Lesson 5: Applying Construction to Animals
6:24 PM, Saturday August 7th 2021
Starting with your organic intersections, this exercise is very much about capturing the way in which one sausage actually slumps and sags under the weight of gravity, over the forms beneath it. In your work, I can see that while you're pushing in that direction, you still have a ways to go. As shown here, there is a lot more that can be done to establish how each sausage actually rests in a stable fashion on top of the pile, gripping the form beneath it on both sides. The way you're approaching these focuses less on how a given form exists in 3D space (which would consider both both what's in front of and below the forms that already exist), and more about stamping a sausage form on the two dimensions of the page.
As you work through this exercise, focus especially on how the way in which you draw a sausage's silhouette conveys the way in which it rests upon the structure beneath it. Don't leave this as a problem to be solved for later, because it is something we achieve entirely through that silhouette. Once it's drawn, it's been set in stone.
Also, I noticed that you haven't placed any cast shadows on the ground beneath the pile. Thinking of this pile as resting upon a ground plane will help you maintain a more realistic understanding of how this is indeed a physical stack of forms. If you've got it floating in the air, then it'll be that harder to maintain a belief in the idea that it's something three dimensional rather than a bunch of shapes on a flat page.
Continuing onto your animal constructions, your results here are somewhat mixed. I can see in a number of places that you are indeed thinking about the way in which your forms interact with one another in 3D space, and are pushing a believable arrangement of structures, but it varies from drawing to drawing. In addition to this, I can also see signs that in many of these drawings, you may not be investing as much time in the observation of your references. We'll talk about both of these things in greater depth.
To start, let's take a look at how you're building up your additional masses. While there are a few cases where you're definitely handling this much better, across your work here I'm seeing a lot of cases where you're not taking quite as much care in shaping the silhouettes of your additional masses to capture how they wrap around the existing structure.
One case where it seems like you're doing it well is on the deer on the left side of this page - specifically the mass that you've got pinched between the ribcage and pelvis. The shape itself of that form is well done - you've got it curving inwards as it dips down along the side of the torso, and the corner's positioned right where it hits the torso's edge, allowing it to shift into a nice outward curve along its top. I am a little concerned though that you appear to have wedged it in between the ribcage and pelvis, as though they were solid forms that were sticking out from the torso itself, rather than being inside the overall torso sausage. Still, it's a step in the right direction because it shows me that you're thinking about the design of this specific form.
On the right side of that page, the mass near the other deer's backside is similarly crafted to wrap around the body.
There are others however where it's not so well designed. For example, if we look at this form along the base of the neck, you've got some corners to that form's silhouette that don't really make sense - they're arbitrary, rather than in direct response to the existing structure. Instead, drawing that form like this (note how we're curving around the shoulder mass, and every sharp corner occurs in response to some specific element of the existing structure).
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.
This applies to building upon your sausage structures for the leg construction as well - you have a tendency to draw those silhouettes a little more randomly, or to just drop an arbitrary blob right on the structure. We can see that on the base of the left side deer's neck here as well.
Moving more onto the topic of leg construction, I can see that you're trying to apply the sausage method here, but you're not entirely consistent in adhering to all of the specific aspects of its use. For example, you will usually work with a form that is larger on one end and smaller on the other, usually when dealing with the thigh area. Remember to stick to the characteristics of simple sausages - in cases like this where the thigh is obviously bigger where it connects to the hip, you can build up additional masses to add that bulk afterwards, as shown here.
In fact, right now you're using those additional masses on your legs as a very minor tool to use superfluous additions - think of it more as a way to build up the whole leg around this basic starting structure.
Also, on the topic of sticking to the characteristics of simple sausages - sometimes you'll use an ellipse instead of a sausage, like on the deer's lower legs.
One last thing - when tackling things like feet, think about the design of the silhouettes of these forms as well. The introduction of corners can help you imply the presence of distinct planes without adding internal edges, as shown here.
Next, I wanted to discuss is head construction. To start, I can see that to varying degrees, you are doing a good job of thinking about how your eye sockets and muzzles fit together firmly, allowing them to ground one another and create a more three dimensional structure. While you're off to a good start here, I'm getting the impression that you haven't taken a look at this explanation from the informal demos page, which was linked at the top of the tiger head demo as the most current and up-to-date approach for constructing heads that will eventually be incorporated more fully into the lesson itself (once my overhaul of the videos reaches this lesson). I'm assuming you haven't seen it because you're not applying what's demonstrated there as directly, and are missing some of the components it shares.
As shown here, it helps a lot to focus on the specific pentagonal shape for the eye socket, which provides a nice wedge space in between for the muzzle, and a flat surface across the top for the brow ridge/forehead. This all helps to create a more cohesive, solid structure for the head as a whole.
Also, when it comes to the eyelids, rather than drawing the standard diamond-like eye shape, you may find that it's easier to focus on drawing the eyeball itself to be much larger, then wrapping additional masses around it, one for the upper lid and one for the lower lid, as shown here. It's easy to underestimate how big the eyeball really should be - what we actually see between the lids is only a portion of the whole structure. Considering how it actually exists in 3D space, in terms of its scale, is critical to capturing the eye structure as a whole in a realistic fashion.
Now the last point we need to discuss is simply the matter of taking more time with each drawing, and investing that time in observing your references more consistently. When we start focusing a lot on the construction aspect of this, we can easily forget to look back at our reference constantly, and instead rely on memory. This leads us to making things up, or oversimplifying elements from our reference. You need to be looking at your reference all the time, only looking away for long enough to draw a specific mark, or construct a specific form, based on what you had seen.
As your construction gets better, it can get tempting to just focus only on the logical conclusions of how different forms fit together - but in doing so, you'll leave a lot of the nuance and subtler elements behind. This of course will demand a lot more time from you than you may have invested in each of your drawings. You may feel that you are expected to be able to complete a drawing in a certain amount of time - it's common for students to impose upon themselves the idea that they're supposed to finish a given drawing before they finish their drawing session. This is all in one's head, however - your only responsibility in this course is to invest as much time as you can to complete each drawing, to construct each form, and to execute each individual mark to the best of your current ability. And that simply takes time.
So! I've shared a number of things with you here that I would like you to work on. I'm going to assign some revisions below so you can demonstrate your understanding.
2 pages of organic intersections
4 additional pages of animal constructions. Take your time with these - I'd like you to do just one drawing per page, but make use of the space available to you on the given page, and do not attempt to complete more than one drawing in a single day. If you need more than one day to do a drawing, that's great - you can split it up across as many days as you need. This 1 day minimum however should help you avoid, to a point, any urge to rush through a bunch of them at once.
Thank you for reviewing my homework!
For the main submission I used wolf demo as primary reference for legs and head construction. I treated techniques in informal demos as optional.
For the revision:
In organic intersections revision I tried to put more effort into imagining how forms relate to each other in 3D space and focus on silhouette. I also added shadow to the ground.
For additional masses I tried to think of them as something made of clay instead of hard material as I did previously. I think it helped me to better grasp the concept.
This time I tried to use sausage method to construct legs. Unfortunately I made my sausages too stiff and I realized it only now. I also attempted to use corners to imply the presence of distinct planes when constructing feet.
I tried to strictly adhere to head construction method from informal demos page. I used pentagons for eye sockets and made eyeballs larger to have more space for adding additional masses for upper and lower lids.
Good stuff! Your work here has definitely shown a clear effort to apply what I shared with you in my critique. Your constructions here demonstrate a good grasp of how all the forms fit together in 3D space.
The informal demos definitely aren't optional - just a way for me to update the lesson content and provide clearer explanations before I can integrate them into the main material and videos.
Anyway, I'll go ahead and mark this lesson as complete.
Feel free to move onto the 250 cylinder challenge, which is a prerequisite for lesson 6.