Lesson 2: Contour Lines, Texture and Construction

4:52 PM, Monday July 5th 2021

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Hello, just finished Lesson 2 (actually this is second attempt, first time I was advised to go back and do 250 boxes challenge, which I have done now)

Looking forward to any tips/critiques/suggestions!

Have a nice day and thank you for taking your time to look at my work

2 users agree
8:13 PM, Tuesday August 10th 2021
edited at 7:55 PM, Aug 11th 2021

Hello Photon,

Congrats on finishing Lesson 2! It is quite a daunting lesson due to how time consuming the textures section alone is, but you pushed through and managed to finish it. Sorry for the long wait, but today I'll be reviewing some of your work, I hope that my advice is helpful to you. Without further ado let's get on with your critique.

Thinking in 3d Section


First things first, I believe you did an incredible job with this exercise especially with the variation of sizes and the directions of arrows. You really filled every nook and cranny of your page, good job!

I don't believe there is anything that I can point out that you did wrong, your linework looks fluid and confident, your arrows have hardly any consistency problems, you've got a great variation of sizes and arrow directions and you did well on your shading and lineweight on the bends. Keep up the good job.

Organic Forms/Sausages

Continuing onto your organic forms, I'd like to first point out something that isn't quite a mistake, but can be hurtful to your improvement: You're mostly grinding a single sausage rotation.

Keep in mind that sausages are varied and just like with arrows there are thousands of ways that you can position them in your page, but we can reduce the most important into three major rotations, remember to practice all of them!


Onto your actual forms, my first advice will be that you avoid sharp 90° angles turns in your sausages, as it makes them feel inorganic since if you look at a sausage in real life and bend it, there will be some folds at the part that's bending. You're doing a good job of keeping your sausages the desired shape for the most part, but be careful as sometimes your sausages narrow or bulge, or their ends are flattened instead of spherical.

Edit: Remember, ghosting is your friend, if you're struggling with keeping your sausages the desired shape you can try ghosting them in parts instead of drawing the whole thing right away.

While it's possible to see some variation in your ellipses' degrees there's a less visible change in your contours and that causes some of your forms to be flattened out. That's normal as changing contour's degrees is less intuitive than ellipses, so remember to first think of how an ellipse would fit in their place instead, then you ghost the entire ellipse but draw only the visible part that would be seen if the sausage was a solid, real object.

Here are some photos that might help you with understanding more about the change of degrees of ellipses in a cylindrical form. Photos by user 'Slate' in the Drawabox Discord Server.




And to finish this section,you do a good job on keeping your contours mostly within bounds, but your ellipses are hesitant and deformed, remember that in Drawabox we always prioritize confidence over a wobbly but accurate line, this is true even when it comes to ellipses, since deformed ellipses will make your forms feel stiff.

Texture and Detail

Texture Analysis

It's very clear to me that you understand the purpose of cast shadows, good job!

While you do a good job on your gradient shift for the most part, the black bar is still visible and easy to spot in the second row. Keep in mind that this type of harsh transition wouldn't be possible in the real world with the type of "lightsource" we're trying to apply to this study.

For your last texture you also start to rely on outlines and single lines instead of cast shadows, to make even small shadows dynamics it's recommended to approach them like this instead of as a single line:


Other than these small points, keep doing a great job!

Texture Dissections

I love the white leopard and tiger, but for the purposes of this exercise it's not all that great, as the pattern on the fur is local color, not cast shadows. You also draw very explicitly sometimes even when you showed an understanding of how cast shadows work in the previous exercise. The textures to jump out the most to me are crumpled paper, scales, orange and the cow. Don't forget to ignore local color when approaching textures during Drawabox.

During this exercise you rely very heavily on outlines and negative space which makes it hard to create focal points of detail and a nice gradient.

You've done well with wrapping your textures around your forms and I think you could have done a good job with them if you had applied light and shadow and making the edges of your textures darker while the center has less visible detail, as that's how light and shadow works on a cylindrical shape.

If you'd like to keep working on your textures, I will recommend to you Alphonso Dunn's texturing videos on Youtube, while for Drawabox purposes some of his techniques ( such as hatching ) shouldn't be used I believe there's still a lot of important information in his videos.

Construction Section

Form intersections

I'd like to start off by pointing out that you haven't constructed your cylinders and cones around a minor axis, for your cylinders you also haven't always drawn through your ellipses, remember to always draw through your ellipses.

Most of your intersections look okay to me, but it's easy to see that sometimes you got easily confused, shaded the wrong face of your box, made some forms with different rates of foreshortening or outlined an impossible intersection and then tried to fix it.

I suggest that when you attempt this exercise again in your warm ups that you focus on less forms overall, that way you won't get confused as easily and you'll have more space to think of your intersections, it's easier for our brains to problem solve when we can see things clearly.

Here, feel free to study this guide to intersections made by Discord user Optimus on the Drawabox Server, but don't be scared to try things that aren't shown here such as 3 form intersections.


Organic form intersections

I commend you for understanding the purpose of this exercise and making your sausages wrap around each other in a believable way, but while you start out well as you go on your shapes start to become a bit too long and complex, especially at the top of your pile. And don't forget that our forms should be simple sausages, two circles connected by a tube of consistent width.


You're also having trouble with your shadows, your lightsource is a bit inconsistent and your shadows don't follow the form of the sausage they're being cast on to.

Like the little sausage to the bottom right on your second page, it's casting a shadow to the left on the sausage that is under it, which would imply a lightsource furthest to the right, but every other shadow implies a lightsource coming straight from above.



In the future, when you tackle this exercise in your warm ups and in next lessons, remember to keep your forms simple, and take a bit more time thinking about your lightsource before drawing your shadows.

And lastly, sometimes you don't draw your contours through your forms, you should still draw it since that'll help build your spatial reasoning and force you to think of the volume of these forms, even if it isn't visible.

Final Thoughts

I believe you understood the purpose of these exercises and showed improvement, but you could have executed them much better if you had taken your time with each exercise, I believe the one that suffers the most from this rushing is your dissections.

Ironically completing these exercises faster won't actually make you improve faster, so remember to take as much time as you need with each exercise so you can get the most out of this course. Don't try to rush nor grind, it'll only hinder your progress.

I feel like you're ready for Lesson 3 and should move on, so I'll be marking this lesson as complete.

If you're not in it, have you considered joining the Drawabox Discord?


The Drawabox discord server is the best place to ask for critique on partial work as you move along the exercises, and with the Critique exchange initiative you can make sure that you're always guaranteed a critique even though you're a community member.

Next Steps:

Don't forget to add these exercises to your list of warm ups.

Move on to Lesson 3!

This community member feels the lesson should be marked as complete, and 2 others agree. The student has earned their completion badge for this lesson and should feel confident in moving onto the next lesson.
edited at 7:55 PM, Aug 11th 2021
12:23 PM, Friday August 13th 2021

Thank you so much for such a comprehensive critique! I will keep your advice in mind while continueing my drawabox journey.

0 users agree
8:50 AM, Thursday July 15th 2021

Your work looks great! I think doing the exercises a second time really gave you a lot of extra practice.

I'm not very experienced myself but you seem to have grasped the concepts very well, so I think you can move on to Lesson 3.

This community member feels the lesson should be marked as complete. In order for the student to receive their completion badge, this critique will need 2 agreements from other members of the community.
4:02 PM, Monday July 19th 2021

Thanks for taking the time to review, I appreciate it.

0 users agree
2:38 AM, Thursday August 5th 2021

Hello! Would you like a critique of your work? it has been about a month so I just wanted to make sure you're still looking for some and planning on continuing the course.

2:18 PM, Thursday August 5th 2021

Hello, sure more critiques are always welcome :)

I do plan on continuing the course just taking a break from drawabox for a while (250 boxes and textures were quite tiring)

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