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The Autumn Promptathon is Coming
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## Lesson 4: Applying Construction to Insects and Arachnids

##### 12:34 AM, Thursday November 10th 2022

Thank you for your sacrifice in looking at these bugs

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##### 12:37 PM, Thursday November 10th 2022

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

Staring with your organic forms with contour curves, you've done a splendid job of keeping your sausage forms simple as explained here. And you've done a good job of varying the degree of your contour curves too. Remember the contour curves should get wider as we slide further away from the viewer along the length of a given cylindrical form. This is explained in the ellipses video from lesson 1, here. There are just a couple on your second page where the curves are getting narrower as they get further away.

I do need to point out here that some of your lines are noticeably wobbly. This is usually caused by either- drawing from the wrist/elbow instead of drawing from your shoulder or- by not making full use of the ghosting method causing hesitation during the execution phase. I would recommend that you read this comment from Uncomfortable, where he talks more about hesitation. I am aware that you suffer from shaky hands and may have been having a bad day with them when you did this exercise. I don't expect you to uphold some unobtainable standard with your exercises, but I do need to call out what I see and encourage you to keep working on it.

Moving on to your insect constructions your work is coming along well. You're building your constructions step by step, starting with simple forms and adding complexity to them where you need to. You're demonstrating a developing understanding of how your forms exist in 3d space and connect together with specific relationships.

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.

Fortunately you don't actually cut back inside your forms much but I've highlighted in blue on your spider a few little places where you altered your silhouette by extending it instead. This can happen by accident when you add line weight. To reduce the occurrence of this remember to reserve line weight for clarifying overlaps as explained here.

Instead, 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 thought the abdomen on this insect from the future was particularly successful. You made good use of the natural contour lines of the segmentation, adding each one as its own complete form and wrapping them over your existing structure. You also wrapped the wings over and around the abdomen in a way that emphasises the 3d form instead of undermining it, great work.

Looking at how you've approached the legs of your insects I can see that you're aware of sausage method of leg construction and have made a good attempt at applying it. Some of your leg sausages are starting too complex, or have wobbly lines. There's a few places where leg sections aren't complete, fully enclosed forms or the contour line to define the intersection where they join together is missing but I do think you're on the right track.

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 important for tackling animal constructions too.

Overall you're showing a good understanding of this lesson and your work is improving nicely. I'm happy for you to continue to the next lesson. Please refer back to this critique frequently as lesson 5 builds on the concepts covered here and the diagrams I've shared with you should be useful. Keep up the good work.

Next Steps:

Lesson 5

This critique marks this lesson as complete.
##### 4:57 AM, Saturday November 12th 2022 edited at 4:58 AM, Nov 12th 2022

Beware future insect! She has evolved beyond earths current lifeforms.

Thanks for the breakdown ANDPIE, hope you don't mind some follow up questions.

1) For the sausages. I was under the impression that the elipse's degree depended on both the distance and orientation of the elipse, so by narrowing it I was implying that the sausage was turning to the side. Looking at my submission I don't think I did a good job in selling that illusion, or even conveying the attempt, because I mostly ignored other factors and just relied on the change in degree to show the turning of the saiusage. My question is, is it inherently wrong? Wrong for this exercise? Or just wrong in the ways I used?

2) For the spider legs you highlighted where I extended the silhouette incorrectly, but I can't tell what's wrong with the topmost and bottommost ones. To me they look like semi successful attempts to implement the technique, from the wasp video, in which Uncomfortable adds balls to the sausages then extends the silhouettes to emcompass both. I can't work out what's wrong here.

Also i'd like to add that I do appreciate feedback on my linework. I know I reacted badly to Uncomfortable's comments, but that was because I interprated his feedback as using problems with my linework to justify the conclusion that I was not giving enough effort in general. I'm constantly trying to making little changes to see what works and doesn't with my linework, so pointing out the times it went wrong is useful and helps me avoid the very real temptation to sacrifice line quality for accuracy.

edited at 4:58 AM, Nov 12th 2022
##### 10:50 AM, Saturday November 12th 2022 edited at 10:54 AM, Nov 12th 2022

Hello Splatted.

I hope you didn't mind me poking fun at the date on that insect. It's actually very helpful when students put the date on their work. It lets me know if there have been long periods of time between pages, which would explain if a student gets rusty or forgets things, and also if there is a sudden improvement in the work as the student may return to these exercises with more experience from other drawing projects. Conversely if I see multiple pages done in a single day it can be a heads up that the student may be underestimating how much time these constructions require, especially as they get more demanding later in the course. So I hope you continue to write the date(s) on your work.

1) Perhaps I could have phrased this better. This diagram shows the various configurations of contour curves I would normally expect to see for this exercise. Your reasoning is correct though. If one end of that organic form is facing almost directly at the viewer and it bends quite strongly like this banana then the contour curves at the far end will be narrower than the contour curves at the near end. What I wrote for you was designed to make sure that you are aware of how the shift in degree operates on cylindrical forms, not to admonish you for experimenting with your organic forms. I will work explaining this particular point more clearly in the future. I apologise for any confusion and hope that clears things up for you.

2) Ah, okay, I can totally see where you're coming from there. Lesson 4 has some different strategies for constructing legs, between the various demos. Given how the course has developed, and how Uncomfortable is finding new, more effective ways for students to tackle certain problems. So not all the approaches shown are equal, but they do have their uses. If you were working from the wasp demo then you applied it well enough. Uncomfortable is working on overhauling the lesson content, to make the information provided more up to date and consistent. For now, the the shrimp and lobster demos at the top of the informal demo page show the most effective way to add forms to insect legs, it's also shown in the ant leg demo I shared with you. It's not that you did a bad job (as I remarked, you're doing well, and are ready for the next lesson) more that I'm trying to provide and explain better techniques for you to use as you move forward.

On that note, while you're here I'll give you a heads-up on heads in lesson 5, as there are a variety of techniques being used in the various demos. We normally say this to students after they complete the lesson but I think you can make good use of this information if I present it to you now. As it stands, as explained at the top of the tiger demo page (here), the current approach that is the most generally useful, as well as the most meaningful in terms of these drawings all being exercises in spatial reasoning, is what you'll find here in this informal head demo.

There are a few key points to this approach:

1- The specific shape of the eye sockets - the specific pentagonal shape allows for a nice wedge in which the muzzle can fit in between the sockets, as well as a flat edge across which we can lay the forehead area.

2- This approach focuses heavily on everything fitting together - no arbitrary gaps or floating elements. This allows us to ensure all of the different pieces feel grounded against one another, like a three dimensional puzzle.

3- We have to be mindful of how the marks we make are cuts along the curving surface of the cranial ball - working in individual strokes like this (rather than, say, drawing the eye socket with an ellipse) helps a lot in reinforcing this idea of engaging with a 3D structure.

I hope that clears things up for you.

edited at 10:54 AM, Nov 12th 2022
##### 6:08 AM, Sunday November 13th 2022

Thanks alot that really clears things up. And no I wasn't bothered by the future bug thing. I genuinely laughed out loud when I realised what you meant.

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