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

Starting with your organic forms you're doing a good job of executing these confidently and it is clear that you're working towards the characteristics of simple sausages that are introduced here. I'm seeing a little bit of a tendency for one end of the forms to get a bit bigger than the other, try to keep the ends evenly sized.

It is good to see that you are experimenting with varying the degree of the contour curves on some of your forms. 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.

On this page I can see multiple strokes on some of your contour curves. While some of these extra marks may be from accidentally touching the paper while ghosting, it looks like some of these may be attempts to make corrections.

In this course it is best to leave mistakes alone rather than attempting to correct them. Correcting a mistake will create the impression in our brain that the mistake was addressed, whereas really addressing the mistake would involve reflecting upon why it may have occurred and adjusting our approach to try and avoid the mistake in the future - something we usually do by giving ourselves more time to think through the actions we take while doing the work. Leaving the mistakes alone allows us to come back after the page is complete to assess where the mistakes occurred, and how we might do better in the future. On the other hand, redoing a line generally just makes the work messier.

Moving on to your insect constructions things are coming along reasonably well. I can see you've paid attention to the idea of starting your constructions with simple solid forms and gradually building onto them piece by piece to arrive at a constrution that resembles the insect in your reference. Your demo draw alongs show that you're following the steps shown to the best of your ability, then your independent constructions show you applying the methods and techniques you've learned.

Your work is heading in the right direction, though I do have some points that should help you get more out of these constructional exercises in the future.

The first of these 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 mantis in red where it looks like you cut back inside the silhouette of forms you had already drawn. On this image I marked in blue some examples where you'd extended off existing forms using one-off lines and partial, flat shapes, not quite providing enough information for us to understand how they actually connect to the existing structure in 3D space.

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.

Redrawing parts of your constructions (circled examples here) will have a similar effect to cutting back inside of, or extending, the silhouette of forms you have already drawn. In having multiple lines on the paper representing the edge of a single form, the viewer is given a choice of interpretations, and whichever one they choose, there will always be another line present on the page to contradict it, ultimately reminding the viewer that they are looking at lines on a flat piece of paper.

Something else which will help to maintain the solidity of your constructions, if a part of your subject won't fit on the page, rather than running it off the edge of the page as a pair of lines, which leaves the form open-ended and flattens it out, it helps a great deal to "cap off" the form (usually with an ellipse) as shown here with this branch.

In future, try to make full use of the space available on the page. There are some pages, such as this, where an awful lot of the page was left blank. 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. In artificially limiting how much space you give a given drawing, you're limiting your brain's capacity for spatial reasoning, while also making it harder to engage your whole arm while drawing, which can lead to stiff of clumsy linework, and difficulty executing finer elements like legs. In the case of your ladybird I believe you may have benefited from drawing larger. Once the drawing is done should we assess whether there is enough room for another. If there is, we should certainly add it, and reassess once again. If there isn't, it's perfectly okay to have just one drawing on a given page as long as it is making good use of the space available to it.

Continuing forward, I noticed that while you were usually striving to employ the sausage method when constructing your legs, you did not apply it in its entirety, or in a consistent manner. As well as the places where you were experimenting with non-sausage forms or partial shapes, I noticed you seem to be a little confused about where to place your contour curves. As demonstrated here the correct application of contour curves for the sausage method is to place one at each joint, in the region where the forms overlap, in a similar fashion to the form intersections from lesson 2. The sausage method is quite specific, and does require you to adhere to all of its aspects.

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.

If you choose to add texture and detail to your constructions please try to follow the guidance for texture introduced in lesson 2. On your butterfly and caterpillar is looks a lot like you're copying colour patterns. 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, at minimum.

One last little note before I wrap this up, next time you submit, try to take better photos, and make sure they are uploaded at a reasonable resolution. For example the photo of your wasp demo is quite fuzzy, and taken at an angle which causes some distortion. This page from your lesson 1 submission is much clearer, with the lines in focus and the camera placed about 90 degrees to the paper to minimize distortion. It is also a higher resolution image, which helps to see your work more clearly.

All right, I think you understand the main points of this lesson so I'll go ahead and mark it as complete. Be sure to apply the feedback provided here to your work as you progress through lesson 5, the points discussed here will continue to be relevant to animal constructions.