Lesson 4: Applying Construction to Insects and Arachnids

1:38 PM, Sunday August 2nd 2020

DAB 4 Insects - Album on Imgur

Imgur: https://imgur.com/a/GIUyYg1

Post with 15 views. DAB 4 Insects


I did some notes on the first few pages and then realised I should probably keep those elsewhere. Just ignore them.

The link below is for the reference pictures. Imgur did not sort them in order, despite naming the files 1, 2, 3 etc. Oh well... Hope it is not too much of a bother to find the right one if needed.


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10:58 PM, Monday August 3rd 2020

Starting with your organic forms with contour lines, there are a couple problems that stand out:

  • Most notably, your contour curves often struggle to really push the impression that they're wrapping around the rounded surface of the sausage form. While it's not quite as exaggerated as what's explained in these notes, the solution shown there - overshooting your curves a little - will help a great deal.

  • The second issue is that as these sausage forms get longer (which to be completely honest, they really shouldn't - giant noodles aren't really useful to us in the context of this lesson or any other, so keep them shorter), it starts to become inevitable that the sausage form is moving across our field of vision from one side to the other, instead of moving through the depth of the scene. As such, the wider degrees on your contour curves no longer make sense. It's important that you always try and think about which degree, relative to the orientation of that particular cross-section at a particular point in the sasuage, should be used.

  • Also don't forget to draw through the ellipses at the tips of your sausage forms, as you should be for each and every ellipse you draw in these lessons.

That said, we can move onto your insect constructions which are, by and large, very well done. There are certain aspects of how you've approached certain drawings that I'm not terribly thrilled about, but by and large you've done a good job in demonstrating your understanding of the spatial relationships between your forms, and how to combine them to create solid, believable structures. You also demonstrate a good deal of improvement over the course of the whole set.

So, let's get started with the issues.

The main concern I have is that you're quite notably drawing these with two very different kinds of marks, and from the looks of it, with two different kinds of pens. In doing so you're very much breaking the rules - you are to use one pen, with the same kind of marks. It's not uncommon for students to want to get things roughed in with fainter lines first, before committing, but one of the key components of the course is accepting that we're not here to draw pretty pictures. Our drawings are all exercises, and if you're purposely approaching your construction with the looseness and sketchiness that comes with drawing with a dying pen, or with the hesitation and fear that comes from trying to make purposely faint lines with a normal one, you're sidestepping the opportunity to develop confidence in your linework, and forethought in your approach. For every mark, we consider how exactly it will contribute to the drawing, and to our understanding of how it all sits in 3D space, how it all relates to one another, and how it all comes together. If it doesn't contribute to that, then we don't draw it - and if it does, we draw it with confidence, concisely, using the ghosting method. One stroke for each mark.

Furthermore, when we come back to add line weight, we only do so in minimal, subtle ways, clarifying specific overlaps - not redrawing entire lines, or tracing back over existing linework. Now fortunately you're not showing any of the hesitant tracing that some students do, where their "clean-up pass" comes across stiff and flat, but regardless, you should not be indulging in a clean-up pass in the first place.

The second issue is one more related to what constructional drawing is all about, which is a more reasonable mistake to make, and a good opportunity to clarify things. I actually don't see you making this mistake too often, but the idea is that every single mark we draw when applying construction is a solid, three dimensional form. For example, let's look at #26, your weevil, specifically the ball form you drew for its head. You noticed that the shape of the weevil's "forehead" (if we can call it that) is more sloped, so you cut across that ball form's silhouette to achieve that kind of a shape.

Unfortunately, this action is one that was performed in two dimensions - you cut across the silhouette, which itself is a 2D manifestation of the 3D form. Cutting across a 3D form is an entirely different story, as explained here, and is generally something we avoid in more organic constructions. That leaves us only with additive construction, where we build atop our forms, adding more forms that wrap around that structure - something you've used quite a bit, even with the weevil's shell.

To be completely honest, despite the fact that you approached the constructions with an underdrawing, I'm still very fond of your results. They all look good, but I need to know that you can achieve this confidence and grasp of form without employing these particular tactics. As such, I'm going to ask for one more page of insects, correcting what I've explained above.

Next Steps:

One more page of insects.

When finished, reply to this critique with your revisions.
2:25 AM, Thursday August 6th 2020

Thanks for the feedback and I appreciate that you did found the drawings appealing, albeit missing the mark.

I get your point about the softer/thinner lines. Actually, more than half of them are not with a different pen. I have simply worked a lot with line control and got caught up in trying to push for a light touch. Another factor that is a bit of a bother is that I live in a very dry place and pens dry up far too fast. I simply started rotating pens to get the most of out them (and used the dryer ones for the first lines for some pages, which I get was incorrect in hindsight). Whatever, I realise I diverged from the intended path :)

I have done an additional page with a brand new pen to make sure that I got to work with even lineweight (and pushed it a bit). Hopefully without repeating mistakes


3:31 PM, Thursday August 6th 2020

These are much better, and are far more in line with what I expect to see from these lessons. While the drawings are on the smaller side, they don't show the usual side-effects (with being given less space often hindering some students' spatial reasoning skills and giving them less room to engage their whole arm), but do be wary of that. Fitting 4 drawings to a page isn't really necessary, so if you do end up in a situation where it starts to stiffen up your drawings, or cause you to make clumsier mistakes, don't be afraid to drop to 3, or 2, or even 1 drawing per page.

So! I'll go ahead and mark this lesson as complete.

Next Steps:

Feel free to move onto lesson 5.

This critique marks this lesson as complete.
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Staedtler Pigment Liners

Staedtler Pigment Liners

These are what I use when doing these exercises. They usually run somewhere in the middle of the price/quality range, and are often sold in sets of different line weights - remember that for the Drawabox lessons, we only really use the 0.5s, so try and find sets that sell only one size.

Alternatively, if at all possible, going to an art supply store and buying the pens in person is often better because they'll generally sell them individually and allow you to test them out before you buy (to weed out any duds).

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