Lesson 4: Applying Construction to Insects and Arachnids

1:30 PM, Friday July 10th 2020

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Took longer than I thought.

Tougher when I did the insects other than demo.

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7:55 PM, Friday July 10th 2020

Starting with your organic forms with contour curves, really great work. You've done a great job of mostly sticking largely to simple sausage forms. A couple of them have ends that are a little more stretched out than properly circular, and a couple get a little wider through the midsection but by and large they're still remaining fairly consistent with the characteristics listed in the instructions. You're also doing a great job of wrapping those contour lines around the forms in a convincing, believable manner.

Moving onto your insect constructions, you are for the most part demonstrating a good grasp of how these objects are made up of individual, solid, three dimensional forms, although I am noticing some little hiccups, especially where you start leaning harder into detail. It's not uncommon that when students start adding more detail to their drawings, that they start getting too caught up in the idea that they are creating a pretty drawing to impress themselves and others. That is not the case at all, however. Every drawing throughout this course is just an exercise, and its purpose will always be to develop specific parts of your skillset. As such, while there may be points where you'd rather you not put down a few additional, valuable marks in favour of keeping a surface cleaner (so you can put texture on it later), that is not going to be the right move.

To start, I've gone over your ant drawing and have pointed out a number of issues:

  • First and foremost, you have some instances where you're building out parts of your insect by extending out the silhouette of an existing form, rather than actually building a new, complete form and attaching it to the construction. The bottom half of this diagram demonstrates how every addition you make should itself be a separate 3D form that integrates and wraps around the existing structure. So instead of just bridging the thorax to the head , you should actually wrap a little mass around it to fill out that space. This use of an actual 3D form helps continually reinforce the idea that every component of the drawing is 3D, and therefore the whole object must be 3D.

  • Similar issues in the construction of the head - instead of enveloping the original cranial mass with another larger form, it's better to actually attach a new form onto it, because then we have a much clearer definition of the relationship between the two forms.

  • You're not employing the sausage method correctly here. The technique relies on very specific steps (the use of simple sausage forms, then defining the relationship between them with a contour line placed right at the joint). There are plenty of cases that don't visually match the appearance of a chain of sausages, but that's totally normal. What we're doing here is just the first step - putting down an underlying armature that provides the impression of both solidity and gestural flow. Once in place, we can then add additional forms to build up additional bulk as shown here.

  • Always make sure the forms you're constructing are simple - that is how we establish their solidity. The abdomen, for example, should have started out with a simple smooth ball. If the form was ultimately more diamond-shaped, then that could have been then achieved by adding additional forms as needed, but it's always a step-by-step process, never jumping ahead to greater levels of complexity right off the bat. This does indeed result in more construction lines, but they're an important part of the process.

One other thing I didn't touch upon in the notes I wrote directly on the drawing is the heavy focus on form shading. Every mark we put down on the page is all about communicating something. Through construction, we communicate to the viewer how they could ostensibly pick up the object and manipulate it in their hands. When capturing texture, we communicate what it would be like to run your fingers across its various surfaces. To this point, your drawing contains areas of shading where the purpose has very clearly been to add that shading in a way that serves largely as decoration.

In most cases, form shading is left out of the drawings for this course (for the reasons explained in this section from lesson 2). Shading's primary functional use is to help describe how the objects exist as 3D entities, but we already accomplish that far more effectively through constructional means. The only really feasible way in which shading can be employed is to give us an excuse to sneak in little areas of texture, in the transition portions as we shift from light to dark. This of course would require a more purposeful study of the actual textures present in our insect, and in your drawings, you tend to fall back on something more of a generic pattern of lines - not quite the erratic hatching we usually see from students when they're trying to just get some shading in there, but still not actually reflective of all the complexity and nuance of the textural forms along those surfaces. After all, as learned in lesson 2, our textures are made up of textural forms, and we incorporate them into our drawings by capturing the shadows those textural forms cast. That's not really what you've done here.

Long story short - don't worry about form shading for these drawings, and take greater care in studying the actual textures that are present along the surfaces of your objects if you want to dig into them. This course isn't really about texture, so you are allowed just to leave them be altogether - and for that reason, it is critical that you get your construction down solidly before you even think about whether or not you want to approach any texture or detail.

Now, looking at some of your earlier drawings - especially where you've followed along with the demonstrations - I know that you are capable of doing that. For example, when you followed along with the louse demo, you did an excellent job of building everything out. The only complaint I have there is that you started to try to get into detail, but quickly abandoned that course of action. Maybe you felt that there were too many construction lines for it to have been worth it.

As a side note, I can see that you filled in part of the eyes as being solid black - don't do this in the future. Reserve those filled black shapes only for shadows cast by your forms, not ever to fill in the local colour of a given surface.

Now, all in all I think you're doing pretty well, but I also feel that given more focus on the forms you're constructing and working to keep yourself from getting distracted by the need to make things pretty, I think you can do better. As such, I'm going to ask for a few more pages before we move on.

Next Steps:

I'd like you to do 3 more pages of insect constructions.

When finished, reply to this critique with your revisions.
12:44 PM, Thursday July 30th 2020
2:47 PM, Thursday July 30th 2020

You're definitely improving on your application of construction, and your awareness of how all these forms exist together in 3D space. One thing I do want you to keep in mind as you continue forwards, and to continue working on, is that here I can see that the confidence of your linework has dropped somewhat compared to your initial submission. Remember that executing your marks with confidence is of the utmost importance. The ghosting method exists purely to allow students to do this - to make their marks without hesitation or fear of making a mistake, as explained in this response to another student. That doesn't mean you won't make mistakes - just that you can accept the fact that they happen. Plan and prepare to your best, and then accept the outcome.

Anyway, I'm happy to 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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