Project 2 Pt. 1: The Animal Project
As I began my research into the endangered species in Kenya, I wanted to focus particularly on land animals since I love safaris and I have always been intrigued by these beautiful creature. Some of the initial species that stood out to me are the following:
After thinking a lot about these animals, I decided to go with the black rhino because I feel a strong emotional connection with them. Many a times when I go for safaris, coming across a Black Rhino is usually a big moment since they’re very hard to spot due to their endangered nature. Seeing a black rhino in person is an experience within itself and these enormous yet gentle animals are really beautiful.
When I chose this animal, I went through the photos I took of these creatures and I came across the following photo, which assured me that I made the right decision regarding my animal:
After this, I started researching my animal and the following are the pages from the spread that outlines my research:
The following is the one page story I wrote through the perspective of a black rhino:
A bright warm morning in the grassland of Kenya, I have been feeding on plants and branches for the past few hours and now I think I might rest until it gets a bit cooler. Although I have very poor eyesight, my sense of smell and hearing are excellent and help me navigate through this massive ecosystem that I am a part of.
I consider myself to be very lucky to still be alive. I live in fear because over 90% of all the black rhinos in the world died due to the poaching between 1970 and 1998. The fact that I am still breathing is something I cannot take for granted; the wildlife rangers are my only hope and I have also heard stories about some rhinos having 24 hour ranger protection to safeguard them from poachers. Currently, I am one of the only 3,000 black rhinos left in the wild and even though this number is growing slowly, I am still scared of losing my life at any moment because of my horns. Other rhinos say that poachers kill us because our horns can be used for medicinal purposes but I do not think that our horns have any medicinal value. Two fun facts about me are that my two horns are made up of keratin instead of bone and that my species have been roaming eastern and southern Africa for the past 12 million years and now we are endangered because of humans. Can you believe that the lowest amount of black rhinos were poached this year thanks to the Covid-19 travel ban?! God, I hope that ban stays in place forever.
To safeguard myself against any danger, I tend to be aggressive towards others and will often charge when feeling threatened. I pride myself on my whooping fast speed of over 35mph; this helps me escape from any dangerous situations that I might find myself in. Often, people confuse me with my cousin, the White Rhino, but the difference between us is that my bottom lip is hooked which helps me pick fruit from branches and select leaves from twigs.
During the day, I usually bathe in the mud to avoid burning my skin under the scorching sun. I tend to make quite an attraction for all the tourists that come visit me in these Kenyan grasslands. Next time you come to Kenya, stop by and say hi (from far away that is, otherwise I might just think you’re a poacher).
For my first iteration, I looked at a lot of videos of Rhinos moving, one of the videos I looked at is listed below:
I also downloaded a bunch of photos of black rhinos from different angles and perspectives:
After analyzing these images and exploring different plastic shapes, I came up with my first iteration of the Black Rhino:
I really struggled with this iteration because I could not find the particular shapes that fit the form my the Black Rhino. So I used a single milk container for the torso and I manipulated the shape of the container to somewhat fit the rhino’s form. I used a pringles container for the head of the rhino and cut spoons for the horns. Both the horns and the head were not exactly representative of a rhino and the proportions were off too. For the legs, I used milk container handles and after I glued them on I realized that they were too thin and their shape did not match the rhino’s legs.
This iteration was put together in a somewhat hasty manner and I think that the form reflects that. I also did not have a lot of plastic variation to work with so I had to choose shapes from the plastic I had and this was far from ideal. Before I start developing my next iteration, I need to collect more plastic shapes and sizes, allowing me to construct a more cohesive form.
Overall, I need to replace most of the parts I used in this iteration and replace them with many more smaller pieces that build up to resemble the shape of a black rhino. The feedback I received on this iteration from the professors and the TAs also revolved around the exact points so I know where to go from here.
For my second iteration, I collected a variety of plastic which allowed me to explore the form of a rhino in a more sophisticated manner. I also studied the rhino’s muscle structure in depth which gave me a stronger idea of how the muscles are organized under the skin of a rhino.
I started the second iteration with finding a good shape for the main body of the rhino and after some searching, I came across the perfect shape:
My next step was horizontally cutting this shape in half:
To create the belly of the rhino, I decided to cut a milk jug in half and connect it to the bottom of the water container:
Although my craft was definitely lacking in this iteration, the pieces made sense together and resembled the form of a black rhino. My next step was to create the head and the horns and to do that I used the area of the milk jug where the handle is connected:
I really struggled with the horns because I could not really find a shape that resembled the curves and the lengths of the rhino horn. In the end, I got really frustrated with trying to cut different shapes and stick them together so they form a horn and I ended up using a singular milk jug handle as a horn.
After all this, the only thing left was the legs and I also had a lot of troubles with the rhino legs because of how stumpy and short they are. Getting the proportions right was difficult so I made a placeholder for them and decided to focus more on the legs in my third iteration. For the tail of the rhino, I just used a bent fork because I did not have time to come up with more sophisticated ways to create the tail. The following images show my second iteration of the black rhino:
As the images show, the model has a somewhat similar shape to the real black rhino but there is definitely a lot of work that needs to be put in to making the model more sophisticated and clean. I also want to focus more on my craftsmanship in the next iteration and make sure that the things are connected together in a neat manner.
After talking to Q in class and having an in depth discussion about my model, I realized that there were some big aspects that were not exactly correct about my model. The biggest thing was the inaccuracy of some body parts of the rhino in the context of their proportions and their placement. The following image shows the inaccuracies that Q pointed out in my model:
The feedback guided my third iteration and this iteration was probably the most time consuming because I had to focus a lot on my craft and cut every single piece of plastic really carefully and with high accuracy. For this iteration, I mostly used pieces that were present in my last iteration except a few like the horns, legs etc. which I wasn’t really content with last time.
One of the big alterations I had to make to my design was the flow of the top half of the rhino; the head was too low and the humps did not flow in the direction they were supposed to so I adjusted these shapes and made the proportions more realistic. I also altered the head because it was too big for the body; therefore I used a smaller milk container this time around and cut it at an angle so that it fits the flow of the rhino body.
I also decided to add ears to the iteration this time around so that it feels more finished and detailed.
For the legs of the rhino, I chose to use small parts of the milk jug and fold them in a cylindrical manner so the legs have some volume to them and they resemble the stumpiness of a real rhino. And the horns, I cut up two small angular pieces of milk jugs and hot glued them together. Event though this wasn’t the most clean and sophisticated method, the horns did actually look realistic and the form was somewhat appropriate.
I also had an interaction in this iteration. The interaction is the horn breaking off. The idea behind the broken horn was to symbolize the primary reason why black rhinos are endangered (poaching for horns) in the current day and I thought that this interaction captures the essence of why we need to act on this.
After all these alterations and edits, the third iteration looked like this:
This iteration felt much more cleaner and sophisticated than the previous ones and I was satisfied with the majority of it. I realized that the legs still needed some work because they were placed in the wrong part of the body and they bent in an awkward unrealistic manner. But overall I thought this iteration was a big step up from the previous ones.
After discussing my model in class, I got the following feedback from Q:
Although I was not required to make all these suggested edits, I chose to do so because I really wanted to do well on this project and after putting in so much work I felt that I can do a bit extra in order to improve my work. Therefore I decided to change the legs and cover up the hollow area present in the rhino’s face. The front legs were satisfactory, it was mostly the back legs that needed editing. I also added a subtle tail to the back of the rhino.
These are all the changes I was able to make in the two days that I had before this project was due.
The final iteration photos:
Overall, I learnt a lot from this project even though sometimes it was really frustrating. I think I am pretty satisfied with how my rhino model turned out to be and I am also satisfied with the amount of time and work I put into this model. If I had more time I would have definitely changed some things like the horn of the rhino and made it look cleaner and angled it properly.