Lesson 4: Applying Construction to Insects and Arachnids

4:34 PM, Thursday November 5th 2020

Lesson 4: Applying Construction to Insects and Arachnids - Album on Imgur

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I unfortunately deleted my original PureRef file so here are only the Reference images that were left in the older backup file: https://imgur.com/a/wfYlAEp. I know they aren't mandatory but help. So I reckon better some than none.

And I've done all the demos but couldn't include the louse because I spilled coffee all over it... xD

As always looking forward to your critique ;).

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8:04 PM, Monday November 9th 2020

Starting with your organic forms with contour lines, these are for the most part coming along quite well. From the first page to the second, I can definitely see an improvement in the confidence behind your contour curves - they definitely come out more smoothly and evenly on the second page, although there's still some room for growth there.

Moving onto your insect constructions, I can also see a number of clear points of improvement throughout your work. The first and most notable point of improvement is how when you hit your dragon fly, you really lean hard into the idea that every single addition to a construction should be its own solid, three dimensional form, being added onto the structure like a piece of putty being built up. Earlier in the set, with one of your beetles, we could see you cutting back into the silhouettes of your forms. Something to keep in mind is that the silhouette of a form is not the form itself. It is the representation of that form in two dimensions. It is similar to the footprint an animal will leave behind in the mud, where it gives us all kinds of information about that animal (what kind it was, how big it was, how fast it was moving, etc.) but if we were to make changes to the footprint, this would not change the animal itself - it'd merely make the footprint less useful.

By modifying the silhouette of a form (the silhouette being a 2D element, not a 3D one), we remind the viewer that they're looking at a two dimensional drawing, and undermine the illusion we're trying to create. So the strategy you used in your dragonfly of building things up, and being more respectful of how each and every thing you added existed in 3D space, reinforces that illusion instead of damaging it.

The difference there may not be entirely obvious - but basically when adding forms like this, we're always mindful of how they're wrapping around the 3D surfaces of other forms, or how those forms connect to one another in 3D space. Our focus is not on the end result we want to achieve for the drawing, but rather how things all make sense in 3D space.

Now there is room for improvement with how you approached that in your dragonfly - specifically in thinking more about how to craft the silhouette of each added form to really convey how it wraps around the underlying structure, but this is a big step in the right direction. We can also see this being applied well in the lobster, specifically the segmentation of its tail which wraps around the underlying structure, rather than trying to cut back into it. It's as though the first, simple mass is a real physical form, and you went on to wrap additional forms around it.

There are just a few other issues I wanted to point out:

  • You have a bit of a tendency to overuse contour lines. Contour lines are an effective tool, but you have to be aware of precisely what you're trying to achieve with them, and whether adding more actually contributes anything to the drawing. Contour lines suffer from diminishing returns - the first may be more impactful, but every one that follows is going to help less and less. Additionally, some contour lines are more effective than others - those that define the relationships between forms in 3D space (like the form intersection lines from lesson 2, which themselves are a type of contour line) are vastly more effective than the ones that sit along the surface of a single form.

  • I noticed that in a lot of your drawings, you attempted to capture a bit of shading to help make your forms feel a little more 3D. As discussed back in lesson 2, we are not to include any shading in our drawings, as it distracts us from using constructional means to make our forms feel three dimensional instead.

  • I noticed that you seem to have employed a lot of different strategies for capturing the legs of your insects. 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. We can see this in yours in small ways - segments not always adhering to the characteristics of simple sausages, adding contour lines through the midsection, etc. 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, 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). Just make sure you start out with the sausages, precisely as the steps are laid out in that diagram - don't throw the technique out just because it doesn't immediately look like what you're trying to construct.

So, with that all laid out, I'll go ahead and mark this lesson as complete.

Next Steps:

Feel free to move onto lesson 5.

This critique marks this lesson as complete.
5:31 AM, Tuesday November 10th 2020
edited at 4:03 PM, Nov 10th 2020

Okay, thanks a lot.

About the "hatching" I used: It was rather to imply that the shell is a bit glossy, like demonstrated in the Scorpion demo. But I do see that my hatching does actually look more like hatching, rather than serving a specific purpose. And I thought hatching on legs, further away, for example is allowed to push them back and take away a bit of their importance.

I will keep in mind what you said for the next lessons!

edited at 4:03 PM, Nov 10th 2020
3:15 AM, Thursday November 12th 2020

Using straight hatching on farther legs is allowed to push them back - I was referring to the hatching that was conveying actual shading. Admittedly what I did on the scorpion demo there was a touch sloppy - I should have shown greater consideration for the actual little pits and dents in the scorpion's carapace.

5:01 AM, Thursday November 12th 2020

Okay, thanks. I will keep that in mind!

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