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3:49 PM, Thursday February 1st 2024
edited at 4:17 PM, Feb 1st 2024

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

Starting with your organic intersections, You're doing a good job of keeping most of your forms simple, which helps them to feel solid, and I'm happy to see you drawing through your forms here, as drawing each form in its entirety will help you develop a stronger understanding of how these forms exist in 3D space.

Something that stood out on your first page is that you may not be thinking about dropping your forms in from above, one at a time, and thinking about how they would fall and conform to the forms below, sagging as they come to rest in a position that feels stable and supported. If we take a look at the two forms I've traced over here this does not appear to be the case, as whichever order they were added, the first one was drawn leaving space beneath it, defying gravity. When doing this exercise in the future, it's important that you always think about how you're building up a stable pile, working from bottom up.

On the first page your shadows are extremely minimised, so some of them are easily confused with line weight instead of casting onto the forms below. There are also some areas where I'd logically expect to see cast shadows but they are absent. The shadows on the second page are considerably better, you're projecting them boldly enough to cast onto the surfaces below, and applying them more consistently.

Oh, and keep striving to have your contour curves fit snugly against the sides of your forms, paying attention to their alignment. They're not far enough off to be a huge concern, but it is an aspect of the exercise that shows some room for improvement.

Moving on to your animal constructions, much like your previous submission, I'm seeing evidence of well developed observational skills, as well as confident linework, which is great. Again I'm seeing an awareness of 3D space in your drawings, for example the placement of the feet in this antelope construction conveys a strong impression of the animal being turned at a three-quarter angle, as well as an understanding the we're looking down at the animal.

I'm also seeing some places where you're landing in a couple of common pitfalls that undermine your efforts get as much as possible from these constructional exercises. Largely this comes down to one of the following, or sometimes both:

  • Sometimes you jump ahead of yourself, and try to add too much complexity in a single step, rather than following the constructional process of starting with big simple forms and gradually adding complexity as we progress to smaller and more nuanced structures in successive passes. The more complicated a form is, the more difficult it is for the viewer (and you) to understand how it is supposed to exist in 3D space, and the more likely it is to feel flat as a result. We never want to add more complexity than can be supported by the existing structures at any given stage.

  • Sometimes you switch back and forth between taking actions in 3D, where you're drawing complete forms and establishing how they connect to the existing structures in 3D space, and working in 2D, where you focus more on drawing single lines and partial shapes that only exist in the 2D space of your flat piece of paper.

So, I've marked out on the head of this camel an example where both these issues are happening simultaneously. As far as I can tell, it looks like you'd constructed the cranial ball and eye socket, then proceeded to draw the shape of the rest of the face in one go, without laying down a solid boxy muzzle form to support all the complexity of the nose, lips, etc.

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:

  • 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.

  • 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 eye socket 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 as shown in in this rhino head demo it can be adapted for a wide array of animals.

Another area where you tend to try to add too much complexity in one step is feet. I think you may find it helpful to study these notes on foot construction where Uncomfortable shows how to introduce structure to the foot by drawing a boxy form- that is, forms whose corners are defined in such a way that they imply the distinction between the different planes within its silhouette, without necessarily having to define those edges themselves - to lay down a structure that reads as being solid and three dimensional. Then we can use similarly boxy forms to attach toes.

Circling back to the taking actions in 2D point, I've marked out some examples in blue on this camel where you appear to be extending off existing forms with single lines or partial shapes. These blue areas exist only in two dimensions - there is no clearly defining elements that help the viewer (or you, for that matter) to understand how they are meant to relate to the other 3D elements at play. Thus, it reminds us that we're drawing something flat and two dimensional, and in so doing, reinforces that fact to you as you construct it. There are some places, such as the neck, where it looks like you've realised that altering the silhouette of your forms in this manner makes them feel flat, and have tried to fix things by adding contour lines.

Adding contour lines - specifically the kind that run along the surface of a single form, isn't really the tool for the job here. While that approach in the organic forms with contour lines exercise was great for introducing the concept, it does sometimes make students a little too eager to pile them on as a cure-all for making things appear more 3D. Unfortunately, contour lines of this sort only emphasise the solidity that would already be present, either through the simplicity of a form's silhouette, or through other defined spatial relationships, and they also suffer from diminishing returns where a bunch may not be any more impactful than just one.

Instead, as we discussed at some length in your lesson 4 feedback, we want to be drawing complete, new forms, with their own fully enclosed silhouettes, wherever we want to build onto the construction or alter something. A tool we introduce in lesson 5 to help students explore fleshing out their constructions with 3D forms is additional masses. I can see you've used additional masses to build onto many of your constructions, and there are signs that you're putting thought into designing them so that they attach to your existing forms in a way that feels convincing.

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.

So, if we take another look at this camel you'll see I've also traced over one of your additional masses with a purple line. Here it looks like you drew your addition with its own complete silhouette, but by running it along the outer edge of the torso sausage we only have a 2D relationship between these two elements. In this draw over I've pulled the mass down from on top of the spine, around the side of the body, pressing it against the top of the shoulder and thigh masses. (I've added the thigh mass with a blue ellipse as it was missing from your construction.) The more interlocked they are, the more spatial relationships we define between the masses, the more solid and grounded everything appears. I also split the mass into two pieces- generally I'd avoid having a single mass run over long distances, as trying to achieve too much with one mass can lead to accidentally introducing unexplained complexity to the mass and flattening it out. You'll also see that I've rebuilt the flat extensions to the neck and the belly using additional masses.

The last topic I need to touch on here is leg construction. I'm happy to see that you've generally been working with the sausage method for most of your pages, though you are a little bit inconsistent about adhering to all of its specifics. Your wolf demo drawing shows you can construct chains of sausage forms and apply contour lines for the intersections at the joints. On this camel you'd strayed a fair bit from correct application of the sausage method. The upper portion of the front leg has too much complexity for a simple sausage form, it looks like you've tried to capture the whole leg here, rather than using the sausages as an armature. The top segment of the hind leg has just been extended off the bottom of the body as a partial shape. You're also missing the contour lines for the intersections at the joints on this page. You'll find corrections applied in these notes.

Now, this feedback is quite dense and I expect you may need to read through it a few times to fully absorb everything. I also recommend revisiting your lesson 4 feedback and the various diagrams and demos I shared with you previously to help you to take actions on your constructions in 3D and apply the sausage method of leg construction. Once you've had time to go through all this information carefully I'd like you to complete some additional pages to address the points I've called out here.

Please complete 4 pages of animal constructions.

Next Steps:

Please complete 4 pages of animal constructions.

When finished, reply to this critique with your revisions.
edited at 4:17 PM, Feb 1st 2024
4:14 PM, Monday February 12th 2024

Thanks for this feedback. Here are my revision pages. I haved enjoyed all the lessons so far and this one's no exception but for some reason I found this to be the most difficult to go through. Just a lot of friction from my side. Something about jumping from crustaceans to mammals seemed overwhelming.

I hope these are more in line with the process. I did mess up the Hyena's feet. They were hidden by tall grass in the reference and I tried to draw them anyway, and it shows.

8:03 PM, Monday February 12th 2024
edited at 8:05 PM, Feb 12th 2024

Hello koolestani, thank you for replying with your revisions.

Firstly I need to call out an issue that was not present in your initial submission. On this rhino it looks like you tried to cut back inside the silhouette of the torso sausage in front of the hind legs, leaving the area I've hatched with red outside your construction, undermining its solidity. The same thing appears to be happening on the hyena construction. I understand that this may be something you saw in the intro video for this lesson, which is unfortunately a little outdated in this regard, (this will be corrected once the lesson overhaul reaches lesson 5) and instead we'd like to students to stick to the rule we introduced back in lesson 4. "Once you've put a form down on the page, do not attempt to alter its silhouette. Its silhouette is just a shape on the page which represents the form we're drawing, but its connection to that form is entirely based on its current shape. If you change that shape, you won't alter the form it represents - you'll just break the connection, leaving yourself with a flat shape. We can see this most easily in this example of what happens when we cut back into the silhouette of a form."

When it comes to how you're building onto your constructions, you're using complete 3D forms most of the time, although there are a few places where you altered the silhouette of existing forms by extending them with flat partial shapes, such as the examples I've highlighted in blue here and here.

For the most part you've avoided adding too much complexity with a single form. The biggest exception I can see is the feet of the hyena, where instead of using these notes I shared with you previously, you attempted to draw all the complexity of the entire foot and the toes as a single form, so they fall flat. To give you credit, it is great that you chose to construct the feet, even though they were obscured in your reference. If you encounter similar situations in future I recommend searching for a second reference where the feet are clearly visible and using the supplementary image to help inform your construction when filling in the missing pieces.

Head construction is moving in the right direction. These are looking more solid, as you're constructing them more methodically without skipping steps. You're not always sticking to all of the specifics of the informal head demo as discussed previously. For example in your rhino construction you'd left an arbitrary gap between the eye socket and boxy muzzle form instead of wedging them together tightly like pieces of a 3D puzzle, as shown in this rhino head demo. I'd like you to reread my previous feedback and pay closer attention to the key aspects of the informal head demo when practising animal constructions in future.

On this hippo you'd extended the front leg off the bottom of the torso without constructing the shoulder mass with an ellipse. Remember the legs are attached to the sides of the body. This is something I called out previously on this camel albeit with a hind leg instead of a front one.

You're over using additional contour lines in an effort to make your forms feel more 3D.

In my original critique I spent a paragraph explaining how contour lines are not the tool to help fix your forms, and I'm still seeing you using them quite a bit, possibly trying to "fix" the silhouettes of your additional masses. Instead of putting your attention towards the specific manner in which those additional masses are to be designed, you're allowing yourself to draw some of them a little inattentively, and then attempt to remedy them after the fact. I think going forward it would be a good idea for you not to use those kinds of contour lines at all, as you have the tendency of using them as a crutch, and it's distracting you from solving the actual problem. To be clear, I want you to stop using the contour lines from the organic forms with contour lines exercise when practicing animal constructions in future. Those that define the intersection/relationship between different forms (like those we use between sausage forms in our leg constructions), as introduced in the form intersections exercise, are still allowed and encouraged however.

Aaaand a couple of quick points I didn't bring up in the original critique:

  • As introduced here the rib cage mass should occupy roughly half the length of the torso. You tend to draw it as a sphere, which often makes it way too short.

  • Remember to draw around all your ellipses two full times, even if you feel like you can nail them in a single pass. This is something we ask students to do for every ellipse free-handed in this course, as introduced here in lesson 1.

While there are a few things that I've called out for you to address, your underlying spatial reasoning skills are coming along well and I think you have the information that you need to be able to apply this feedback independently, in your own time, so I'll go ahead and mark this lesson as complete. You mentioned that this lesson felt a bit overwhelming, and that is quite understandable. The next section that comes up takes a pretty significant turn from the kind of construction we've been tackling for the last three lessons, so the difficulty you're feeling here shouldn't hold you back from exploring those, and I expect tackling that material may help further your understanding of the 3D puzzles involved in this lesson too. Feel free to move onto the 250 cylinder challenge, which is a prerequisite for lesson 6.

Next Steps:

Feel free to move onto the 250 cylinder challenge, which is a prerequisite for lesson 6.

This critique marks this lesson as complete.
edited at 8:05 PM, Feb 12th 2024
3:44 PM, Wednesday February 14th 2024

Thank you DIO.

Do you have some suggestion about how one should go about drawing a hollow cylinder of mass wrapped around the entire torso of these animals. I see the bulk of the torso in some cases as kind of like a sleeve or a tube of equal thickness that wraps around the torso. I understand it can't be perfectly cylindrical, but you get the idea.

In that case it seems counter intuitive to split or cut it up into multiple pieces that sit or rest on top of each other, which is what additional masses are all about.

If I'm drawing the side profile of an animal and this is what I visualize the bulk of torso to be like, how should I proceed?

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