Lesson 2: Contour Lines, Texture and Construction

5:50 PM, Sunday July 19th 2020

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The second page of organic intersections I made a bit small. I feel like I made up for this in the second page. If you would like for me to redo the page due to that, I understand. I really need to ghost more with my contour lines. I think my work shows that... Sadly...

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1:01 AM, Monday July 20th 2020

Starting with your arrows, these are generally coming along pretty well, though there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • While your lines are largely smooth, I can't help but notice a very subtle sense of hesitation as you draw them that causes them to feel a little rigid in how they move through space. If you look really closely, you can see a little bit of wobble - and when I say little, I mean really little, but it does impact the sense of flow and how they move through space.

  • Also, remember that as the arrow moves away from the viewer, foreshortening from perspective will not only cause the ribbon itself to get narrower (which you're doing correctly), but it will also make the spacing between the zigzagging sections - the negative space - to get tighter as well. This is something you're missing.

  • For the little hatching lines you're using to help clarify how the arrow folds back over itself, be sure to get it to stretch all the way to the edge of the ribbon, and draw them with more confidence. Once again we're seeing some definite hesitation and wobbling here. Every single line you draw should be executed with confidence.

You've still got a good start on this exercise, just have a few things to keep an eye on.

Moving onto your organic forms with contour lines, it's a simialr story - you're largely doing a pretty good job, but there are things for me to mention:

  • You're clearly making an attempt to stick to simple sausage forms [as described in the instructions](), but you're running into a few issues. Most notably you tend to have a pretty big pinch through the midsection of most of these, rather than maintaining a consistent width through its length. You're also ending up with ends that sometimes of different sizes, though this is less common in your work.

  • Your contour lines appear to sometimes be entirely consistent in their degree, and at other times, somewhat more arbitrary and random. The degree of a contour line basically represents the orientation of that cross-section in space, relative to the viewer, and as we slide along the sausage form, the cross section is either going to open up (allowing us to see more of it) or turn away from the viewer (allowing us to see less), as shown here.

For your texture analyses, you've made an attempt to be sure, but that attempt was very timid and hesitant. It's clear that you weren't comfortable with this exericse, and that is entirely normal. No one ever approaches this exercise from a place of comfort. It is purposely pushing students to do something they've never attempted before, and testing them on concepts I don't expect them to understand. The point is entirely one of exposure. To throw you into the deep end of the pool, so you get a feel for what it's like to swim, even if you've never been taught how.

Now, the reason I say your attempt is very timid is that you erred on the side of making as few marks as possible. The right side of the exercise - the gradient - is all about taking that solid black bar on the left end and making it transition smoothly and with no visible jump, to the bar of white on the far right side. While you didn't achieve this due to how little ink you were willing to put on the page, you did at least clearly focus on working with shapes of solid black, rather than outlining your forms. That is definitely a good first step, but you need to be willing to dive deeper into the problem, to make mistakes, rather than holding yourself back out of fear of doing something wrong.

This exercise is all about using the texture you're studying to find what black shapes you can place on the page to complete the gradient. We find those black shapes largely from studying the forms that are present in the texture, and thinking about what kinds of shadows they would cast on their surroundings. We then use those shadow shapes to imply the presence of that form in the gradient itself. As we get further to the left side, we make those shadow shapes bigger and deeper, like they're expanding as the light recedes. As we get to the far right side, we make those shadows shrink, as the light blasts them away. Every single shadow should be drawn while thinking about the form you're trying to imply - not just trying to carry some arbitrary shape over onto the page. Always think about how that shadow shape relates to a form from your texture.

You were definitely a lot more bold and confident in your dissections, and while I wouldn't say you did what I just described correctly, I am pleased to see that you made a much more significant attempt. You studied your references, you identified forms and elements that are present, and while you definitely worked more from memory instead of making a habit of looking back at your reference between marks, this is a good first step. Aside from making a point to look at your reference more frequently, I also want you to read these notes about the tendency to rely on outlines instead of shadow shapes when capturing your textures.

Continuing onto your form intersections, you've done a great job. You've drawn a LOT more forms than I ever would have asked for, but you drew them all such that they feel cohesive and consistent within the same space. You've also had a solid start with the intersections between them, and have clearly put a good deal of time into thinking about how they relate to one another in 3D space. This is exactly what this exercise is about - having students get a first exposure to this difficult concept, before we continue to explore it through the entirety of this course.

Lastly, your organic intersections are coming along fairly well. I'm not too concerned about the smaller size of the second page - both pages are coming along well. The one thing I want you to think more about when tackling this exercise in the future however is the nature of the shadows one form might cast upon those beneath it. Right now you're somewhat arbitrary in where you choose to place shadows. You've got the ones that fall on the ground fine, but you seem to be hesitant when it comes to placing shadows on the forms themselves. Also, when you do, you're not necessarily thinking enough about how those cast shadows actually wrap around the rounded surface of the sausage forms.

Next Steps:

So, there's one last thing I want you to do before I mark this lesson as complete. I want you to do one row of the texture analysis exercise. Not one page - just one row, a study of one texture, and I want you to put more effort into completing the gradient from solid black to solid white, using the shadow shapes cast by the forms in your texture. I assure you that you can do better than you have done, and that it's a matter of allowing yourself to be bold and assertive. You by no means have to do this perfectly or even well - you just have to push yourself a little harder.

When finished, reply to this critique with your revisions.
11:04 PM, Tuesday July 21st 2020

Hello Mr. Irshad,

Thank you for the detailed critique. I will be sure to reread my notes and apply the advice for fixing my other mistakes. I really see the issues with the gradients in my texture analysis page. Please see the imgur link here: https://imgur.com/a/GhEcsYo for the requested one row of the texture analysis exercise. I attempted to make my shadow shapes larger by going over them with my pen again, but it seems to have not helped much. Perhaps I messed up when I was transferring over the vertical and horizontal shadows from the banana. If I did the gradient incorrect again, any advice would be appreciated.

Thank you for your time,


12:50 AM, Wednesday July 22nd 2020

This is definitely a move in the right direction. When you say that you attempted to make the shadow shapes larger by going back over them, you were still quite timid in your approach there. When you think about taking a small shadow shape and expanding it, think about a small circle. A tiny circle, just a dot on the page. This circle can ostensibly be expanded to become a circle the size of the whole page, if it were allowed to grow enough. That's because it's not just a line on the page, where its only capacity to get larger is by getting thicker, being given more line weight. It's a shape, and a shape has no such dimensional limitations.

So, the key here is not to draw your marks as lines, but to draw them as shapes as described here. Keep that in mind as you continue moving forwards.

For the purposes of this lesson, I'm pleased with your improvement and will go ahead and mark this lesson as complete.

Next Steps:

Move onto lesson 3.

This critique marks this lesson as complete.
12:57 AM, Wednesday July 22nd 2020

Will do!

Thanks again for the critique Mr. Irshad!

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