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Thread: Eugene Arenhaus' sketchery

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    Medical checkup

    Black pencil.

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    The interaction between your characters is real selling point in your pictures. With how difficult it is to make animal faces expressive, the nuances you have in the gestures, like the way you've posed the doctor's hands here, make all the difference to the life of the illustration. The only other big thing I think you could add to the storytelling element, if you wish, were more backgrounds to strengthen that aspect of your work and give the interactions more context.

    Your sketchbook has been a real pleasure to flick through. The flexibility between your cartoon styles and the more laid back Procyonian scenes is excellent.

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    Quote Originally Posted by clockodile View Post
    The interaction between your characters is real selling point in your pictures. With how difficult it is to make animal faces expressive, the nuances you have in the gestures, like the way you've posed the doctor's hands here, make all the difference to the life of the illustration. The only other big thing I think you could add to the storytelling element, if you wish, were more backgrounds to strengthen that aspect of your work and give the interactions more context.

    Your sketchbook has been a real pleasure to flick through. The flexibility between your cartoon styles and the more laid back Procyonian scenes is excellent.
    Thank you for such insightful praise! It's nice to know that people are actually looking at the picture, not just glancing over it.

    I am glad you like the way I handle interaction. It's often a subtle thing; it's easier to do a fight scene than a scene like the one with the doctor, because, indeed, the nuances are all that you can work with. I actually remember my thinking while sketching the "medical checkup": how do I make the child slightly uncomfortable but still trusting, and how to make the doctor appear gentle. It'd be too easy to fall down a pit and end up with the child looking restrained and the doctor forcing its mouth open. I actually tried a few position for the hands; in the end, the child is sitting freely on the caretaker's forearm, but still clenches her other forearm tight, betraying discomfort; and the doctor's hands are guiding, almost not touching, the child's face. It's fun to solve such problems.

    The expressions on "animal" faces are an interesting point. I had been told before that it's a difficult thing to pull off. Even though these creatures are animals only in the same sense as humans are, their heads are still derived from predator ones, not primate like ours, and that's a challenge. I have no complete rational explanation for how I do it. I think it has to do with using subtle clues to show intelligence, focus and intent on the face, no matter what its shape is. I can do it easier in sketch than in paint, because I use a tiny bit of cartoon "shorthand" to make the expression more readable. With detailed painting, it can be a challenge, because these guys can have a rather disconcerting, leopard-like stare - and cartoon tricks cannot be used.

    I've seen Terryl Whitlatch imbue very realistic animals with the same sentient intent; it's amazing how she does it. Have you seen her "Katurran Odyssey"?

    You are right that I am lazy with the backgrounds in such sketches; I only use them to the degree necessary to convey the basic context. I did add the lamp, but ignored the rest. In other cases, I might draw the room or the street or whatnot - but only if the details of the setting are important. These are quick drawings, after all, an hour or two at most.

    Last edited by arenhaus; February 2nd, 2013 at 04:11 PM.
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    Archer sketch

    A warmup / practice sketch from memory. Rough in graphite stick, cleanup in black pencil.

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  5. #155
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    Quote Originally Posted by arenhaus View Post
    I am glad you like the way I handle interaction. It's often a subtle thing; it's easier to do a fight scene than a scene like the one with the doctor, because, indeed, the nuances are all that you can work with. I actually remember my thinking while sketching the "medical checkup": how do I make the child slightly uncomfortable but still trusting, and how to make the doctor appear gentle. It'd be too easy to fall down a pit and end up with the child looking restrained and the doctor forcing its mouth open. I actually tried a few position for the hands; in the end, the child is sitting freely on the caretaker's forearm, but still clenches her other forearm tight, betraying discomfort; and the doctor's hands are guiding, almost not touching, the child's face. It's fun to solve such problems.
    Thanks for sharing the thought process, it is really interesting to see how you break down the ideas for the gesture. It seems like such a simple topic on the surface, but it breaks down to so many fine details - I admit I've only started appreciating it over recent months as I look at animation more intently (even though I'm more interested in illustration).

    Quote Originally Posted by arenhaus View Post
    The expressions on "animal" faces are an interesting point. I had been told before that it's a difficult thing to pull off. Even though these creatures are animals only in the same sense as humans are, their heads are still derived from predator ones, not primate like ours, and that's a challenge. I have no complete rational explanation for how I do it. I think it has to do with using subtle clues to show intelligence, focus and intent on the face, no matter what its shape is. I can do it easier in sketch than in paint, because I use a tiny bit of cartoon "shorthand" to make the expression more readable. With detailed painting, it can be a challenge, because these guys can have a rather disconcerting, leopard-like stare - and cartoon tricks cannot be used.

    I've seen Terryl Whitlatch imbue very realistic animals with the same sentient intent; it's amazing how she does it. Have you seen her "Katurran Odyssey"?
    I regret that I have not read that book, it looks like a treasure trove of inspirational art. I searched for what I could find though, and see what you mean about those tiny clues. Some elements of human behaviour seems to be imbued in the fine actions of the creatures. One thing I noticed in a couple of her pictures is the gaze of the characters following the direction of a pointed finger (or paw?), which is something the majority of animals don't do - they look at the finger. It is a tiny difference, but it shows a higher level of thought processes in even the most realistic animal.

    Quote Originally Posted by arenhaus View Post
    You are right that I am lazy with the backgrounds in such sketches; I only use them to the degree necessary to convey the basic context. I did add the lamp, but ignored the rest. In other cases, I might draw the room or the street or whatnot - but only if the details of the setting are important. These are quick drawings, after all, an hour or two at most.
    I know I am far too guilty of skimping out on backgrounds too. I did see some earlier on in the sketchbook in your coloured pieces; the Procyonian street scene was a particularly tantalising hint to their world with the patterns on the buildings and hint of weather conditions.

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    Quote Originally Posted by clockodile View Post
    Thanks for sharing the thought process, it is really interesting to see how you break down the ideas for the gesture. It seems like such a simple topic on the surface, but it breaks down to so many fine details - I admit I've only started appreciating it over recent months as I look at animation more intently (even though I'm more interested in illustration).
    There is no topic so small that one can't get lost in its finer points. The devil is said to be in the details, but so is the divine, I guess.

    I like to look at animation in depth too. (Which used to ruin my appreciation of animated films, as I noticed too much technical stuff.) I generally don't animate, it takes too much time, but I use a lot of animator's toolkit in illustration. I got the basics of structural drawing not from Loomis or Vilppu, but from Frank & Ollie and Preston Blair. From where I stand, an illustration is like a concentrated animated scene; you just have to refine the action so that it fits in one frame while still retaining clarity.

    I regret that I have not read that book, it looks like a treasure trove of inspirational art. I searched for what I could find though, and see what you mean about those tiny clues. Some elements of human behaviour seems to be imbued in the fine actions of the creatures. One thing I noticed in a couple of her pictures is the gaze of the characters following the direction of a pointed finger (or paw?), which is something the majority of animals don't do - they look at the finger. It is a tiny difference, but it shows a higher level of thought processes in even the most realistic animal.
    That's an interesting observation. But it's not all of the matter; I've just paged through the book, and this little trick is only present in a few pictures. She must be using a whole pack of subtle tricks like that. She posed the animals in "Katurran Odyssey" as closely to their natural poses and expressions as possible, but with enough human-readable hints and clues. But it all is still anchored in her deep understanding of the real animal. It even hurts her more fantastic creature designs; the original animal stays too recognizable.

    The book is out of print, but you can still find used copies without having to give up your firstborn for it.

    I know I am far too guilty of skimping out on backgrounds too. I did see some earlier on in the sketchbook in your coloured pieces; the Procyonian street scene was a particularly tantalising hint to their world with the patterns on the buildings and hint of weather conditions.
    A tiny glimpse of one little place in a big world.

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    Surfers

    Surfers returning from the sea.

    Quick cleanup in black pencil, rough sketch in graphite stick.

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    Quote Originally Posted by arenhaus View Post
    Black pencil.

    Name:  focco_medic_checks_child_20130130_by_Eugene_Arenhaus.jpg
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    I think I agree with clockodile that your expressions and characters breath life into the scene, but adding a setting of some kind would help draw the viewer into the "story" of the picture. I myself really dislike painting or drawing sets, knowing that even the smallest change to camera angle or placement of objects could result in hours of fixing, or a complete redo. More and more I'm relying on 3D modeling and rendering to produce backgrounds, and for once I believe my abilities in this field are richer than what i could draw.

    Quote Originally Posted by arenhaus View Post
    Surfers returning from the sea.

    Quick cleanup in black pencil, rough sketch in graphite stick.

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    I adore otters, as well as casual matter-of-fact nudes. My enjoyment in this is very much in line with your previous otter fishers, but the interaction adds some story into my mind. It's nice to see that your sketches are rarely just figures standing and doing nothing. As for the otter people as a subject, I think you're on to something. I'd love to see more!

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    That's an interesting observation. But it's not all of the matter; I've just paged through the book, and this little trick is only present in a few pictures. She must be using a whole pack of subtle tricks like that. She posed the animals in "Katurran Odyssey" as closely to their natural poses and expressions as possible, but with enough human-readable hints and clues. But it all is still anchored in her deep understanding of the real animal. It even hurts her more fantastic creature designs; the original animal stays too recognizable.
    Oh yes indeed; I agree there must be huge catalog of human poses. It must take a great deal of skill to read body language so well, and be able to reapply it. As designs go, I can understand that difficulty as well. Over time I've heard several artists talk about how it is tricky to get a good balance between maintaining enough recognisable elements and going off on imagination - Feng Zhu for one - as well as film reviewers approach it more indirectly - 'Those jungles in Avatar looked great but they didn't push the imagination very far.'.

    Quote Originally Posted by arenhaus View Post
    Surfers returning from the sea.

    Quick cleanup in black pencil, rough sketch in graphite stick.

    Name:  surfers_sketch_20130204_by_Eugene_Arenhaus.jpg
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    Somehow, otters make such good athletes. The fishhook earring is a wonderful little addition to her design - it keeps the aquatic theme nicely. I particularly like how the combination of the relaxed gestures and hints of water droplets really make it clear they are returning here.

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    Arenhaus, I really like the shading and line quality in the sketches, That's what I'm practicing right now. By the way, how do you scan the drawings to make them look so good, and not too light and such?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zaush View Post
    I think I agree with clockodile that your expressions and characters breath life into the scene, but adding a setting of some kind would help draw the viewer into the "story" of the picture. I myself really dislike painting or drawing sets, knowing that even the smallest change to camera angle or placement of objects could result in hours of fixing, or a complete redo. More and more I'm relying on 3D modeling and rendering to produce backgrounds, and for once I believe my abilities in this field are richer than what i could draw.
    Combining 3D or photos with drawing has its drawbacks; combining such backgrounds with drawn or painted figures requires a very fine balance between such disparate image styles, that I don't even try. I just paint the background.

    When I do a picture with a background, I plan the angle and the perspective well beforehand, so I don't have to repaint anything. But planning a background is still quite time-consuming. So, unless the sketch requires a particular setting, I don't bother. Backgrounds I mostly leave for finished work.

    Quote Originally Posted by Zaush View Post
    I adore otters, as well as casual matter-of-fact nudes. My enjoyment in this is very much in line with your previous otter fishers, but the interaction adds some story into my mind. It's nice to see that your sketches are rarely just figures standing and doing nothing. As for the otter people as a subject, I think you're on to something. I'd love to see more!
    I simply don't post the sketches of figures just standing and doing nothing! (Okay, the next sketch will be of that kind. Just because.)

    Various kinds of otter people do pop up from time to time in my sketches. Not sure why; I guess I am fond of otters. They are elegant, playful and energetic animals. And as for casual nudes, well, I am endlessly fascinated with the form and working of human body, and the focco are (for lack of a better term) cultural nudists, as are many tribal cultures on Earth. So there you go.

    Quote Originally Posted by clockodile View Post
    Oh yes indeed; I agree there must be huge catalog of human poses. It must take a great deal of skill to read body language so well, and be able to reapply it. As designs go, I can understand that difficulty as well. Over time I've heard several artists talk about how it is tricky to get a good balance between maintaining enough recognisable elements and going off on imagination - Feng Zhu for one - as well as film reviewers approach it more indirectly - 'Those jungles in Avatar looked great but they didn't push the imagination very far.'.
    It is always a challenge to plan a pose, but it's fun. And the more one observes people and practices drawing, the more one can notice and recreate.

    Pushing imagination... I think Feng Zhu misunderstood the design principles of Avatar. Feng Zhu himself is great at imaginative designs, but his designs tend to be quite fancy - he does keep them close to workable engineering, but close on the other side of it - not on the side of "workable". He loves to fill them with tiny interesting details and greebles and weird mechanisms, and they surely are iconic and believable, but never quite in this world. Avatar, on the other hand, makes a point of being larger-than-life but utterly realistic. The animals could exist; the machines could work. They are fantastic and stunning, but they are something one might expect to meet someday, not only dream about. There are no details in these designs that serve a purely aesthetic purpose; even when they were added for sake of aesthetics, they were painstakingly developed to make evolutionary or engineering sense. In a way, this is the highest degree of artistic skill - one where the artistry is not even visible, and the design is completely lifelike.

    Quote Originally Posted by clockodile View Post
    Somehow, otters make such good athletes. The fishhook earring is a wonderful little addition to her design - it keeps the aquatic theme nicely. I particularly like how the combination of the relaxed gestures and hints of water droplets really make it clear they are returning here.
    As I said, real otters are quite the athletes, so it makes sense to make the humanoid version match that. And yes, I am glad I thought of that fish hook - necklaces or pretty much any other adornment would be a bad idea to wear when surfing, but an earring would be fine. A detail like this helps to emphasize that an animal-base character is sentient. A fish hook matches both the otter and the sea themes, too.

    Quote Originally Posted by Flashback View Post
    Arenhaus, I really like the shading and line quality in the sketches, That's what I'm practicing right now. By the way, how do you scan the drawings to make them look so good, and not too light and such?
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    I scan the drawings in 16 bit depth, with all of the scanner's built-in post-processing turned off, and save the scans in 16 bit gray or 48 bit color. Then I use the Levels tool to cut out the data-containing portion of the histogram, and that gives me a range of black to white that can be converted to 8-bit depth without losing the dynamic range and without it being either too gray or too dark or too light.

    For sketches I generally cut off about 5-10% of white end of the histogram, to get rid of the paper texture which adds nothing to the pencil lines but increases file size and looks noisy.

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    Just standing there

    Here's one of my typical practice figure sketches. The original doodle was done with formulaic shading, but I decided to give it a lighting calculation.

    Attached are the structural breakdown of the anatomy, and the quick sketch from the light's point of view - the latter is used to plan the incidence angles and the falling shadows.

    Black pencil and tortillon; sketches are in graphite stick.

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    Pure line version of the same drawing. Just for fun.

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    Did you want something?

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    Satyr and alien

    A practice page with two face doodles. Graphite stick.

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    Quote Originally Posted by arenhaus View Post
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    Really great sketches all around, I'm quoting this one in particular because it has me wondering what they were talking about before they were interrupted by the "viewer". As nice as it'd be to have a background to put things into context, I draw in my mind what I can from their casual posture, their proximity, the expressions on their faces. Perhaps sharing a steam room at a spa? Waiting in line at the doctor's office? I try to bring attire into it, but then I forget that perhaps their bare state is no more real to them as a subject than they are to us. Perhaps it is a nude for the sheer sake of study, and has no context to the setting or scenario.

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    there is some good and informative discussion going on in here my mate its a shame you dont put something up in the WIP section!

    lets see! what do they need in there .... oh yes

    construction, gesture, expression, perspective .................... forget it, on reflection they wouldnt listen anyhow.


    sorry I am a bit hacked off with the WIP section at the moment LOL, I am repeating myself way way way too often!

    stay well my mate and thanks for posting all this stuff I get such a buzz from reading it all and looking at the images.

    A great kind hearted lumbering bullock



    http://conceptart.org/forums/showthread.php?t=209918 = my Sketchbook
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    Dude I love the army guy holding a pony!!! your animal human hybrids are amazing! Keep posting man

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    very cool stuff here man, keep up the hard work!

    art is never finished, only abandoned~Leonardo da Vinci
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    Quote Originally Posted by ezekrialase View Post
    very cool stuff here man, keep up the hard work!
    Thanks!

    Quote Originally Posted by SarSengo View Post
    Dude I love the army guy holding a pony!!! your animal human hybrids are amazing! Keep posting man
    Glad you like them!

    Quote Originally Posted by Zaush View Post
    Really great sketches all around, I'm quoting this one in particular because it has me wondering what they were talking about before they were interrupted by the "viewer". As nice as it'd be to have a background to put things into context, I draw in my mind what I can from their casual posture, their proximity, the expressions on their faces. Perhaps sharing a steam room at a spa? Waiting in line at the doctor's office? I try to bring attire into it, but then I forget that perhaps their bare state is no more real to them as a subject than they are to us. Perhaps it is a nude for the sheer sake of study, and has no context to the setting or scenario.
    Steam room at a spa sounds like a good match, although I am not sure how comfortable a focco would feel in one. They are cold climate critters.

    But you are right, it's just a nude study with a "interrupting something" feel.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lightship69 View Post
    there is some good and informative discussion going on in here my mate its a shame you dont put something up in the WIP section!
    WIP section?..

    Last edited by arenhaus; February 21st, 2013 at 04:30 PM.
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    Pose study

    (What it says on the package.)

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    You have very nice stuff here. This last one is amazing, very dinamic and interesting pose, as good as your rendering

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    yes the WIP section ..... you know the charity section where we try and help all the people who end up hating us for daring to say they need more practice!

    Love that last pose even though it looks as uncomfortable as hell !! lol .... well I cant do it anyway, too fat and too old! hee hee


    stay well my mate and thanks for posting I get a lot out of your comments and appreciate the help, all the very best to you.

    A great kind hearted lumbering bullock



    http://conceptart.org/forums/showthread.php?t=209918 = my Sketchbook
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ale_hq View Post
    You have very nice stuff here. This last one is amazing, very dinamic and interesting pose, as good as your rendering
    Thank you. It was an experiment with posing.


    Quote Originally Posted by Lightship69 View Post
    yes the WIP section ..... you know the charity section where we try and help all the people who end up hating us for daring to say they need more practice!
    You mean the Critique section? Where I hang out all the time already?

    Love that last pose even though it looks as uncomfortable as hell !! lol .... well I cant do it anyway, too fat and too old! hee hee
    Well, you aren't built to bend this way to begin with...

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    http://conceptart.org/forums/attachm...3&d=1360790097

    They have that awkward you've dropped your towel look, while getting hit on look. The piercing glaze telling you to get out fast before you cause a scene, and I'm NOT talking from experience.

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  34. #176
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    Quote Originally Posted by Flashback View Post
    They have that awkward you've dropped your towel look, while getting hit on look. The piercing glaze telling you to get out fast before you cause a scene, and I'm NOT talking from experience.
    Mmmmmkay... perhaps someone is reading a bit too much in that.

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    Quote Originally Posted by arenhaus View Post
    (What it says on the package.)

    Name:  foccopose_20130130_by_Eugene_Arenhaus.jpg
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    I really like this pose, it's unorthodox compared to most 3/4 standing angles, and bends the body to the point of making folds, even on a creature this lean. I'm not sure if it was for an intentional reason (age, race variation, gender) but the head seems noticeably larger in proportion to the body compared to your usual focco drawings.

    And for the record, I'd love to see this in a colored illustration, it's been a while since I had a new focco phone wallpaper!

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    Quote Originally Posted by arenhaus View Post
    (What it says on the package.)

    Name:  foccopose_20130130_by_Eugene_Arenhaus.jpg
Views: 591
Size:  50.9 KB
    I really like this pose, it's unorthodox compared to most 3/4 standing angles, and bends the body to the point of making folds, even on a creature this lean. I'm not sure if it was for an intentional reason (age, race variation, gender) but the head seems noticeably larger in proportion to the body compared to your usual focco drawings.

    And for the record, I'd love to see this in a colored illustration, it's been a while since I had a new focco phone wallpaper!

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    LOL

    You mean the Critique section? Where I hang out all the time already?

    Yeah thats the one........... Ok I will shut up now!

    keep on posting mate and stay well and as usual all my very best to you!

    A great kind hearted lumbering bullock



    http://conceptart.org/forums/showthread.php?t=209918 = my Sketchbook
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  39. #180
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zaush View Post
    I really like this pose, it's unorthodox compared to most 3/4 standing angles, and bends the body to the point of making folds, even on a creature this lean. I'm not sure if it was for an intentional reason (age, race variation, gender) but the head seems noticeably larger in proportion to the body compared to your usual focco drawings.
    This was one of those poses that just pop into your head and demand to be drawn!

    Large head due to age, race, variation, gender? More like my botching the proportions a little due to the difficult pose.

    And for the record, I'd love to see this in a colored illustration, it's been a while since I had a new focco phone wallpaper!


    Maybe sometime!

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