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12:11 PM, Sunday April 14th 2024

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

Starting with your organic forms it looks like you're aiming to stick to the characteristics of simple sausages that are introduced here, though there are some inconsistencies such as pinched middles and ends of different sizes which we should try to avoid.

Most of your contour curves are well aligned, and I'm happy to see that you're drawing most of them confidently. Most of your contour curves are sticking to a similar degree. Keep in mind that the degree of your contour lines should be shifting wider as we slide along the sausage form, moving farther away from the viewer. This is also influenced by the way in which the sausages themselves turn in space, but farther = wider is a good rule of thumb to follow. If you're unsure as to why that is, review the Lesson 1 ellipses video. You can also see a good example of how to vary your contour curves in this diagram showing the different ways in which our contour lines can change the way in which the sausage is perceived.

Remember you should be drawing around all your ellipses 2 full times before lifting your pen off the page. This applies to the small ellipses on the tips of your forms, which you're not drawing through at all, as well as throughout your insect constructions, where you do so intermittently. This leans into the arm's natural tendency to make elliptical motions and helps to execute the ellipses smoothly. This is something we ask students to do for every ellipse freehanded in this course as introduced here.

Moving on to your insect constructions it is clear that you put quite a bit of time and effort into these, and you're demonstrating strong observational skills. There are some points that stand out, as they were called out in your lesson 3 feedback. Keep in mind that the advice in these critiques is designed to be applied by the student as they move forward, so points do not need to be called out repeatedly. The more the TA has to repeat previous feedback, the less they're able to provide new information and move the student forward. It is often necessary for students to take their own steps in ensuring that they do what they need to in order to ensure they're addressing the issues that have been called out. It's very easy to simply come back from a break and continue forwards with the next lesson without consideration for what issues may have been called out (or perhaps having them more loosely in mind, but without specifics), and each student needs to decide what it is they need to apply the information they're given as effectively as they can. For some that means reviewing the past feedback periodically, for others it means taking notes, and for yet more it's a combination of the two or something else entirely.

The first point that must be addressed is that you're starting your constructions with much fainter lines, then coming back at a later stage and tracing over the parts you want to keep visible with darker lines. This is something Uncomfortable calls a clean up pass and while this is a perfectly valid method of drawing in general, is is something we firmly discourage throughout this course. Here are some reasons why:

  • Tracing back over the silhouette to add line weight tends to switch the student's focus from thinking in 3D, drawing complete forms and figuring out how they fit together, back to thinking in 2D, being more concerned about single lines on the flat piece of paper.

  • Tracing back over the construction often causes students to neglect the principles of markmaking. It takes the initially smooth and confident lines and makes them wobblier or scratchier.

  • Tracing back over the silhouette often causes students to make small alterations to the silhouettes of their forms as they do so, either by deliberate refinement, or by accidentally letting the line weight jump from one form to another, softening the distinction between them. This flattens the drawing.

Maintain a more consistent line thickness through the various stages of construction, drawing your first marks as confidently and boldly as your later ones. Drawing your initial forms in faintly can lead to thinking of them as less solid or less real, and exacerbate the tendency to undermine their solidity by redrawing them. I'd like you to watch this video which explains how to use line weight in this course. It was added after you completed lesson 1, so you may not have seen it yet.

The second point to call out is that you're still inconsistent about "drawing through" your forms and completing them, even if they are partially obscured in the reference. If we look at this beetle we can see that you'd completed the forms of the head, thorax and abdomen, but cut off all of the legs where they pass beneath the body. I'd like you to complete your forms wherever possible, as by drawing each form in its entirety and establishing how they connect together in space, we can develop a stronger understanding of how the forms we draw exist in 3D.

Thirdly, you don't appear to have followed the advice for approaching texture, as you're copying colour patterns on this beetle and this spider. I'd like you to reread the detailed explanations on texture ThatOneMushroomGuy provided previously. If his explanations were unclear or confusing you may ask for clarification and I will find another way to explain how to approach texture and detail.

The last point which ThatOneMushroomGuy mentioned previously relates to differentiating between the actions we can take when interacting with a construction, which fall into two groups:

  • 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.

  • 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 fly in red where it looks like you cut back inside the silhouette of forms you had already drawn. One thing I did notice is that some of the instances of cutting into forms (though not all) came down to the fact that there would be gaps between passes around an ellipse (which is totally normal), and then you'd pick one of the inner edges to serve as the silhouette of the ball form you were constructing. This unfortunately would leave some stray marks outside of its silhouette, which does create some visual issues. Generally it is best to treat the outermost perimeter of the ellipse as the edge of the silhouette, so everything else remains contained within it. This diagram shows which lines to use on a loose ellipse.

On the same image I marked in blue a couple of places where it looks like you'd extended off existing forms using partial, flat shapes, not quite providing enough information for us to understand how they actually connect to the existing structure in 3D space. Here are a couple more examples on one of your spider constructions.

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.

Another thing I should mention is that there are two things that we must give each of our drawings throughout this course in order to get the most out of them. Those two things are space and time. It looks like you may be artificially limiting the space you give to some of your drawings, by drawing them much smaller than the space on the page allows. If we take this page as an example there appears to be a great deal of blank empty space that could have been used for your drawing. By artificially limiting how much space you give a given drawing, you're making things more difficult than they really need to be, limiting your brain's capacity for spatial reasoning, while also making it harder to engage your whole arm while drawing. I'd recommend drawing larger, or if a drawing has already been given as much room as it requires and there is a lot of space left, you could consider adding another construction. Having one small construction in a lot of empty space is unwise, you'll either be robbing that construction of the space it needs, or missing out on the mileage of adding a second one.

The last thing I wanted to talk about is leg construction. It looks like you tried out a few different strategies for constructing legs. On some of the pages where is looks like you were trying to use the sausage method, such as this spider, I noticed you sometimes add a bunch of extra contour lines along the surface of individual sausage forms, instead of using contour lines to define the intersections at the joints as specified on the sausage method diagram.

It's not uncommon for students to be aware of the sausage method, 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 as shown in these examples here, here, and in this ant leg demo and also here on this dog leg demo as this method should be used throughout lesson 5 too.


This feedback is, by necessity, quite dense, and I'd like you to take as much time as you need to read it thoroughly, as well as reviewing the relevant sections of lesson material and your previous critiques. You may also want to take some notes in your own words to remind yourself of what to work on. Once you've done that I'd like you to complete some extra pages to address the points I've raised here.

Please complete 3 pages of insect constructions.

Next Steps:

Please complete 3 pages of insect constructions.

When finished, reply to this critique with your revisions.
12:59 AM, Thursday April 18th 2024


Thanks a lot for the feedback. I also went back and read lesson three feedback again. I applied all your good advice constructing the three insects you requested. Although I found myself falling in the same pitfalls, I was more aware of them and hope shows progress in the right direction.




3:25 PM, Thursday April 18th 2024

Hello Sergio, no problem, thank you for responding with your additional construction pages.

I can see that you've been grappling with the points raised in the initial critique, and these constructions are heading in the right direction.

You're keeping a somewhat more consistent line thickness through the various stages of construction, and appear to be resisting the temptation to trace over all the lines you'd like to keep visible, although you're not always restricting additional line weight to localised areas to clarify overlaps. I did notice that the big ellipses you lay down for the head thorax and abdomen are still coming out pretty faint, especially on this page, where it looks like you were forced to trace back over the head and thorax to make them visible. If this isn't deliberate, it may be that your pen is running low on ink or damaged. If we look at this page from your lesson 1 submission we can see large ellipses drawn with a bold dark line, so something has changed since then. If it is not your approach, it may be the pen.

You don't appear to be using a clean up pass any more, but there are still places where your additional line weight still jumps across multiple forms, softening the distinction between them, as noted here. Take another look at the video I shared with you previously if you're not sure where you should use additional line weight. Remember to use the outer line of your ellipses as the silhouette of the forms you are constructing, to avoid leaving stray lines outside your construction.

You've done a good job of drawing through your forms in these pages, keep it up!

Your approach to texture appears to be on the right track. It looks like you're thinking more about describing how the surface feels to run your hand along it, rather than focusing on colour patterns.

Remember we want to start each of these constructions with simple solid forms as a foundation. On this page I couldn't figure out how the abdomen was supposed to connect to the thorax, as it appears to be a partial shape. Starting with an ovoid form for the abdomen like this would establish a more 3D structure to build the rest of the construction onto.

You're doing pretty well at building onto your constructions "in 3D" though I do see a few places where you'll hop back into 2D by adding a quick bit of complexity with a one off line or partial shape. Here is an example. Keep striving to only take actions in 3D by adding complete new forms wherever you want to add or change something. The more our marks reinforce this 3D illusion, the more we start to believe our own lie.

It is good to see you sticking more closely to the sausage method of leg construction, and by and large, you're using it quite well. I did spot a couple of places such as this where your sausage forms got a little too complex and/or you attempted to alter them with single lines. Aim to keep the width of the sausage form consistent along its length, as shown here. Then we can build onto the simple sausage with additional forms as needed- which I am happy to see that you're doing in other places.

Okay, I think that should cover it. Your constructions are heading in the right direction and I can see your spatial reasoning skills are coming along nicely so I'll be marking this lesson as complete. Please keep working on tackling the points discussed here as you go through the next lesson, as these points will continue to apply to animal constructions. Best of luck.

Next Steps:

Move onto lesson 5.

This critique marks this lesson as complete.
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The Science of Deciding What You Should Draw

The Science of Deciding What You Should Draw

Right from when students hit the 50% rule early on in Lesson 0, they ask the same question - "What am I supposed to draw?"

It's not magic. We're made to think that when someone just whips off interesting things to draw, that they're gifted in a way that we are not. The problem isn't that we don't have ideas - it's that the ideas we have are so vague, they feel like nothing at all. In this course, we're going to look at how we can explore, pursue, and develop those fuzzy notions into something more concrete.

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