Lesson 5: Applying Construction to Animals

9:06 PM, Thursday March 2nd 2023

DrawABox Submission - Lesson 5 - 3.2.23 - Shogun69 - Album on Imgur

Direct Link: https://i.imgur.com/sl3Il9h.jpg

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Another hefty challenge haha, definitely feel like I learned a lot through this one, hopefully I'm going in the right direction.

As a side note, like last time I generally did one subject per page to give my shoulder more room to work with, and then spliced together photos of my full pages into combined "pages" to showcase my work thoroughly, hopefully that's ok, but I apologize if not!

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6:00 PM, Friday March 3rd 2023
edited at 6:07 PM, Mar 3rd 2023

Hello Shogun69, I'll be the teaching assistant handling your lesson 5 critique.

Starting with your organic intersections your work is well done, and my feedback is going to be a bit nit-picky, but it should help you to get even more from this exercise when you practise it in future.

You're doing a good job of showing your understanding of 3D space by wrapping your forms around each other with a shared sense of gravity. Sometimes you draw your forms cutting through each other, rather than wrapping around. This isn't a big deal, as I can see that you're very clearly thinking about how these forms exist in 3D space, however from the exercise instructions- "This exercise is less about getting organic forms to actually cut into one another, and more about how they can be piled on top of one another in a way that feels convincing."

You want all the forms you draw in this exercise to feel stable and supported, like you could step away from the pile and nothing would roll or topple off. To help with this, I would advise to generally avoid laying sausages in parallel as seen here. In this case the red form doesn't feel too unstable, as you have it merging with the form on the top right, but it it something to keep in mind in future.

Your shadows are generally working, you're pushing them boldly enough to cast onto the form below and their direction is fairly consistent. I've made a couple of additions to your shadows on one of your pages here, to include a section of missing shadow on the ground plane, as well as give a more consistent direction to your shadows. Most of the shadows appear to be projected away from a light source somewhere to the left of the pile, but a few shadows were being projected straight down like the light was directly overhead.

Moving on to your animal constructions I didn't mention this in your previous submission but I feel I should stress what Uncomfortable mentions in this video from Lesson 0. When assigned a certain number of pages of work, you should only be doing what's asked. It's not uncommon that when I have students feeling the need to complete more pages, that they tend to focus less on executing each individual instance of the exercise to the best of their current ability - taking the time to execute each mark, draw each shape, and construct each form as well as they reasonably can (regardless of how much time that takes them), and more on simply getting the exercise done in quantity - but not necessarily to the best of their ability.

Drawing more itself isn't a bad thing on its face, but it's about how it impacts the manner in which we engage with the work. You will always have more opportunities to practice these exercises in your warmups - the quantity we assign is not with the expectation of seeing growth and improvement over the set, but just to judge whether your understanding of what you're meant to be doing with the exercise is correct, or whether it requires clarification. Can't really judge that too well if you're spreading the time, energy, and effort you could have dedicated to a single page of a given exercise over multiple pages.

It is completely fine to only have one construction on a page so long as it is making use of the space available, and your approach of drawing bigger to make it easier to engage your whole arm is spot on. It is just that by doing more work than what is assigned you put yourself at greater risk of "burning out," especially if you were to get assigned revisions after you had already gone above and beyond what was requested.

Looking through your work, you're doing a good job. I can see that you're thinking about these constructions as puzzles to help you develop your spatial reasoning skills and that you've gone to considerable effort to take actions on these constructions in 3D space by adding complete 3D forms whenever you want to build or alter your constructions instead of drawing with individual lines running across the 2D space of your paper.

One small area where I am seeing a tendency to switch back to drawing with single lines is the feet. Quite often you do a good job of crafting a boxy form for the foot itself, but then you'll go back and add toes with single lines. As shown in these notes on foot construction we can construct the toes as smaller boxy forms to avoid flattening out the feet.

Where lesson 4 introduced the idea of building on our constructions with complete 3D forms, in lesson 5 we get a bit more specific about how we design the silhouette of these additional forms. 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 can see you've made liberal use of these additional masses throughout your homework, and there are some places where they're convincingly wrapping around the underlying structures and supporting the 3D illusion, and other places where I think I can offer some advice.

I think there are some places where you were thinking ahead to the next mass you wanted to draw, instead of making sure each individual mass feels solid and 3D before moving on to the next. Let's take the two large masses on the back of this camel as an example. As you can see in the top row of diagrams, whichever form you drew first feels a little flat in isolation, rather than wrapping around the torso sausage. Each one seems to be reacting to something not yet present in the construction, which is not the correct approach.

For constructional drawing we want each step to feel solid and 3D before moving on to the next. As demonstrated in the second row of diagrams, the additional mass should only react to the structures that are present in the construction, rather than anticipating something that does not yet exist. Then, as shown in the bottom row, we can draw the second mass wrapping around the first one.

I'm also seeing a tendency for your additional masses to overlap each other slightly with the edges of the masses running mostly parallel to one another. This approach worked wonderfully for the segmentation and armour plating of insect constructions as it tells the viewer that these additional forms are fairly thin and have a consistent thickness. This is not necessarily the message that you want to communicate with animal constructions. If you consider these additional forms as balls of putty or clay, their thickness will vary and you need to carefully consider the shape of each one individually, as it responds to the structures present in your construction.

To further explain the behaviour of additional masses I have redrawn some of them directly onto this camel.

1- Here I wanted to note that you'd done a great job of wrapping this additional mass around the shoulder mass, great work! I did adjust this one to wrap around the torso sausage, see the sharp corner at the back end- when additional masses are drawn rounded and soft all the way around their silhouette this lack of complexity can make them feel like they have been pasted on like stickers. Using specific sharper corners and inward curves can help give the additional mass a more secure grip onto the construction. You can see a clearer explanation of this idea in this diagram

2- Here are two cases where an additional mass was getting complex where it was exposed to fresh air and there was nothing present to press against it. I've broken these masses into pieces so each one can stay simpler, rather than trying to do too much with a single form and risking it falling flat.

3- This mass on the belly looks to have been drawn to just slightly overlap the masses on top of the back, which seemed somewhat arbitrary. If we consider this mass as a 3D form wrapping around the torso sausage I think it would probably look more like this.

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.

Overall you're doing a very good job, it looks like you were focused on how all the pieces of your head constructions fit together in 3D space, and the results are generally looking quite solid. Try your best to employ the informal demo 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 as shown in in this banana-headed rhino it can be adapted for a wide array of animals.

You can have the more angular pieces of the head wedge together as seen in the informal demo, rather than having the tiny parallel overlaps seen in these rabbits.

Sometimes when you get into describing the smaller features like noses, lips and eyelids, you'll switch from drawing forms to drawing lines. Something that helps when it comes to eyelids, is instead of drawing the top and bottom eyelids as lines, draw them as entire forms - like a piece of putty being stuck over the eyeball, as shown here. This will help you really push the interaction in 3D space.

Okay, you've done really well here so I'll go ahead and mark this lesson as complete. Feel free to move on to the 250 cylinder challenge, which is a prerequisite for lesson 6.

Next Steps:

250 cylinder challenge

This critique marks this lesson as complete.
edited at 6:07 PM, Mar 3rd 2023
8:44 PM, Friday March 3rd 2023

I really appreciate all the details. I think the mass wrapping lacking complexity was something I was missing.

I suppose I would think geometrically for the feet and muzzle for example, but forget to do the same for the muscle masses due to their more organic nature, which often lead to my arbitrary collision of each form, as I was more concerned with making sure the puzzle had all it's pieces fit, so to speak. Maybe I was fearful of making that sharp change in trajectory too, but regardless I think you hit the nail on the head in regards to what I need to work on.

10:37 AM, Saturday March 4th 2023

No problem, I'm happy to hear this was helpful. Keep up the great work, and best of luck with the next challenge.

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