Lesson 5: Applying Construction to Animals

12:08 PM, Saturday June 13th 2020

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Messed this lesson up so bad, organic intersections were a mess and i made loads of mistakes in animal drawings.

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8:46 PM, Saturday June 13th 2020

Relax. These lessons are hard, and you're submitting them expressly so I can point out your mistakes, allowing you to learn from them. This isn't a test, just a way to assess what you are understanding and what you aren't.

So, starting on your organic intersections, these are largely well done. Not sure what exactly you're regarding as a "mess", but sometimes students will lean too hard on being hyper-critical on a vague level as a way to pre-empt criticism and dull its sting. Your sausage forms are doing a pretty good job of wrapping around one another. Some of them will pinch through their midsection a little when they bend, so keep working on maintaining a consistent width for them, and avoid the little gaps that sometimes occur between a sausage form and the one beneath it. You want to have your sausages press down on the forms beneath them, to create a convincing impression of gravity. Also, watch how you draw your cast shadows when they're projected onto a curving surface. I've pointed out both of these last two issues here.

Moving onto your animal constructions, I'm glad that you provided separate drawings with/without detail, as they'd have been considerably more difficult to critique with the detail.

Overall, your general approach is definitely coming along well. It's very clear that you're trying to adhere to the principles of construction as laid out in this lesson and in previous ones. When you want to build up additional complexity to your constructions, you're consistent in your use of additional 3D forms, rather than trying to manipulate the drawing in 2D by doing things like simply extending the silhouette of a given form. In this regard, you're demonstrating a good grasp of how you ought to be tackling certain problems.

There are a number of places where improvement can be had however. The first and likely most important issue I'm seeing however is that as you are very invested in applying construction properly, I suspect that you may be letting the observational side of things slip by the wayside somewhat. This can result in some cases where things get a little more cartoony - like if you look at this otter's head for instance, you focused very heavily on the forms that would be present, but the way in which those forms were drawn did not capture the kind of nuance and specificity that would have been present in your reference. This occurs when we look away from our reference too long, to draw too much linework before looking back at the reference to refresh our memory. Memory is unreliable - we'll toss out most of the information we gleaned from studying the reference as soon as we look away, so we can only really hold onto a very small amount - maybe enough to draw one very specific form.

Now, to this point, proportions are also not the best, but this is a common issue that is normal for students at this stage. As you do more and more drawing from observation, you'll get better at that, so I'm not concerned on that front.

Another more general issue I'm seeing is a serious overuse of contour lines. You add them everywhere, frequently where they're not actually contributing much. When students do this, it's because they don't actually think about why they're adding contour lines. Every mark you put down on the page needs to serve a specific purpose, and when you're going through the planning phase of the ghosting method is where you think about specifically what you need out of a given mark. Think about what it contributes to the drawing, whether or not it is the best mark to achieve that particular goal, and whether another mark that is present already does.

Contour lines - especially those that sit along the surface if a single form - suffer from diminishing returns. The first one you add will help reinforce the idea that the one form is solid and three dimensional by describing how its surface flows through 3D space. A second one will contribute far less, but may help reinforce the first somewhat. Your thid, your fourth, etc. will quickly end up doing nothing. So, looking at your elphants' trunks for example, having 4 or 5 contour ellipses along its relatively short length really doesn't do much.

On top of this, some contour lines are more valuable than others. Those that actually define the relationship between two forms - you can think of these as intersection lines, like those we add at the joint between sausage segments - are considerably more effective than the contour lines we wrap around a single form. This is because while the normal contour lines just establish how a single form is three dimensional on its own, these more impactful kind will actually establish how the forms relate to one another in 3D space. Often just establishing how one form connects to another is more than enough to make it feel three dimensional, making additional contour lines unnecessary.

Lastly, we get a combination of the two when we look at how we take additional forms and actually wrap their silhouettes around an existing structure. They wrap around another form similarly to how a contour line would, but because we're talking about a whole form rather than just a line, we're also defining the relationship between two different masses. So, when you're adding those additional forms, it's more important to invest your time into figuring out how that form should actually wrap around the underlying structure.

You definitely think about this when drawing your constructions, but it can definitely be pushed much further. As shown here, you can further exaggerate and focus on how those forms wrap around one another. Also, when it comes to determining what constitutes the "underlying structure", that means every form and mass that is currently present. Think about the fact that shoulder and hip muscles are usually pretty big and bulky, so masses along the back will also wrap around them.

Furthermore, when you add an additional mass, it becomes part of the "underlying structure". Meaning that if you put another form on top, it's going to have to wrap around the previous mass as well. Looking at this elephant, the three masses you put along its back ignore one another. This should not be happening.

The thing about additional masses is that they're like slabs of meat. They're malleable to a point, but they're still going to contribute their own thickness and can't be entirely smoothed over. Additionally, try to avoid "sharp corners" when wrapping them around existing structures.

I've laid out a lot of things for you to think about here, so instead of pushing my critique further at this point, I'm going to assign some additional drawings and we'll continue my critique with them. You'll find the assignment below.

Next Steps:

I'd like you to do 4 additional animal drawings to demonstrate the points I've raised above. I don't expect you to necessarily apply everything, as I laid out a lot of information, but do your best to incorporate all you can. There will also be a few restrictions for these drawings:

  • Only do one per day at most. If you don't have too much time to draw in a given day, you can of course spend several days on a drawing - these don't need to be completed in a single sitting - but I want to make sure that you give each drawing as much time as it really needs.

  • Don't include ANY contour lines that sit along the surface of a single form. Contour lines that define the intersection/relationship between two forms are perfectly okay and encouraged, but the kind of contour line that just sits on the surface of one form should not be included in these drawings. Try and make do without them.

  • Don't get into any detail or texture.

  • Draw BIG. Take up as much of space on the page as you can.

  • Do not include your own notes/analysis of mistakes. I'll point them out myself, and I don't want you focusing too much on mistakes all the time. I don't think it's particularly good for your mindset.

When finished, reply to this critique with your revisions.
10:16 AM, Tuesday June 16th 2020
edited at 10:17 AM, Jun 16th 2020

https://imgur.com/a/Wl2skGz, I still feel I made many mistakes, but overall I feel as though they're improving, also the critique was on 13th june and im submitting this 16th of june, but I did one the 13th of June so it still was 1 a day. Thanks!

edited at 10:17 AM, Jun 16th 2020
7:39 PM, Tuesday June 16th 2020

These are definitely a big move in the right direction, and your results are much better. I'm confident that you're approaching these more correctly, and so at this point it'll largely be a matter of practice to continue seeing growth. As such, I'll mark this lesson as complete.

I have just one main thing I want you to keep in mind - across all of these drawings, you're drawing the eyeballs pretty small, and the circles themselves you use for those sphere forms are pretty uneven. Make sure you're drawing them from your shoulder, and draw them larger to give yourself more room to really think about how you'd wrap the eyelids around those rounded surfaces.

Next Steps:

Move onto the 250 box challenge, which is a prerequisite for lesson 6.

This critique marks this lesson as complete.
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