## Lesson 4: Applying Construction to Insects and Arachnids

##### 10:26 AM, Friday December 16th 2022

Personally don't like my submission but thank you in advance for the critique!

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##### 5:19 PM, Saturday December 17th 2022

Hello Aturia, I'll be the teaching assistant handling your lesson 4 critique.

Starting with your organic forms some of these are getting a bit too complex. Aim to keep your sausage forms simple as explained here. So if we take this section of your work as an example, the form on the right is honestly pretty darn good, while the form on the left is pinched in the midsection and not really following the central flow line you had established for it. So aim for more like the one on the right, and less like the one on the left in future.

Your contour curves are well aligned, though a few of them get just a little hesitant and wobbly. Remember to prioritise confidence over accuracy for these exercises. We can still make good use of a smooth confident stroke that misses where you were aiming for slightly, and with practice the accuracy will get better.

I'm happy to see that you're working on varying the degree of your contour curves, but there are a couple of things to keep in mind. The first is that as a general rule of thumb these curves should get wider as we slide further away from the viewer along the length of a given cylindrical form. This concept is shown in this diagram and is explained in the ellipses video from lesson 1, here. The second is that while you are varying the degree I think that you seem to cap off at a particular width and hesitate to make them any wider, so keep an eye on that.

Moving on to your insect constructions, I can see you started with simple forms and added complexity and detail step by step, good job. I did notice that you have a tendency to draw your initial forms in more lightly than the final steps of your construction. In some cases you're starting your constructions out with lines that are effectively designed to be replaced, and then going back in to apply a clean-up pass of thicker lines to replace them. While this is a valid approach in general, it is one we firmly avoid in this course, as discussed here in Lesson 2. These initial forms are not a loose underdrawing, but solid forms that form the backbone of your constructions, so draw them clearly.

Try to avoid making your later phases of construction darker or thicker than the earlier ones. This can tempt us to redraw more of our existing structure than we need to, rather than simply adding the parts that change. Remember - what we're doing here is not putting down a rough sketch to use as a guide. We are effectively introducing a structure to the world.

Something that may be contributing to the faintness of some of your lines- I spotted on this page that you noted that your 0.05 pen ran out. We ask students to use a 0.5 pen, and will accept anything between 0.4-0.6. This is explained in this section of lesson 0. So, double check you have the right thickness of pen before continuing with your homework. If you're not sure if you have a suitable pen, please take a photo of it and either reply to me here with it, or post in the #drawabox-pens channel over on Discord. Once you have established that your pen is suitable don't switch pens between different phases of your construction, (and don't sketch in pencil) use the same pen for the whole drawing.

Continuing on, I have some points that should help you get more out of these constructional exercises in the future.

The first of these relates to differentiating between the actions we can take when interacting with a construction, which fall into two groups:

1 Actions in 2D space, where we're just putting lines down on a page, without necessarily considering the specific nature of the relationships between the forms they're meant to represent and the forms that already exist in the scene.

2 Actions in 3D space, where we're actually thinking about how each form we draw exists in 3D space, and how it relates to the existing 3D structures already present. We draw them in a manner that actually respects the 3D nature of what's already there, and even reinforces it.

Because we're drawing on a flat piece of paper, we have a lot of freedom to make whatever marks we choose, but many of those marks would 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.

For example, I've marked on your wasp in red where you cut back inside the silhouette of forms you had already drawn. Sometimes this happens due to the looseness of your ellipses. There is a way we can work with a loose ellipse and still build a solid construction. What you need to do if there is a gap between passes of your ellipse is to use the outer line as the foundation for your construction. Treat the outermost perimeter as though it is the silhouette's edge - doesn't matter if that particular line tucks back in and another one goes on to define that outermost perimeter - as long as we treat that outer perimeter as the silhouette's edge, all of the loose additional lines remain contained within the silhouette rather than existing as stray lines to undermine the 3D illusion. Speaking of ellipses, stick to just 2-3 passes when you draw through them. Going around the ellipse 4 or more times will make your work messy and it becomes unclear what ellipse you intended to draw.

On this image as well as highlighting some more cuts inside your silhouette in red, I also marked in blue where you attempted to extend your silhouette without really providing enough information for us to understand how that new addition was meant to exist in 3D space. As well as a quick note for insect wings, with those wings being paper thin it is usually a good idea to use something like the leaves exercise from lesson 3 to construct them, instead of applying elliptical contour curves to them.

So instead of cutting or extending our construction in 2D, when we want to build on our construction or alter something we add new 3D forms to the existing structure. forms with their own complete 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 understanding that everything we draw is 3D, and therefore needs to be treated as such in order for both you and 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 Uncomfortable has 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.

I wanted to point out that on this construction in green, you did a great job of adding those spikes as whole 3D forms, nicely done! I marked cuts in red and 2D extensions in blue again, as well as a section in purple that I think is meant to be part of your insect but you didn't actually draw any form there, so it reads as a negative space or gap in your construction.

The next thing I wanted to talk about is leg construction. It looks like you tried out lots of different strategies for constructing legs. It's not uncommon for students to be aware of the sausage method as introduced here, but to decide that the legs they're looking at don't actually seem to look like a chain of sausages, so they use some other strategy.

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 shown in these examples here, here, and in this ant leg demo and also here on this dog leg demo as this strategy is the one we would like you to use for animal constructions too.

I can see you made an effort to try the sausage method on some of your constructions. This one isn't far off. You could be sticking a little closer to the characteristics of simple sausage forms that were introduced in the organic forms exercise, and remember to add the contour curve to reinforce the intersection at the joints. Such a small line might seem insignificant but it does a lot of work for us, helping to reinforce our structure and explain how these sausage forms are orientated in space.

Finally let's touch on texture and detail. Remember that when using texture in this course you should be using the shapes of cast shadows to implicitly describe the smaller forms on an object's surface. You're telling the viewer how that surface feels. This has nothing to do with what color the surface happens to be. For the purpose of these exercises you can imagine your insects are all one color. So for example looking at this treehopper there would be no reason to draw the splotchy color pattern on its back. I'd recommend giving these reminders on how to approach texture in this course another read.

On the whole, you're not far off doing a really good job in this lesson. I would like to see you address the point about drawing your first steps more faintly than your final ones before moving forward to the next lesson. When students create this distinction between phases of their construction (treating the early masses as something separate or different from the rest of the construction), it can encourage one to view those initial masses as being less solid, and less present in the world. Constructional drawing itself is all about building up to a result, step by step - it's an exercise, a spatial puzzle that we solve, and in so doing we gradually rewire the way in which our brains perceive the 3D space that exists within the flat surface of the page.

If you address this first point it will probably make it easier for you to respect your initial forms and avoid cutting into them.

I'd also like you to try your best to use the sausage method for constructing legs, which you've done some of the time, but not consistently.

1 page of organic forms with contour curves

3 pages of insect constructions

Next Steps:

1 page of organic forms with contour curves

3 pages of insect constructions

##### 12:49 PM, Wednesday December 21st 2022

Hello and thank you for your critique! I've done the revisions trying my best to apply the advice that you've given me, I found myself re-reading it a lot. Here is my attempt at the revisions: https://imgur.com/a/Cw7jmcY

##### 3:47 PM, Wednesday December 21st 2022

I want to stress what Uncomfortable mentions in this video from Lesson 0. When assigned a certain number of pages of work, you should only be doing what's asked. It's not uncommon that when I have students feeling the need to complete more pages, that they tend to focus less on executing each individual instance of the exercise to the best of their current ability - taking the time to execute each mark, draw each shape, and construct each form as well as they reasonably can (regardless of how much time that takes them), and more on simply getting the exercise done in quantity - but not necessarily to the best of their ability.

Drawing more itself isn't a bad thing on its face, but it's about how it impacts the manner in which we engage with the work. You will always have more opportunities to practice these exercises in your warmups - the quantity we assign is not with the expectation of seeing growth and improvement over the set, but just to judge whether your understanding of what you're meant to be doing with the exercise is correct, or whether it requires clarification. Can't really judge that too well if you're spreading the time, energy, and effort you could have dedicated to a single page of a given exercise over multiple pages.

Looking at the shape of your forms, these are improving, but they're a bit inconsistent. I've marked some concerns on your work here as well as pointing out a few that are great. It looks like you're fully aware of the properties to aim for with these simple sausage forms, just make sure you spend ample time planning and ghosting each one. If you're having trouble controlling your stroke you may want to experiment with the speed you execute the mark. Sometimes slowing your arm slightly while still maintaining enough speed for a confident stroke can help with control.

The second point of note is the placement of ellipses on some of the ends of your forms. When you draw an ellipse on the end remember that we can see the entirety of this ellipse because it's facing towards us - this also happens to serve as a very effective visual cue. You would want the contour curve next to it to curve as shown in this diagram. I've marked on your work here with a green tick where your ellipse (or the absence of an ellipse) was correct, and added the ellipse or crossed it out in red where they were done incorrectly.

The third point is the contour curves. These are looking more confidently drawn, well done! But the manner in which you vary the degree of your curves (or don't) is still quite hit and miss. I've marked on your work here which ones were good and which ones could be better.

Moving on to your insect constructions the first thing to point out is that I asked for 3 pages of insect constructions. this is half a page, with something else cropped out. I'm not sure if you're hiding a construction that you're not happy with, or if you're still putting random other exercises or warmups on your pages, which is something ThatOneMushroomGuy spoke about in lesson 3 critique. Either way, you need to think about why you made that decision.

I'm happy to see that you're maintaining a more even line thickness through the stages of your constructions, instead of deliberately drawing your first steps more faintly, good work.

Remember that you need to start your constructions with simple solid forms as introduced in the lesson overview. I'm struggling to identify what form you started with for the head of this stick insect. I'd usually expect students to start with ellipses, sausage forms, or maybe the occasional box. As a general rule of thumb, if you can't think of the name of the form you're trying to draw, it is probably too complex for a foundational form and you'll need to think of something simpler. If you try to make things too complicated in one go your drawing will fall flat. Constructional drawing is about building things slowly, step, by step. You need to start simply and add things bit by bit.

On the same construction I can identify that you're using a branch (or bendy cylinder) as your starting point for the body. That is acceptable, but if you're drawing a branch you need to follow the instructions from that exercise. Constructing the form around a central flow line, which serves as a minor axis for your ellipses, and building the sides in overlapping segments instead of all in one go. Trying to do that long curve all in one go caused your line to get wobbly, and wobbly lines do not make for solid forms.

You're still jumping between passes of your ellipses and leaving stray lines outside your silhouette on this construction which I've highlighted in red. This is an issue we discussed in my previous critique and diagrammed for you here. I am happy that you're sticking to 2 passes on your ellipses now, so that is better.

I can see that you're making a conscious effort to apply the sausage method of leg construction. These are getting better, but you'll want to keep focused on sticking to the characteristics of simple sausage forms, keeping both ends rounded, with no bulging in the middle. You seem a little confused about how to apply the contour curve where the sausages join. This curve marks an intersection (like from the form intersections exercise) so it can only exist where both forms overlap. I've marked some corrections on your work here as well as pointing out one that was spot on. It is worth noting that all your legs are completely bare. Once you have your basic sausage structure in place you may want to build on it by adding more forms. If you look closely at your reference, there will often be bumps or spikes that you can include. Push yourself to observe your reference and extract as much structural information from it as you can before moving on to your next construction. This ant leg demo is a good example.

Conclusion I can see that you're working hard, and have shown some improvements, but there are enough serious points of concern that I will be asking for revisions. This is not a punishment. It's just that right now I think moving on to the next lesson is going to be quite overwhelming for you, and you need some more mileage to understand and apply the points I've raised here. If anything that has been said to you here, or previously, is unclear, you are welcome to ask questions.

1 page of organic forms with contour curves

3 pages of insect constructions

Next Steps:

1 page of organic forms with contour curves

3 pages of insect constructions

##### 10:14 PM, Saturday January 7th 2023

I know it's not a punishment this is just a big plateau, that I figured would come at some point. I've read both of you critique's multiple times but I have trouble applying it, might be a language barrier thing but I had this problem in school too so not too surprised.

I have a lot of trouble seeing and breaking down shapes from my reference. I took a break, mostly drew for the fun of it with some DaB exercises as warm ups. I've been wanting to toss my second revisions but I know I musn't grind, so here they are: https://imgur.com/a/7cR2LXA

I apologize for taking up so much of your time and not really improving.

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