Lesson 4: Applying Construction to Insects and Arachnids

8:26 PM, Monday June 7th 2021

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9:31 PM, Monday June 7th 2021

Starting with your organic forms with contour curves, while these aren't that far off from being done well, the key problem is that they're done sloppily. Your markmaking here is quite rushed and doesn't show the control that comes from appropriate use of the ghosting method - specifically investing time into the planning and preparation phases. You simply need to slow down - not in your execution, but in taking the time to work through all of the appropriate stages to ensure that every single mark is executed to the best of your ability. Also, make sure that you're executing these marks from your shoulder.

Beyond that, there are a few other things to keep in mind here:

  • While some of your sausages do adhere to the characteristics of simple sausages as described in the instructions, most of them appear to deviate a little - most notably with one end coming out smaller and more stretched out, instead of keeping the ends of your sausages equal in size, and circular in shape.

  • Your contour curves appear to maintain roughly the same degree as they slide along the length of the sausages. These should be shifting wider/narrower instead, as explained in the lesson 1 ellipses video.

Moving onto your insect constructions, you are indeed still kind of loose with a good deal of your linework, but aside from that you are doing quite well. Your constructions in most regards are solid and believable, and you're demonstrating a good grasp of how the forms interact with one another in 3D space. There are a few issues which I'll address, and I know for a fact that you can do better by simply taking more time, but all in all this is coming along fairly well.

The first thing I wanted to discuss comes down to how we look at our drawing, how we understand what it is we're creating, and how we interact with it in order to best reinforce the illusion that this thing is solid, tangible, and real. Now obviously, we're drawing lines on a page. We can draw whatever lines we want - but not all such lines will necessarily work towards our goals. Given all this freedom, it's actually a problem - where if we were physically drawing on the surface of a ball, our pen would run along its surface, curving through the world, if we were to try to do the same with a ball we'd drawn on a piece of paper, it'd be extremely easy to contradict the curvature of that surface with any marks we add.

In order to ensure that we reinforce the illusion we're trying to create, it helps to abide by certain rules. For example, throughout this process we have to build upon our constructions in successive stages - ensuring that the things we add to our constructions exist as solid, complete, enclosed 3D forms only will help us continue to reinforce the illusion we're selling to the viewer, and will also help us believe that what we're drawing is 3D. Conversely, if we interact with the drawing as though it is just a series of lines and shapes on a flat page - adding one-off lines, or partial flat shapes without establishing how the addition exists in 3D space, we risk contradicting our construction and undermining it.

Here's a pretty good example - if we just cut into the silhouette of a form, once it has been added to our construction, we'll end up flattening it out. We could cut along its 3D surface, breaking the form itself into two distinct 3D pieces - but this sort of subtractive construction is something that generally works better when dealing with geometric construction.

The same sort of thing can happen when working additively, however. We can end up extending the silhouette of a given form by just adding lines or partial shapes to it - but in doing so, we redefine the silhouette and flatten it out.

Drawabox as a course is always evolving, and this is a concept I've started sharing in my critiques for this lesson more recently - it's going to be integrated into the course material and the videos specifically as part of the overhaul I'm currently working through, but because it's a relatively new addition, there are cases where I've extended the silhouettes of forms in my own demos - like in the scorpion demo, specifically in the little spikes we've added to its claws. By drawing them as little triangular shapes, rather than solid forms whose relationship with the larger claw structure is defined, we end up balancing in this world between 3D and 2D, a world where it's easy to undermine the illusion we're creating.

For a better example, you can take a look at how I added the little protrusions to the claws in this lobster demo. The specific lobster claw demo also shows how to handle the protrusions, though that demo's earlier steps actually has some incorrect subtraction as well. The two demos at the top of the informal demos page have a lot of good examples of purely additive construction, and you can find more about it in this informal demo from lesson 3.

As a whole though, you actually adhere to this pretty nicely. I'm seeing you wrapping complete forms (that is, completely enclosed silhouettes) around the existing structure of your insects, defining a strong relationship between them. That said, the looseness you end up with on some of your drawings - especially those you ended up drawing smaller on the page - does contribute to a similar looseness which can break the overall illusion of solidity. As such, I felt it was important to explain this in more specific terms. Here's a few additional demos with strong additive principles:

Note how both of these demos, along with the shrimp and lobster demos all have very specific markmaking. I'm not being loose with my lines, I'm ensuring that every single one falls precisely where I want it to. I'm employing the ghosting method, and drawing from my shoulder to allow for both confident strokes, and control. All of this comes together to produce solid structures.

The last thing I wanted to mention is that while you're clearly attempting to use the sausage method across all your constructions, there are some deviations from simple sausages, and you appear not to define the joint between the sausages with a contour line. Each step in the process is important, so don't neglect them. Furthermore, 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 here, here, in this ant leg, and even here in the context of a dog's leg (because this technique is still to be used throughout the next lesson as well). Just make sure you start out with the sausages, precisely as the steps are laid out in that diagram.

Now, before I mark this lesson as complete, there are some minimal revisions I want you to do - mainly because I know you can do better, and your sole responsibility as a student in this course is to submit work that is done to the absolute best of your current ability. You'll find them listed below.

Next Steps:

Please submit:

  • 1 page of organic forms with contour curves

  • 1 page of insect constructions

Sometimes students have the misconception that they're supposed to get their drawings done in a certain amount of time - in a day, in a sitting, etc. All of this is wrong, and based on nothing. You spend as much time as you require to execute that drawing, and every individal component within it, to the absolute best of your current ability. Whether it takes a sitting, a whole day, a week, it doesn't matter.

When finished, reply to this critique with your revisions.
10:10 PM, Tuesday June 8th 2021
edited at 10:11 PM, Jun 8th 2021

Thanks a bunch for your in depth critique! Here are my revisions.


edited at 10:11 PM, Jun 8th 2021
1:07 AM, Wednesday June 9th 2021

This is definitely a big step in the right direction! Your one insect construction is much more concise in its markmaking, and as a whole feels quite solid. Do remember that the sausage method (as described in its diagram here) does mention that you shouldn't be adding contour lines through the length of those sausages, instead concentrating them only at the joint between sausages. Also, keep working on getting the ends of your organic forms with contour lines to be more circular in shape, avoiding having them stretch out.

Anyway, I'll go ahead and mark this lesson as complete. Keep up the good work!

Next Steps:

Feel free to move onto lesson 5.

This critique marks this lesson as complete.
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