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## Lesson 4: Applying Construction to Insects and Arachnids

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##### 11:59 AM, Thursday August 15th 2024 edited at 12:02 PM, Aug 15th 2024

Hello Fernando96, I'll be the teaching assistant handling your lesson 4 critique.

Starting with your organic forms with contour curves there is something to call out, it seems you did one page of contour ellipses, though the assignment was for both pages to be contour curves. Not a huge problem, but it does suggest that you may want to be more attentive when reading through the instructions.

Most of your forms are reasonably close to the characteristics of simple sausages that are introduced here, though I noticed the forms at the top right of both pages are continually swelling through their midsection and becoming bloated, which makes them stiff, try to keep the width of each form consistent along its length in future.

Keep in mind that the degree of your contour lines and ellipses 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.

Moving on to your insect constructions you’re doing a good job of establishing simple solid forms for the head, thorax and abdomen prior to moving forward, and you appear to be observing your references carefully and frequently.

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

Another point which may help you to keep your linework smooth is to make full use of the space on the page for each construction. Or rather, give each drawing as much room as it really needs on the page, and try to avoid making things artificially small and cramped. While this isn’t necessarily an issue on every page, there are a few such as your bee which has loads of room around it, so you definitely could have drawn it bigger. Doing so tends to help our brain's capacity for spatial reasoning, while also helping us engage our whole arm while drawing.

The next point I want to talk about 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 beetle 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 your ellipses would come out a little loose (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 this beetle I also marked in blue some examples where 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.

Instead, as I’ve shown in green on your beetle, 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.

The next thing I wanted to talk about is leg construction. It looks like you tried out a couple of different methods for drawing 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 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.

Now the last thing I want to discuss is in regards to your approach to the detail phase, once the construction is handled. Your application of texture is a bit mixed, with some areas that are heading in the right direction as well as places where, in effect, you're getting caught up in decorating your drawings (making them more visually interesting and pleasing by whatever means at your disposal - usually pulling information from direct observation and drawing it as you see it), which is not what the texture section of Lesson 2 really describes. Decoration itself is not a clear goal - there's no specific point at which we've added "enough".

What we're doing in this course can be broken into two distinct sections - construction and texture - and they both focus on the same concept. With construction we're communicating to the viewer what they need to know to understand how they might manipulate this object with their hands, were it in front of them. With texture, we're communicating to the viewer what they need to know to understand what it'd feel like to run their fingers over the object's various surfaces. Both of these focus on communicating three dimensional information. Both sections have specific jobs to accomplish, and none of it has to do with making the drawing look nice.

Instead of focusing on decoration, what we draw here comes down to what is actually physically present in our construction, just on a smaller scale. As discussed back in Lesson 2's texture section, we focus on each individual textural form, focusing on them one at a time and using the information present in the reference image to help identify and understand how every such textural form sits in 3D space, and how it relates within that space to its neighbours. Once we understand how the textural form sits in the world, we then design the appropriate shadow shape that it would cast on its surroundings. The shadow shape is important, because it's that specific shape which helps define the relationship between the form casting it, and the surface receiving it.

As a result of this approach, you'll find yourself thinking less about excuses to add more ink, and instead you'll be working in the opposite - trying to get the information across while putting as little ink down as is strictly needed, and using those implicit markmaking techniques from Lesson 2 to help you with that. In particular, these notes are a good section to review.

Okay, I think that should cover it. This feedback is, by necessity, quite dense and I expect it may take you some time to read through it all, as well as checking out the various diagrams and demos I’ve shared with you. Once you’ve done that I’d like you to complete some revisions to help you absorb and apply the points discussed in this critique.

Please complete 3 pages of insect constructions.

Next Steps:

Please complete 3 pages of insect constructions.

edited at 12:02 PM, Aug 15th 2024
##### 12:04 AM, Tuesday August 20th 2024

Hi here are the 3 pages!

https://imgur.com/a/KnQiShL

##### 10:23 AM, Tuesday August 20th 2024

For the most part you’re doing quite well at building these constructions up in 3D, by constructing new forms where you want to add to the construction or alter something. There are a few places where you’re adding flat partial shapes to your constructions, and I’ve marked out an example of this in blue on your ant and provided a diagram to show how this addition could be created by drawing a complete new form instead.

While adding partial shapes worked fine for adding edge detail to leaves in the previous lesson, that’s because leaves are paper-thin structures. In essence, they are already flat, so altering their silhouettes won’t flatten them further. As introduced in this section when we want to build up onto forms that aren’t already flat (such as the ant’s abdomen) we need to construct complete new forms instead.

Something else that will help you develop a stronger understanding of how the pieces of your constructions exist in space and connect together with specific relationships is to “draw through” and complete your forms wherever possible. Sometimes a form may be partially obscured in your reference, but draw the whole form anyway. If you only draw the visible parts and cut them off where they overlap, it can switch your focus from drawing 3D forms in space, to transferring flat partial shapes from the reference over onto your flat piece of paper.

You did a great job using the space on the page for your butterfly and scorpion constructions, but the ant is quite small, resulting in the leg construction becoming overly cramped. It can be tricky to judge where to place those first major forms of the head/thorax/abdomen, and how big to draw them, as they will dictate how large the construction will eventually be. Before you start drawing those first forms, take a little time to plan for the rest of the forms you’ll need to draw, so you can make an educated guess at how large to draw your first forms and where to place them to make effective use of the space available on the page.

Alright, I think that should cover it. You’ve made some good progress and I’ll be marking this as complete. Please refer to this feedback (and your initial lesson 4 critique) as you tackle your animal constructions, so we can build on these points in the next lesson.

Next Steps:

Move onto lesson 5.

This critique marks this lesson as complete.
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### Staedtler Pigment Liners

These are what I use when doing these exercises. They usually run somewhere in the middle of the price/quality range, and are often sold in sets of different line weights - remember that for the Drawabox lessons, we only really use the 0.5s, so try and find sets that sell only one size.

Alternatively, if at all possible, going to an art supply store and buying the pens in person is often better because they'll generally sell them individually and allow you to test them out before you buy (to weed out any duds).