Lesson 4: Applying Construction to Insects and Arachnids

6:41 PM, Sunday January 31st 2021

Lesson 4 Drawabox - Album on Imgur

Direct Link: https://i.imgur.com/mikXNYT.jpg

Discover the magic of the internet at Imgur, a community powered enterta...

Hello, you will find the insects construction. 4 drawings are from the demos, for the other 6 drawings you will find below the link to references.


For the praying mantis, I should have use a box for the abdomen ?

I tried to do my best, but it was disgusting...

Thank you for your critique


0 users agree
8:52 AM, Tuesday February 2nd 2021

Starting with your organic forms with contour lines, just one quick issue to point out here - make sure that when you're doing this exercise, you're following the instructions to the letter. Specifically, make a point of adhering to the characteristics of simple sausages as explained here. You've got a number of cases where the ends are of different sizes, and some where the ends get a little more stretched out instead of remaining entirely circular. While I don't expect students to be able to do this perfectly, as it can be quite difficult, it seems like you may have just forgotten about that particular element of the exercise.

Moving onto your insect constructions, your work here is largely quite well done. I do have a few things to point out, but all things considered you're doing a good job of building up your constructions using simple, solid forms and understanding how those forms relate to one another in 3D space.

Just to quickly address your question about whether using a box for the abdomen would be preferable, I don't necessarily think so. I'll actually talk about this in a moment, but using a box like in the scorpion demonstration is actually a bit trickier than building around a more organic ball or sausage form, because of how it requires us to cut pieces away. To do so without making the form feel flat as a result is tricky, and even doing so correctly isn't necessarily suitable for organic subject matter like this. It can work - and for the scorpion, because its body is generally much boxier than most insects, it can be one strategy we can use, but in general sticking to organic masses as you did with the mantis is likely a better path to take.

So, since we already touched upon that, the first thing I want to mention is that while you've for the most part built up your constructions with solid, three dimensional forms, all being introduced and attached to the existing structure, there are a few places where you took more of a shortcut - generally by modifying the silhouette of a form you'd already constructed.

This can happen in a few ways. One is, as alluded to previously, by cutting into a form you've already drawn, as shown here. The key point here is that the mistake isn't cutting back into the form, but rather cutting into the silhouette of that form. When we draw a form, we add a 3D element to the "world" in which our drawing exists, but on the page it's still just a flat shape. That flat shape bears a relationship with the 3D form - it is its representation on the page. If however we try to change that silhouette, we don't change the form, we merely break their relationship, leaving us with a flat shape and nothing more.

I haven't seen you doing much of this, but what I have seen is you taking the silhouette of a form you'd drawn, and then altering it to either refine or adjust it to better match your reference image. For example, we can see this in cases like this sausage segment from one of the mantis' legs. You had a proper sausage, but you wanted to change it so it would bulge out more. To achieve that, you simply drew a line across, redefining the boundaries of that silhouette. We can also see other similar cases where you added spikes to the mantis' claws, and similar situations on other drawings.

The key here is that while these are pretty minor points and aren't impacting the drawing that much, these drawings are each exercises in spatial reasoning and construction - so we want to make sure that we apply additive construction conscientiously wherever we can. In this case that means building up each of those additions by introducing new, solid, complete, enclosed forms and defining how they relate to the existing structure either by defining their intersection with a contour line, or by wrapping the silhouette of the new form around that structure. You can see this in practice in the following examples:

You can also see this in play throughout this more recent lobster demo, which goes into a fair bit of detail, and even shows how I might build up the protrusions along its claw.

Also looking at the case specifically involving modifying the legs, the approach here is to simply wrap a form around that structure, as shown here and here. I've also got a demonstration involving an ant's leg, and this one with a dog's leg. The key to keep in mind is that the sausage method, which you've used quite well throughout your constructions, is just the first step - it establishes a solid structure, which we can then build upon to achieve the appropriate bulk and form. We'll be using this quite a bit in the next lesson as well. Just make sure that whenever you add a form, you do so as a complete silhouette, and establish its relationship with that existing structure.

The last point I wanted to mention is just a quick reminder - as mentioned back in lesson 2, we are not going to be employing any form shading in our drawings throughout this course. Sometimes students get too caught up in the idea of 'decorating' their drawings, rather than focusing on the purpose detail/texture is meant to serve.

What we're doing in this course can be broken into two distinct sections - construction and texture - and they both focus on the same concept. With construction we're communicating to the viewer what they need to know to understand how they might manipulate this object with their hands, were it in front of them. With texture, we're communicating to the viewer what they need to know to understand what it'd feel like to run their fingers over the object's various surfaces. Both of these focus on communicating three dimensional information. Both sections have specific jobs to accomplish, and none of it has to do with making the drawing look nice.

So! With that in mind, I'll go ahead and mark this lesson as complete.

Next Steps:

Move onto lesson 5.

This critique marks this lesson as complete.
5:13 PM, Thursday February 4th 2021

Thanks for your critique.

One of the link (https://imgur.com/7XyUD0R) does not work, could you send it back please ?

To be sure I understood, in order show the additional structure, I have to add a new layer that wrap around the previous layer ?

Thanks again,


6:28 PM, Thursday February 4th 2021

Sorry about that! Not sure why imgur bugged out there. I believe this is the piece I meant to draw your attention to. And yes, construction is all about building things up in layers, establishing new forms that wrap around the existing, previous ones.

The recommendation below is an advertisement. Most of the links here are part of Amazon's affiliate program (unless otherwise stated), which helps support this website. It's also more than that - it's a hand-picked recommendation of something we've used ourselves, or know to be of impeccable quality. If you're interested, here is a full list.
Framed Ink

Framed Ink

I'd been drawing as a hobby for a solid 10 years at least before I finally had the concept of composition explained to me by a friend.

Unlike the spatial reasoning we delve into here, where it's all about understanding the relationships between things in three dimensions, composition is all about understanding what you're drawing as it exists in two dimensions. It's about the silhouettes that are used to represent objects, without concern for what those objects are. It's all just shapes, how those shapes balance against one another, and how their arrangement encourages the viewer's eye to follow a specific path. When it comes to illustration, composition is extremely important, and coming to understand it fundamentally changed how I approached my own work.

Marcos Mateu-Mestre's Framed Ink is among the best books out there on explaining composition, and how to think through the way in which you lay out your work.

Illustration is, at its core, storytelling, and understanding composition will arm you with the tools you'll need to tell stories that occur across a span of time, within the confines of a single frame.

This website uses cookies. You can read more about what we do with them, read our privacy policy.