Lesson 4: Applying Construction to Insects and Arachnids

9:44 AM, Monday January 31st 2022

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I have a big problem with texture, so if anyone could give me some some tips I'd greatly appreaciate it. Specifically, on some insects the cast shadows blend with the form shadow. Since we're not supposed to draw form shadows, this makes it hard to make a gradient out of cast shadows and they just end up floating in the air looking ugly.

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5:40 PM, Wednesday February 16th 2022

Hi HFO1! I'll be reviewing your submission:

Organic forms with Contour Curves:

There's a couple of issues here. First, the homework asked for contour curves, not ellipses, so there's that. Second, while your sausages have the right form and you get the general purpose of the ellipses, your line is still a bit wobbly, your ellipses don't always fit the sausage, and there are contradictions between the turning of your ellipses and the poles you establish on your sausages. Remember that the ellipses/curves are there to tell us how the sausage turns in 3D space, so it's important that you are consistent with them.

Insect Drawings - Construction:

In general, you're relying less on constructing the insects than trying to replicate the forms that are there by observation. For example, in the ant drawing, you can't see how the different parts of the body intersect; in the case of the head, you didn't use a cranium sphere, instead you used two circles on which you attached the eyes, jaws and antenna. While your jaws are well constructed and have that 3D sense we're looking for, the two base circles end up diminishing the whole construction, as they look flat.

In the case of the background legs, you can't see where they join the body, and you should. Also they're hatched; it's not ideal that you do that (I know they appear like that in older lessons, but the idea is to work with the model of the more recent ones).

Speaking of legs, your sausages started not being sausages at all, but at the last drawings they start to look that way and actually intersect within each other, good job on drawing that intersection as well. Keep on doing that, as the intersections reinforce the 3D illusion, do it for all the visible legs, even for the ones on the background.

A thing I see constantly is that your base forms lack: 1. curves that reinforce the 3D feel and 2. the intersections between them. This makes the drawing look cleaner, but suppress the 3D illusion, and you end up relying on the detail alone to salvage it.

Your main problem is that you are not adding forms to the construction, instead, you're making lines based on observation. That way, your drawings end up looking nice (a lot better than mine), but they lack the very thing we're working on this course.

For example, take this one. You simply added the shell with a couple of lines, and let the detail do the rest. But if you look closely, the bottom section lacks parts and forms that are present in the original picture , and so in your drawing that section just looks flat, and makes the whole shell construction fall apart, if you ignore the detail. It wouldn't be such a problem if you made it like the louse example, where you can see how the shell intersects with the rest of the construction (and then you build forms and shapes around the shell), but instead it just looks like lines added by observation.

This happens with your legs as well. If you see the wasp demo, you can see how the ball forms on the legs end up always intersected by other forms, or at least with a contour curve that defines how it intersects with the legs, and so it gains that 3D feel. In your case, almost all of the sphere forms that you added to the legs don't feel like it, because of this lack of form intersection. Here you did it pretty good on the legs, but there are other problems as well.

The flat line that goes over the abdomen really demolishes the 3D illusion, that's why we use the contour curves to define the roundness of these forms. When you add any mass over your constructions, you should think like this as well, about how the forms wrap around the body, legs, etc. Look at the lobster demo and work with that when you add masses to your legs, because another issue is that you're adding spheres to legs when a simple mass would be enough.

Insect Drawings - Texture:

Your textures are pretty great, overall. I would encourage you to be more subtle though; in your second to last drawing, while the texture looks awesome, the amount of pure black that appears in it doesn't really match the cast shadows present in the photo. In Discord/Reddit you can look for people that can help you with the cast shadow problem you're asking about. I'm not that good with texture, so I can't really help you with that. Lastly, try not to rely on them to make your drawings 3D. As Uncomfortable said, we're not here to make pretty drawings, but exercises on construction.

Revisions:

I'll ask that you make:

1 page of Organic Forms with Contour Curves. Don't forget to be confident and fluid with your lines.

2 insect drawings, without any detail. Apply all the revisions, construct your drawing form by form, and don't worry about it looking messy. It will, but that's the point. When it comes the time to distinguish one form from another, use lineweight.

That would be it, I'll be around if you have any questions. Good luck!

Next Steps:

  • 1 page of Organic Forms with Contour Curves.

  • 2 insect drawings, without any detail.

When finished, reply to this critique with your revisions.
5:40 PM, Thursday February 17th 2022

Thank you very much for the long critique! Before I move onto the revisions, I want to ask a few questions. I understand everything because you explained it so eloquently, this is just to be 100% certain on some things.

  • How would you go about constructing the two bumps on the head of the ant when making the cranium into a sphere? I assume the answer is not cutting into the form, as that would undermine the construction. I also assume the correct answer would be to just build them up from the cranium, however that requires 2 very accurate long curves.

A thing I see constantly is that your base forms lack: 1. curves that reinforce the 3D feel

  • Been a while since I've read the lesson, but if I remember correctly it was said that "we should use natural contour curves instead of forced ones where it's possible" (for example shells). Is that also outdated or should I use both of them always? Btw regardless of your answer, I do see a lot of areas where I should have used them, like the back of the ant for example.

The flat line that goes over the abdomen really demolishes the 3D illusion

  • What should we do with the contour curve if we're looking at the insect from perfect side view? I remember that being the question in my head when I was constructing that one, I didn't see it mentioned anywhere.

This question is unrelated to your critique: Do you know why we're supposed to use only one pen? I think it would help me a lot if I could use both a 0.1 and 0.5 fineliner (.1 for base construction, .5 for refinement and line weight). Some of the smaller areas of insects get really messy for me. I know they're supposed to be messy, but it gets to the point where even I can't tell what's going on anymore.

3:17 AM, Friday February 18th 2022
edited at 3:21 AM, Feb 18th 2022

Hi! Glad I could be of help. Regarding your questions:

I also assume the correct answer would be to just build them up from the cranium, however that requires 2 very accurate long curves.

Yeah, that's the idea. You would make a cranium and then add up the two forms on it (that comes back hard on Lesson 5). I'd handle it like this. Keep in mind that I made the lines with Paint, so your version should accelerate more the lines as they go around the sphere, following its surface.

About the accuracy, remember that it's not about that, our insects don't have to look exactly like the picture. But a good way of improving that is to establish the distance your hand has to reach with little dots, as we did on the boxes. That way, when you make those curves, you have some points of reference. Don't forget to ghost your lines as well.

Been a while since I've read the lesson, but if I remember correctly it was said that "we should use natural contour curves instead of forced ones where it's possible" (for example shells). Is that also outdated or should I use both of them always? Btw regardless of your answer, I do see a lot of areas where I should have used them, like the back of the ant for example.

That's right, but my criticism was pointed towards your basic construction, that's the cranium, thorax and abdomen, those usually lack the contour curves we worked on. You don't have to overdo them, but is a good thing to make those contour lines at the beginning, that way our brain can remember that those are indeed solid, 3D forms, and so, as you build your masses, shells, etc, you can react to the way those forms interact with your base construction.

Like on the louse, you can see that those little lines that align the forms help to define the 3D feel, as well as drawing the intersections between head, thorax and abdomen. Take a look at this for a little reminder.

Of course, we should take advantage of every natural contour curve present in our reference, and don't forget that less is more in these things. A line or two usually do the job just fine.

What should we do with the contour curve if we're looking at the insect from perfect side view? I remember that being the question in my head when I was constructing that one, I didn't see it mentioned anywhere.

Here's an example of the necessity of the contour lines on the basic construction. If you notice, the line that you made ends just where the edge of your original construction ends. Maybe it's just a mistake, and it was a line of the shell that got too far, but since you didn't have any reinforcement on the illusion of 3D form for those underlying shapes, that straight line flattens everything instantly. It's like thepaper example on Lesson 2. Again, my lines are from Paint, yours should accelerate a lot more when approaching the edges.

So, even if you're looking at the insect from a perfect side view, our underlying construction is still an elongated sphere, and so, we can imagine that contour line going over it and following it's curvature just as we would with any point of view.

Something like this (sorry for the stupid cut). I didn't draw any alignment line, because we're looking at the bug from a perfect side view, however, since our basic forms are semi-spherical, we can see those contour lines from any point of view. The blue lines are the intersections, and that more or less would cement the sensation that those are solid, three dimensional forms. With better lines, of course.

And finally, I think that the 0.5 thing is so that we learn to give more relevance to lines just by using lineweight. If we used thinner pens, we wouldn't work on our lineweight at all, and would lose a lot of valuable work on things such as accuracy and the ability of discern what lines go above others in situations like these. I think it's that, you can ask other people too to know their opinions :P

Anyway, that's it! Hope it helps you

edited at 3:21 AM, Feb 18th 2022
12:12 PM, Saturday February 19th 2022

Wow, in my head I imagined the ant cranium sphere being much larger, but that large sphere would only make everything harder. Thanks for all the answers.

Here are my revisions.

Notes:

I know the top sausage curves are a bit too same-y. In the top right sausage, I intentionally made the middle contour curve flatter since I wanted to make the sausage go like this: facing us -> facing away from us -> facing us again. Same with the bottom left sausage. Not saying I succeeded, just explaining my thought process. I tried to copy what Uncomfortable did in this vid (7:47), but now that I look at it again this pattern might just have been an inconsistency. I probably overcomplicated it.

I failed the cast shadow of the first insect. Adding contour curves on the tiny bumps on the back might have been a mistake, but without them the shapes looked flat (I hope they aren't considered detail). Thoughts? I also had trouble representing the bottom part of the abdomen in a 3D way, so I just added a contour curve.

Same on the second insect, the (shell?) had no natural contour curves so I added mine to describe the form. The two circles in the front are probably overkill.

Feel free to assign me additional exercises if you think it's necessary. Also, don't hold back on pointing out repeated mistakes.

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