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7:18 AM, Friday May 20th 2022

As you've submitted the assigned pages (aside from the one page of hybrids, it seems) along with your demo drawings, I'm not going to be commenting on the demos, and will focus on the assigned work.

Starting with your organic intersections, generally you're drawing your sausage forms such that they pile up in a believable fashion, and I can see that your cast shadows are being drawn such that they wrap around the surfaces they fall upon. Just a couple things to keep in mind:

  • Be sure to cast a shadow upon the ground plane - you did this on the second page, but not the first.

  • Draw through all of the ellipses you freehand throughout this course, as discussed back in Lesson 1. You appear to be neglecting this throughout your work here. Since I've called it out here, I'll avoid repeating it as I critique the rest.

Continuing onto your animal constructions, there are many things you're making good progress with, but there are also a number of issues that are holding you back. Fortunately, these are all points that can be addressed.

Before I get into some of the more technique-oriented elements, first I wanted to call out the fact that you appear to be working with two different thicknesses of pens. It's not always obvious, but it stands out in drawings like this one where you've got distinctly thinner lines for your initial construction, and then a ton of much darker lines that follow.

The instructions of the course state that your work should be done with a 0.5mm fineliner. While you can use a brush pen, it's only to fill in shadow shapes you've already outlined/designed intentionally, with the same 0.5mm fineliner. You should not be working with pens of different thicknesses, and moreover, you should not be working with any sort of an underdrawing that is drawn with an intent to be "hidden" (by drawing it more faintly).

Every drawing in this course is an exercise, and part of that is the fact that we build up our forms, each one at a time, as a solid element. We build upon them, of course, but we do not redraw the forms we've already constructed, as this can very easily result in us making accidental alterations to the silhouettes of those forms, which I've highlighted here on that deer. This is something we discussed back in my critique of your Lesson 4 work, so I won't repeat it here, but you should go back and reread that critique.

On the topic of things I mentioned in that critique, another important point that you appear not to have applied here is what I mentioned on the topic of pursuing "decoration" rather than focusing on implying the presence of specific textural forms when adding detail. Throughout your drawings here, you rely on arbitrary, random marks - nothing that pertains to specific textural forms, but rather an attempt at creating a vague impression. Unfortunately, putting marks down without purpose may be much faster, but it does not serve a useful purpose in what we're doing here. Which, again, is all just a series of exercises - not the pursuit of pretty drawings.

Now, while the issues I've mentioned thus far are present across many of your drawings, you do appear to take more care with some constructions over others. I can see, for example, that you make in many places a fair effort to consider how your additional masses wrap around the existing structure to which they're attaching. For example, I've highlighted such a case here. But, there are definitely places where the way in which you design these additional masses can be improved - specifically in terms of where you place your inward curves, your outward curves, your sharp corners, and your more gradual transitions.

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.

If we look at your corgi, here I've highlighted some sections of your masses' silhouettes. In red are areas where you've used an outward curve or a gradual transition, where a sharp corner was necessary. In blue, I identified one case where you did appear to try to make a sharper corner, but you were rather timid about it, and it was slightly off.

You can see this more specific use of the individual components shown here.

Moving on, I did notice that while you've made some attempts to use the sausage method when constructing your animals' legs, but there are some issues with this:

  • Usually you do draw the contour lines at the joints (there are a few spots where you've neglected them, but generally you've made a point of including them). That said, how you draw them doesn't necessarily suggest you fully grasp their purpose. As shown here you have a tendency (where I've marked out in red) to have your contour lines extend beyond where they should. Each one defines an intersection, and so that intersection line must sit on the surface of both forms simultaneously. It defines the relationship between the two forms in 3D space.

  • You are definitely having some difficulty in sticking with the characteristics of simple sausages, as explained in the sausage method diagram. You're not far off, but it is something that requires more attention from you.

  • In my critique of your Lesson 4 work, I demonstrated examples of how you can build upon the existing structure of your legs with additional masses to capture further nuance, or add bulk where it's required, while still building up the basic leg armature with sausages. It seems you haven't used this in your animals' legs, relying instead on leaving them in a simpler, less developed state. I did provide examples of this in that previous critique, but here's another done from another student's work, stressing the importance of not only focusing on the forms that alter the leg's silhouette, but also the masses in between, which help to keep everything grounded, like pieces of a puzzle fitting together.

As a side note for feet, it can help to use "boxy" forms to establish a base structure - that is, a form with specifically placed corners to help imply the presence of distinct planes/edges, making it feel more 3D without actually drawing those internal edges and adding to the clutter. Then we can in turn build up yet more boxy forms for the toes, as demonstrated here on another student's work.

When it comes to head construction, I did notice that you appear to have by and large made fairly good use of the approach demonstrated here on the informal demos page - except that you neglect to define the forehead. As a whole, I'm pleased with this (though be sure to include the forehead in the future), as this technique is definitely the main one I'm pushing for students, and it will be a major focus of the lesson when my overhaul of the lesson videos/demos reaches this far into the course.

I did however want to provide an additional demonstration on how this technique can be applied, in cases where this may not seem like the obvious choice. Here, I'd found a particularly banana-headed rhinoceros, to demonstrate something of an edge case, and how it would still make use of the same techniques. As you can see here, there are some major elements to this approach:

  • 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.

When it comes to drawing the eyes themselves - specifically the lids - I think it might help for you to draw each eyelid as its own separate additional mass, wrapping around the eyeball (which you have a tendency to draw a bit small). Here's an example of what I mean - it can help you to better understand how those lids sit in 3D space, whereas drawing the iconic 'eye' shape can cause us to focus more on how those lines sit on a flat page.

This critique is already quite lengthy - so I imagine you'll need to give it several read throughs across a period of time to fully digest and absorb, but fortunately there's just one last thing I wanted to call out: your linework could definitely be a lot better. You seem to be quite prone to executing your marks hesitantly, and you aren't likely using the ghosting method for your marks here. As a whole - and this includes the points you've skipped over from my previous critique - it feels like there are a lot of things you could have done here, but that you either chose not to, or that slipped your mind. Regardless of the reasoning, it does ultimately come down to choice. We are individually in control of how we use the information we're given, and if we need to go through previous critiques frequently as we move forwards in the course (as most undoubtedly do, these critiques are by no means easy to get through, or easy to remember), then we need to be willing to take the time to review it.

Along with reviewing my lesson 4 critique, you also should likely review the principles of markmaking and the ghosting method instructions from Lesson 1. Given how much was missed, I have considered giving you a full redo (not to be punitive, but simply because I've already put an hour into this critique) - but instead, I'm going to assign revisions, with the understanding that if many of the same issues are present in the same manner, you will be sent for that full redo without further feedback. That's not to say I expect perfect work - just that I expect to see clear signs that you have fully absorbed and are attempting to apply what I've shared here.

Ultimately, I went with the revisions because I think you're actually not especially far off in terms of completing this lesson well. Rather, it's how you've processed the previous feedback, and how you've allowed yourself to get lax on some of the core principles of the course, which has undermined your efforts. To that point - don't forget that you should be keeping up with the exercises from previous lessons as part of a regular warmup routine (in case you haven't been, as students sometimes forget this important part of the course, causing themselves to get rusty with basic things like markmaking).

You'll find your revisions assigned below.

Next Steps:

Please submit an additional 6 pages of animal constructions. For these, I'd like you to note down on the page the date and approximate length of each session spent on the drawing. If you do not have enough time to offer a drawing in a given sitting, then you should not alter the way you draw it in order to squeeze it in - instead, it should be spread across multiple sittings and days, as needed.

To that point however, you should avoid working on more than one such drawing on the same day, to ensure that you are not tempted to rush.

Lastly, do not add any textural detail to these drawings - focus only on pushing construction as far as you can.

When finished, reply to this critique with your revisions.
8:19 PM, Tuesday May 31st 2022

Here are my six animal construction revisions. Sorry about my first batch, I am doing another course and when I came back to this one, I should have reread your critque to refresh my memory, but I just started with the demos and didn't think, next time I'll make sure I reread your critque before I begin. I was also kind of concerned about getting done on time, because, when I started, I had two credits ready to go when I usually just have one, which usually gives me a lot of headway to finish. I read once wear if you leave your credits out too long they get taken away from you, and I wasn't quite sure how long that was, so that was in the back of my mind and may have made me rush more than usual.

Johnny Socko.

7:53 PM, Wednesday June 1st 2022

Overall you're moving in the right direction here. I'm going to mark the lesson as complete, but I have a few things for you to keep an eye on as you continue to practice these on your own. As a whole you have plenty of room for improvement and growth, and I wouldn't say you're applying everything as you should be (as you'll note in the feedback below), but you're at a point where you can periodically review the feedback you've received, and continue practicing on your own.

  • Pay attention to how you draw your sausages - you want to maintain the characteristics of simple sausages as shown here, but right now you are a little prone to letting them get wider through their midsection, and even ending up with some segments that appear more ellipsoid than as sausages.

  • When you draw your additional masses, do not be afraid to use sharp corners in those silhouettes. Right now you're frequently relying on more gradual transitions/rounded corners which make a lot of your masses feel very blobby, as demonstrated here. Sometimes students start to avoid using sharp corners because of how that kind of complexity can only exist in certain areas, where different forms are pressing up against one another, but unfortunately avoiding the problem doesn't solve the problem. If a situation requires a sharp corner, then do make it more rounded and gradual is still a mistake.

  • That tendency to make everything a smoother, more rounded corner, also results in you tending to position those corners incorrectly, as shown here.

  • I think that may at least in part come from how you're actually drawing those masses. You tend to be very hesitant and shaky when drawing them, which suggests to me that you might be trying to draw each mass with a single stroke. Part of that does come from the use of rounded corners instead of sharp ones, since sharp corners give us excellent places to stop one stroke and start another (and by the lesson 1 principles of markmaking, require us to start a new stroke). Here's what I mean.

  • I'm also noticing a tendency to put your initial construction marks down way more faintly, or with a totally different pen, and then you go back over them with thicker strokes for the later steps of construction. You should be using the same pen throughout, and you should not be arbitrarily increasing your line thickness as you progress through the steps. Line weight itself can be used to help clarify the overlaps between different forms, but should be limited to where those overlaps actually occur, as shown here

  • Here on your camel you built up more masses along the camel's back, but you've got them interacting in 2D space, butting up against one another as flat shapes, not as 3D forms. If they were overlapping in 3D space, then they'd actually pile atop one another, as shown here. Note how every new mass I add is being designed so that it wraps around the structure that is already present. And of course as each new mass is added, it becomes part of the existing structure, so any that follow then have to wrap around it as well as everything else (if they're making contact).

As to the explanation as to why you rushed your previous work, you may want to give this updated video from Lesson 0 a watch.

Next Steps:

Move onto the 250 cylinder challenge, which is a prerequisite for lesson 6.

This critique marks this lesson as complete.
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Sakura Pigma Microns

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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