9:14 PM, Wednesday June 8th 2022
As a whole, you've done a pretty great job with this lesson. There are a few things that I'll call to your attention, but you've demonstrated that at its core, your spatial reasoning skills are developing quite nicely, and that you're constantly considering the way in which the different forms you're combining together fit together in 3D space, rather than just as lines on a flat page.
So, as I go through the issues, keep in mind that overall you're doing great already.
The first point I wanted to call out are the few situations where your additional masses have an additional sharp corner, or other manifestation of complexity, but with no clear cause for that complexity to exist. One example of this can be seen on this cow. You've got a sudden change in trajectory towards the backside, resulting in a fairly sharp corner, but it's not actually pressing up against any existing structure that would cause that. It is pressing up against the main torso sausage of course, but that's how we get the inward curve that precedes the corner. As we come down along the cow's side, it has to transition into an outward curve, but we do this more gradually as shown here.
Another example of the same kind of issue can be seen here on this t-rex, although I wanted to show this one as well because it may not be as clear as the other, because the corner is coinciding with the silhouette of the initial torso sausage. The inward curve above that point is wrapping along the mass to the left, while the inward curve below the point is wrapping along the torso. Unfortunately, this doesn't actually make sense when you really think about it.
If the left mass was physically present while you were adding the right mass, then it would be covering the torso, and therefore the right mass would not be able to wrap around the torso in the way that it does here beneath the point I highlighted. If however the left mass wasn't present, then the section above the point I highlighted wouldn't be able to wrap around it.
Instead, it would have been drawn like this where the right mass wraps entirely along the surface of the left mass, or even better, like this where we extend that mass so that it grips more of the torso sausage and presses up against the mass at the hip, generally giving it more contact with other structures and making it feel more grounded.
While there are a ton of places where you do handle the addition of these kinds of masses pretty well, it is still at times inconsistent. For example, on this camel the three masses at the top of its hump appear not to really "grip" the underlying structure in a believable fashion, and we run into a similar issue with the large mass along the front of its throat, because they each come out a little more arbitrarily and blobby (although I can see some attempts to consider how the three bumps should have been designed). The three humps would be more like this, with stronger, more emphasized inward curves as well as each mass being stretched down along the sides to further exaggerate how they "grip" the underlying structure.
Continuing on, I wanted to mention that overall I think you're doing pretty well when it comes to head construction, but there's one important point to keep in mind. The drawings we're doing in this course are exercises - this lesson isn't a how-to on how to draw any and all animals, but rather it is using animals as a lens through which to look at the same problems we encountered in Lessons 3 and 4. Each drawing is a 3D spatial puzzle - the reference image defines the direction in which we're heading, and at every step we introduce new, complete 3D forms and establish the way in which they relate to one another in that 3D space using intersectional contour lines and the silhouette designs as well.
That also means that while there is a ton of complexity we can build up to, that certain issues - like open mouths - do test the boundaries of the techniques we employ here. That's not to say they're the wrong techniques - just that they are designed with a focus on developing your spatial reasoning skills, rather than accurately capturing every possible head structure.
As a result of picking a lot of animals with open mouths, you have ended up having to break away from one of the points I'd raised in my critique of your Lesson 4 work - that is, to avoid cutting into the silhouettes of your existing forms, because it tends to cause us to think more about them as 2D shapes on the page, rather than three dimensional forms, as shown here. Ideally you would still make an attempt to build up to that additional complexity by introducing separate forms for the upper jaw and the lower jaw, rather than building them up as a big mass then cutting into them.
Now, all that said, I should provide some additional clarity in regards to how to approach head construction going forward. 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, many of which you are already appylign in your constructions (although not always completely):
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.
Again - this is something you're already doing for the most part, but there's enough little deviations from it that suggest to me you may not be intending to follow it as closely as you should.
And that about covers it! I'll go ahead and mark this lesson as complete. Keep up the good work.
Feel free to move onto the 250 cylinder challenge, which is a prerequisite for lesson 6.