Lesson 4: Applying Construction to Insects and Arachnids
9:29 PM, Thursday July 30th 2020
be free to critique
Thank you for your patience - you submitted just after my cut-off on Thursday, so you ended up waiting a fair while. These days I'm trying to do all my critiques in bulk, twice a week (generally thursday and monday). As I've got quite a few to get through today (something like 23 submissions), let's get started.
Your work on the organic forms with contour lines are coming along well, though there are just a couple things to keep in mind:
In some cases you're doing a good job of shifting the degree of your ellipses as you slide along the length of a given sausage form, although there are some (like the top of the first page) where they remain consistent throughout. I do believe you understand the idea of how they ought to be changing (getting narrower/wider as we slide along the form), just make sure you continue to think about it more actively when drawing your contour lines.
Most of these adhere to the principles of simple sausages, although some definitely stray from them here and there. It's normal to have mistakes, but always strive to achieve a sausage that is essentially two equally sized spheres connected by a tube of consistent width.
Overall I'm quite pleased with how you've approached your insect drawings. There are a few issues I want to address, but all in all I think you're demonstrating a well developing grasp of 3D space, and how your forms interact with one another within it to create more complex objects.
For this drawing, two main things come to mind:
First off, make sure you're applying the sausage method. Here you seem to have tried to stick to it with some of the front legs, but ended up using tubes in the back side. Overall, the sausage method is about three specific steps: using "simple" sausages as described previously, letting them overlap a good deal, and reinforcing the joints between them with contour lines. You will run into situations where the legs don't look like a chain of sausages - that's normal. All we're doing here is laying down a solid, 3D structure that will capture both the illusion of solidity and the sense of gestural flow. Once in place, we can add bulk as needed as shown here. Our only focus in this step is putting down a basic armature, and nothing more.
Whenever adding a contour line, always think about precisely what you're trying to achieve from it, and whether or not it is actually necessary. If you look at the form along the back of this insect, the one you wrapped around the thorax, it's actually very well drawn right off the get-go. It establishes a clear relationship in three dimensions with the underlying form, and as such, it appears itself to be 3D and solid. It doesn't actually need any more contour lines, and so the ones you added to it end up accomplishing nothing of significance. It can be very easy to fall into the trap of adding contour lines that don't really accomplish much, so it's important to always consider the specific job we ask of a mark before drawing it, determining whether or not it's required, and how to best go about drawing it so it accomplishes its task to the best of its ability.
Moving onto this ladybug, I want to call some attention to how when you drew the shell, you cut across the silhouette of the original ball form you'd laid down. Remember - construction is all about the idea that every single thing we add to a drawing is a change to the 3D scene. To start, you placed a solid, three dimensional ball form in that world, but when you drew the shell, you treated it like a flat shape on the page. We know this because of how you interacted with it - you allowed your shell to cut across its silhouette, treating it like a 2D shape, and making the drawing as a whole feel more two dimensional. I explain why this doesn't work in these notes about subtractive construction. To put it simply, every single interaction you have with your drawing must occur in three dimensions - the second you allow yourself to slip and treat those forms like they're just flat shapes on the page, is the second you make that clear to the viewer.
We can see similar little hiccups on pages like this one where you cut across the original ball form for the head, and the one for the abdomen, cutting back across those silhouettes to make them a little more similar to your reference image. At the end of the day, it's more important that your drawing look solid and real on its own. It looking like your reference image is a secondary priority.
Aside from these points, I do think that overall you've demonstrated a pretty good grasp of how to combine forms in 3D space, and that you have largely done a good job of working additively in most cases, building 3D forms on top of one another to create more solid, believable structures.
I'll go ahead and mark this lesson as complete. Keep up the good work.
Feel free to move onto lesson 5, but make sure you get a good grasp on the use of the sausage method, as you'll be using it throughout your animal constructions as well.