Lesson 4: Applying Construction to Insects and Arachnids

1:24 PM, Friday February 4th 2022

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

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Thank you, Uncomfortable, for answering my question about my phobia and understanding my situation. It encouraged me to be braver, and I tried to look at as many insects as possible. I am not sure I understood the key concepts of this lesson, but I am still happy, for I got out of my comfort zone. That's why I want to thank you for preparing such lesson content and forcing me to face my fears.

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2:18 AM, Tuesday February 8th 2022

Congratulations on facing your fears and pushing through the lesson! Jumping right in with your organic forms with contour lines, by and large these are coming along pretty well - you're making a clear effort to stick to the characteristics of simple sausages, and while there are a few places where an end might get a little more stretched out, it's very clear that your intent is in the right place and that you are by and large achieving that intent. I do have a couple quick points to mention however:

  • Right now it looks like for the most part the degree of your contour curves remains fairly consistent. Remember that as discussed in the Lesson 1 ellipses video, the contour curves should actually be getting wider as we slide away from the viewer. How the form turns is also a factor, as this influences the orientation of each cross-sectional slice relative to the viewer, but by and large farther = wider is a good rule of thumb.

  • I also noticed a few spots where you seem to have shifted the degree narrower up until it hit a midpoint in the middle of your sausage, then started widening it again, but without actually reversing the contour line's curvature. Here's an example. This isn't inherently wrong (because the closer end could be turning more towards the viewer to cause that, but I suspect that was not your intent. In this chart you can see a few different configurations of contour lines on the same sausage - note how the bottom two feature contour curves that get narrower in the middle, but they reverse their curvature instead of simply widening again.

Continuing onto your insect constructions, by and large you've done really well here, and I have just a couple of points to call out - though they are important, and will help ensure that you get as much as you can out of these constructional exercises.

Because we're drawing on a flat piece of paper, we have a lot of freedom to make whatever marks we choose - it just so happens that the majority of those marks will 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.

In all fairness I didn't actually see that much of cutting into forms' silhouettes, but I did see a lot of extending/redrawing of forms' silhouettes - specifically due to your excessive use of line weight, which we'll talk about next. That said, on this rhino beetle drawing I did mark out in red where you cut into some forms' silhouettes, and in blue where you appeared to extend them out or attach flat shapes.

Instead, whenever we want to build upon our construction or change something, we can do so by introducing new 3D forms to the structure, 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.

You can see this in practice in this beetle horn demo, as well as in this ant head demo. Given that this is something we've been pushing more recently (I'm always finding new ways to push these concepts more strongly, and to help students understand them better, and so those submitting for official critique get that info well before it gets integrated into the lesson material itself), the more recent lobster and shrimp demos at the top of the informal demos page do a good job of demonstrating these principles as well, specifically ensuring that each form at every step is clearly defined as a three dimensional, solid structure. This is all part of accepting that everything we draw is 3D, and therefore needs to be treated as such in order for the viewer to believe in that lie.

Now, as I mentioned, one of the biggest contributors to redefining and extending out existing forms' silhouettes comes from your heavy use of line weight. You frequently end up going back over large chunks of linework, making heavy use of line weight. Line weight itself is actually a tool better used in a more targeted, subtle fashion - instead of reinforcing the entirety of every form's silhouette, it is more effective when reserved specifically to help clarify how different forms overlap one another, by being limited to the localized areas where those overlaps occur. You can see an example of this with these two overlapping leaves - note how the line weight is only in specific areas, and how it blends back into the existing linework. This also allows us to continue executing those marks more confidently with the ghosting method, instead of tracing back over them which can contribute to stiffer linework.

Now the last thing I wanted to mention is that while you've been doing a great job of trying to employ the sausage method quite consistently throughout your leg constructions, when building on top of those structures you've largely been employing those "2D" approaches of altering silhouettes or engulfing one silhouette with a new one. Obviously this isn't ideal, but the core of it - the fact that you're trying to build upon the sausage structures - is spot on. I have a few demonstrations that can help you with doing this, but in an additive fashion in three dimensions:

This technique - the sausage method, as well as the general use of additive constructional principles - will continue to be a big part of the next lesson, so I'll go ahead and mark this lesson as ccomplete and leave you to continue to work on these concepts there.

Next Steps:

Feel free to move onto lesson 5.

This critique marks this lesson as complete.
3:31 PM, Tuesday February 8th 2022

Hello, Uncomfortable.

Thank you for this critique. I have been trying to understand what is wrong with my contour curves but couldn't find the problem. I will try to focus on this exercise more and fix the problems. Also, I didn't see the demos on the Patreon page, so I will watch them and draw along with them before starting the new homework. I don't feel ready for the next lesson, but I will move on since you said so. But I will keep drawing insects more and more to really understand the concepts you explained above. I hope everything becomes much clear with practice.

Thank you again.

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