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10:19 AM, Wednesday September 27th 2023
edited at 10:32 AM, Sep 27th 2023

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

Starting with your organic intersections, you're doing a good job of keeping your forms simple in this exercise, which helps them to feel solid. You're wrapping your forms around one another in a way that feels convincing, and on this page they all feel stable and supported, which is what we're aiming for with this exercise, good work.

The top right form on this page appears a little bit precariously balanced, like it might topple off the pile at any moment. To alleviate this we could either move the form along to a position where it is less likely to fall, as shown in red here, or allow the form to fall and draw it where it would come to rest, as shown in blue. Think about how you're building up a stable pile. Imagine you're dropping each new form in from above, and letting it come to rest in a position where it slumps over the forms already present, in a way that feels supported.

On this page your shadows are sticking to forms unnaturally instead of being projected onto the forms below. You've done a better job projecting your shadows on the other page, though I'd like to share this edit with you. I've altered the shadow on the ground plane to more clearly communicate that we're looking at a pile of forms in front of us, rather than looking down at the pile.

Remember to draw around the small ellipses on the ends of the forms two full times before lifting your pen off the page, even if you feel like you can nail them in a single pass. This is something we ask students to do for every ellipse you freehand in this course, as introduced here, as this helps to execute them smoothly.

Moving on to your animal constructions I do have a number of areas in which I can offer some advice, or call out some issues. Some of these are new in this lesson, whereas others were definitely called out in your Lesson 4 critique, which suggests that you may not have gone through that critique thoroughly enough to recall them with enough specificity to apply them to your work here. That's something you're going to have to stay on top of - the feedback given in earlier lessons is meant to be applied going forward, so that they do not need to be called out multiple times.

So the first of these is the importance of distinguishing between the actions we take that occur in 3D space - drawing complete forms with self-enclosed silhouettes and defining the way in which they connect to or wrap around the existing structure (either through the use of an intersectional contour line in the case of the former, or the design of the form's silhouette in the case of the latter), and the actions that occur in 2D space (altering the silhouettes of existing forms, tacking on individual marks to add to a construction without defining how it's meant to exist in 3D space, etc). In your work here, I'm still seeing a number of places where you are indeed working in 2D rather than 3D.

So, I've marked in blue here a number of places where you had extended off existing forms with single lines. The spot on the rump might actually be an instance of cutting back inside the additional mass you had drawn there, but I wasn't sure. Either way, these actions in 2D space undermine the 3D illusion, both for the viewer, and for you. Creating believable, solid, three dimensional constructions despite drawing on a flat page requires us to first and foremost convince ourselves of this illusion, this lie we're telling, as discussed here back in Lesson 2. The more our approach reinforces the illusion, the more we make new marks that reinforce it even further. The more our marks break the illusion, the more marks we make that then further break the illusion, for us and for everyone else.

Here are some more examples on your bird. These are slightly different, I can see from the contour curves that you've added that you are aware that these additions feel flat, and are trying to make them feel 3D. Adding contour lines - specifically the kind that run along the surface of a single form, isn't really the tool for the job here. While that approach in the organic forms with contour lines exercise was great for introducing the concept, it does sometimes make students a little too eager to pile them on as a cure-all for making things appear more 3D. Unfortunately, contour lines of this sort only emphasise the solidity that would already be present, either through the simplicity of a form's silhouette, or through other defined spatial relationships. So, here I've completed to forms of the wing and the tail for you, as well as some of the small extensions on the feet. At first I thought the single line above the wing was the far side wing, but when I drew through it, it ended up attaching to the head, so maybe that's not what you intended that line to be.

The other points I wanted to make with the bird were to be sure to use the outer line of your (2D) ellipses to represent the edge of your (3D) ball forms. This prevents any stray lines going outside the silhouette to remind the viewer that they are looking at lines on a flat piece of paper. It will help your necks to feel solid if you connect them to the torso "in 3D" as I've shown with the red ellipse. I also wanted to note that the feet in this construction are quite solid, being some of the most well-constructed feet in the whole set.

I think you may find it helpful to take a look at these notes on foot construction where Uncomfortable shows how to introduce structure to the foot by drawing a boxy form- that is, forms whose corners are defined in such a way that they imply the distinction between the different planes within its silhouette, without necessarily having to define those edges themselves - to lay down a structure that reads as being solid and three dimensional. Then we can use similarly boxy forms to attach toes.

Something else that will help to maintain the solidity of your constructions, if the construction won't fit on the page, rather than running parts off the edge of the page as lines and leaving them open-ended it helps to cap them off so they have a clearly defined, complete, silhouette. You can see an example of this in the tail of the running rat on the informal demos page.

Another point I called out in Lesson 4 was the importance of following the sausage method to the letter when constructing your legs - that means sticking to segments that adhere to the characteristics of simple sausages, ensuring they overlap enough, and finally defining the joint between them with a contour line. I think you may have had the sausage method in mind for leg construction though you very frequently deviate from simple sausage forms and sometimes slip into working in 2D with some partial shapes. I've made a breakdown of some of the issues and redrawn a leg correctly on your horse. You can also find a good example of using the sausage method of leg construction in this donkey on the informal demos page. Also, in the case of this construction, it's generally still best to use sausages for each segment of the limb, rather than trying to represent multiple segments with a single sausage.

The next point to tackle is additional masses. In lesson 4 we introduced the idea of building onto our constructions with complete forms, and now in lesson 5 we delve a bit deeper into how we can design the silhouette of these additions in such a way that they appear to wrap around the existing structures convincingly. Looking through your pages I think you've put a fair bit of thought into designing your additional masses, though I have a few pieces of advice that should help you with your future attempts.

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 made some further edits to your horse to demonstrate this idea in action.

  • Starting with the long mass you had drawn on the horse's back, I've broken it into pieces so each one can achieve a specific purpose. This allows each mass to stay simple where it is exposed to fresh air and there is nothing present in the construction to press against it. I started with the red ones, then drew the purple one, wrapping it around the masses that were already in place.

  • Each mass has its own, fully enclosed, complete silhouette, and where they overlap they do so in 3D space. Do not cut one mass off where it passes behind another mass as we see repeatedly along the top of the hybrid.

  • With the long mass on top of the back of the horse it looks like you're wrapping around the rib cage and the pelvis. While this is actually not too far off from correct (wrapping our masses around other structures is an excellent way to make them feel more grounded against one another, as part of a larger more cohesive construction), the pelvis and the rib cage already get swallowed up by the torso sausage, effectively eliminating any sort of protrusion that we'd then be able to wrap around. The surface of that sausage is smooth. What we would do instead is use the masses we find at the thigh and shoulder, where we tend to have a lot of big muscle groups that help the animal walk and run, which you're done a good job of drawing with simple ball forms, and wrap our masses around those.

  • With the hind leg I've shown how we can keep the basic sausage forms of leg construction simple then use additional masses to build bulk and complexity. Sometimes you appear to be deliberately deforming some sections of your legs in an effort to draw the whole leg in one step, rather than starting with simple forms and building the construction piece by piece.

  • Looking through your pages I'm seeing a tendency to introduce arbitrary sharp corners to some of your masses. Instead, when wrapping a mass around a rounded surface we can transition smoothly between curves as shown in this diagram.

Another point I wanted to mention - and this isn't so much something you did wrong, but really just a fact of the current state of the lesson - is head construction. Lesson 5 has a lot of different strategies for constructing heads, between the various demos. Given how the course has developed, and how Uncomfortable is 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 in this informal head demo.

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.

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.

Finally, remember the principles of markmaking should be followed throughout this course. Most of your lines are smooth, continuous and unbroken, but there are some places where your lines get a bit scratchy, so be sure to keep on top of that. I think this may be happening, in part, because you tend to trace back over some of your lines to reinforce them. I find that the most effective use of line weight, given the bounds and limitations of this course, is to reserve it for clarifying overlaps as explained here, and restricting it to localised areas where these overlaps occur. What this keeps us from doing is adding line weight to more random places, or worse, attempting to correct or hide mistakes with additional line weight.

Now, there's definitely things I want you to address from my critique, so I'm going to assign some revisions below. Be sure to review the feedback from the previous lesson, and expect to have to revisit this critique a few times as well to really let it all sink in, as it's quite dense.

For 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.

Please complete 4 pages of animal constructions. If anything said to you here, or previously, is unclear or confusing you are allowed to ask questions.

Next Steps:

Please complete 4 pages of animal constructions.

When finished, reply to this critique with your revisions.
edited at 10:32 AM, Sep 27th 2023
9:23 AM, Tuesday October 3rd 2023

Hello thank for your review

I think the problem is that I rushed through this lesson. I also think that I incorrectly (not) applied what was told to do as you say in this review. I will review my method to apply what you and the lesson said for that not happen again.

I have some questions on certain points that I don't understand.

In this passage you say "draw around the small ellipses on the ends of the forms two full times before lifting your pen off the page" this means that I also have to apply it during contour curves? And these three paragraphs :

-"The other points I wanted to make with the bird were to be sure to use the outer line of your (2D) ellipses to represent the edge of your (3D) ball forms."

-"Each mass has its own, fully enclosed, complete silhouette, and where they overlap they do so in 3D space. Do not cut one mass off where it passes behind another mass as we see repeatedly along the top of the hybrid."

-"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."

11:10 AM, Tuesday October 3rd 2023

Hello Giovany, thank you for responding to seek clarification on a few points, lets see if we can clear up the confusion.

It is good that you've acknowledged rushing as being a source of some of the issues you've run into here, as that is certainly something you can now address. Just in case you've missed it, or possibly forgotten some of the topics covered, you may want to review this video which explains how you can get the most out of this course.

1- No, I am not telling you to draw over contour curves twice, I am telling you to draw around the small ellipses on the ends of the forms that face towards the viewer twice. Here is an image where I've drawn arrows pointing to the specific ellipses I'm talking about.

2- I spoke about this briefly as a quick reminder, as I had already explained this in more depth in your lesson 4 feedback.

One thing I did notice is that many of the instances of cutting into forms (though not all) came down to the fact that your ellipses would come out a little loose (which is totally normal), and then you'd pick one of the inner edges to serve as the silhouette of the ball form you were constructing. This unfortunately would leave some stray marks outside of its silhouette, which does create some visual issues. Generally it is best to treat the outermost perimeter of the ellipse as the edge of the silhouette, so everything else remains contained within it. This diagram shows which lines to use on a loose ellipse.

The area I highlighted in red on your bird construction is an example of this in action. Where you had chosen the inner line of your ellipse to represent the silhouette of the ball form of the head, it left some stray lines outside of your construction, which can be confusing to the viewer, and undermine their suspension of disbelief, reminding them (and you) that the drawing is just lines on a flat piece of paper. I've prepared some further diagrams here to demonstrate the difference between using the outer line and the inner line of ellipses as the basis for construction.

3- I was reluctant to draw onto your hybrid, as the photo is so very dark and blurry, but here we go. This highlights what I mean by cutting your masses off where they pass behind one another. The two red ones are okay, they have complete silhouettes, so we can understand how they connect to the underlying structures in 3D space. The purple ones have been cut off where they pass behind the red masses, so they're partial shapes, which makes it harder to understand how they exist in 3D space. Here I've redrawn the masses, allowing them to overlap in 3D.

4- This section talks about why it helps to draw the eye sockets with specific lines, rather than with ellipses, which isn't a mistake you're making. Although if this is confusing to you, I think it is best to make it clear that we're not drawing any old lines when drawing the eye sockets, as we're carving them into the cranial ball, each line is a partial contour curve, running across the surface of the cranial ball in 3D space. Again, I've made some diagrams that I hope will help you understand the approach. On the left you'll see the informal head demo approach, in the middle are some of the most common mistakes, and on the right I've drawn what it looks like you drew for your hybrid.

Please let me know if any of this is still confusing and I'll find another way to explain.

3:16 PM, Thursday October 5th 2023

Thank you for your answer. Everything is clear now

4:39 AM, Friday November 3rd 2023

I'll send it back in case you haven't seen it.


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3:34 PM, Tuesday October 24th 2023
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