Lesson 5: Applying Construction to Animals

9:06 AM, Wednesday March 9th 2022

Lesson 5.pdf - Google Drive

Google Docs: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1FpuDHGpQpKirGbOyh2FWimv4cWaheq83/view?usp=sharing

The scanned copy somehow affected the black on the pages - it looks somewhat patchy... On the original those areas are completely black.


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11:44 PM, Friday March 11th 2022

It's fairly normal for scanners - specifically when using "document" or "drawing" presets to mess with the contrast in the image to create a cleaner black/white result (artificially so). Photo presets/modes are definitely preferable, because they capture the drawing more faithfully, and preserve its subtler elements.

I'm going to try to take a bit of a different tactic on this critique than I have in previous ones, by first outlining the things you did well, and then the things that can be improved upon or may not have been implemented from previous feedback, and then I'll provide further detail on anything that needs it afterwards.

So! Here's what you did well:

  • You're demonstrating pretty solid observational skills - although while this is always a good thing, it's not uncommon for students

  • Your use of additional masses is generally pretty good, with a lot of thought to how those forms wrap around the existing structures - this can be improved, but as a base you're demonstrating a good level of spatial reasoning skill.

And what needs work:

  • I'm noticing a ton of cases where you're jumping back and forth between 2D and 3D - that is, altering the silhouettes of the forms you've already drawn, as we discussed back in my critique of your Lesson 4 work. It's really to the extent that I am not really seeing any signs that you actually understood what I was explaining there. I'll point this out in further detail below.

  • You also did not make any use of the sausage method when constructing your animals' legs, which was another point I called out in my critique of your Lesson 4 work. This kind of pushes it from not understanding to perhaps not having my critique of your lesson 4 work fresh in your mind when moving onto this one.

  • You have a tendency to have a really aggressive use of line weight, going back over a lot of your lines, but without specific purpose. We'll talk about how to better use line weight (although it's going to be a repetition of something I explained to you back in Lesson 3's critique).

  • You have a tendency to use a lot of contour lines where they do not really contribute much.

So, looking at the issue about working in 2D vs 3D, it all comes down to whether or not you're building upon the existing construction only through the use of individual, complete forms with their own self-enclosed silhouettes, or if you're adding one-off lines, partial shapes, or straight up cutting into the silhouettes of forms you've already constructed, breaking the connection to the 3D form they're meant to represent and reminding the viewer (which includes you) that you're only drawing on a flat page. Every time you remind yourself of this, it only influences you to do it again and again, further eroding the illusion you're trying to create.

In some areas - like where you've cut into the silhouettes of the forms on this dog - it comes down to the fact that you're being pretty erratic with your linework. For example, you appear to have drawn through the sausage for the torso, resulting in more separate marks. Generally this is not something we do for sausages - we only do it for ellipses (which you skipped for the ellipses on the tail), because drawing through ellipses leans into our arm's natural desire to make elliptical shapes. When we do it for a sausage however, it pushes us to draw the sausage more as an ellipse, or at least gives us more to fight against.

That said - in the case of an especially loose ellipse, always treat the outermost perimeter of that resulting linework as being the edge of your form's silhouette, so all the rest of the linework gets contained within it, instead of being left floating loosely outside.

Along with that, you've got a ton of chicken scratching along the dog's legs, which is fundamentally contrary to the principles of markmaking from Lesson 1, and definitely is not showing a consistent use of the ghosting method, which should be employed for every structural mark you make throughout this course.

More prevalent than the cases of cutting into your forms, as you can see here on this penguin, you very frequently just tack on partial shapes or individual marks that do not enclose full silhouettes to your constructions. These lack any actual grounding in 3D space - they do not provide us with enough information to understand in specific terms how they connect to the other forms that are present. Keep in mind that what we're doing here is not "draw animals however you can". That you end up with a recognizable animal is not strictly our top priority.

Rather, these drawings are exercises - they're all spatial reasoning puzzles, and it is through building up those forms, thinking about how they all connect together and whatnot, that we're able to gradually redefine the way in which our brains understand 3D space.

Now, I'm going to leave it at that - I strongly recommend that you go back to my critique of your Lesson 4 work and review what I explained there (along with the diagrams/demonstrations), and refresh your memory on those points, as well as what I shared in regards to using the sausage method for constructing your animals' legs. I don't think it's necessary for me to dig more deeply into that topic, because what I'm seeing here wasn't a failed attempt at using it, you just went about it differently altogether.

The next thing I wanted to talk about was your additional masses. All in all, as I mentioned you're already handling these pretty well, specifically in how you're designing those silhouettes such that they wrap around the existing structure. This can be taken even further by taking advantage of opportunities to stretch your new mass a little further in order to press it against another existing structure, as shown here. The masses we add at the shoulder and hip are great opportunities for this, and anywhere we can "ground" one mass against other structures really helps to make the whole thing more three dimensional.

Additionally, you have a tendency to slap a ton of contour lines on your additional masses, but they actually don't contribute anything. Those contour lines make a form feel more solid and three dimensional on its own, but doesn't help to establish relationships with the existing structures, which is what these additional masses are all about. When the silhouette of a mass is designed well, it'll achieve a clear relationship with the existing structure, which will itself make the form feel solid and 3D. Using contour lines, however, will fail to give us the spatial relationships we are after here, and will only make the form feel solid if those contour lines are drawn well. This doesn't solve the problem at hand - although I should also point out that you have a tendency of drawing a lot of contour lines, but you execute each one somewhat sloppily, which means they're not really doing what they do best either.

Lastly, this has a big threat of making us less careful with the designs of those silhouettes as a whole, because we feel like we have this tool to fix mistakes we may make when drawing the silhouette, and so we allow ourselves to draw them more sloppily. I'm not seeing this a ton in your work, which is good, but it's definitely something that can happen when we work more with a focus on quantity over quality.

As a whole, these additional masses are what you're gonna be using instead of all of the flat shapes and individual strokes, so you're going to have many more opportunities to further practice their use.

Continuing on, I wanted to quickly elaborate on your tendency to go back over your lines and add more weight pretty arbitrarily. It is more effective within the context of this course to use such tools (line weight being one tool of many, just like contour lines and all that) to use one tool to solve one kind of problem. With line weight, it's generally most effective to use it to help clarify how different forms overlap one another, by reserving it for the localized areas where those overlaps occur, as shown in this diagram of two overlapping leaves. We use it as little as possible, and we always focus its use to a specific goal, rather than just an arbitrary sense of "this looks nice". Of course, this is something I explained to you back in Lesson 3's critique.

The last thing I wanted to mention is not on either of the lists above - I wanted to take a moment to talk about 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.

In conclusion, the big problems you're running into is just that you're not applying the feedback you've been given before. That's probably the biggest issue one can run into, and it's generally one that merits a full redo. But in this case, I'm not going to go that route... yet, at least. I'm going to assign a fairly limited set of revisions below, and if I feel any of the points I raised above are not being directly addressed (I don't expect you to submit perfect work, but I want to see signs that you actively and consciously tackled each point), I will assign a full redo. This will be, as much as I am capable of it (given that I'm not generally one to be brief), pass/fail. Meaning, you submit, I'll do my best not to go on at length in my feedback, and you'll either have the lesson marked as complete, or you'll be sent for a full redo.

I have no doubt you have it in you to knock this lesson out of the park, and I can see elements of that in your hybrid here. That said, if I'm not confident you're going to follow the feedback I provide, I have no reason to bother providing it in the first place, and there are many other students who'd benefit from the time it takes for me to point these things out again.

Next Steps:

Please submit an additional 3 pages of animal constructions.

As mentioned in the critique, this will be pass/fail. Either you demonstrate a clear effort to address the points I've raised, or you redo the lesson in full.

When finished, reply to this critique with your revisions.
6:54 AM, Friday April 1st 2022

Thank you very much for your thorough review, and for this very detailed feedback that you provided. I've reviewed again all feedback from lessons 3 - 5, and tried to follow your suggestions. Hope I addressed most of the noted issues.

With the line weight my main problem is that when I try to repeat a line over the first one - the trajectory is lost, and then it looks ugly, and I try to fix it by going over it several times - and the result does look very heavy... Also with all the construction lines the resulting image looks to me more like a maze, so heavier lines were my answer when defining the forms, but apparently this was a wrong answer :) I tried to minimize this now, restraining myself from going over and over those lines.

Well, I guess the only option to improve is to practice more... Happy to get a pass/fail assessment, but if you could give a cople of words on what has improved and what has not it would be absolutely great! I realized that self-critique does not really work here: I either like the resulting drawings or (most of the time) hate them - this is not really an analysis :)!


10:19 PM, Saturday April 2nd 2022

Unfortunately I can't really tell you what you've improved upon, because you appear to have deleted your original work. That said, I am going to be marking this lesson as complete

There are still issues that are present, and we can see them both here in the bull's legs:

  • You're not defining the joint between the sausage forms with a contour line, which is an important part of the sausage method (and in general, defining the connections between intersecting forms is an important part of establishing a relationship between them in 3D space, allowing us to understand them as 3D forms rather than just flat shapes.

  • You're adding onto those structures with individual lines, rather than sticking only to solid, complete forms with fully self-enclosed silhouettes. That is, looking here we can see that you wanted to bridge across along the inside of the joint, as well as add a bump along the back edge - and so you drew two separate lines, instead of having each one established as its own separate, fully defined form and having it wrap around the existing structure.

Both of these are concerns raised in Lesson 4 as well, so I'm unsure as to why you're missing it repeatedly - but I don't plan on investing more time on it. You can review the feedback I provided previously, both for Lesson 5 and Lesson 4, and I strongly recommend that you do, but as these particular issues will not impact the points we explore in the remainder of the course, I'm not going to hold you back over them.

That said, if you do continue to run into issues with addressing my feedback, that may become an issue later on.

Next Steps:

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

This critique marks this lesson as complete.
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