Lesson 5: Applying Construction to Animals
5:17 AM, Friday August 6th 2021
Let me know what's best.
I should mention from the get-go, that in the future please avoid having your whole submission be rotated in arbitrary directions. Handling the odd page that's rotated ninety degrees is easy enough, and while it's bothersome the whole submission being rotated in the same direction can at least be addressed en-masse, but when your submission is a mixture of things rotated one way or the other, it really hinders my capacity to do my job.
Starting with your organic intersections, your work here is coming along decently. You're demonstrating how the forms slump and sag over one another under the force of gravity, and how they interact with one another in a believable fashion. There are two things I want you to keep in mind however:
Firstly, when placing your cast shadows, consider a singular, consistent light source. Right now you've got shadows being cast both to the left and the right of your sausage forms - which means that different sausages are being impacted by different sources of light, which would not be possible given that they exist in the same scene. Decide where your light source is, and then cast all the shadows accordingly.
This one's a minor point, but just adding cast shadows can be a little jarring - don't hesitate to add some line weight to help clarify how forms overlap one another, and to help create a bit more of a gradual transition from the uniform line thickness of your basic drawing, and the really bold cast shadows.
Moving onto your animal constructions, your work is somewhat varied, but I can see a fair bit of growth between the drawings towards the beginning of the set, and those you've done later on. While I suspect these aren't entirely in order (the cow towards the end probably goes with the cow towards the middle), I can see the generally trend being one of growth and greater understanding. Of course, that doesn't mean you're not without some issues, which we will address.
The first point that stands out to me has to do with the use of additional masses, and like the homework overall, it's a little mixed. As we push further into the work, I can see that you're pretty clearly starting to think more and more about how the silhouette of the masses you add to your construction should be shaped to properly establish how these forms wrap around the existing structure. It's not entirely consistent - even when you start making improvements on this front, there are still plenty of other places where you're not really thinking about the shape of those silhouettes as much (often just drawing arbitrary blobs), but it's a step in the right direction. So for example, the mass on the "top" (since it's rotated) of this leg joint from this cow drawing definitely shows some thought to how the inward curves can be positioned to start positioning how the form is actually wrapping around the sections of the legs.
Still, there are plenty of places where you just drop arbtirary blobs, or where you do think a little about how the form should be shaped, but are still struggling with it. 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.
It's the specific positioning of every inward curve, every corner, and every outward curve, that establishes how these forms exist in 3D space. This means it requires you to be very specific in where your marks fall. Even the one I screenshotted as being a move in the right direction has its issues, in terms of specificity - for example, that nice inward curve comes to a sharp corner not at the outline of the leg segment, but a little inside of it, as shown here.
To push this point a little farther, here are some more correct mass shapes on one of your camels. A few things to note:
The belly mass doesn't get cut off when it passes in between the legs - we're working in 3D space after all.
When two masses overlap one another, we simply figure out how they physically pile up one on top of the other. One does not cut off the other.
As a side note, I mainly tried to mimic the masses you'd already drawn, just to show how they'd work - I wasn't looking at a particular reference, so the neck ended up looking pretty weird.
The next point I wanted to talk about was how you approach constructing your legs. While it's clear that you're attempting to apply some of the principles of the sausage method - likely because I raised it in my last critique - you're pretty inconsistent in whether or not the forms you draw are actually adhering to the characteristics of simple sausage forms. In fact, the vast majority of these are just ellipses, which are fundamentally different from the sausages we're looking for. Where sausages convey a sense of fluidity and gesture alongside their inherent solidity, ellipses and stretched ball forms like what you've got here instead feel very stiff and rigid.
So, I cannot stress this enough - you need to adhere to the characteristics of simple sausages, as shown at the top of this diagram. Do not deviate from them.
Looking at how you're approaching the construction of your heads, I suspect you may not have gone through all of the resources that are available on this front. Over the last year or so, I've been shifting the manner in which head construction is explained. I haven't yet been able to incorporate it into the video content (which is more time consuming), but you'll find that at the top of the tiger head demo, I do push students to take a look at this head construction explanation from the informal demos page.
It stresses the importance of having all the components of the head - the eye socket, the muzzle, the cheek, the brow ridge - wedge into one another like pieces of a three dimensional puzzle to help take what starts as a simple ball form for the cranium, and break it into a series of more concrete, planar forms. Throughout your drawings you appear to be moving around between different approaches, but none of them reflect the concepts shown there, so I suspect you've missed it.
In general, focus on drawing eye sockets as shown there - bigger than you are now, with a sort of upside down pentagon shape. Also, be sure to draw the eyeballs to be a fair bit bigger than you are now. The visible portion of the eye is not the entire eyeball - there is a good bit of it that's hidden behind the eyelids. Once you've dropped in a larger ball form, you can then draw each eyelid as a separate form, to really focus on how they wrap around it as shown here.
The last thing I wanted to talk about goes back to some of the core concepts of this course which it can be rather easy to forget about as we push through the lessons. Above all else, you need to remember:
To apply the ghosting method to every single mark you draw, and to invest as much time as you need to execute every mark to the absolute best of your ability. Right now your markmaking as a somewhat sloppy quality to it because you're underestimating how long these things should take you. As the things we're drawing here get more complex, we inevitably get impatient and feel like we're not working fast enough. There is no "fast enough" - there is only the patience and care we require to execute each mark, each form, and each drawing to the best of our ability. We do not need to finish a given drawing before getting up from a session. We do not have to finish a drawing in a day. We are welcome, and encouraged, to break up a drawing across multiple days if that's what is needed.
When we start getting impatient with how quickly (or slowly) we're drawing, the first thing that tends to be sacrificed is the amount of time we're willing to spend looking at our reference, and observing it. When we stop studying our reference constantly, and spend more time looking away from it, we end up working more from our memory. Our memory, unfortunately, isn't all that great - it doesn't retain visual information particularly effectively, and so what we draw ends up more simplified. It's critical that we give ourselves plenty of time to look at our reference constantly, looking away only long enough to execute a specific mark or draw a particular form - again, using the ghosting method.
As a whole, I do feel that with each of these drawings you do have a fair bit of room to simply put more time into the process. I recommend that for the revisions I've got listed below, you not work on more than one drawing in a given day - and if you need more than a day to complete a drawing, you are absolutely encouraged to do so. This will help you keep from rushing through a bunch all at once, just in the interest of getting through it.
Please submit an additional 6 pages of animal constructions.
It's very important you take your time - not only when drawing these, as explained at the bottom of my critique, but also to absorb the information shared with you in the critique. It's long, and dense, and it's entirely normal for one to have to read through it a few times over a period of time, and to come back to it and the demos/notes available in the lesson even as you're doing the work to refresh your memory.
And next time, make sure they're rotated correctly.
I can definitely see notable improvement here. I do however have a few suggestions for you to keep in mind:
Right now your leg segments tend to pinch through their midsection, instead of maintaining a consistent width as shown here. Remember that we need the segments here to stick as closely as possible to the characteristics of simple sausages (which are also shown here on the sausage method diagram).
As shown along the top of these notes, when placing the masses along the back, always look for opportunities to wrap them around the big hip/shoulder masses. Go as far as to look for those big shoulder/hip masses. They're not always obvious, but they are present because they're the big muscles used when the animal walks and runs.
As pointed out along the bottom section of those same notes, you're currently skipping one of the lower segments of your animals' legs. Quadrupeds generally walk on the balls of their feet rather than their heels.
Also, when drawing those feet, try to focus more on how you're designing the silhouette of those forms. Controlling where your corners go can help you to imply the presence of distinct top/side/front planes to the form, making it feel more three dimensional without additional internal linework.
When it comes to the use of your additional masses, you do still have room for improvement. I can see that you're clearly thinking about how they wrap around the existing structures in many of these, but there are definitely a number of cases where you've perhaps rushed through that step more than others. The tendency to have your sausage forms get narrower through their midsection is also making it more difficult for you than it needs to be, so keep an eye on that as you move forwards.
I am going to go ahead and mark this lesson as complete. As I said, you're moving in the right direction - but you'll continue improving your understanding of these concepts with further practice. I also recommend that you go over the feedback you've received throughout this lesson periodically, to keep those points fresh in your mind, and to see if certain concepts make more sense after having practiced for a while.
Move onto the 250 cylinder challenge, which is a prerequisite for lesson 6.