Lesson 3: Applying Construction to Plants

11:59 PM, Wednesday December 29th 2021

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I didn't use space on the paper too effectively, so I stretched the plant constructions to 10 pages.

Also, I have some questions about textures. As far as I understand it, textures should have almost a pattern to it, even if it isn't very straightforward like bricks or a net. My approach was to get the "general sense or flow" of the reference and draw that out before adding the smaller shadows, (idk if that makes sense). Like drawing all of the big, important ridge shadows of the fried chicken first, so you can kinda "tell" the flow of it, then going back and including smaller shadows. I included the first two slots of my texture challenge and one of the leaves in my plant construction has a texture. I know it's not construction but I am having some trouble grasping textures.

Thank you

Oh, and I'm still using sharpie fine points, I couldn't find any decent fineliners. Are they still ok to use, or should I hop online for fineliners?

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8:52 PM, Saturday January 1st 2022

Before I get into the main critique, I want to address your two questions first.

In regards to your pens - sharpie fine points are fineliners, so they are acceptable to be used throughout the course. While they're not the best quality you can get, they are entirely serviceable and will get the job done.

In regards to texture, it all comes down to implying the specific textural forms that exist along the surfaces of our objects. Thinking of it in terms of patterns will cause one to focus more on the general sense of what the texture conveys, but in doing so they'll stop focusing on what is specifically there, and will instead rely on much quicker, sloppier approximations that do not really teach us much about what is physically present in 3D space.

What we're doing in this course can be broken into the two distinct sections of 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. Of course, this is naturally time consuming, so students often will slip back towards the approximations unless they actively push themselves not to.

Now, the above is purely based on what you were saying, not your actual work. As it stands your texture challenge work is fine. Lots of room for continued growth (through practice), but I can see that here you are trying to think about the forms that are present, at least towards the left. When you break out towards the right side, you seem to go more into arbitrary marks, rather than focusing your cast shadow shapes where different forms meet, as explained in the diagram for this section, towards the bottom. That said, you do likely fall more into the "pattern" way of thinking when adding detail to your plant constructions.

Getting into the lesson proper, you start out well, drawing your arrows with a strong sense of confidence behind each one. This helps to convey how each one moves through space in a fluid manner, which is present in your leaves as well, where you're not only capturing how they sit statically in 3D space, but actually how they move through the space they occupy. In terms of adding edge detail, your approach is correct, albeit your execution is a little sloppy - you could definitely stand to slow down a little and put more time into the planning and preparation stages of each stroke to avoid gaps or cases where the new stroke does not flow seamlessly back into the existing edge. This is all a matter of time investment, so cast aside any preconceptions of how long things should take you, and focus only on executing each mark to the best of your current ability, using the ghosting method.

Continuing onto your branches, thes eare largely well done, although I am noticing spots where your lines seem to be piling up a fair bit. It is normal and appropriate for there to be areas where two segments overlap - the half-distance between ellipses where one segment flows into the other, as explained here. I am however seeing some spots like this and this where you tend to have additional strokes. This may simply be hiccups from ghosting and accidentally letting your pen touch the page, but they could also be coming from a reflexive itch to automatically correct a stroke by putting another one down. I'll leave you to find their cause, but either way, ensuring that you apply the ghosting method to every mark is the right call, as mentioned above.

Another point I wanted to mention is that I'm pleased to see the variation in the degree of your ellipses, which is being used to create a more natural sense of flow to the branch as it moves through space. One thing to consider however is that when we go full-width on our ellipses (meaning, a high-degree, circular ellipse), it means that the particular slice in question is facing the viewer head-on. This also tells us that as the branch continues on, it's going to do so following that same path until it turns. If we look at cases like this, where there is actually a lot of distance between those circular ellipses, if we factor in the idea that the branch is moving straight away from the viewer in that area, then we're suddenly implying a massive physical distance between those cross-sections. In such a case, you might include more cross-sections (just to bridge that physical gap and convey a more accurate sense of distance to the viewer), or you might bring the ellipses closer together.

Moving onto your plant constructions, you mentioned something in your submission - that you "didn't use space on the paper too effectively". I do have something to say on that point, but I think it might contradict the impression you have.

There are two things that we must give each of our drawings throughout this course in order to get the most out of them. Those two things are space and time. We've discussed the importance of giving each of your marks more time. In regards to space, however, it appears that you are thinking ahead to how many drawings you'd like to fit on a given page. It certainly is admirable, as you clearly want to get more practice in, but in artificially limiting how much space you give a given drawing, you're limiting your brain's capacity for spatial reasoning, while also making it harder to engage your whole arm while drawing. The best approach to use here is to ensure that the first drawing on a given page is given as much room as it requires. Only when that drawing is done should we assess whether there is enough room for another. If there is, we should certainly add it, and reassess once again. If there isn't, it's perfectly okay to have just one drawing on a given page as long as it is making full use of the space available to it.

Looking at the constructions themselves, I do feel that you have a tendency to focus primarily on the core construction, and then not really push beyond that. This may be because of your interpretation of what it means to focus on construction vs. texture. Detail comes in two flavours - there is textural detail, and then there is structural detail. Structural detail is itself part of construction, just as the addition of edge detail to our leaves in the leaves exercise. So, don't be afraid to push that structural detail further, and really take your construction as far as it will reasonably go.

Continuing on, a few other quick points:

  • Do not draw your stems as lines. Lines are not forms, and tell us nothing about the relationships between the forms they're meant to represent and the others around them. Those stems should be drawn using the branch technique.

  • Make sure that you construct your cylindrical structures - like flower pots - around a central minor axis line to help in aligning the ellipses to one another. Also, don't be afraid to go beyond just the basic cylinder - for example, including another ellipse inset within the opening to define the thickness of the rim, another to establish the level of the soil for the stems to intersect with, and so on.

Aside from that, your work is largely coming along well - just be sure to put more time to each stroke, to really execute each one to the best of your current ability. I'll go ahead and mark this lesson as complete.

Next Steps:

Move onto lesson 4.

This critique marks this lesson as complete.
11:24 PM, Tuesday January 4th 2022

Thank you for your response. I do remember some other questions I've had.

I've been drawing diagonal lines without turning the page. Should I continue drawing like that with the following lessons?

Also, in regards to increasing line weight, it's basically retracing a section of a drawn line, using ghosting and making sure they "flow" or "blend" properly back into the line, yes? I've been using my wrist for those so far.

Lastly, something I've noticed and received feedback on on my boxes are that while the parallel lines are converging better, they converge in two pairs a lot. To work on it, I've been ghosting my lines all the way to the VP, but I also get caught up in how far that line should go, since it also depends on other lines.

Something I noticed in the 250 box video is that a line is drawn first, and that is the starting line that will determine the rest of the angles and lengths of the following lines, but I plan out all of the lines in front with dots before drawing them, then when I think they look alright I'll draw out the lines in one go, then the lines in the back. Is there a set position for the VPs before we begin each box, or do they sorta change as the box is drawn out?

I've just been struggling with boxes and I feel like there might be something I'm not getting, or I might be overthinking it.

Thank you.

8:01 PM, Wednesday January 5th 2022

As rotating the page to find a comfortable angle of approach is part of the ghosting method which you should be applying to each and every structural mark you draw here, that is something you are expected to do consistently. I speak of this more specifically in these notes.

As to the line weight, all of those marks must similarly be executed using the ghosting method and from your shoulder (in order to flow smoothly and consistently), just as the original strokes.

Lastly, ghosting your lines further back to identify how they converge is perfectly fine. You can use whatever techniques you wish as the result is a single line that does not go beyond your intended points. You can also plot out as many points as you wish ahead of time - ScyllaStew demonstrates such a technique here.

11:22 PM, Wednesday January 12th 2022

Thank you, that does clear things up.

I got an achievement for "sharing knowledge" but I don't remember doing anything to get it. Is it a bug to report?

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