Lesson 3: Applying Construction to Plants

3:00 PM, Wednesday December 6th 2023

Lesson 3 - Album on Imgur

Direct Link: https://i.imgur.com/a25dVii.jpg

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This lesson was done with a break in the middle for texture challenge. It passed quite some during that break, so you will see there are 2 pages for leaves and branches (in chronological order) and added a few more plant pages after (in chronological order too).


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1:28 PM, Monday December 11th 2023

Hello Kairos, I'm ThatOneMushroomGuy and I'll be the TA handling your critique today.


Starting with your arrows your lines are looking fairly confident and smooth, which helps communicate a nice sense of fluidity in your arrows as they move through the world. You're also making really nice use of the depth of the page with your usage of perspective and foreshortening.

It's good that you're making use of some well applied hatching as that helps you establish how your arrows twist and turn in space and your own understanding of the tridimensional space these objects occupy, however there is one place where you added your hatching to the incorrect side of the arrow's overlaps.

Making it seem like your arrow is getting bigger the further away it is, and getting smaller as it gets closer to the viewer, which goes against the rules of perspective.

  • Perspective works in the following manner: things that are further away from the viewer will look smaller, and as they get closer to the viewer they'll look bigger. The way this affects an object of consistent size and width that stretches across space is that certain segments of this object will look bigger and others smaller, either gradually or dramatically depending on the perspective of the scene, as such the bigger part of the arrow will always be the one that's closest to the viewer so the segment that's behind it should be the one receiving the hatching.

When it comes to your application of added lineweight on top of the overlaps as a finishing touch to your arrows, it should be done a little bit more subtly, keep in mind that it should be added with a single line superimposed on top of the overlaps.

In general your work here is good so in order to keep improving make sure that you're pushing yourself and attempting arrows outside of your comfort zone more often the next time you tackle this exercise, try arrows with different kinds of twists and turns and different rates of foreshortening, keep in mind that arrows are very flexible objects and can move freely across the world in all sorts of manners, so you should push yourself and explore the different possibilities.


Moving on to your leaves I've noticed you submitted two pages of leaves instead of the one that was requested, this is something that I'll elaborate on further in the plant construction section of this critique, but for now keep in mind that you should not submit more work than what was requested.

There's a very big discrepancy in the quality of your leaves in these pages, as such I'm only going to be focusing on this page as it seems like the most recent and relevant one.

Your addition of edge detail is generally looking good, although it's very sparsely added to your work, and it can greatly help you further communicate the form of your structures and how they move through space, so remember that only the last step of leaf construction - texture - is optional.

But in the places where you are adding it in it's good to see that you don't try to capture more than one piece of edge detail at a time, and that you're usually approaching it additively. Something you should address is that you are adding it in with a thicker, darker lineweight and going over your marks more than once.

Approaching it in this manner is going to encourage you to tackle construction as though you're redrawing everything at every step. However, the initial stages of our construction are not guidelines or suggestions, they are the foundations for the later stages of construction where we're building upon the existing structure, modifying what's already there. There are things that simply won't need alteration, and therefore the marks that defined them from the start should be able to stand for themselves when you're done, without being redrawn or traced over needlessly.

It's good to see that you've experimented with complex leaf structures such as in these leaves, but remember not to skip construction steps when approaching these more intricate structures. Some of your structures are looser than they could be, because you did not establish a boundary for all of the later structures to abide to, despite complex structures being made up of several different parts, they still exist as a single entity, by not skipping construction steps you can ensure that your constructions are much more solid and specific while still maintaining fluidity.

Moving on to your application of texture it's coming along well, as you're starting to understand how texture works and applynit to your structures, however you can definitely make your application of it a little bit tighter as you still rely on large areas of black to convey texture which are not caused by cast shadows. Take a look at this informal demo on how to approach leaf texture, and make sure to give these reminders on how texture works in Drawabox a read.


You have also submitted two pages of branches for this exercise when only one was requested. In this case your most recent page actually does not follow the instructions for the exercise, as such I'm going to focus on this page instead for this section of your critique.

Generally your branches are coming along really well made as you're following the instructions for the exercise which allows you to create some solid but still organic looking structures.

There are a lot of visible tails present in your branch structures, while this is a very common mistake we can attempt to mitigate it by limiting the amount of ellipses in our branches, by spacing them further apart we'll allow for a bigger length of runway between ellipses, and ensure a smoother, more seamless transition between marks.

For ellipses it's good to see that you're making an attempt to always draw through them twice, as that allows for a smoother mark, although you are hitting diminishing returns in some ellipses because you're drawing through them too many times, causing them to look messy and too loose, so try your best to only draw through your ellipses 2-3 times. It's good to see that you're aware of the ellipse degree shift and making use of it in your constructions, which helps these structures feel more solid and believably tridimensional.

Plant Construction Section

And lastly let's take a look at your plant constructions, where before anything else it's crucial to point out that you did not follow the requirements for the homework assignment. As stated in the homework page your submission should consist of 8 plant construction pages, and if you wish to include your attempts at the demos it should make up no more than half of your total pages, so in this case it would have been 3. However you've submitted 13 pages of plant constructions, almost double what was requested, with 7 of those pages, more than half, being made up of your attempts at the demos.

Drawabox as a resource prioritizes offering free exercise based lessons and affordable feedback to students on the paid track. In order for this to be possible there are a couple of things Drawabox does to subside it's cost of feedback, besides the ones explained in this page, there are other techniques we use such as reusing pieces of text as well as standardizing the work students do, and offloading as much responsibility onto the students as possible.

This means that as a student you should only complete the amount of work assigned, as it was assigned in order to get the most out of this course, as completing more pages means your critiquer will take longer to review your work, but still get paid the same amount, and there's no guarantee that your work will be better if you do more pages. In the case that your work has mistakes that you need to address before moving on to the next lesson the TA reviewing your work or Uncomfy himself will point it out during your critique, and ask for revisions if they are required.

I in no way wish to discourage you as it's very clear you have put a lot of effort into your pages, instead I simply wish to push you into the direction that will allow you to more effectively use your time, while completing less homework, and getting more out of each individual page, what matters here is the quality of the work completed, not the quantity.

Which leads me into my next very important point - you're grinding, which is heavily discouraged. Out of your 13 pages submitted, 8 of them have several attempts at the exact same construction. This is... Less than useful for a couple of different factors.

  1. We are our own worst critics, redoing the same structure over and over again, without getting feedback from a third party who understands the purpose of the exercise more in depth means you'll be focusing on what you think needs improvement, not necessarily what actually needs to be addressed, and you quickly hit diminishing results due to the aimless grinding.

  2. There are generally two things we must allow ourselves when tackling these exercises in order to get the most out of them, these are time and space. In this case you're not allowing yourself enough space when approaching these exercises because you're pre-planning how many drawings you wish to fit on a given page, which artificially limits the space your brain has to work through the spatial reasoning challenges that naturally arise as we tackle these exercises and your ability to thoroughly apply the techniques introduced in the lesson. You would have gained more from doing a single construction per page, spending more time on that single construction and focusing on applying the techniques you've learned previously to the best of your current ability, than you have from spending less time per construction, but doing more of them.

I also need to point out one of the things that leads me to believe you aren't giving each of these constructions as much time as you should have, and it's this little note present in this page that just says "train". Considering that you're also drawing in a stitched sketchbook rather than the recommend loose sheets of paper this leads me to believe that at least a certain amount of your work has been done while you were on the train.

This is not good, drawing while on the train will force you to draw quickly, not allowing you enough time to properly plan your marks and carefullt execute them with the ghosting method, it does not allow you to maintain proper posture, it's not possible to engage your shoulder fully lest you hit the person at your side with your elbow, it doesn't allow you to make full use of the ghosting method because of the shaking, and it doesn't allow you to rotate your page as freely, essentially hindering your abilities and severely limiting how much you're getting out of each study session.

When setting time aside to study, especially something as mentally engaging as Drawabox exercises, it's important that you are in the proper environment and that you are focused on the task at hand. Set time aside to complete your homework in a calm environment so that you can do it without rushing, to the best of your current abilities.

With all of this being said, there are other issues present in your work, mainly your own original plant constructions which are stopping you from getting the most out of this lesson, so here are points that you should address whenever you tackle these exercises again.

  • It's absolutely critical that you're always applying the construction methods and techniques to your work, as they're tools which will help you construct much tighter and solid looking structures.

In this structure you're not following the instructions for how to draw leaf structures, instead you attempt to draw them with ellipses, which stiffens and flattens the structure.

In this construction you're skipping construction steps by not drawing each individual petal by with the leaf construction method, instead your attempt to modify the silhouette of your forms, which is a mistake that flattens and stiffens the structure.

Ease up on your line weight, as it stands you're currently going over your marks several times in order to create thicker lines, but this is not necessary. Just like with all other techniques we use in this course, line weight is also a tool that has specific uses, it shouldn't jump from one form's silhouette to another, as this tends to smooth everything out too much. Kind of like pulling a sock over a vase, it softens the distinctions between forms and flattens the structure out somewhat.

Instead, lineweight should only be used to help clarify the distinction between overlaps, as demonstrated here.

I'm seeing some very faint lines in your work, such as in here. They're very grey and have a certain texture to them unlike fineliners, If these are pencil under drawings remember that this is not something you should be doing in this course, and it will not be accepted in the future.

In the case that it is not pencil, I strongly recommend not drawing earlier phases of construction with a fainter line and later ones with a thicker stroke, as this is going to encourage you to approach construction as though you're redrawing everything at every step. Instead, we're simply building upon the existing structure, modifying what's already there at each stage. There are things that simply won't need alteration, and therefore the marks that defined them from the start should be able to stand for themselves when you're done, without being redrawn or traced over needlessly.

Final Thoughts

It seems to me that while you have put a lot of effort on completing these exercises you would have gained a lot more by paying closer attention to their purposes and how to properly complete them before tackling them head on. As it stands you have missed important information about what the purpose of this lesson is, what the techniques we learn here are for, why all of this is important and how to apply it to your own plant constructions, outside of demos, which is why there's a discrepancy between the quality of your attempts at the demos, which all follow the construction methods and techniques pretty closely, and your own constructions, which vary from really good with only a couple of issues - your page of mushrooms - to constructions which skip various concepts introduced in the lesson.

It seems to me that you haven't fully grasped the concepts this lesson seeks to teach as a result, and will benefit from revisiting this lesson with a higher focus on executing the exercises as they're introduced, rather than focusing on the sheer quantity, or the end result.

As such I'm going to be asking you for some revisions. Please revisit the relevant lesson material, including Lesson 0. Once you're finished, please reply with:

1 page, half of leaves, half of branches.

4 plant construction pages, 1 plant per page.

Next Steps:

1 page, half of leaves, half of branches.

4 plant construction pages, 1 plant per page.

When finished, reply to this critique with your revisions.
6:47 PM, Saturday February 3rd 2024

Hi, thanks for the insightful feedback and apologies for the late response.

Here are the pages: https://imgur.com/a/uGdoF82

12:27 AM, Monday February 5th 2024

Hello Kairos, thank you for getting back to me with your revisions.

Your construction of complex leaf structures is looking much better, but your texture both in here and in your plant constructions can still be improved as you're focusing on a lot of dots, hatching and lines to convey it still, rather than designing them as dynamic shapes and then filling them in.

I also recommend taking a look at the section talking about detail density in the website, currently your detail is pretty evenly spaced in your work, which doesn't give the viewer any place to "rest their eyes" or any focal points of detail.

Your branches are looking okay, but in your plant constructions you're often spacing your ellipses too far apart in stems and branch structures, which causes you to lose control over your marks more often and causes your branches to be inconsistent, as you construct your branches and decide where to place your ellipses ghost your marks and notice how far your arm will go before you lose control over it or it becomes uncomfortable, your ellipses should be placed at points that are far enough that you need to use your shoulder and have a good length of runway between ellipses, but not far enough that you lose control over your marks.

Your plant constructions are looking pretty good, you're making use of the construction methods and techniques introduced in the lesson to great effect.

In general you are doing really well and I believe you are ready for the next lesson. I'm going to be marking this submission as complete. Good luck in Lesson 3.

Next Steps:

Don't forget to add these exercises to your list of warm ups.

Move on to Lesson 4.

This critique marks this lesson as complete.
7:42 AM, Monday February 5th 2024

Thanks again!

8:29 AM, Monday February 5th 2024

Hello again, I wanted to take the opportunity to ask about the textures you are mentioning. I usually default to dots and lines on plants and mushrooms because usually I don't really see "anything". And if I had to see something it would be a porous surface.

Looking into L4 insects with smooth surface and onwards, how could I face these cases without clear textures?


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