Lesson 4: Applying Construction to Insects and Arachnids

7:16 PM, Friday January 21st 2022

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Hi, this is the submission for lesson 4 homework.

I didn't do the texture for the last 2, since i think it just undermine my constructional drawing, and i need to solidify my grasp on texture first (i'm doing the 25 texture challenge once per day, i hope that's enough)

Looking forward to the critiques and feedbacks

Best regard,

simple banana

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12:16 AM, Tuesday January 25th 2022

Jumping right in with your organic forms with contour curves, you're doing a good job of sticking to the characteristics of simple sausages, but there are three key issues present here:

  • Firstly, your contour curves themselves are, especially on the second page where you entirely stop overshooting your curves, quite shallow and do not properly convey the sense of the form's curvature. Don't stop overshooting them - and don't be afraid to overshoot them as much as you did back in Lesson 2.

  • Secondly, when we place an ellipse on the tip of a sausage form, it's no different from any other contour line - it's just that when the tip is facing the viewer, we're able to see all the way around that surface, and thus we can see the entire contour ellipse and not just a partial curve. The problem is that you've drawn all of your sausage forms with contour curves that imply that both sides are turned away from the viewer, so there wouldn't be any ellipses at all. Ultimately all of our contour lines must be consistent with one another. Here's a table of different orientations for the same sausage silhouette. Note how the contour lines behave where contour ellipses are present, and where they are not.

  • Lastly, aside from reversing the contour curves' direction in the middle (which is part of how we capture the impression that both ends are turned away), you're not actually shifting the degree of those contour curves at all. As explained in the Lesson 1 ellipses video, the degree of our contour curves should get wider as we move farther away from the viewer along the length of the tube.

Continuing onto your insect constructions, your results are a mixture of clear areas of strength, and some issues, some of which are pretty standard fare, and others that may require a bit more attention to be paid to the lesson material. The main area of strength is that throughout a lot of your work here, you're quite mindful of how the things you're building up exist in 3D space, and that the goal is to build up from a simple state through the addition of yet more simple structures. Now, I say this is the case for a lot of your work, because where you end up jumping between working in 3D and engaging with what you're building up as just a flat, 2D drawing, is where those issues arise.

Because we're drawing on a flat piece of paper, we have a lot of freedom to make whatever marks we choose - it just so happens that the majority of those marks will contradict the illusion you're trying to create and remind the viewer that they're just looking at a series of lines on a flat piece of paper. In order to avoid this and stick only to the marks that reinforce the illusion we're creating, we can force ourselves to adhere to certain rules as we build up our constructions. Rules that respect the solidity of our construction.

For example - once you've put a form down on the page, do not attempt to alter its silhouette. Its silhouette is just a shape on the page which represents the form we're drawing, but its connection to that form is entirely based on its current shape. If you change that shape, you won't alter the form it represents - you'll just break the connection, leaving yourself with a flat shape. We can see this most easily in this example of what happens when we cut back into the silhouette of a form.

This doesn't come up super often in your work, but there are some places where it is especially prominent, like on this one. There I've highlighted in red where you've cut into the silhouette of an existing form, and in blue where you've extended silhouettes out.

Instead, whenever we want to build upon our construction or change something, we can do so by introducing new 3D forms to the structure, and by establishing how those forms either connect or relate to what's already present in our 3D scene. We can do this either by defining the intersection between them with contour lines (like in lesson 2's form intersections exercise), or by wrapping the silhouette of the new form around the existing structure as shown here.

You can see this in practice in this beetle horn demo, as well as in this ant head demo. You can also see this process depicted more broadly in the newer shrimp and lobster demos on the informal demos page.

This is all part of accepting that everything we draw is 3D, and therefore needs to be treated as such in order for the viewer to believe in that lie.

Now, as I alluded to on that same drawing I picked on before, another issue is that I noticed that you seem to have employed a lot of different strategies for capturing the legs of your insects. It's not uncommon for students to be aware of the sausage method as introduced here, but to decide that the legs they're looking at don't actually seem to look like a chain of sausages, so they use some other strategy. 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 - don't throw the technique out just because it doesn't immediately look like what you're trying to construct.

While I won't dwell on this much, I do feel it's worth mentioning that your earlier drawings, such as this beetle and this ant do demonstrate less time being committed to observation of your reference. Your later drawings, however, do improve upon this to varying degrees. Just make sure that even as you work through the basic construction, that you're looking at your reference frequently - almost constantly - as it is from those references that you're going to pull out specifics pertaining to what next form you should be drawing, and what its job is going to be in the larger construction.

The last thing I wanted to mention pertains to your detailed drawings - or rather, the direction/motivation you use to help make decisions on what kinds of marks to make when approaching that detail phase. As a whole, it looks like you're largely focusing on "decorating" your drawings. This unfortunately isn't a particularly clear goal to work towards, as there is no clear point at which one has added "enough" decoration.

What we're doing in this course can be broken into two distinct sections - construction and texture - and they both focus on the same concept. With construction we're communicating to the viewer what they need to know to understand how they might manipulate this object with their hands, were it in front of them. With texture, we're communicating to the viewer what they need to know to understand what it'd feel like to run their fingers over the object's various surfaces. Both of these focus on communicating three dimensional information. Both sections have specific jobs to accomplish, and none of it has to do with making the drawing look nice.

Instead of focusing on decoration, what we draw here comes down to what is actually physically present in our construction, just on a smaller scale. As discussed back in Lesson 2's texture section, we focus on each individual textural form, focusing on them one at a time and using the information present in the reference image to help identify and understand how every such textural form sits in 3D space, and how it relates within that space to its neighbours. Once we understand how the textural form sits in the world, we then design the appropriate shadow shape that it would cast on its surroundings. The shadow shape is important, because it's that specific shape which helps define the relationship between the form casting it, and the surface receiving it.

Now, as a whole the issues I've called out in regards to your insect constructions are things you can continue to work on throughout the next lesson, as they each continue to be just as relevant. I am however concerned about your organic forms with contour curves, as your work currently does not demonstrate that you understand what those contour lines signify. So, I'd like you to do one more page of those to set my mind at ease.

Next Steps:

Please submit one more page of organic forms with contour curves.

When finished, reply to this critique with your revisions.
9:50 AM, Tuesday January 25th 2022

Thank you so much for the critiques , here is the link to the contour lines revisions.


i hope you dont mind if i ask a question regarding texture here.

i actually didn't focus/trying to decorate the drawing while i'm doing textures, i was attempting to capture the cast shadow, but texture like fur, or bug skin is giving me a hard time, so i just draw all the shadow. I know this is probably wrong, and i don't know exactly how to ask this question correctly through words. For texture that has clear and easy to identify cast shadow like "rocky" and "bubbly" texture , i can understand it, but for a texture like fur, skin, plants surfaces, etc, it's confusing which part of it is texture, which part of it is just different colour, which "shadows" should i draw.

i hope i'm not confusing you aswell with my questions. I can't really put it into words.

11:34 PM, Wednesday January 26th 2022

Your organic forms with contour curves are looking much better now.

As to the point about texture, I think a piece that students often miss - and is likely not addressed as clearly as it should be in the current material, something I hope to resolve once my update for the material reaches Lesson 2 - is that texture is at its core about understanding how forms relate to one another in 3D space.

It's very common for students to think that texture is about the big picture, about doing what you can to create the "impression" of a rough surface, a sticky surface, a wet surface, etc. But at its core above anything else it comes down to understanding the specific individual forms that are present in your reference image. The marks we end up drawing are not necessarily just pulled from the reference image and replicated - rather, we observe and identify specific forms, one at a time, and draw the cast shadows we believe they'd cast onto the surrounding surfaces.

This also means that colour is not texture. Colour does not exist in 3D space, and thus it should be ignored in favour of focusing only on what exists in three dimensions. This circles back to the fact that we're not just drawing what we see. We're understanding what we see, as it exists in 3D, and using that information to make our choices. That's the distinction between just "decorating" (drawing what you see and finding reason to add more ink) versus what we're talking about, which is actually more about conveying what's present on those surfaces while using as little ink as possible.

As for fur, being that it's more prominent when we get into animals, we do talk about it in these notes.

Anyway, I'll go ahead and mark this lesson as complete.

Next Steps:

Move onto lesson 5.

This critique marks this lesson as complete.
3:04 AM, Thursday January 27th 2022

thank you for the reply, your explanation was very helpful

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