Lesson 4: Applying Construction to Insects and Arachnids

6:58 PM, Friday February 23rd 2024

Lesson 4 Homework - Album on Imgur

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Hey,

Lesson 4 homework submitted for critique.

Looking forward to the feedback.

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5:27 PM, Saturday February 24th 2024
edited at 5:34 PM, Feb 24th 2024

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

Starting with your organic forms 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.

You're keeping most of your linework smooth and confident here, which is great.

You're a little bit variable with sticking to the characteristics of simple sausages that are introduced here. Your page with the ellipses is stronger in this regard, with the majority of the forms adhering to the properties of two rounded ends of equal size connected by a bendy tube of consistent width, and just two forms on the right side coming out with ends of different sizes. The page with contour curves has some more extreme examples such as this one where I think you may have been more focused on fitting it between your other forms than on sticking to a simple sausage. Focusing on those simple properties for each form helps us to capture the illusion of solidity for each one, which in turn is very valuable in using these sausages as one of the core building blocks of our constructions.

You're doing pretty well at fitting most of your ellipses snugly against the edges of your forms, but a lot of your contour curves are floating arbitrarily which is a mistake. Now, because we prioritize a smooth confident line over an accurate one, and because we are not robots who can make each line perfectly every time, it is normal to miss the edge of the form occasionally. What I'm seeing here is slightly different, as there are sometimes 3, 4 or 5 curves in a row drifting outside the form, suggesting you either weren't aware of this aspect of the exercise, or were moving onto the next line without assessing the line you just completed and adjusting your approach to improve upon it.

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.

Lastly, when doing the organic forms with contour curves, it helps to place a full contour ellipse right on the tips of the sausages that face towards the viewer. Technically the contour curves and contour ellipses are the same - it's just that in this version of the exercise, we're drawing only the portion of the curve that would be visible (plus a bit of overshoot to get the curvature right). When we have a tip of the sausage facing the viewer , we're able to see enough of that surface that we'd see the whole contour ellipse all the way around. You can see this in this example from the exercise, as well as in this diagram.

Moving on to your insect constructions, these are coming along well. You're following the constructional techniques shown in the lesson and you're doing a good job of starting with simple solid forms and gradually building complexity piece by piece. I get the impression that you're developing a pretty good understanding for how the forms you draw exist in 3D space and not just as shapes on your flat piece of paper, for example how you've wrapped the segmentation on this fly helps to actively reinforce the illusion of volume with this construction. You're doing a good job and I have just a couple of points to discuss 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 beetle in red where it looks like you may have cut back inside the silhouette of forms you had already drawn. One thing I did notice is that most 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 the same image I marked in blue some exampes 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, 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 were striving to use the sausage method of leg construction on the majority of your pages, although there is scope for you to be sticking more closely to simple sausage forms (the same properties introduced for the organic forms exercise). 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.

I can see that you've jumped right in with using additional forms to build onto your sausage armatures. There are some strategies for this that work better than others. While it seems obvious to take a bigger form and use it to envelop a section of the existing structure, (as you were doing on this lobster), it actually works better to break it into smaller pieces that can each have their own individual relationship with the underlying sausages defined, as shown here. The key is not to engulf an entire form all the way around - always provide somewhere that the form's silhouette is making contact with the structure, so you can define how that contact is made.

You can see some further examples of how to build onto leg constructions in these diagrams, this ant leg demo and also here on this dog leg demo as this method should be used throughout lesson 5 too.

One last little note before I wrap this up, remember back in lesson 1 when we introduced the principles of markmaking, that marks must maintain a consistent trajectory so we want to avoid zigzagging lines like here on this leg in future.

All right, I think that should cover it. Your work is coming along well and I'll be marking this lesson as complete. Please make every effort to tackle the points discussed here as you work through your animal constructions, so we can build upon them in the next lesson.

Next Steps:

Move on to lesson 5.

This critique marks this lesson as complete.
edited at 5:34 PM, Feb 24th 2024
10:29 PM, Saturday February 24th 2024

Brilliant, thanks for the feedback, feels great to pass this lesson.

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