Lesson 5: Applying Construction to Animals

5:30 AM, Friday February 23rd 2024

Spyggt Lesson 5 Drawabox - Album on Imgur

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Hi Dio, Thank you for the previous feedback and time!

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8:19 PM, Friday February 23rd 2024
edited at 8:29 PM, Feb 23rd 2024

Hello Spyggt, you're most welcome. Let's get cracking with your lesson 5 critique.

Starting with your organic intersections, you're keeping your forms simple, and they're feeling nice and solid. It looks like you're working from the bottom up, dropping new forms in from above and trying to figure out how they'd fall and come to rest in a position that feel stable and supported.

Something that I think will help you to stack your forms without accidentally merging them together is to aim to have the edge of the new form hit the top of the lower form's silhouette. It sounds more complicated than it is, here is a visual example. This will give a clearer sense of the new form sagging over the lower one, rather than cutting through it.

Nice work with your shadows, you're projecting them boldly enough to cast onto the surfaces below, and keeping their direction consistent for the whole pile.

Moving on to your animal constructions, I've got some good news and some bad news. The good news is that your constructions are excellent, with a fair bit of growth across the set. The bad news is that I don't have that much additional advice to offer you, so this critique may be a little shorter than is usual for lesson 5.

I'll briefly go over the key points I check over in this lesson which you've got spot on, and then talk in a bit more detail about one area where I have some advice that I think should help you when practising these constructions in future.

So, firstly I check to see if students are sticking to the principles of markmaking introduced in lesson 1 and using the ghosting method. Your lines are clear and purposeful and I'm seeing evidence of the ghosting method being used. There's the occasional stiff line, but I think you're making every effort to apply the guidance from earlier lessons, which is great.

You're also making effective use of the sausage method of leg construction introduced in the previous lesson. I have a bit of a bonus for you, for when it comes to fleshing out your leg constructions with additional forms. A lot of these focus primarily on forms that actually impact the silhouette of the overall leg, but there's value in exploring the forms that exist "internally" within that silhouette - like the missing puzzle piece that helps to further ground and define the ones that create the bumps along the silhouette's edge. Here is an example of what I mean, on another student's work. Uncomfortable has blocked out masses along the leg there, and included the one fitting in between them all, even though it doesn't influence the silhouette. This way of thinking - about the inside of your structures, and fleshing out information that isn't just noticeable from one angle, but really exploring the construction in its entirety, will help you yet further push the value of these constructional exercises as puzzles.

It looks like you've either read through some official critiques, or had a good scroll through the lesson 5 channel on Discord, as I can see that you're making good use of these notes on foot construction where appropriate, good work.

It looks like you've been striving to use the method of head construction shown in this informal head demo for the majority of your pages. This is great as this demo shows the approach that is the most generally useful, as well as the most meaningful in terms of these drawings all being exercises in spatial reasoning, among the various demos available.

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.

Please continue to stick with this method when practising animal constructions in 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.

I'm happy to see that you're continuing to take actions "in 3D" by drawing complete 3D forms with their own silhouettes wherever you want to build on your constructions. Where in previous lessons we introduced the idea of building up by adding complete new forms, here in lesson we get a bit more specific about how we design these forms.

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.

I'm happy to see that you're making liberal use of additional masses throughout your pages, and you're generally wrapping them around the existing structures in a way that feels convincing. You're doing well, but I was able to identify 3 ways they could be improved.

  • I mostly only saw this on your first couple of pages. If we take a look at this kookaburra it looks like you were actively avoiding having your additional masses overlap with one another. They'll overlap with the core construction of the head, neck and body, but they don't interact with one another, so they appear to be a series of flatter shapes drawn over your core construction. It looks like you'd drawn in masses that anticipated forms that you had not added to the construction yet. With each form you add, you want it to attach to the structures that are present in the construction at that moment as shown in these diagrams.

  • Something that happens on quite a few of your constructions is drawing additional masses that go through one another. For example if we look at the additional masses on the hind leg of this reindeer you've done an excellent job of wrapping them around your leg sausages, but the additional masses all ignore one another, so there's no clear 3D relationship between them. I can't tell what order you drew the masses in, but let's say for example we start with these red masses (which are direct tracings of your own masses, with no alterations) then when we want to add any more masses to this area we need to take into account the red masses as part of the existing structure. So the last two masses along the back there would need to wrap around the red additional masses as well as the leg sausages, as shown here. Again, it comes down to considering each form that is already present in the construction when designing each addition.

  • The last point I want to call out is that occasionally you'd introduced a bit unexplained complexity to some of your masses. I've highlighted a couple of examples with red on your other reindeer construction. The mass on top of the back and the mass under the belly have a wobble/ a corner where they're wrapping around the smooth, rounded surface of the torso sausage, and there's nothing present there to cause such complexity. It looks like you may have been using the top of the thigh to introduce complexity to the mass on top of the back, which is good 3D thinking, but if we really think through these forms in 3D, we'll see that that particular thigh mass is on the far side of the animal, and won't protrude on the near side of the torso sausage. With the masses on top of the neck and rump we'd got a bit of an inward curve/corner where the masses are exposed to fresh air, and there's nothing present in the construction to press against them and cause complexity. So here I've made some relatively small adjustments to the masses in question. For the mass on top of the rump, I do see the squarish silhouette there, but I think it is (at least in part) a result of the little tail sticking out, so I've added that to the construction.

Okay, I think that covers it. Your work is top notch, so I'll go ahead and mark this lesson as complete. Feel free to move onto the 250 Cylinder Challenge, which is a prerequisite for lesson6.

Next Steps:

250 Cylinder Challenge

This critique marks this lesson as complete.
edited at 8:29 PM, Feb 23rd 2024
8:49 PM, Saturday February 24th 2024

Thank you for the additional red lined adjustments and the additional diagrams you linked! They are very helpful!

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