Lesson 3: Applying Construction to Plants

5:06 PM, Thursday December 15th 2022

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7:51 PM, Sunday December 18th 2022
edited at 11:56 PM, Dec 19th 2022

Hello Tjudy, I'm ThatOneMushroomGuy and I'll be the TA handling your critique today.


Let's start with your arrows, for the most part here your linework is smooth and confident which helps push the feeling of fluidity that arrows have as they move through space, there are a couple of visible signs of hesitation however, which means your arrows aren't as fluid as they could be. Make sure to always make use of the ghosting method and draw your lines confidently and swiftly, this way you don't allow your brain enough time to course correct as you execute your mark.

Another point you can improve in your arrows is how they're bending unaturally as you're afraid of letting your edges overlap, this is flattening your arrows. If possible grab a piece of ribbon or a long piece of paper and try to twist it and turn it in similar ways to your arrows and you'll see how these objects aren't flexible enough to bend in this manner.

You should think more carefully about the placement of your hatching, sometimes you're adding it to the wrong side of the bend, which is hurting the illusion of depth you wish to achieve in this exercise.

  • Due to how perspective works, objects which are closer to the viewer will appear bigger, and get smaller as they're further away, even if they're the exact same size. Following this logic, an object of consistent depth that is moving away or towards the viewer must gradually change according to the perspective of the scene. As such, the bigger part of the arrow is always going to be the one closest to the viewer, therefore the smaller part of the segment should be the one getting the hatching instead.

As shown in the example page for this exercise, there are many different kinds of arrows that one can attempt when tackling this exercise. Make sure to get out of your comfort zone in order to develop your skills.

And to finish this section, don't leave your arrows open ended, connect the ends of your lines.


Onto your leaves I've noticed that you're struggling to execute this exercise. Your linework here is wavering in confidence which coupled with the fact that your leaves are folding unaturally makes them turn out stiff and particularly flat.

Remember the concepts taught in the arrows exercise of how to make a flat object look and feel tridimensional as they move across the 3D world you create for them, instead of limiting yourself to the depth of the page.

I'd like to remind you of the complex leaf construction method as you don't make use of it in your plant constructions or this page. Make sure not to skip construction steps when drawing more complex kinds of leaves.

Your addition of edge detail is looking pretty decent. You're generally capturing each piece of edge detail with a single stroke, just make sure to always try to work additively whenever possible.

Onto your application of texture to your leaves you're falling pretty short of the concepts and principles taught in Lesson 2. You're adding it very explicitly to your leaves instead of carefully observing your refence and trying to capture that in your page. You can find here some extra notes on how to add texture to leaves.


Moving on to your branches you seem to have a couple of divergences from this exercise, as your branches go on they start to get thinner, make sure to stick with the characteristics of basic branches, cylinders of consistent size with no foreshortening.

Onto your lines there are a couple of different problems I've noticed, the first is that you're not always extending the lines for your branches. The second is that when you do extend your branches, you're not always extending it to the halfway point between ellipses. The third is that in the places where you did extend your lines, you started the next segment where your previous line ended, instead of starting back at the ellipse point. This essentially removes the healthy overlap we wish to achieve in this exercise and that's stressed in the instructions.

Remember how branches should be approached, by starting a segment at the first ellipse and extending it with confidence past the second ellipse, and then ending your line at the halfway point between the second and third ellipses, afterwards you'll repeat these instructions starting your next segment at the second ellipse, then third, and so on until your branch is complete.

And lastly on your ellipses, you seem to be aware of the idea of the ellipse degree shift, this is a great step in the right direction, some of your ellipse's degrees are looking a little bit too consistent which hurts the solidity of your forms, so make sure to always pay attention to your ellipse's and how they're changing in relation to one another in your page. And as a final reminder, make sure to always draw through your ellipses twice, you often don't follow through this step in your smaller ellipses.

Plant Construction Section

First things first, I must mention that you only submitted 6 pages of plant constructions instead of the 8 pages requested in the homework section of the lesson material. This, at least in part, suggests you didn't pay as much attention to the material as you should have.

Continuing on, you seem to be starting to grasp the idea of constructing things in order to utilize the 3D space and make subjects look like real objects with actual volume to them, but the quality of your work is severely impacted because you're often skipping instructions and not utilizing the methods introduced.

One of the first things that stood out to me right away, is the fact that you're often not drawing through you forms.

  • Drawabox seeks to develop your sense of spatial reasoning through the use of exercises which can be essentially thought of as drills. Think of how an athetle might repeat the same set of exercises while training for the olympics, while they won't always execute it perfectly or even well most of the time, what's important is that the theory behind it is correct so that eventually, through the sheer amount of tries and repetition they'll start to develop their skills. By not following instructions or the steps for their exercises an athlete could train themselves wrong and end up not improving as fast as they might otherwise, and in the worst case scenario they could hinder their own improvement or even injure themselves.

Luckily drawing is a mostly safe endeavor, but the analogy still applies. Make sure to follow the instructions as they are written and draw through your forms in order to fully work through the spatial reasoning challenges that arise when tackling these exercises by completely drawing all of your forms and thus, establishing how all of them relate to one another in a tridimensional space.

Another issue is how you're not completely applying the methods introduced in the lesson due to the fact you're not drawing through your forms.

For example, here the fact that you didn't draw through your forms means the leaf construction method could not be fully applied, this causes your leaves to look stiff and awkward. Since they weren't drawn through, the relationships between each form are left vague, which flattens the drawing.

Make sure to keep relationships between forms tight and specific, besides drawing through your forms make sure to also always enclose your forms completely. Don't leave your leaves open ended such as in here.

  • It's good that you've drawn the flower pot in your first and second pages around a minor axis, this helps with keeping your various ellipses aligned, but don't forget to draw all of your flower pots around a minor axis, you don't do this for the one in your jade tree construction.

I can notice that in many areas you haven't drawn through your ellipses twice, regardless of their size. So make a conscious effort to always draw through your ellipses.

While your edge detail is mostly well applied in your page of leaves, in your actual plant constructions sometimes you're falling into the trap of zigzagging your edge detail.

For your page of strawberries, you're jumping into complexity too soon by immediately trying to capture the complex form of the strawberry, instead of starting with simpler, more primitive forms, this, along with your use of texture ends up flattening your overall construction.

Don't fill in large areas of black in your pages such as in here as it obscures the underlying construction, making it hard to evaluate your homework assignment. It also doesn't follow the principles of texture introduced in lesson 2. Texture in Drawabox is based on cast shadows, large areas of black like this break the concepts of drawing implicitly.

Continuing on the topic of texture, your plant construction pages still have the same problems present in your page of leaves.

Texture in the context of this course is also extension of the concepts of construction. In a lot of ways they're the same concept, with construction being focused on the big and primitive forms that make up different objects, with texture simply being focused on conveying to the viewer the small forms that run along the surface an object, if it's thick and rugged, or if it's smooth and sharp, essentially texture is a form of visually communicating to the viewer what it would feel like to run their hands across that object's surface.

None of this has to do with decorating any of our drawings, what we draw here is based on what's physically present in our construction. As introduced here in what are essentially the "principles" of texture in Drawabox and how it is used in the course, we can notice that we should focus on each individual form and how it casts a shadow on neighboring surfaces, understanding how each individual form sits on a 3D space, and closely analyzing all of this information present in our reference to be able to translate it to our study.

The shape of this shadow is important as it's the shape that defines the relationships between the form casting it and the surface it's being cast on, only after careful observation can we understand how to best design a shadow shape that best conveys the texture of an object, as well as how that shadow would be affected by the surface it's being casted on, as a shadow cast on a round surface will be round, while a shadow on a plain smooth surface will suffer less distortion to it's original shape.

This approach is of course much harder than basing our understanding of texture on other methods that may seem more intuitive, but in the long run this method of texture is the one who enforces the ideas of spatial reasoning taught in this course. By following these ideas and as you keep applying it to your work, you'll find yo urself asking how to convey the texture in the most efficient way possible, with less lines and ink, focusing more on the implicit mark-making techniques introduced in Lesson 2. Going forward here are a couple of final reminders of how texture in Drawabox is approached.

Final Thoughts

You have a lot of improvement ahead of you, and by not following the exercises as closely as they should be followed you're falling into many traps that are harming your development as an artist.

Based on this, along with the missing 2 pages, I'm going to be assigning you some revisions.

I heavily suggest that you check out the demos for this lesson and at your own time, go through them as they introduce new concepts and explain more in depth how to apply the methods learned in the lesson to actual plants.

Next Steps:

1 page, half of leaves, half of branches.

4 plant construction pages, no texture.

When finished, reply to this critique with your revisions.
edited at 11:56 PM, Dec 19th 2022
12:14 AM, Monday December 19th 2022
edited at 12:35 AM, Dec 19th 2022

This lesson has already been critiqued by a different person, so I am not sure what to do at this point.

Lesson three's exercises, especially the plant construction exercises, are not as thoroughly explained as the exercises of other lessons. I looked at a lot of submitted assignments to get an idea of what was to be expected, but I did not hit the mark. The person who reviewed my work before you did (AHMEDHASSAN02) was more concerned with arrows than the plant constructions, so there seems to be some inconsistancy issues that the proctors may want to address.

Regardless, I appreciate your feedback and see that my constructions need more effort. I am not arguing against redoing the lessons. Which review should I be working with?

edited at 12:35 AM, Dec 19th 2022
12:22 PM, Monday December 19th 2022
edited at 12:25 PM, Dec 19th 2022

It looks like the other person who sent me a critique was responding to the HW set that I put into the sketchbook before I had enough credits to submit it for official critique. It just so happened that that person gave a critique one day before you did. You critique is much better and more thorough.

May I please tackle each of the exercises one at a time and get a little feedback? Here is a set of leaf drawings. I concentrated more on applying the texture process than I did previously. A challenge for me is trying to depict the difference between shadow and pigment. For example, the holly leaf (with the spiny edges). The overall pigment of the leaf is dark green while the veins are light green. This is not a contrast caused by shadow. Looking at the luminance range on the reference photo there is definitely areas of the leaf that are brighter (appears as glare) and darker. But even the brighter glare areas are dark in pigment. I was having a hard time ignoring pigment and only trying to draw the areas without glare as shadows and leaving the glared areas with no shadow. My brain is wired to see color contrast!

I hope that these are better...



edited at 12:25 PM, Dec 19th 2022
12:27 PM, Monday December 19th 2022
edited at 12:28 PM, Dec 19th 2022


For some reason the link will not open for me... Please let me know it if will not open for you.


edited at 12:28 PM, Dec 19th 2022
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9:44 PM, Monday December 19th 2022

Just popping in here - we do not have the resources for TAs to critique work piecemeal, and so you do need to submit everything together, as assigned. While that puts more work on you (in terms of giving you more room to end up making the same mistakes more than might feel necessary), it is necessary to put that on the student (as explained here in Lesson 0) due to the extremely low price at which our feedback is offered.

As to the link issues, you're reversing the link formatting. You can either just add the link without any formatting, or you would use [label text](your url).

When all your revisions are completed, please reply to Mushroom's critique with all of the work combined in one post. Also, note that replies to your own post do not notify the TA.

12:44 PM, Tuesday December 20th 2022


Thank you for your constructive feedback. I do have a few questions I hope that you have the time to help me with.

Branches... "as your branches go on they start to get thinner, make sure to stick with the characteristics of basic branches, cylinders of consistent size with no foreshortening." I understand that your comment addresses the branch exercise specifically. As for drawing branches in the plant constuctions, that method of branch construction would result in a more flat image. How do we draw branches in 3-D space without foreshortening or making the branches narrower as they move deeper into the picture away from the viewer? Also, branches naturally taper from thickest at the node to thinnest at the tip, regardless of the direction of growth. Branches also twist and turn, so the ellipse degree shift would fluctuate, wouldn't it? For example, if a branch crosses the field of view at a right angle to the viewer without changing depth, the degree shift would be wide-narrower-narrow-wider-wide. If that branch then turned away from the viewer and traveled towards the horizon, wouldn't the degree shift change to wide and decrease in size as it moves further from the viewer? If you draw a cylinder viewed perfectly from one end, it would look like two concentric circles. As that cylinder turns the circles become ellipses that overlap until the degree of view changes enough that the ellipses are narrow enough not to overlap. Shouldn't the construction of branches have the same effect?

11:13 PM, Tuesday December 20th 2022

Hello TJudy, thank you for replying to me with your revisions.

Firstly I'd like to address your questions. You're approaching these exercises from a different angle than which is necessary for these lessons. Your questions are all focused on how to draw plants and how to make them the most accurate to your reference picture, but this isn't the purpose of these exercises, even though we draw things like plants, insects, cars, these exercises aren't lessons on how to draw these things specifically, we're using these structures as objects of study in order to develop our sense of spatial reasoning, in this case, the methods and techniques introduced in the lesson are the most effective for developing our abilities even if they don't end up being the most accurate to the object we're drawing.

Foreshortening isn't especially significant at the scale at which we're working for these plants since this kind of foreshortening will be more relevant for structures such as trees, with enough long and twisted branches to have this kind of foreshortening present,tht we don't use trees as objects of study in thid lesson, so for the purposes of how we're using constructional drawing as a generalized exercise (remember the focus is not on drawing each plant perfectly, accurately, etc. but rather to use it as a 3D spatial puzzle that forces us to navigate the relationships between forms in space), you don't need to worry about foreshortening when dealing with your branches here.

Moving on to your revisions, first I need to remind you to pay attention to instructions, part of the revisions I've assigned were 1 page, half of leaves half of branches, you've drawn 1 page of leaves and 1 page of branches.

Onto your page of leaves, your new attempts are a massive improvement upon the original page, they're much more structurally solid and are flowing better, your addition of texture is also a step in the right direction as you follow the concepts introduced in lesson 2 much more closely. I'm also glad to see you experimenting with the complex leaf construction method.

However, this leaf isn't looking very solid as you end up zigzagging your edge detail and cutting back into your original construction, this undermines it and flattens the drawing.

Your attempt at branches is also looking much better, just make sure to cap off the ends of your branches, don't leave your branches open ended as that reminds the viewer that these are just lines on the page, instead of real solid structures.

Your pages of plants are also looking much more solid as you apply the feedback you've received and start drawing through your forms and applying the methods introduced more thoroughly.

Don't forget to draw your flower pots around a minor axis.

Something which was present in your original work, although wasn't originally called out as I've felt you fixed it in your later pages but is present again in your revisions is the fact that you're sometimes pre-planning how many plants you want to fit on a given page, while it is admirable that you want to get more practice out of each page, this sometimes ends up being harmful to your improvement as this forces you to draw smaller, giving you less room to work through the spatial reasoning challenges that arise and making it more difficult for you to fully apply the methods introduced in the lesson and to engage your whole shoulder.

As such, I'll be marking your work as complete, good luck in lesson 4.

Next Steps:

Don't forget to keep practicing these exercises during your warm ups.

Move on to lesson 4.

This critique marks this lesson as complete.
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