Lesson 5: Applying Construction to Animals
3:57 AM, Friday March 18th 2022
Thank you for all that you do for everyone and for Drawabox.
Starting with your organic intersections, great work! You're drawing the forms such that they convey a believable impression of gravity as it presses down on the forms, causing them to slump and sag to either side.
Continuing onto your animal constructions, honestly you've done a bang-up job here. I do have a few things to call out, but I expect this is going to be a much shorter critique than I'm used to for this lesson. Or at least, I'm excitedly hoping so. As a whole, I'm seeing a lot of very strong signs of the development of your spatial reasoning skills, and your observation skills have come along swimmingly. I'm going to call out the handful of areas for improvement in bullet points below:
I really quite liked your dodo construction, although I did catch a relatively minor concern in regards to how you approached its wing. I've made some notes directly on the drawing here, but there's two main points. Firstly, remember that what we're doing here is not drawing the anatomy of the object - as far as we're concerned, this dodo is no different from a table lamp, or a flower. They're all just objects made up of forms, and we break those forms down based on what we see. So in this case, I would draw the bulk of the wing as a simple form.
Also noted on that same page, draw your feathers as though they're being individually attached to a larger structure - don't cut into it when doing so, but rather extend off it. You can also see this concept demonstrated here.
When it comes to building up additional masses, I think overall you've done pretty well. I did notice in one case however that you were wrapping the additional mass along the backside of this cat around the pelvic mass. This is technically incorrect, since the pelvis is not a protruding structure - it goes smoothly into being part of the torso sausage pretty early on, leaving us without anything to wrap our masses around. Instead, as shown here, we use the masses we can block in at the hip and shoulder (where quadrupeds usually have larger muscle groups to help them walk and run), wrapping our additional mass around that.
Also, as shown here, avoid any cases where you end up with inward curves along the outer edge of a given mass (where there's nothing to press in on it to create that inward curve). Remember the points about how we go about designing those silhouettes from here (though you have otherwise demonstrated that you do understand).
The last thing I wanted to touch upon was on the topic of 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 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.
Overall you're honestly not that far off, and I can see you working through similar principles when you approach head construction, and there are definitely areas where you're following the process shown in that informal demo at least in part - but bring it all together in the way the demo shows, and you should be able to get even more out of the exercise.
Oh, also worth mentioning - when drawing eyelids, it helps a lot to actually draw each eyelid as its own separate additional mass, wrapping them around the eyeball as shown here.
And that about covers it! All in all, fantastic work. I'll go ahead and mark this lesson as complete.
Feel free to move onto the 250 cylinder challenge, which is a prerequisite for lesson 6.
I found your insight and the draw overs very useful and well articulated, especially tailored to suit my flaws. I'll make sure to consider these in my future drawings, and the advice I can give to others in the L5 channel.