25 Wheel Challenge

2:21 PM, Thursday March 5th 2020

25 Wheel Challenge - Album on Imgur

Imgur: https://imgur.com/gallery/AnK3Gc2

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I promise that for lesson 7 I will use the ellipsis guide, it seems that the package arrived in my country, but I waited 2 weeks and it still has not arrived. I think it will come until I start lesson 7, I apologize for this wheel quality. A nice day!

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3:56 PM, Thursday March 5th 2020

I'm glad to hear that you did order an ellipse guide, though it is clear that you made the decision that progressing faster was a higher priority for you than actually ensuring that your work represented the best of your current ability. Nothing was forcing you to get the challenge done as soon as possible - simply holding off and starting on it when the ellipse guide arrived was a choice you could have made. Keep that in mind - there's no gun to your head, no specific deadline for you to meet. All that matters is that your submissions represent the best that you can accomplish.

Now, the reason that I do recommend the use of an ellipse guide is that freehand ellipses are still the sort of thing that a lot of students will struggle with at this stage. Of course, Drawabox as a whole is not intended to conclude with you mastering any of these skills - it merely introduces you to them and gets you a fair bit of mileage throughout the lessons. Once you've completed all of them, there's still plenty of practice to do on your own, continuing to refine your skills as you move forwards.

There are definitely places where we have students push through their struggles with certain freehanded linework alongside whatever a given lesson focuses on, but in these last few sections (lesson 6, the wheel challenge, lesson 7) freehanding ellipses just becomes too much of a distraction, and it can seriously impede a student's ability to focus on how those forms ought to be constructed, and other major points tackled here. There certainly are students who can't get their hands on an ellipse guide for whatever reason, and so they have no choice but to work with what they have, but if the difference is waiting an additional week or two to ensure their work better represents their understanding of the core focus of a given exercise, then that is the best course of action.

Anyway, while your work here may not be an accurate representation of the best you can achieve, I'll point out the issues I see as though it is.

The first thing that jumps out at me is that you have a tendency of putting down a sort of under-sketch of your construction (it looks like you're using a ballpoint pen for that), and then tracing back over it with a fineliner. There are a number of issues with this:

  • Tracing is a process where we end up focusing very heavily on how the lines we're following run along the flat page itself, forgetting that what we're really drawing are edges that move through 3D space. This tends to flatten out our drawing, especially when we try to add additional detail along the silhouette, because we're not thinking about how those lines exist in three dimensions.

  • This whole underdrawing/clean-up pass is something I've spoken against since way back in lesson 2. Don't ever think in terms of replacing lines. It's one thing to add line weight - that involves actually drawing the mark once again with the same confident pace as when you'd drawn the original stroke (not getting overly caught up in accuracy), focusing on limited sections of line where you want to clarify how different forms overlap one another. You're not replacing a line, but rather emphasizing one that already exists.

  • Back in Lesson 6, where we started allowing the use of a ballpoint pen, I mention here that you should stick to one type of pen. If you start with ballpoint, your whole drawing should be ballpoint. Switching it out for a fineliner afterwards will result in a jarring gap between line weights in different parts of your drawing. Line weight should always be subtle - you're not jumping big steps from thin to very thick, you're moving from thin to slightly less thin. Something the viewer's subconscious will pick up on, like a whisper in their ear, not like a shout in their face.

The second point I noticed was that your actual constructions were pretty shaky. You had a lot of trouble aligning your ellipses to their intended minor axes (practicing the funnels exercise from lesson 1 more should help with this), and you pretty regularly drew the wheels to be very thick - often twice as thick as a normal wheel would be. Keep an eye on your proportions, and establish that early on when you lay down your basic form, and fit the rest of the tire treads to it.

Lastly, when you tackle the actual tire treads, you appear to have forgotten much of what was discussed back in lesson 2 in regards to texture. You rely entirely on outlining the textural forms (like the chunks that rise off the surface of your tires), rather than employing cast shadows as explained back then. When drawing texture, we should not be drawing any outlines. Every mark we put down is a shadow being cast upon the surrounding surfaces.

The texture section of lesson 2 was overhauled at the beginning of February, with new, more concise videos that talk about these kinds of issues. I strongly encourage you to go back over them.

Once you have, I think it'll be best for you to do a few more wheel drawings before I mark this challenge as complete.

Next Steps:

I'd like to see 5 more wheel drawings, using only ballpoint pen, and using an ellipse guide. You're definitely still struggling a lot with freehand ellipses, and I think removing them from the equation here and leaving you to work on them more on your own will be important. As you should be practicing the earlier exercises as part of a regular warmup routine, be sure to put more of a focus on the ellipse exercises to properly improve your comfort level with them.

When finished, reply to this critique with your revisions.
1:10 PM, Monday March 9th 2020


I received the ellipsis guide the next day after posting the homework, I am very lucky, a nice day!

3:28 PM, Monday March 9th 2020

These are looking better, though a few things to keep in mind:

  • Not actually relevant to the drawings, but just take a picture of the whole page, don't crop out every individual wheel

  • You're moving in the right direction as far as capturing the shadows cast by your textural forms, but there's certainly room for improvement here. Slow down and think more about the relationship between the shadow you're drawing and the form that casts it - right now you seem to be relying on some guesswork as to which marks should be drawn and which shouldn't. This will improve with practice, but fight the urge to just put marks down without thinking all the way through them.

  • It looks like you're currently using ellipses of the same degree for both ends of your wheel - your ellipse guide may be somewhat limited in this regard, but generally you should aim to make the end closer to the viewer a step narrower than the end farther away. Ideally your ellipse guide will have enough degree-steps to allow for this without suggesting really dramatic foreshortening.

  • Lastly, your wheels are still on the thick side, so watch out for your proportions.

Anyway, I'll go ahead and mark this challenge as complete.

Next Steps:

Feel free to move onto lesson 7.

This critique marks this lesson as complete.
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Sakura Pigma Microns

A lot of my students use these. The last time I used them was when I was in high school, and at the time I felt that they dried out pretty quickly, though I may have simply been mishandling them. As with all pens, make sure you're capping them when they're not in use, and try not to apply too much pressure. You really only need to be touching the page, not mashing your pen into it.

In terms of line weight, the sizes are pretty weird. 08 corresponds to 0.5mm, which is what I recommend for the drawabox lessons, whereas 05 corresponds to 0.45mm, which is pretty close and can also be used.

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