Lesson 5: Applying Construction to Animals

7:23 AM, Monday July 6th 2020

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Had massive difficulties putting everything together.

I still have trouble putting things together and still lose the ability to see what I've drawn after I have put down a bunch of lines. It becomes too chaotic.

Accuracy is still a massive issue; After a certian point it becomes too difficult to use the reference since things are so different.

On top of that barely anything looks 3 dimensional even though I'm drawing these sausages or organic forms as bases and adding on to them. The addons themselves look pretty bad as well.

Not sure where to go from here...

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4:02 PM, Monday July 6th 2020

Starting with your organic intersections, these are coming along reasonably well. Some of your contour curves are a bit shallow (specifically where you aren't overshooting them, which is primarily focused on the second page, so be sure to keep on top of that), but all in all you're drawing these forms such that they define clearly how they interact with one another in three dimensions.

Moving onto your animal constructions, there are indeed a number of problems, and I think they largely come from you having trouble with keeping all of the different instructions in mind simultaneously, so you tend to forget a great many things. Furthermore, in trying to keep all the various instructions straight in your head, I think it's clear that your observational skills fall by the wayside, resulting in you working more from memory and oversimplifying the forms you're drawing and the relationships between them. Let's go through a number of individual issues one by one.

The first issue I want to talk about has to do with the major masses you're laying out. As explained here, the ribcage mass should occupy half of the torso length, but you consistently draw it as being much smaller. That's a relatively simple problem that is just one of those things you've allowed to slip through the cracks.

Secondly, while you're clearly making an attempt to follow the sausage method to construct your legs, you're making a few distinct mistakes:

  • You're not drawing sausage forms in many of these cases, you're drawing stretched ellipses - yours tend to get wider through their midsection, rather than adhering to the whole "two equally sized spheres connected by a tube of consistent width". Along with widening through their midsections, yours also tend to have ends that are much more stretched out, which makes it difficult to actually have them feel like they connect to one another as solid, 3D forms. Having circular/spherical ends helps a great deal with this.

  • You vastly overuse contour lines - something I'll touch upon again in a second. In the instructions for the sausage method, I clearly state that you should not be adding any contour lines aside from those that define the connection between segments right at the joints.

So, you pretty regularly pile on contour lines. This isn't an uncommon issue, and it usually occurs when a student is deeply uncertain as to what they should be doing - and so they fall back on the idea that "well I have to make sure my forms feel 3D" and go to the primary technique they've learned to accomplish that: adding contour lines. Contour lines unfortunately suffer from diminishing returns - the first one you draw may have a significant impact, but the second will have considerably less, and the third even less so. Piling them on like this doesn't actually yield any benefit, and when you do draw them, it's important that you do so purposefully, focusing on getting the contour curves to fit snugly within the silhouette of the form (not spilling out of it and not floating aimlessly inside of it), and making sure it wraps around the form believably.

There are also different kinds of contour lines - specifically, the ones that define the relationship between two forms (like those we place at the joint between sausages) are VASTLY more effective than those we place along the surface of a single form. This is because of how they define the relationship between different forms, integrating them into a more complex object rather than just defining how they exist independently.

Long story short, contour lines should not be treated as your "I don't know what to do so I'm going to fall back on this" technique. Every single mark you draw should serve a purpose, and if you feel confused and lost, take a step back and look at the demonstrations - of which there are many, including the informal demos - to help you identify where in the process you are, and what would be the next logical step. Don't just try and wade out there on your own and figure things out yourself based on what you remember.

The last major issue I want to address for now is how you're approaching the 'additional forms'. Right now, you're not actually drawing those additional forms in a way that demonstrates how they wrap around the underlying, existing structure. You're basically just pasting a new form into the world, focusing on making it feel 3D, but not actually getting it to fit into the construction, not defining any relationships between it and everything else that exists in the scene. Basically this results in that additional form floating more arbitrarily in space. As shown here, additional forms should be drawn in such a way that their silhouettes - the shapes you draw initially - should actually attempt to wrap around the existing, underlying structure. It needs to actually curve around it as though it is resting against those surfaces, similarly to how we handle the organic intersections exercise.

So, to summarize, you're running into a number of key problems:

  • You're dealing with a lot of problems simultaneously, and that causes you to get overwhelmed, and panic. You rely on what you remember (both in terms of process and in terms of what your reference looks like), which causes you to take wholly incorrect steps, and to oversimplify your construction and draw things not as they are, but as you think them to be. What you need to focus on is controlling your choices and decisions. Don't blindly react to your panic - take a step back, review the demonstrations, and so on. Also, make sure you continue to develop the habit of studying your reference constantly, looking away from it only long enough to put down a specific form before looking back at it.

  • You've slipped with the sausage method - you're drawing stretched ellipses, not simple sausages.

  • You're overusing contour lines (again, part of you responding badly to being overwhelmed).

  • When drawing additional forms, you need to think about how the form you're drawing actually wraps around the underlying structure as you're drawing - this is not a problem you can solve with contour lines after you've drawn it. It needs to be determined through the silhouette of the form.

There are other issues - for example, when constructing heads you don't adhere to any of the processes laid out in the lesson - but we'll get into that stuff later.

As a side note, your linework is in some places a little sketchy, and repetitive, so always remember to go back to the ghosting method to plan and prepare before every stroke. The planning phase gives you the opportunity to assess whether the mark you want to draw is actually contributing something to the drawing, and specifically to understand what the task it is meant to perform is. Only draw through your ellipses - not your sausages. Basically drawing through is beneficial for drawing ellipses for the same reason that it's harmful to sausages - it leans really well into drawing those kinds of elliptical shapes, so when you apply it to your sausages it's naturally going to turn them more into ellipses.

Lastly - for now, don't worry about texture/detail. Focus purely on construction. I'm glad that you did this for the majority of your drawings here, but there were a few where it definitely ended up distracting you.

Next Steps:

So here are your next steps:

When finished, reply to this critique with your revisions.
7:51 AM, Tuesday July 14th 2020


Really botched the Donkey Demo. it's all out of proportion.

The other two went okay I suppose but, i'm still having trouble with working with 3 dimensional forms

Some of these end up looking way too busy to the point where it's hard to see what I've drawn others are too simplistic.

Where do i go from here? I'm really concerned with how I'm suppose to work with some of these forms.

3:21 PM, Tuesday July 14th 2020
edited at 3:23 PM, Jul 14th 2020

I've put down a lot of notes directly on top of your drawings, which you'll find in this album. There's a lot of different things there, but I'll outline a couple major, repeated issues that I'm seeing come up frequently:

  • You tend to draw ellipses instead of sausages when constructing some of your legs. You've got them right in a few places, but overall I think you need to review what the difference is, here.

  • You also need to keep getting in the habit of hooking your contour curves around, rather than letting them fly straight off the surfaces on which they're meant to sit.

  • Your head constructions in the demo drawings are generally pretty good, but you very consistently forget the importance of getting those 'pieces' (eye socket, muzzle, etc.) to fit right up against one another in your own drawings.

  • You always draw your ribcage mass way too small. As explained here, it should be 1/2 the length of the torso.

  • It's pretty easy to forget about the big engine shoulder and hip muscles, but they're really big and will integrate with the other additional masses you add to your drawings.

  • When adding additional masses, you're making some headway in thinking about how they wrap around in a few areas, but more often than not you're still stamping them as separate shapes, without considering how they're supposed to wrap around the underlying forms when you draw their silhouettes. I imagine this goes hand-in-hand with the difficulty you have in wrapping your contour curves around forms.

In general, I'm noticing that when you put marks down, you're exhibiting a lot of uncertainty - it results in sketchy behaviour in some places, and gaps between lines that really should be connecting to impose a sense of solidity to your forms. While it's totally understandable that you're not confident about what you're doing here, it's important that you fake it anyway. Decide first what the nature of the form you wish to draw is to be, then figure out the individual marks you need to put it down on the page. Then commit to each individual stroke (using the ghosting method of course), putting one mark down for each required line. Don't leave any gaps between those lines, and most of all, when you're drawing lines that are intended to sit along the surface of another form, force yourself to think about how that line is actually running along a 3D surface - not just marks on a flat page.

I didn't point this out in the redline notes, but if you take a look at this example, there's a lot of complexity and nuance once can capture through adding individual additional forms to the leg structures of the animals. Each one is added in such a way that it actually wraps around the structure that exists prior to it, and with that you slowly build up these little bits of volume.

Edit: I forgot to mention this - while the donkey proportions are all out of whack, I wouldn't call it botched. Proportions matter, but the construction of believable, solid forms that integrate and interact with one another in a realistic fashion are far more important, and in this regard you've done a decent job with this demonstration. It's entirely possible to get your proportions totally wrong, but actually nail the construction and end up with a good result that is actually believable - as though you were just faithfully capturing a horribly disfigured animal that's roaming around out there somewhere.

Next Steps:

First, I want you to draw some sausage forms and practice wrapping other masses around them, similarly to the leg example I included at the end of my critique. You can also try some larger sausages (like imaginary torsos) and work on building up additional masses on those.

Then I'd like you to do another 5 animal drawings, on your own. Focus on animals that don't have too much poofy fur, where you can see a good deal of their musculature. Horses, deer, lions, buffalo, etc.

When finished, reply to this critique with your revisions.
edited at 3:23 PM, Jul 14th 2020
6:41 AM, Friday July 17th 2020


A few pages of my attempts to build and fit forms together and 5 more animals. This time the animals have little fur on them to obscure their muscles/fat.

I tried to take note of what you told me in the drawings but, I have had limited success in improving this time.

Still having trouble with a lot of the basics. It still looks as if my forms are far too basics and I'm not building them up enough or I'm relying too much on the basic sausage shape on it's own.

Accuracy is still a major issue. I've been trying to work on it but, I'm still suffering from the inability to draw the things in front of me.

Foreshortening threw me for a loop on the last image (the horse) so it's not done very well at all.

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