Lesson 3: Applying Construction to Plants

5:59 PM, Saturday October 22nd 2022

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Im sure I'll need revisions. Glad Comfy is reviewing my work tho.

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9:19 PM, Monday October 24th 2022

Starting with your arrows, you're doing a good job of drawing these with confidence, which helps to establish the sense of fluidity with which they move through the world. That said, right now it does seem like you're hesitant to allow the gaps between the zigzagging sections to compress as much as they ought to due to foreshortening/perspective, causing them to feel like they're getting longer and more spaced out as they get further away from us. You may want to review this section. Note how the far section overlaps itself a lot, and compare that to how you tend to approach yours.

Carrying onto the leaves, the confidence from your arrows carries over here somewhat, but I do think more attention to how the flow line represents the manner in which the leaves move through all three dimensions of space will be helpful. One thing that can make a surprising amount of difference here is adding a little arrow head to the ends of your flow lines - it can help to create that mental link between the flow line and what its purpose is meant to be. I saw you using the arrow head in one case, but try applying it more generally, and always focus on the idea that the flow line represents motion and movement.

When it comes to building upon your leaf structures to add edge detail and complexity, there are some issues. In the upper left of the page, with the little spiky protrusions, you handled these well - adding each one as a separate stroke, rising off and returning to the existing edge. In other cases like this one however, you appear to treat the earlier phase of construction as something to be replaced by the later phases. This is incorrect.

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.

I'd also note that the manner in which you're approaching this more complex leaf does not follow all the steps outlined here - most notably, you're not building up smaller individual leaf structures for each "arm".

Continuing onto your branches, your work here is coming along, although you could stand to follow these instructions more closely - noting how each edge starts at one ellipse, continuing past the second, and stopping fully halfway to the next ellipse. You tend to forget to extend them far enough, and also tend to start your next one farther along, instead of starting back at the previous ellipse.

In addition to this, keep in mind that the degree of our ellipses corresponds to the orientation of that cross-sectional slice relative to the viewer, as discussed back in Lesson 1's ellipses video. This results in them generally getting wider as they move farther away from us. Right now you're maintaining a consistent degree, which is incorrect.

So far, this does suggest that you will want to reflect on exactly how you're going through the material available to you, as you do appear to be missing some important points.

Continuing onto your plant constructions, I have a few points to call to your attention:

  • The petals on this plant are skipping steps - the cut into the tip of each one is complexity that should be built up to, rather than jumped to all at once. Instead, you'd start with a simpler leaf without the cut, then add the cut to it afterwards.

  • For flower pots, you tend to oversimplify them into basic cylinders, but there's more to them than that. Flower pots at minimum would require another ellipse inset within the opening to establish the thickness of the rim (as they're not paper-thin), as well as another ellipse to establish the level of the soil. It helps to construct them around a central minor axis line to align them all to one another.

  • Also, don't allow a form to be cut off along the side of a page - instead, cap it off. So for example, in this case you'd cap the flower pot off with another ellipse to avoid leaving it open ended, which reminds the viewer that we're looking at lines on a page, instead of a solid 3D form.

  • I called out the issue with the degree shift in your branches, though I did want to point out that we see that same issue here in the vase/pot. The base should be the wider ellipse, with the top should be narrowest due to being closest to the viewer. Also, I would draw full ellipses where you'd drawn partial curves, just to ensure that you get the curvature right. When drawing partial curves however, do be sure to engage your whole arm from the shoulder to help you get the shape right.

  • I also noticed that you represented some of the stems on this plant with lines, rather than forms. Don't do this in the future - a line simply doesn't convey enough to be interpreted as a solid, 3D form.

Lastly, I wanted to point you to these reminders in regards to texture - right now, especially on your leaves, you tend to approach texture more as arbitrary decoration (just drawing what you see in your reference on the page as lines), suggesting that you've forgotten that texture is about understanding the nature of each little textural form, so that we can then design a specific shadow shape based on its relationship with the surfaces around it. It's not merely a matter of observing and drawing what you see.

All in all you're really not that far from doing a really solid job here, but you may want to reflect on why some important points were missed - especially in relation to the leaves exercise and the branches. The revisions I assign below will be focused on these, along with a couple plants to demonstrate your application of those concepts.

For what it's worth, this video in Lesson 0 does specifically state that you should not include anything self deprecating in your submission comments - but more importantly than that, if you do genuinely feel like you will be assigned revisions, then you need to ask yourself specific questions about why that is. It's very common for students to simply say that as an overarching, blank, largely non-specific and meaningless statement out of a pure need to self-deprecate, but it sometimes belies an underlying feeling that maybe you didn't give every aspect of the task - from going through the instructions patiently and carefully, to constructing each form, drawing each shape, and executing each mark to the best of your current ability - as much time as they individually required. Of course, only you can know that - but if you feel the urge to tear yourself down, it's important that you reflect on why.

Next Steps:

Please submit the following:

  • 1 page, half of leaves, half of branches

  • 2 pages of plant constructions

When finished, reply to this critique with your revisions.
6:24 PM, Tuesday October 25th 2022


About the leaves, are the lines coming out from the middle even neccessary? I looked at someone elses work that passed and they didnt include them at all. And is this also what you meant by texure being decoration? Thanks for your time Comfy.

4:02 PM, Wednesday October 26th 2022

If by the lines coming out of the middle you mean the ones drawn coming off the flow line, then no - they're not necessary. I expect that when the overhaul of the demo material reaches this lesson, I won't be including them in the updated videos. They're more an artifact from the days when the specific approach to texture we employ here (which is summarized here) was not as clearly defined.

Most of your leaves are demonstrating a better approach to adding edge detail and building upon the existing structure, although your approach for this one doesn't really align with the approach described in the lesson. I would probably approach it more like this.

Continuing onto your branches, you still appear to frequently stop your edge segments short of extending fully halfway to the next ellipse, as shown here.

As to your plant constructions, these are looking okay for the most part, although there are a few concerns I want to call out:

  • Your flower pot on the second plant starts with a very wide ellipse at the top, then gets narrow in the middle, then gets wide again at the bottom. This suggests you're not quite grasping the relationship between the ellipses' degree corresponds to the orientation of the circle it's meant to represent in 3D space. Refer back to the Lesson 1 ellipses video which explains this concept.

  • On that same flower pot, I noticed that you did not address the point I'd raised in my previous critique, where you should be defining the thickness of the flower pot's rim by including another ellipse set within the one you used for the opening.

  • Reserve your filled shapes of solid black for cast shadows only, when doing drawings for this course. Don't fill things in that are dark in your reference image without considering whether that dark area is the result of the object itself simply being darker in colour, whether it's the result of form shading (which as discussed here is to be ignored for our drawings in this course), or whether it's actually the result of a shadow being cast from one form onto another surface.

Now there are a number of things here for you to keep in mind, but I am going to mark this lesson as complete, and leave you to address them on your own.

Next Steps:

Move onto Lesson 4.

This critique marks this lesson as complete.
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