Lesson 5: Applying Construction to Animals

12:07 AM, Thursday November 24th 2022

Direct Link: https://i.imgur.com/F1HtDxk.jpg

This was even harder than I ever thought it would be. Been taking advantage of the no job thing and have been drawing for about 4 to 8 hours everyday the last week. Doing drawabox and proko. I don't know who is reviewing this but HUGE thanks to Dio for being an absolute blessing for dab students

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11:41 AM, Friday November 25th 2022
edited at 11:49 AM, Nov 25th 2022

Hello Drego47, I'll be the teaching assistant handling your lesson 5 critique.

Starting with your organic intersections

You've mostly done a good job of keeping your forms simple, with the exception of this one which got a bit wobbly along the top.

What also concerns me with that particular form is that it appears to be floating, instead of obeying gravity. I've highlighted the empty space underneath it here. think of these forms like well-filled water balloons, solid and weighty, but also flexible.

You want all the forms in your stack to feel stable and supported. In addition to making sure you don't leave gaps between your forms, you also want to have them sag and wrap around one another. I've made a small edit to one form that looked like it was precariously perched and about to topple off here to make it feel more stable and grounded.

It looks like you used a thick marker or brush pen for your line weight in this exercise. Don't do that. It's so chunky and heavy-handed that I thought you'd added some really odd cast shadows for a moment. Line weight should be kept subtle as explained here.

Speaking of cast shadows, this is something you're doing well. You're pushing them far enough so that they clearly cast onto the form below, nicely done.

I've highlighted one small missing cast shadow here, but more importantly than that, I've also drawn in the rest of a from that you majorly cut off. In the future I'd like you to draw through all of your forms. Much like when we drew through our boxes earlier drawing through these organic forms will help us develop a better understanding of the 3D space we're attempting to create. It really will help you get more out of this exercise by drawing every form in it’s entirety instead of allowing some of them to get cut off where they go behind another form.

Moving on to your animal constructions I will be pasting in some of the feedback I've already given you on Discord as quotes. Partly so you have all your feedback in one place and don't have to search through Discord for it, and partly so I don't repeat myself so much.

Prior feedback

Feedback already given on this dog

When you join your rib cage and pelvis together into a torso sausage, remember that it should sag. If you pinch the underside upwards, it is no longer sticking to the characteristics of a simple sausage form. This complexity undermines the solidity of the form, giving us something of a weaker foundation upon which to build the rest of our construction.

When you use additional masses I am noticing that there are a some places where you tend to avoid certain kinds of complexity - like sharp corners and inward curves - resulting in a lot of softer, rounded corners instead. Unfortunately this absence of complexity robs us of the very tools we need to use to establish contact between these 3D structures, instead making the masses appear flatter and more blobby.

I'm also seeing a bit of overuse of contour lines, potentially the result of you realising that your additional masses feel flat, and trying to make them feel more three dimensional. Unfortunately those contour lines help a form feel more three dimensional on its own, in isolation - but does not solve the problem at hand, which is the lack of relationship being defined between the mass and the structure to which it is attaching. Furthermore, using contour lines like this can trick our brains into thinking we're solving, or at least improving the situation - which in turn leads us to invest less time into the silhouette design of the additional masses, exacerbating the issue.

You were provided with notes on foot construction after expressing difficulty with them.

You were also presented with this demo which was created specifically to help you with the torso sausage, but also demonstrates use of additional masses and head construction.

In response to this capybara Which isn't in your homework submission. This in itself is a red flag that you're doing "practice pages" and grinding, which is something Tofu already highlighted to you as a bad idea in your lesson 2 critique. The reasons for this are explained in more detail in this video from lesson 0 that Uncomfortable sent to you in your lesson 3 critique. Doing more pages than is asked will make it more likely that you will put less time and energy into each individual page, spreading yourself thin, and can lead to burning out.

I'm just guessing, with the edges of the page being cropped off in the photo and all, but I have a hunch that maybe you're not giving this construction all the space and time it really needs for you to work to the best of your current ability.

(your response) "I tried for sure, sometimes they come out smaller than expected"

Hmmm. Well, you're in control of the marks you make.

You want to carefully observe your reference and plan your construction.

So for that capybara, I'd start by planning the rib cage, because that's the biggest major mass. I can see it's about half the total height of the animal, and maybe a quarter of its total length. This gives me a ball park estimate of how big I can draw it. Then I need to consider where on the page I put it. There needs to be some space above and to the left of it, for the head and neck, space to the right for the pelvis, and space below for the legs. Only once I've considered all of this will I actually draw the form, as big as I can make it while still leaving room for everything else I'm going to draw.

This process is slow and laborious, but gets faster and easier with practice. By making your drawings small to avoid having to negotiate this process you're doing yourself a disservice.

Feedback in response to your second dog

If you're doing more than one construction per day I suggest you slooooow down and just do 1 a day. You can and should spread a construction over multiple sittings if that's what it takes for you to stay fully focused. Really push yourself to take as much time as you need to plan every mark you make, and don't think about rushing off to the next one before you've done your very best with the one in front of you.

A couple of things you can think about that might help you with your observation skills.

Firstly, think about what angle we're viewing the dog at. How much of the front do we see, compared to the side? I've put this down visually for you, with colour coded lines here. This is a three quarter view. We see slightly more front than side, and the length of the dog (and therefore the torso sausage you need to draw) is foreshortened.

Something else that you can look for, to help place things correctly, is the negative shapes (the gaps between and around your subject) taking a careful look at the gaps between legs may help you.

feedback for your submission today

Your lines are smooth, clear and intentional, which is wonderful to see. You do a good job with your mark making, never resorting to scratchy marks or redrawing them to correct mistakes.

There are some pretty significant signs suggesting that you may have underestimated just how much time these drawings might demand of you.

So, I looked at your submission history, and did notice that you've basically submitted your last 4 homeworks every 14 days (accounting for revisions). This particular submission was posted 7 minutes after the 14 days had passed. I really cannot stress this enough - that 14 day cooldown is not a deadline. It is there to help discourage people from rushing, and to keep our staff from getting overwhelmed. As discussed back in Lesson 0, you should be taking as much time as you need to execute each drawing, and each component of each drawing, to the best of your current ability.

I know that you do have a lot of time available, and I don't think you're consciously rushing your work (I hope) but I also get the feeling that knowing that it's going to be hard is causing you to, subconsciously, invest less time than you require. While you may have the time to draw 8 hours a day, I highly doubt that you can actively focus on learning for 8 hours a day. If you can't focus, you can't work to the best of your current ability.

The main issue that stands out most comes down to observation. From what I can see, you're not spending as much time as is really needed simply studying your reference. Sometimes students will spend lots of time studying their references up-front, but then will go on to spend long stints simply drawing/constructing. Instead, it's important that you get in the habit of looking at your reference almost constantly. Looking at your reference will inform the specific nature of each individual form you ultimately go on to add to your construction, and it's important that these are derived from your reference image, rather than from what you remember seeing in your reference image. This is explained in more detail in this section of lesson 2.

Right now, because there does appear to be a greater reliance on memory rather than direct observation (not everywhere - some parts come out stronger and more directly informed than others), there are definitely elements that come out looking highly simplified. I did already talk you through some observational strategies on your capybara and your second dog, but here's some further analysis on your goat. Speaking of simplification, goats have cloven hooves, which are quite apparent on the front legs in your reference, and you've drawn them as simple blobs without really paying due care and attention to the information that is in front of you.

Something that makes me believe that you're not necessarily working to the best of your current ability is that you don't always apply the techniques that you do already know. I've done a bit of a breakdown on this bat, which was one of your later constructions. By this point you had already shown that you know how to connect the cranial ball to the torso with a simple, solid neck, and you had previously been working with the sausage method for leg construction, but for some reason you didn't do that here. It looks like you started constructing the wings properly, and then ran out of steam. You know how to do this, it's the same construction method that you used for insect legs in the last lesson. If you can construct 8 spider legs I know you can construct 2 bat wings.

Moving on, in lesson 4 we introduced the idea of building our constructions by adding whole forms to an existing structure, in lesson 5 we get more specific with use of additional masses, and designing these masses in such a way that they reinforce the 3D illusion of your construction instead of undermining 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.

I did already discuss your use of additional masses as feedback for one of your dog constructions, but here is a direct draw over on your goat demonstrating how to wrap them around the underlying structure more, instead of using rounded blobs.

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.

I want you do do your best to employ this method for constructing animal heads in the future.

I won't be moving you on to the next lesson just yet. I want you to be able to demonstrate that you can understand and apply this feedback so that you can continue to get the most out of these exercises in the future. Be sure to read through this critique thoroughly, and to refer back to it as often as you need to in order to understand, remember, and apply all the information that has been presented to you. Of course if anything that has been said to you here, or previously, is unclear, you are welcome to ask questions.

Additionally, I'd like you to adhere to the following restrictions when approaching these revisions:

1- Don't work on more than one construction in a day. You can and should absolutely spread a single construction across multiple sittings or days if that's what you need to do the work to the best of your current ability (taking as much time as you need to construct each form, draw each shape, and execute each mark), but if you happen to just put the finishing touches on one construction, don't start the next one until the following day. This is to encourage you to push yourself to the limits of how much you're able to put into a single construction, and avoid rushing ahead into the next.

2- Write down beside each construction the dates of the sessions you spent on it, along with a rough estimate of how much time you spent in that session.

Please complete 1 page of organic intersections and 6 pages of animal constructions.

Next Steps:

1 page of organic intersections

6 pages of animal constructions

When finished, reply to this critique with your revisions.
edited at 11:49 AM, Nov 25th 2022
10:43 PM, Friday November 25th 2022

Thanks Andio, i know that being able to draw for hours at a time can drain most people, but that doesnt mean it drains me! I ended up laying down to sleep at 2:30am. I didnt fall asleep till around 4-5am. This was actually because i wanted to draw so badly that my mind wouldnt let me rest. I absolutely can and do work efficiantly for 8 hours!

I actually completed the lesson the day before the 2 week waiting period and just set an alarm for when I could turn the next one in. I am actually really enjoying this journey its the reason I get out of bed, literally! So I am not thinking of a 2 week deadline, just drawing when I feel like it!

When it comes to the capybara, I actually did 4 pages of 4 animals then realized that I was supposed to do 4 pages of 2 animals. So i ended up doing another dog and fox. I made the same mistake with the hooves animals as well, but I didnt feel like doing even more so I asked on discord what to do and meta said to just explain that it was an accident. I forgot to do that sorry. Wish there was a way to edit submissions without cancelling, or a way to add additional notes that would be useful the whole course for me.

When it comes to the bat the angle kinda threw me off. Thats why I chose it so I didnt take the easy way out. I kid you not I completely forgot about the sausage method for the "fingers" and legs of the bat. As for the additional masses for some reason I actually ended up using the lesson 4 way of doing it.

I will be sure to read all of this every time before I do the next 6 constructions, as I forget to do some of this stuff. Thanks again!

4:47 PM, Thursday December 1st 2022

When drawing really small ellipses like for eyes do i still have to draw through it twice?

5:39 PM, Thursday December 1st 2022

Yep! Just like you drew through the little ellipses on the ends of your organic forms.

5:49 PM, Thursday December 1st 2022

Thank you (bows head)

7:27 PM, Thursday December 8th 2022


Something I have noticed while taking Proko's figure drawing and anatomy courses these last 2 weeks is that I am just a fast drawer. It doesn't matter if I'm doing homework for drawabox or proko, sketching in my sketchbook or anything, I always draw fast. It's what I like to do. Most of the homework pages I've done for drawabox has been done in around 8 to 10 minutes, though I never questioned why that was. So I suppose you were right. I am subconsciously rushing my work. I just didn't notice until now. And I've realized it's how I draw and have always drawn. It's also how I intend to draw in the future as well. Fast. It's going to be important for my career in the future. Drawing fast is a benefit for me. Also noticed I draw REALLY small all the time in the same way. Also beneficial for my future and what I intend to do. So it's naturally going to be hard for me to draw bigger and slower for drawabox. I will try my best to slow down even though it goes against my very being. I tried to slow down as much as possible for these and study as much as i could and it roughly doubled how long it was taking me before.

8:54 PM, Thursday December 8th 2022
edited at 10:41 PM, Dec 8th 2022

Hello Drego47, thank you for responding with your revisions. Could you please write the date(s) you worked on each page next to your work as was requested?

2- Write down beside each construction the dates of the sessions you spent on it

Thank you.

edit for clarity:

I don't want you to redo your work, just put the dates on the pages and repost them.

Next Steps:

Write down beside each construction the date of the session you spent on it, please.

When finished, reply to this critique with your revisions.
edited at 10:41 PM, Dec 8th 2022
12:30 AM, Friday December 9th 2022


I couldnt find the bat or the organic intersections page but they were both done on the 1st. I added the bat with digital edits.

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8:42 PM, Thursday December 8th 2022

DIO will be around to respond to your revisions, but I wanted to jump in and address what you said about how you "are". What you're describing is not unique to your circumstance, but rather it's a natural thing most people gravitate to, it's just that in such circumstances we don't frame them as positive things - we frame it as impatience. An entirely natural impatience that impacts us all, and something we must all learn to address in order to ensure that we learn as thoroughly as we can.

How much time we put into something is a matter of choice. It's not easy by any stretch to exert this choice, especially when we haven't done so much in the past (so for example if we identify with it as you do in describing yourself as a "fast drawer", which makes us feel that this is less something to address and solve, and more just a part of who we are), but it is a choice insofar as being within our capacity to control.

Control is like a muscle - if you don't exercise it, it atrophies, and so you get used to just your behaviour to run its natural course, in this case rushing through your work without taking the time for each individual mark to apply the planning and preparation phases of the ghosting method. As you consciously push yourself to exercise that control, to force yourself to invest time into each individual step rather than running ahead, that control muscle grows stronger, making it gradually easier to dictate the actions you take, and to choose to do better.

The first step towards this is as you described, to do your best to slow down even though it goes against your very being. The reason I wanted to elaborate however is that framing it as being part of who you are is going to make it that much harder. If however you accept that this is an entirely normal thing everyone struggles with - to slow down, to take every decision one step at a time, and so on, then that helps a great deal. Of course, this change in viewpoint is not something that'll happen over night.

The last thing I'll say is this, though you likely already know it - in our line of work, speed is important. But speed is not developed by practicing fast. Speed itself is not a matter of taking as little time as possible for a task. It's about organizing where that time is invested, ensuring that the things that require it receive it, and spending less time in the areas that don't really benefit as much. It's also about developing your instincts and muscle memory, which is something that is done specifically by taking your time, by working through each step with care. We learn slowly, and carefully, and patiently, so that when we draw fast in our other work, our brain has no choice but to go through the same series of steps.

So for this, the ghosting method is a good example. We use it for each and every mark we freehand throughout this course, and in doing so, we train our brain to associate the process of making a mark not just with the execution, but rather in a discrete amount of time being assigned to the planning and preparation phases as well. And so, once it's drilled firmly into our brains that making a mark means thinking through what kind of mark that needs to be, ghosting through the motion of drawing it, and finally executing it with confidence, we're going to do that even when we're working outside of the course - it's just that each step will be given a moment, not that the steps will somehow be different.

Drawing big vs small is the same - drawing big helps us learn what to prioritize and get comfortable with the overall concepts, so we can then apply them at gradually decreasing scale.

As you work through this course, I want you to set aside whatever goals you may have, and whatever preconceived notions you may have on how what you do now will relate to how you will draw later on. Focus only on following the instructions as they're presented - something that itself takes time, in order to go through all the material with care (including the critiques you've received), so that they can be applied going forward. Do not attempt to identify cases where your approach should differ from what is instructed.

12:34 AM, Friday December 9th 2022
edited at 12:36 AM, Dec 9th 2022

Thank you Mr. Karim. It's good to know it's pretty natural and that I can improve. This knowledge really helps me. I definetly am impatient (adhd and ocd) but I will try to improve that moving forward. This is actually reminds me of what Proko said about chicken scratching (which I heavily struggle with outside dab.) He basically said it's the result of not being confident with your strokes. Just more to work on for me.

edited at 12:36 AM, Dec 9th 2022
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