25 Wheel Challenge

10:16 AM, Thursday December 28th 2023

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This was super tough! It really challenged me to face the problem of texture which I was completely ignoring. I am not sure how well I did on that respect. It was also quite a challenge to do things on a smallers scale with the ellipse template. But hey! I also learned a ton.

Thanks in advance for your feedback!

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8:04 PM, Tuesday January 2nd 2024

Starting with the structural aspect of the challenge, you've done quite well. I'm pleased to see that you've been quite mindful as to the individual cross-sectional ellipses you laid out to build the body of your wheels. You were careful to incorporate a gentle bump through the middle profile of the structure, which helps to convey a sense that the wheel is inflated, that it'd land with a bounce rather than a heavy thud. Additionally, I'm happy to note that you've paid attention not only to the outward faces of your rims' spokes, but also the side planes of those structures and how they intersect with the inner tube of the structure, which helps as a whole to make the rims feel solid and three dimensional.

Continuing onto the textural aspect of the challenge, you certainly did pick up on how this challenge serves as a sort of trap. It's extremely common (though certainly not in line with how we encourage students to incorporate their exercises into a regular warmup routine that involves picking them randomly so as not to let anything slip between the cracks) for students to end up abandoning the textural concepts from Lesson 2, for the simple reason that they don't... really... like them. So this challenge serves as a bit of a harsh reminder of that fact, that there may be other such concepts that were willfully abandoned, and so the student will probably want to go back and consider what they might be, and review them, before finishing up the last leg of the course.

As far as your approach here, you didn't handle it correctly, but you did demonstrate a clear attempt to do so, which is better than most. Also where you handled it incorrectly, it's a very understandable mistake to make.

Basically what you did well is that you tried as much as you could to convey the textural forms through filled areas of solid black. The issue comes down to where you placed those black shapes. For the most part you basically took the side planes of your textural forms and filled them in, which is more akin to form shading (where the orientation of the surface relative to the light source dictates whether it should be lighter or darker). What we're going for in how we convey texture in this course is expressly done through the use of cast shadows - where one form blocks the light source's rays from reaching a different surface, resulting in a shadow shape being cast upon that surface. The specific design of that shadow shape is what conveys the relationship between the textural form and that surface, which comes back to the core principles we deal with throughout this course: understanding how things exist in, and relate to one another within, 3D space.

A lot of these issues come down to students trying to pull information out of their reference images and apply it directly, as they see it, to their drawings. As explained here, it's important to include an intermediary step of understanding what the reference image is telling you about the forms that are present and how they relate to one another, so that when you design your given shadow shape it defines that intentional relationship.

Technically speaking filling in the side plane still counts as explicit markmaking, because we're still drawing the form directly (and in some cases, like 21, this approach kind of forces you to outline your textural forms just to find the side plane and fill it in). Remember that the goal is to imply our forms, not by drawing them, but by drawing the impact (the shadow) they have on their surroundings. This keeps us from being locked into having to draw every textural form in its entirety, because cast shadows can change. This allows us to put more detail in one place, less detail (or even none) in another on the same object, while still conveying to the viewer that the texture itself is not different between those locations.

This diagram may help. It refers to the Lesson 2 texture analysis exercise and explains how it is we think when we tackle it:

  • First in the traceover of the reference image, we're identifying the kinds of forms that are present and how they vary/how they're similar.

  • Then in the first rectangle labeled "the forms we're transferring" this is more of an idea of how we would, in our heads, think about arranging those textural forms on our surface based on what we saw in the reference.

  • Next in the rectangle labeled "how we're thinking about the cast shadows" are the actual lines we'd be drawing to design those cast shadow shapes, based on our understanding of the relationship between each textural form and the surfaces around it. The forms from the previous step are faded out here, because again - they weren't drawn. This is definitely the most challenging part, because working implicitly requires us to think about multiple forms simultaneously without drawing them - though not all at once, more a small handful including the one whose shadow you wish to design, and those whose surfaces that shadow might touch.

  • And finally, we'd fill in those shadow shapes.

As you'll note, to the far right the texture is conveyed very differently from how it is on the far left - but despite this, at no point does your brain tell you that the texture itself changes. We understand the forms present to be the same, it's just that as shown in this diagram, depending on how far the form is from the light source, the angle of the light rays will hit the object at shallower angles the farther away they are, resulting in the shadow itself being projected farther.

Anyway, as it's an intended trap, it's not one that we assign revisions for, and besides you've still handled it better than most. I'll go ahead and mark this challenge as complete.

Next Steps:

Feel free to move onto Lesson 7, once you've had a chance to reflect on anything else you may have allowed to slip through the cracks, so you can review that stuff first.

This critique marks this lesson as complete.
3:31 AM, Wednesday January 3rd 2024

My mind is still having a hard time grasping how im supposed to do that, hahaha.

I totally understand it theoretically, but I am struggling to see how exactly i would apply it to a regular car wheel. A tractor wheel, for example, has big bumps, easier to see how this would be conveyed, but the small slits on a tire wheel are a different thing.

Do you by any chance have an example of a excellently drawn wheel?

By the way, I am grateful for the trap. I was avoiding texture like a plague and I am a little less afraid of tackling it, even if I'm still not doing it correctly. Thank you!

7:50 PM, Wednesday January 3rd 2024

You're absolutely right in that these considerations are much easier to both gauge (in terms of being done well or not) on the chunkier tire treads, and much harder to identify if it was done correctly in those with shallower grooves. One big reason for this is that grooves, like holes, cracks, and other similar cases actually tend to make the student think differently about their textural forms, even though it shouldn't.

Basically, because the "named" aspect of the texture (so you can think of a bumpy texture as being made up of bumps, a scaley texture made up of scales, etc.) refers not to an actual textural form itself, but rather to a negative space - a hole, a gap, etc. It's an absence of form, and the actual textural forms in question are the walls that surround those holes as explained here.

This tends to lead students to simply fill those things in, rather than actually thinking about what's casting the shadows and what surfaces are receiving them. What matters most here is that you're thinking about it in these terms - as actual shadows, rather than simply filled zones of your drawing. How it turns out matters a lot less, because in cases like this it really might not actually make that much of a difference in how the result appears. But because these are exercises, it's how you think about the process that matters.

Unfortunately it is for this reason (and the fact that most students do fall into these traps) that I don't really have an example on hand that would really help clarify the issue in the case of those tires made up of grooves - since again, they'd basically look the same.

4:46 PM, Wednesday January 24th 2024

The example you provided actually made a big difference for me. Thank you.

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Like the Staedtlers, these also come in a set of multiple weights - the ones we use are F. One useful thing in these sets however (if you can't find the pens individually) is that some of the sets come with a brush pen (the B size). These can be helpful in filling out big black areas.

Still, I'd recommend buying these in person if you can, at a proper art supply store. They'll generally let you buy them individually, and also test them out beforehand to weed out any duds.

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