Lesson 3: Applying Construction to Plants

3:16 PM, Friday September 16th 2022

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8:44 PM, Monday September 19th 2022

Starting with your arrows, you've done a great job of drawing these with a great deal of confidence, which really helps to push the sense of fluidity with which they move through the world. This carries over very nicely into your leaves, where you're capturing not only how they sit statically in 3D space, but also how they move through the space they occupy.

As far as adding edge detail goes however, you're definitely a lot more loose with this than you ought to be, and there's a lot of zigzagging back and forth across the existing edge, which results in much weaker relationships between your phases of construction, especially as we get into the bottom left corner of the page. Remember - what we're doing here is not putting down a rough sketch to use as a guide. We are effectively introducing a structure to the world, as though it were a simple leaf shape cut out of a piece of paper, and as we add edge detail to it or build up its structure, we are actively making physical changes to that existing form. If we want to add spikes to its edge, we're physically adding more pieces of paper to it. If we want to create a wobbly edge, we are physically drooping and lifting sections of its perimeter in 3D space. And if we want to cut into its silhouette, then the lines we're drawing represent the paths a pair of scissors would follow to cut it out, as shown here.

Continuing onto your branches, your work here is generally coming along well, although I do think you could be sticking more closely to the specific instructions laid out here, which demonstrate how each segment should be extending fully halfway to the next ellipse, with the next one starting back at the previous ellipse. This provides a healthy overlap between them of about half the length between ellipses, allowing for a smoother, more seamless transition from one to the next.

Moving onto your plant constructions, overall you're doing well but there are a few points I want to draw to your attention, to help you continue to make the most out of these exercises going forward.

  • When mentioning the leaves earlier, I talked about the relationships between the phases of construction. It's important that we keep these as tight and specific as we can, so that we can allow the decisions we make at each step of construction to stand for themselves, and so we can avoid contradicting them with later marks. To this end, avoid arbitrary gaps - so for example, looking at your daisy demo drawing, there are sometimes gaps between the end of the flow lines and the end of the petal. The petal should end right where the flow line does - even if this deviates from the reference image. The reference itself is really just a source of information, so while you should strive to make all your decisions based on what you see there, once a decision has been made (even if it's not 100% accurate due to the mark coming out differently than intended), do not try to reassert the reference by contradicting those earlier steps.

  • Here you definitely end with somewhat aggressive use of line weight. Give these notes as well as these a reread, as they explain that line weight should be kept subtle and light, and also should be focused primarily towards clarifying how different forms overlap one another, rather than going back over the entirety of a form's silhouette.

  • While it was mildly amusing that you stuck the potato plant demo on the back of a head here, the course is pretty adamant that you should not be doing anything beyond what is instructed (specifically in Lesson 0). You simply never know what might diminish the value of the exercise or demonstration, and you are not in a position right now to identify those distinctions. In this case, as far as the structure of the demo goes, that could have been followed more closely (not a huge deal) but more importantly, filling in the hair behind the plant creates some confusion as to what is meant to be a cast shadow and what is not. This is particularly tricky with this demo because of how we appear to fill in the "negative space" between some of the leaves midway through the demo, but towards the end give those filled areas of solid black context by having the other leaves cast their own shadows. This clarifies that the area that was initially filled is indeed just the leaves casting shadows onto the dirt beneath them, in an area where they're so dense they fill in the negative space entirely.

While the issue with zigzagging edge detail is definitely a concern, I feel that you approach it more correctly throughout your plant constructions, so I'm not going to assign revisions for it. Instead, I'll leave it to you to address those concerns on your own, and will go ahead and mark this lesson as complete.

Next Steps:

Move onto Lesson 4.

This critique marks this lesson as complete.
12:49 PM, Tuesday September 20th 2022

Thank you, Comfy.

Regarding the zigzagging edge details, which ones do you feel have this issue? I really only see it potentially happening in the spiky lower left one; that one was painful to do because the leaf width was so variable that it would go from 0.5 cm to 1.5 cm or more rapidly; I actually did try to add all edges one little mark at a time, but it was super hard to manage since the "arms" sticking off the leaf were also twisting in space; it was very confusing. I did realize part-way through that I wasn't constructing additively, but was cutting into the leaf at times; I tried to be more additive in the plant constructions . . . and also to choose simpler plants.

Regarding the branches, I got a bit confused because I believe the video says to only go one third of the way to the next slice, but then the instructions say half way. I guess I did a bit of both and then also forgot about that sometimes and blew past one or two slices at once. I'll try to be more diligent about extending to halfway.

looking at your daisy demo drawing, there are sometimes gaps between the end of the flow lines and the end of the petal. The petal should end right where the flow line does - even if this deviates from the reference image.

My image deviated heavily from the reference; I wasn't too concerned about precision. I tried to keep in mind to make my petals extend the full length of the flow lines, but sometimes I lost track of them and messed up the execution while focusing on getting those enclosing edge lines to flow through 3D space.

Here you definitely end with somewhat aggressive use of line weight. Give these notes as well as these a reread, as they explain that line weight should be kept subtle and light, and also should be focused primarily towards clarifying how different forms overlap one another, rather than going back over the entirety of a form's silhouette.

This one got so insanely confusing with all the construction lines that I decided it was necessary to go bold so the image could be understood; but I'll try not to bold the entire silhouette for parts that aren't overlapping going forward. I reread the notes you suggested. Thanks for the reminder.

While it was mildly amusing that you stuck the potato plant demo on the back of a head here, the course is pretty adamant that you should not be doing anything beyond what is instructed (specifically in Lesson 0).

I'll admit that I was getting a bit bored by the time I got to this one, and hearing you mention in the video that without context the potato plant could be "floating in space or sprouting out of the back of a head for all we know" (you then proceeded to add some ground detail to give sufficient context) gave me the perfect amusement for myself. I know I would probably get scolded for this one, but it made me laugh and seemed worth it at the time; I'm a bit sorry for ruining the learning value for that plant.

This leads me to a question about the 50% Rule. Does the time we spend drawing for promptathons count towards our "playing" time? I recall you mentioning that in addition to giving you a break, promptathons were a chance for people to catch up on all the 50% Rule debt they had accumulated (though I suspect that this was only a supporting point to help justify the break). I try to follow the rule and don't have any "debt"; so when the promptathons happen, it actually puts me into a surprus of playing time and I end up with a big "learning" debt (about 30 hours' worth in the case of the last promptathon; I finally just worked that off this weekend; I'm finally balanced again and will start to alternate learning and playing more regularly).

6:22 PM, Wednesday September 21st 2022

In the future, definitely lean towards brevity where possible. Sticking to just the questions you'd like to have answered is going to help a great deal in allowing me to address them efficiently, as opposed to having to pick through it all. I understand that by nature you're quite conversational, but it unfortunately does take more time than I have on hand to parse out the questions and ensure nothing gets left out, and I do have quite a few critiques to handle in a given day.

So, forgive me if I missed anything.

Regarding the zigzagging edge details, which ones do you feel have this issue?

It's most prominent in the bottom left corner, but it's present across the majority of your leaves to varying degrees. For example, here on the right side of the page. While being sure to draw each bit of edge detail with separate marks is important, what you appear to be missing is the necessity of having these edge details flow seamlessly out of and back into the existing edge.

Here's a diagram I drew for another student - note what I've written towards the upper right, and the bits I added in purple to show the difference in how much of a relationship the edge detail has with the previous stage of construction.

Regarding the branches, I got a bit confused because I believe the video says to only go one third of the way to the next slice, but then the instructions say half way.

I just rewatched that section of the video, and found that while the video doesn't actually say specifically how far to extend the edge segment, you may have misunderstood "from the first ellipse, through the second, towards the third". I am referring to the first, second, and third ellipses here.

Does the time we spend drawing for promptathons count towards our "playing" time?

Yes, that is one of its specific purposes. To show students how they can draw for the hell of it, and not get bogged down on how it turns out, what to draw, etc.

8:29 PM, Wednesday September 21st 2022

Thanks, Comfy. Sorry for the length.

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