Lesson 4: Applying Construction to Insects and Arachnids
9:16 AM, Monday August 15th 2022
I hate bugs ;-;
Starting with your organic forms with contour curves, you've done a pretty good job of sticking to the characteristics of simple sausages. Just be sure to watch out for cases where you stretch the ends out into ellipses, rather than keeping them circular, as shown here. Also, keep in mind that the degree of your contour curves should not remain the same - it should be shifting wider as we slide further away from the viewer, as discussed in the Lesson 1 ellipses video.
Continuing onto your insect constructions, you've got a mix of some work that is really well done, and others that are more or less par for the course - or in other words, what I'd expect from students at this stage. This whip scorpion stood out as being especially well done. It has some issues, which I'll address, but at its core it demonstrates a lot of overall respect for the solidity of each of the forms you're working with. The actions you took throughout that structure were always in 3D space, rather than simply considering the two dimensions of the page. That's important, as how we choose to engage with our drawing (either as a solid 3D structure or just a collection of lines on a page) will influence how we ourselves regard it.
Because we're drawing on a flat piece of paper, we have a lot of freedom to make whatever marks we choose - it just so happens that the majority of those marks will contradict the illusion you're trying to create and remind the viewer that they're just looking at a series of lines on a flat piece of paper. In order to avoid this and stick only to the marks that reinforce the illusion we're creating, we can force ourselves to adhere to certain rules as we build up our constructions. Rules that respect the solidity of our construction.
For example - once you've put a form down on the page, do not attempt to alter its silhouette. Its silhouette is just a shape on the page which represents the form we're drawing, but its connection to that form is entirely based on its current shape. If you change that shape, you won't alter the form it represents - you'll just break the connection, leaving yourself with a flat shape. We can see this most easily in this example of what happens when we cut back into the silhouette of a form.
So to show some examples of this, I took what was admittedly still a pretty three dimensional construction (your emperor scorpion), and marked out a lot of the little cases where you cut into your silhouettes (in red) and where you extended off your 3D structures with flat shapes in blue.
Instead, whenever we want to build upon our construction or change something, we can do so by introducing new 3D forms to the structure - forms with their own fully self-enclosed silhouettes - and by establishing how those forms either connect or relate to what's already present in our 3D scene. We can do this either by defining the intersection between them with contour lines (like in lesson 2's form intersections exercise), or by wrapping the silhouette of the new form around the existing structure as shown here.
This is all part of accepting that everything we draw is 3D, and therefore needs to be treated as such in order for the viewer to believe in that lie.
You can see this in practice in this beetle horn demo, as well as in this ant head demo. You can also see some good examples of this in the lobster and shrimp demos on the informal demos page. As I've been pushing this concept more recently, it hasn't been fully integrated into the lesson material yet (it will be when the overhaul reaches Lesson 4). Until then, those submitting for official critiques basically get a preview of what is to come.
Another point I noticed was that while you are clearly intending to use the sausage method throughout your constructions' leg structures, you weren't entirely consistent in its use. Sometimes you'd add contour lines through the midsection (like on the whip scorpion) - which is actually specifically addressed in the sausage method diagram as something to avoid, and in some other cases you do forget to define the joint between the sausages with a contour line.
The key to keep in mind here is that the sausage method is not about capturing the legs precisely as they are - it is about laying in a base structure or armature that captures both the solidity and the gestural flow of a limb in equal measure, where the majority of other techniques lean too far to one side, either looking solid and stiff or gestural but flat. Once in place, we can then build on top of this base structure with more additional forms as shown here, here, in this ant leg, and even here in the context of a dog's leg (because this technique is still to be used throughout the next lesson as well).
Overall you're still showing the correct intent - to apply the sausage method as best you recall - just be sure to give it a little more attention when you get into the next lesson.
The last quick thing I wanted to mention is that when you add line weight, try to focus its use on the areas where overlaps occur, in order to clarify how those different forms overlap one another as explained here.
And that about covers it! I'll go ahead and mark this lesson as complete. Just be sure to keep addressing these points into the next lesson.
Feel free to move onto lesson 5.
Like the Staedtlers, these also come in a set of multiple weights - the ones we use are F. One useful thing in these sets however (if you can't find the pens individually) is that some of the sets come with a brush pen (the B size). These can be helpful in filling out big black areas.
Still, I'd recommend buying these in person if you can, at a proper art supply store. They'll generally let you buy them individually, and also test them out beforehand to weed out any duds.