Lesson 4: Applying Construction to Insects and Arachnids

12:24 PM, Sunday August 2nd 2020

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Thanks boss

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10:32 PM, Monday August 3rd 2020

Hm... So I across this set there are some good drawings, and some where you appear to not really be following the instructions all that closely.

Before I get into all of that, your work on your organic forms with contour curves is kind of sloppy. The sausages themselves are actually quite good - you're doing a pretty good job of sticking to simple sausages. The curves themselves however rarely actually give the impression that they're sitting on the surface of the object, which suggests to me that you may not be applying the ghosting method to maintain as much control as you need to get them to fit snugly between the edges of the forms. Your second page is somewhat better, to be sure - which makes me wonder if you just had to get used to it (and maybe weren't practicing this exercise as regularly as you should have been as part of your warmups). I'll leave that to you to determine for yourself.

Now moving onto your insect constructions, there's a key problem that I see come up in a couple places. Here and here, you're jumping into an overly complex form, specifically for the thoraxes of these insects. Being as complex as they are, with no clear support/scaffolding to support that complexity, they read entirely as being flat, which in turn undermines the rest of the construction, making the whole drawing feel flat. There's also a lot to be said about just how much they actually reflect your reference images - they appear pretty oversimplified, as though you didn't necessarily look at your reference all that frequently while drawing them.

All in all, those aren't well done. But that said... You've got a few drawings that are far better. For example, this dragonfly and this spider are exceptionally well done, conveying an incredibly strong grasp of 3D space. The spider's thorax and the connections to the legs are really solid and believable, and the segmentation of the dragonfly's thorax is quite solid as well. The legs on the dragonfly aren't quite as well done, but I can see that working with sausages that skinny is no easy task.

This submission is admittedly a weird one, because there are some drawings that undeniably state that you don't know what the hell you're doing, and others that suggest that you've got a totally solid grasp of the material. So I guess all we can do is look at the ones in between.

With a lot of the other drawings, I'm noticing a tendency to try and go back over a lot of your lines with more line weight, like this one for example. I also see you focusing a lot on detail and texture, when your underlying construction isn't necessarily getting as much attention as it could. This suggests to me that you're distracted - that when you know you're going to add detail to something, you get too caught up in how you're going to make it all pretty and nice, and take shortcuts in the construction.

The most important thing about constructional drawing is the idea that every single mark you add to the page itself is to add a new, solid, 3D form. You're not sketching on a page, you're not exploring a drawing on a flat surface. Everything introduces a solid mass to the world, and once in place, it needs to be respected and acknowledged. Because of this simple rule, there are certain things you just can't do:

  • You can't cut back across the silhouette of a form you've drawn, because maybe it wasn't the right shape. It's there, it's solid, and if you're going to modify it at all, it needs to be in three dimensions. When dealing with organic construction (animals, plants, insects, etc.) there isn't a lot of room for cutting back into them, so you generally just need to build on top of what you've got by adding more 3D forms. That said, here are some notes about how to think about subtractive construction.

  • Similarly, of you've got two forms sitting with just a little bit of space between them, you can't just draw a bridge between them, unless that bridge is itself another 3D form that you've added to the construction. So if you've got a head mass, and a thorax mass, and your reference shows something like a "neck", you can't extend the silhouette of one of those to connect to the other. You have to place an actual, fully drawn form that connects somehow to both of those forms.

Both of these issues are things we see in this drawing (trying to connect the thorax/head and thorax/abdomen, and loosely dropping in a ball form for the head but then drawing back over it because you needed a different shape). You also do this a little bit less noticeably with this fly, where you've kind of enveloped the thorax and abdomen in a single continuous outline. Creating these false, 2D bridges break the illusion thta we're looking at a 3D form, so instead you'd have to actually wedge some 3D putty in between them if that was what you wanted to achieve.

The reason that those two drawings were so successful - that is, the dragonfly and the spider (I assume it's an orbweaver?) - are because you didn't take any shortcuts with them. You builr out all your forms, established all the connections and relationships, and didn't push it beyond that. Everything was a solid form. Not to mention the fact that you observed your reference carefully and frequently, not working from memory but rather capturing precisely what was there.

So, with all that laid out, I'm going to assign an additional 3 pages of animal drawings. If two out of the three impress me like the dragonfly and spider do, then I'll mark the lesson as complete.

Next Steps:

Three more insect drawings.

When finished, reply to this critique with your revisions.
5:11 PM, Monday August 10th 2020

So I am definitely more pleased with your results here, though there's one thing I want to draw your attention to, which I addressed back in my initial critique, which I show here. Here's what I said in my initial critique:

You can't cut back across the silhouette of a form you've drawn, because maybe it wasn't the right shape. It's there, it's solid, and if you're going to modify it at all, it needs to be in three dimensions. When dealing with organic construction (animals, plants, insects, etc.) there isn't a lot of room for cutting back into them, so you generally just need to build on top of what you've got by adding more 3D forms. That said, here are some notes about how to think about subtractive construction.

The silhouette is the 2D manifestation of a 3D form - by altering it you're not changing the form in the world. Quite literally, you can think of it as though we're trying to understand some rare animal by studying the footprint it leaves. If you alter the footprint itself, it's not changing the animal itself, it's just making the footprint less useful. You have to actually change the construction by establishing new forms and defining how those forms relate to those that already exist.

Anyway, all in all these are moving in the right direction, so I'll go ahead and mark this lesson as complete.

Next Steps:

Feel free to move onto lesson 5.

This critique marks this lesson as complete.
5:18 PM, Monday August 10th 2020

Thanks very much boss, the cutting into the forms was a lack of foresight on my part, and i had to cut into them to keep the proportions right.

On another note, would it be okay if I moved onto the cylinder challenge instead of L5? I wanted to dabble in another course whilst doing DaB before touching animals.

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