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9:05 PM, Monday May 23rd 2022

Jumping right in with your organic intersections, there's definitely progress here, although there are two things to keep in mind:

  • Firstly, the way in which you're drawing each subsequent sausage form is coming along decently, although try to consider each sausage more as a sort of three dimensional contour line - in terms of how dramatically they curve around the surface of the structures beneath them. The way you're drawing them now tends to feel somewhat flatter, due to the lessened emphasis on how they're actually curving around one another.

  • Secondly, there's plenty of room for improvement in pushing how your shadows actually are cast upon, and thus wrap around, the surfaces beneath the forms casting them. Since the sausages are all curved, there will be lots of curving surfaces for the shadows to follow, pulling them farther away from the silhouette of the form casting them, rather than having those shadows cling closely.

I've added some quick notes to your first page of the exercise to demonstrate each of these points here.

Continuing onto your animal constructions, the first thing that jumped out at me early on was that you appeared to have, at least in some drawings, allowed yourself to modify and alter the forms you'd already put down - treating them as 2D elements rather than solid, three dimensional structures. This is something we discussed at length in my feedback for your Lesson 4 work. While this was back in December, it is of course your responsibility to ensure that you do whatever is necessary for you to be able to apply that feedback in your later lessons - ensuring that you reread that feedback before diving into your next lesson's work, and going back through it as needed to keep from forgetting.

I also noted there that you appeared to be trying to use the branches technique when constructing the flamingo's neck, although you were employing that technique incorrectly. You'll want to review the instructions here, which show how those segments must overlap in order to achieve a smoother, more seamless transition from one to the next.

I am already seeing a tendency both here and in your organic intersections, to not necessarily invest as much time as is needed into your ellipses. Be sure to draw through each one two full times before lifting your pen, draw them using your whole arm from your shoulder (even when they're small) and be sure to use the ghosting method (investing your time into the planning and preparation phases) as you would for each and every structural mark throughout this course.

Moving on, I am glad to see that you're making a clear effort to employ the additional masses we introduce in this lesson. I do have some recommendations on how you can push these farther, however, specifically in the particular design of each one's individual silhouette. It's that silhouette which holds all the cards in terms of establishing how the mass wraps around the existing structure.

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.

Here's an example of this in action on one of your horses. Try to think of your masses' silhouettes as though they're made up of smaller pieces. It can be very tempting to just draw an arbitrary (often blobby) shape, especially when we think of a mass as a single entity. But instead, it's made up of distinct pieces - inward curves, outward curves, sharp corners, and smoother, more gradual transitions. But each one has its place, to help describe the way in which this mass is attaching to its existing structure.

Also, be sure not to give any one mass too many jobs. Sometimes you may simply be drawing a mass that is doing too much, filling too many roles - and it would be better for it to be broken up into several separate masses, each piling atop one another in 3D space.

The last thing I wanted to mention in regards to additional masses is that when you're dealing with your animals' legs, don't limit yourself to focusing only on the masses that impact the silhouette. Also consider the ones that fit in between them, as this is what will help make the overall structure feel more grounded, as shown here on another student's work.

On the topic of your animals' legs, I should note that despite mentioning this in your Lesson 4 critique, you appear to have continued not to apply the sausage method consistently when building up your animals' legs. I will certainly admit to the fact that since this course is continually evolving, and certain things can be updated more easily than others (like text vs video), many of the demos are old - and so, things like the intro video and others demonstrate leg construction in entirely different ways. This is something I'm working to address of course, as I'm overhauling all of the video content in the course from start to finish - but that is precisely why it is so important that you not leave my previous feedback to be forgotten. In essence, those submitting for official critique are given an additional avenue of receiving information that is intended to provide them with information ahead of time, before it can be fully structured and organized into newer versions of the lessons.

But of course, in order to benefit from that, you must do what you can to apply it.

To that point, the last major point I wanted to discuss is on the topic of head construction - another area that is demonstrated in several different ways across the lesson. Lesson 5 has a lot of different strategies for constructing heads, between the various demos. As I've explained above, as a result of the way in which the course has developed, and how I'm 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 on the informal demos page.

There are a few key points to this approach:

  • The specific shape of the eyesockets - 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 eyesocket 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 with a bit of finagling it can still apply pretty well. To demonstrate this for another student, I found the most banana-headed rhinoceros I could, and threw together this demo.

Before I finish up and assign you your revisions, I did want to call out a few minor points that you should also be aware of:

  • I'm noticing that you seem to be drawing your construction with fainter, thinner lines for your earlier steps, and darker, thicker ones later on. I'm not sure if you're switching pens for this (you definitely should not be), but regardless, this is not a strategy you should be using in this course. Instead, each step introduces a solid 3D structure to your existing construction, and so every single mark should be drawn confidently, rather than attempting to differentiate it somehow. I recommend you take another look at the lobster and shrimp demos from Lesson 4's informal demos section, and note how each step is approached in the same manner. No step's marks are considered more important than any others'.

  • I noticed in both your tiger drawings, the torsos ended up being quite long. Note that as explained here, the ribcage constitutes half the length of the torso, and the pelvis constitutes a quarter, with only a quarter left in between.

  • Also note that as explained here, generally we draw the torso sausage such that it sags if it's got a sort of 'hanging belly' - that is, instead of adding the belly as an additional mass. We do this where we can simply because it's easier to draw additional masses that do not have to work against gravity. There will inevitably be situations where this is unavoidable of course, but it's still better to avoid it where we can.

All in all, I think you ultimately are demonstrating that had you taken more care in noting the feedback you'd received previously, you'd have likely done far better here. I can certainly see that potential in you, but you need to be more mindful, using the resources at your disposal instead of relying on your critiques to call things out that have already been made known to you.

You'll find your revisions assigned below.

Next Steps:

Please submit an additional 6 pages of animal constructions. For these, I want you to:

  • Be sure only to work on one drawing on any given day. That is not to say you must complete a drawing in one day - in fact, I hope that you'll end up spreading each construction across multiple days, giving yourself as much time as is required. But, if you've worked on one animal construction in the given day, you should not yet start the next until the following day. This is to ensure that you're dedicating as much time as you can to each individual construction.

  • On the page, write down the dates of each session, as well as an estimated amount of time spent during that session.

And of course, be sure to read through the feedback you've received previously with care.

When finished, reply to this critique with your revisions.
8:53 PM, Friday May 5th 2023

It was not easy to get it right and it took a long time.

Please review.


7:17 PM, Monday May 8th 2023

There is definitely a good deal of improvement over the set itself, with the earlier ones (the rhino/elephant) being much weaker, and the horse/cat/deer being much stronger. I am going to be marking this lesson as complete, but there are some points I want to call to your attention:

  • For head construction, this is an area you definitely improve upon a great deal, but you aren't quite adhering as closely to what's demonstrated in the informal demos page as you could be. For example if we look at your dalmatian, you haven't defined the forehead plane, and the eyesockets and muzzle are not as tightly fitted together as they should be. Additionally, in the time since your initial submission, I put together this demonstration of a rhino head construction. I did this to specifically demonstrate how the same core principles can be applied t something that doesn't appear to fit the mould of the other demo, to show that as long as we apply the concepts and work through it step by step, this approach can be used to construct any head, or really anything. Just make sure everything fits together tightly, and don't add more complexity than the existing structure can support. Always work through it in successive steps, one building upon the last. Actually I just realized that the rhino demonstration was provided to you in your last round of feedback, you appear not to have used it. I'm going to leave my previous text in, as it explains its purpose once again, but this does not suggest that you were making full use of the information provided to you.

  • When adding additional masses, there does tend to be a certain amount of carelessness at times - less so later in the set, but it's still present. Remember that in my previous feedback I stressed the fact that the design of each additional mass's silhouette is based on where it's pressing up against other structures, and where it's not. When there's no contact made, we can only use simple elements like outward curves and rounded corners. When there is contact made with another structure, we can only use inward curves and sharp corners to demonstrate that physical contact. I've called out a number of places where you used inward curves along the outer edges of some small additional masses throughout your dalmatian here.

  • I also noted a couple extra things on there - one of them being where I marked the letter "A" along the dog's back, you appear to be having that mass run along the edge of the ribcage. Remember that when we connected the pelvis and ribcage into a sausage, it basically engulfed the entirety of the ribcage, leaving nothing really protruding to wrap around. Always keep in mind which masses are playing a role along the surface of your structure - don't just pay attention to the shapes on the page, consider what they represent in 3D space.

  • I noticed that you cut into the silhouette of your dog's belly to create that inward "tuck". Generally you've been pretty good about avoiding cutting into silhouettes, but this was clearly a place where you made the choice to do so despite knowing that it was not permitted. At that point, the only other alternative would be to leave the dog without the belly tuck, which would have been the better choice in the context of the exercise. Remember that - what we're doing here are exercises. Their value are in the steps we apply and the rules we adhere to, not in how close the end result matches the reference image. Barring the ability to go back in time and factor in that tuck in how we approach constructing the torso, accepting that your construction may not match entirely is the next best approach to this issue.

  • One point I raised in my last critique - specifically where I shared this diagram went entirely unaddressed. Along with the rhino, this makes two explicit points that were raised, which appear to have not been followed.

  • On your deer's front legs, and on some spots along the back legs, you're neglecting to define the contour curve where the sausages intersect at the leg joints.

  • There's also a tendency for many of your masses to be rather blobby - I wanted to mention that if you find yourself drawing these in one go (not lifting your pen until the whole mass's silhouette is drawn), this is incorrect. You should be drawing the silhouette in individual segments, stopping a stroke when you hit a point that demands a sharp corner, and then starting a new stroke to continue that silhouette. This can help us maintain finer control, and keeps us following the principles of markmaking from Lesson 1.

As a whole, you're moving in the right direction, but it's pretty clear that you haven't really entirely done your part when it comes to incorporating the feedback you've already received. I understand that you didn't start on the revisions until March (almost a full year after receiving the feedback), but that simply means that you should have gone back over the lesson material, as well as the feedback you'd received, and do so carefully to ensure that those concepts would be fresh in your mind. If you did so, then perhaps there was room to do so more carefully.

I'll also mention that 30 minutes per construction isn't bad, but you may find yourself having far more success if you give yourself more time. It really does come down to ensuring that we're giving ourselves as much time as we require - not just when it comes to the construction as a whole, but for each and every individual mark involved, how you're executing them, using the ghosting method, and ensuring that you're designing each additional mass with care.

As I said at the beginning, I'll be marking this lesson as complete. This is partially because you're moving in the right direction, and partially because you've been given feedback on all the points you need to work on (both here and in my previous response), so it falls to you to continue to apply what I've shared with you going forwards. And in that, you do have a ways to go.

Next Steps:

Move onto the 250 cylinder challenge, but be sure to continue reviewing what I've shared with you here - there are definitely areas in my previous round of feedback that you have overlooked, so give yourself further opportunities to go over it and apply that feedback.

This critique marks this lesson as complete.
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