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10:07 AM, Thursday June 8th 2023

Hello Tygerson, I'll be handling your lesson 5 critique.

Starting with your organic intersections these are looking good, you're keeping your forms simple and easy to work with, and you're showing a good understanding of how these forms slump and sag with a sense of gravity.

Something that will help you to get more out of this exercise in future is to draw through all your forms, which you appear to have done for the first page but not the second one. Drawing each form in its entirety instead of allowing some of them to get cut off where they pass behind another form will help you to get a better understanding of how these forms exist in 3D space. This isn't a mistake per se, but a bonus. If you watch the accompanying video, you'll see Uncomfortable demonstrates how to draw through your forms for this exercise.

You're projecting your shadows far enough for them to clearly cast onto the forms below. In future I recommend you experiment with moving the light source. Both pages appear to be lit from directly above, you could try moving your light to the left or right and think through how that will affect your shadows.

Moving on to your animal constructions you're honestly doing a great job with these, so most of my critique is going to be fairly nit-picky.

One of the first things I check for with these animal constructions is whether the student is "taking actions in 3D" as introduced in lesson 4 critiques. You've done a good job of avoiding cutting back inside the silhouette of forms you have already drawn, and I can see that you're making a real effort to draw complete 3D forms whenever you want to build on your constructions.

I have a couple of tips that should help you to sustain the 3D illusion more effectively in future.

First, try to avoid leaving gaps in your forms' silhouettes. Sometimes your lines get a little loose like this and it reminds the viewer that they are looking at lines on a flat piece of paper instead of something 3D.

Second, remember that line weight should be reserved for clarifying overlaps. When you use it to jump from one form to the other as seen under the belly here it makes a little extension to your forms' silhouettes and flattens your construction somewhat.

Third, as I noted on that same image, resist the temptation to redraw your lines to make corrections. This leaves the viewer with two possible interpretations of the silhouette of the neck there, and whichever one they choose, there will always be another present to contradict the illusion and remind them that they're looking at a 2D drawing.

Next I check to see how the student is getting along with applying the sausage method of leg construction. You're doing a great job here and you are off to a great start with exploring the use of additional masses to build on your leg structures, but this can be pushed farther. A lot of these focus primarily on forms that actually impact the silhouette of the overall leg, but there's value in exploring the forms that exist "internally" within that silhouette - like the missing puzzle piece that helps to further ground and define the ones that create the bumps along the silhouette's edge. Here is an example of what I mean, from another student's work - as you can see, Uncomfortable has blocked out masses along the leg there, and included the one fitting in between them all, even though it doesn't influence the silhouette. This way of thinking - about the inside of your structures, and fleshing out information that isn't just noticeable from one angle, but really exploring the construction in its entirety, will help you yet further push the value of these constructional exercises and puzzles.

You're making pretty effective use of additional masses throughout these pages, but I'm still going to share some text that may help you to think about how we go about designing these masses.

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.

Your additional masses are coming along well, but I noticed sometimes you'll cut them off where they get overlapped by something else. I've marked up a couple of examples here. Make sure you always give each additional mass its own complete silhouette.

The last thing I wanted to talk about 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:

1- 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.

2- 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.

3- 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.

Looking through your work, I feel that you are trying to apply this constructional method to your heads, and they're generally feeling quite solid. As noted here there are some places where it looks like you're extending your head constructions with single lines or partial shapes, which boils back down to the "taking actions in 3D" point from earlier in this critique.

Okay, I think that covers it. You've done a great job and I think you should feel free to move on to the 250 Cylinder Challenge.

Next Steps:

250 Cylinder Challenge

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3:04 PM, Thursday June 8th 2023

Wow, thank you very much! Yes, I can see how these changes (closed lines, more drawing through, internal masses, muzzle puzzle piece construction, etc) would make for more belief in the illusion.

Question: While the plant-->arachnid-->animal lessons seemed to build on each other directly, at a glance it looks like lessons 6 and 7 (and the accompanying challenges) are very different. Are organic constructions something I should be fitting in on occasion during warm up time, or something to come back to once I've gone through the rest of the course? I don't want to drop them forever, since my work is not yet at the solidity level that ya'all can do, but am not sure how they fit best into the future.

4:13 PM, Thursday June 8th 2023

Hello Tygerson, no problem at all, glad to hear that this made sense.

You are correct that lessons 6 and 7 tackle construction in a different way to what we've been doing in lessons 3-5, and that is is beneficial to continue to practise organic constructions. It is up to you whether you feel more comfortable folding them into your warm up routine (in which case you may want to spread a single construction over several warm ups to avoid rushing) or if you would prefer to dedicate a longer session to them less frequently.

Also, please keep in mind that although I may be working as a TA now, when I submitted my lesson 5 homework I was a student like any other, and most of the pages in that album are choc full of mistakes and not up to "demo standard."

6:58 PM, Thursday June 8th 2023

Ah, okay, and thank you!

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