Lesson 6: Applying Construction to Everyday Objects
Wooden Barrel Demo
Step by step
Goodness, we draw so many boxes here, we should practically name the website drawa- oh wait. I subdivided the crap out of this one, knowing that it's blocking in my barrel. Finding the center point of the two opposite sides of this box will let me find my minor axis, and generally subdividing my form will also make it easier to align other forms to it.
This looks like a bit of a jump, but just compare this step and the previous one - I've done a few things. I've added the box underneath, which is just as wide as the initial box, and I've cut into it. I did so by drawing a line on the closer side to mark how far in I wanted to cut, then I mirrored this line across the box's center to find the equal cut on the opposite side. I explain this in the intro video, specifically at the end of the part about how to subdivide your forms.
If you look at the barrel in our reference, it's not a perfect cylinder. In the center, it's wider than at the ends. In this sense, I'm using the initial barrel block-in-box in the same way I constructed the wacom cintiq in the previous demo with the "encapsulating box" approach. I want to make sure that my barrel remains snug within the box itself, and so I cut an inset into both sides of the box (again, I discuss this in the intro video, during the speaker demo). I could technically expand the midsection of the barrel out, but I feel that this would be much more difficult to achieve without messing up my proportions. The encapsulating box approach instead allows me to set out how much space I'm going to be using for a given form. Doesn't always work out that way, but it's usually close enough to be a useful block-in tool.
Ghost a LOT. Also, do some practice runs off to the side. Ellipses are tricky as hell, and there's a lot of things you need to try to achieve (aligning to your minor axis, fitting within the alotted space, getting your contact points with the top and bottom of the enclosing plane to line up, and so on). It won't come out perfect, because you're not a machine. A lot of artists use ellipse guides for this sort of thing, so you don't have to feel compelled to nail this. Hell, if you HAVE an ellipse guide, go ahead and use it. Either way, do the best that you can.
This one's also challenging, so take your time and think through the problem. I need the barrel to smoothly swell out to its midsection, then come back down to the far end. I could have constructed another ellipse in the center, but I decided to wing it somewhat, trying instead to visualize that ellipse.
Detail's something I usually leave for the end, but I was honestly so drained by this barrel's stupid ellipses that I just wanted to get it out of the way. Boxes are easy, but ellipses can really be a nightmare. The iron bands that wrap around the barrel are really just contour curves. Still, maintaining the thickness between them was a little tricky at times. Always remember that this stuff is hard, and no one's expecting perfection. The final drawing does not matter, it's all about what you learn from the construction of the object. Each one of these drawings really pushes you to flex your brain, thinking through spatial problems and understanding how every form relates to its neighbours. Mistakes don't take away from that.
Back to the wonderful world of boxes. This was really just a matter of observing my reference, subdividing my boxes, extending some of the resulting lines, mirroring details across center lines, and so on. All the sort of stuff I explained during the intro video.
With these everyday objects, I really don't care much at all about texture and detail and whatnot. I've had students in the past submit work that was purely focused on construction, and it was a pleasure to leaf through. There certainly is texture here, but it's not worth worrying about. Focus on the construction, make sure your hierarchy of line weight is clear so the drawing stands out from all the construction lines, ground your object with a cast shadow (doesn't have to be accurate), and push some deep blacks here and there to make any important sections pop out.