallel on the page, the vanishing point that governs them must be "at infinity" in the manner discussed back in Lesson 1. We ourselves cannot simply decide to put a vanishing point at infinity however - instead, we only choose how the form will be oriented. A vanishing point at infinity requires for the lines it governs to be running perpendicular to the viewer's angle of sight, not slanting towards or away from the viewer through the depth of the scene. This of course can only happen if the cylinder is aligned in a fairly specific way, which considering that we're working with freely rotated forms in this challenge (much like the box challenge), we can pretty much assume it won't happen.

Fortunately, we're not really seeing very much of this mistake in this section of the challenge.

One issue I am however seeing is apparent in a few cases - one of which is 76 on the same page as before. In this one, you have a fairly dramatic shift in the ellipses' scale from one end to the other, but the shift in degree is much more modest. These two shifts (scale and degree) are manifestations of foreshortening, and they both convey to the viewer just how much of that cylinder's length exists in the unseen dimension of depth. If however one shift says that there's lots of foreshortening, and the other shift says that there's very little, we end up with a contradiction. The viewer will pick up on this, though it'll cause the form to feel "off" without them specifically knowing why.

Compare this to 80 on the same page, which has both a dramatic shift in scale and a dramatic shift in degree, which generally holds together more consistently.

Moving onto your cylinders in boxes, we run into a problem pretty immediately - that issue I explained about lines being too parallel on the page, and artificially placing vanishing points "at infinity", is present in effectively every one of your cylinders in boxes. From what I can see here, you've attempted to put all your vanishing points at infinity, working effectively in "0 point perspective". This, unfortunately, is not something that exists.

I do sometimes hear students trying to make the argument that they're drawing in "isometric perspective" in such cases, but this is unfortunately a misnomer, as there is no such thing. Rather, each of these - perspective, and isometric - are techniques of "projection", which basically means taking something from a higher order of dimensional space and capturing it in a lower order of dimensional space - to put it simply, taking the 3D world and capturing it on a flat, 2D piece of paper. There are many approaches for projection, and they each attempt to achieve something different.

Perspective projection specifically works to replicate human binocular vision - replicating how we see the world with our eyes. Isometric projection is not how the world looks, but it has other advantages, specifically in that things don't get smaller as they move farther away, allowing us to create repeatable tilesets which can be the same size regardless of where they are relative to the viewer. Really, there's no actual "viewer" in this case, because everything stays the same regardless of where it is. Similarly, it's not that isometric projection is "0 point perspective". Rather, there simply is no concept of vanishing points at all.

Long story short - you have unfortunately done this part of the challenge incorrectly. Looking back at your box challenge work, this is actually an issue that was called out there, for which you were assigned additional revisions. You did them correctly in the revisions, but it seems that since then, you forgot about the issue and repeated the mistake. As such, I am going to have to ask for that section to be redone.

Next Steps:

Please redo the cylinders in boxes section in its entirety.

When finished, reply to this critique with your revisions.
2:53 PM, Sunday January 23rd 2022

Cylinders in boxes, redone:


Originally the entire challenge was done in 4-days, because of the excitement of moving on to lesson 6.

And here is where it led me.

As for the redone section. The cylinders inboxes are done from the shoulder this time. With some experimentation, I was able to fix the accuracy and the overshooting/undershooting on most marks by touching the page with my ring and pinky finger while executing the lines from the shoulder to prevent my entire arm from trembling while it's hovering over the page. However, as a price to keep them smooth and accurate, I need to apply a little bit more pressure to my fineliner than usual. Some of the lines still arc a bit. You might not notice them because they overlap with the marks for error checking done with a pencil.

(I have a funny feeling that I won't repeat this mistake when you move me on to lesson 6.)

5:46 PM, Monday January 24th 2022

I cannot stress this enough - rushing through the challenge in 4 days due to excitement or enthusiasm is not a good thing. It's an understandable thing, sure, but this late in the course you should know better, and I expect that now you do. Still, I do feel it necessary to emphasize the fact that rushing did not only result in your time being wasted, but mine as well, as it required a full critique to be written out to explain what you missed in your rushing, as well as for me to then follow up on your revisions.

So, I'm going to keep this brief. Your cylinders in boxes are much better this time around, and they're largely following the instructions well. I just have one issue to call out, to ensure that you're aware of it. Throughout the set you've shown a great variety of foreshortening and convergences to your lines - but there are some cases where you're artificially keeping certain sets of lines parallel on the page, when they should at least have some minimal convergence. A good example are those on this page - they each tend to feature two sets of lines that are kept extremely parallel, with one set (generally along the length of the cylinder) which actually converge.

The reasoning as to why this would be incorrect was explained in my original critique, so I'll leave you to review it yourself. Aside from that, good work. I'll mark this challenge as complete.

Next Steps:

Move onto lesson 6.

This critique marks this lesson as complete.
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