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11:59 PM, Tuesday February 6th 2024

Hello byte5115, I'm ThatOneMushroomGuy and I'll be the TA handling your critique today.

First things first, I've noticed that you submitted 2 pages of arrows and 2 pages of leaves when only 1 of each was requested, this is considered grinding and it's discouraged - make sure to complete and submit only the amount of work requested as it was requested.


Starting with your arrows your marks have a good deal of confidence which helps solidify the feeling of fluidity that arrows posses as they move through all the three dimensions of the world they exist in, although I did notice some stray marks present in them, remember that one of the reasons we draw in ink is because it doesn't allow us to erase and forces us to face our mistakes, if a line didn't turn out the way you hoped for don't redraw it, just work with it.

You're keeping foreshorting in mind while constructing your arrows which allows you to make good use of the depth of your page, this gives a nice extra layer of tridimensionality to your arrows.

Your usage of hatching helps you establish how your arrows twist and turn in space and further your own understanding of the tridimensional space these objects occupy, but do remember that your hatching lines must still follow the principles of ghosting and mark-making, they must have clear end and start points, be carefully planned and execute and not end at arbitrary points.

As a finishing touch to your arrows, don't forget to make use of extra lineweight on top of the overlaps to reinforce their depth.

In general you're doing well here, I'd like to encourage you to get out of your comfort zone more often the next time you tackle this exercise in order to keep pushing yourself. Try arrows with different kinds of twists and turns and different rates of foreshortening, keep in mind that arrows are very flexible objects and can move freely across the world in all sorts of manners, so you should push yourself and explore the different possibilities.


Moving on to your leaf structures your linework is looking smooth which helps communicate their fluidity and sense of energy, it's good that you're not only trying to capture how these structures sit statically within space, but also how they move across it from moment to moment.

It's good to see that you've experimented with complex leaf structures but remember not to skip construction steps when approaching these more intricate structures.

This structure is looser than it could be, because you did not put down a boundary that the later structures abide to, despite complex structures being made up of several different parts, they still exist as a single entity, by not skipping construction steps you can ensure that your constructions are much more solid and specific.

This structure is also looser than it should be but for a different reason - since here you did establish a boundary but your leaf structures don't respect it, they go outside of the boundary you've established and they don't follow the simple leaf structure shape which flattens and stiffens the overall structure.

Your addition of edge detail is generally looking good, as you don't usually attempt to capture more than one piece of edge detail at a time, although there are some instances where you've zigzagged your edge detail, which goes against the third principle of mark making from Lesson 1. You're also keeping the line thickness between your phases of construction roughly consistent and generally constructing your edge detail additively, all of which is very good and helps you create a tighter, more solid construction that still feels fluid and energetic.

There are several lines throughout your leaf structures as you attempt to capture these structures texture, but it can definitely be pushed further, as you've got several small and timid marks, and several big spaces of white which would communicate that the surface of your structure is smooth.

There's much more going on than just a few stray marks implying veins and we can do much more to accurately communicate this type of texture, take a look at this informal demo on how to approach leaf texture, and make sure to give these reminders on how texture works in Drawabox a read.


Moving on to your branches they are coming along really decently made as you're following the instructions for the exercise, you're drawing your edges in segments which allows you to maintain higher control over your marks which allows you to create some solid but still organic looking structures, but there are some things to keep in mind in order to take them further.

Don't forget that the reason we're working with pen and ink is because we can't erase, it forces us to carefully plan our marks and for us to be mindful of them. As such try not to redraw any marks you make, instead commit to the first line you execute, otherwise your narks will start to look feathery and chicken-scratchy.

There are a lot of visible tails present in these branch structures, while this is a very common mistake we can attempt to mitigate it by limiting the amount of ellipses in our branches, by spacing them further apart we'll allow for a bigger length of runway between ellipses, and ensure a smoother, more seamless transition between marks.

When it comes to drawing ellipses don't forget to draw through them twice in order to ensure that they will look smooth and confident. When it comes to your application of the ellipse degree shift to your branches it can be improved, as it stands your degrees are too consistent and hardly change which is a mistake that flattens your structures. Remember that as a form shifts in relation to the viewer, so will the degree of the ellipses within that structure also shift.

Plant Construction Section

And lastly let's take a look at your plant constructions, where unfortunately you are not sticking to the instructions for the exercise as closely as you should have, which severely impacts the quality of your homework and how much you're getting out of it. So here are some of the issues present in your work and how to fix them.

First things first, an issue that hurts your work without you even realizing is the fact that you're pre-planning the amount of constructions you want to fit on a given page before you've even committed to any of them. Because of this your pages have big empty spaces that could have been better used not by adding more drawings to your page, but instead by limiting them, which would allow you not only more room to work through the spatial reasoning challenges that arise when tackling these exercises, but also give you enough space to fully engage your whole arm.

As it stands your constructions are too small and you have also chosen some very complex structures which has limited your ability to make use of the construction methods and techniques introduced in your work.

Something that also greatly affects the quality of your work is your linework, as it stands you're deviating from the principles of mark making introduced in Lesson 1. Your marks aren't always continuous and unbroken, you often go over them several times to make up for lack of confidence which causes you to chicken scratch and creates stiff, hesitant marks.

Your lines are the most important thing as you go through this course, don't forget the principles of mark making and ghosting or all of your work will suffer as a result.

On top of that remember not to switch pens throughout your constructions, you must use one pen only in the 4-6mm range, you should only switch to a brush pen when filling in large areas of black.

Make sure that you're always drawing through your forms and constructing them fully, I've noticed that in some of your constructions you don't draw through certain forms, such as leaves or branch like structures, this limits your ability to work through these tridimensional puzzles and limits how much you're getting out of the exercise as not drawing through your forms means relying on your observation skills, instead of engaging your sense of spatial reasoning and truly trying to understand how the object you're drawing works, where it comes from, what it attaches to.

You must keep in mind that the construction methods and techniques introduced in this course must always be applied to your work, as they're tools which will help you construct much tighter and solid looking structures. They're not guidelines or suggestions - they are rules.

Some examples of instances where you're skipping constructions or deviating from the instructions to the exercises can be seen in this flower's petals, in these leaf structures and in the stems for this construction which were not drawn with the branch construction method.

  • Because we're drawing on a flat piece of paper, we have a lot of freedom to make whatever marks we choose - it just so happens that the majority of those marks will contradict the illusion you're trying to create and remind the viewer that they're just looking at a series of lines on a flat piece of paper. In order to avoid this and stick only to the marks that reinforce the illusion we're creating, we can force ourselves to adhere to certain rules as we build up our constructions.

  • For example - once you've put a form down on the page, do not attempt to alter its silhouette. Its silhouette is just a shape on the page which represents the form we're drawing, but its connection to that form is entirely based on its current shape. If you change that shape, you won't alter the form it represents - you'll just break the connection, leaving yourself with a flat shape. We can see this most easily in this example of what happens when we cut back into the silhouette of a form.

While this is something that you generally respect we can see some spots in this mushroom where you have attempted to manipulate the earlier silhouette you drew for it, but that ends up flattening the construction. form you drew for the mushroom's cap in order to manipulate it's silhouette.

While this technique can be used when working on structures that are flat such as leaves, when working on structures that have volume we must ensure that each new form that we build on top also has their own volume so as to ensure the entire structure comes across as tridimensional.

Don't leave forms open ended and don't let them run off from the page either, make sure your constructions are contained within your page, and cap off branches with an ellipse at the end.

I've noticed that for this last page you've decided to draw what seems to be two bonsai trees, and in this construction you tackled what appears to be a palm tree.

Due to the nature of these exercises one thing we should keep in mind is that there are naturally going to be certain things which help us get closer to our goals and others that don't. In this case the purpose of these exercises is to put into context what we've learned previously and start applying it to real structures, this means that we must aim to maximize what we can learn from these structures by fully constructing them and applying the construction methods and techniques as closely as we can.

Because of this some structures are more suited for this goal than others, for example a rose or a flower that can be reasonably fully constructed in the limited space of our page. However when it comes to very complex structures such as trees we face an issue - we can't really construct them by using the methods in the lesson as they have hundreds, if not thousands of leaves, and in order to capture them you'll be forced to deviate from the instructions for the exercise.

As such, while I must congratulate you for the determination it is best to keep in mind that you should avoid trees when tackling this lesson and stick to simpler structures as this will allow you to get more out of your practice session.

Final Thoughts

It seems to me that your focus when approaching these exercises puts a heavier emphasis on aesthetics and presentation - making use of Drawabox as a loose guide to sketch and draw these structures. But Drawabox is not sketching and these methods and techniques are rules - not guidelines. They are tools that will help you develop your skills but only if they are practiced correctly.

Because of this it seems to me you didn't fully grasp why these methods and techniques are important and how they should be applied to your work, which causes the quality of your work and the usage of these methods to be very inconsistent in your pages.

It's important that you understand how to combine more primitive forms together in order to construct a structure that feels tridimensional. As such I'm going to be asking you for some revisions so that you can revisit these exercises before delving into more complex subjects. Take your time to look at the relevant lesson material mentioned here, then please reply once you're finished with:

1 page, half of leaves, half of branches.

4 plant construction pages.

Next Steps:

1 page, half of leaves, half of branches.

4 plant construction pages.

When finished, reply to this critique with your revisions.
3:20 PM, Thursday February 22nd 2024
10:44 PM, Thursday February 22nd 2024

Hello Byte5115, thank you for getting back to me with your revisions.

Looking through your revisions it unfortunately seems that not all of my most pressing criticisms have been addressed and that, at points, your work has issues that were not originally present in your submission. So let's go through the points you've improved upon and the ones that you still need to address.

For your leaves they are generally looking much more fluid and energetic. However you're still skipping construction steps when approaching these more intricate structures, the complex structure in your revisions is looser than it could be because you did not put down a boundary, you didn't establish the form that all of the later structures should abide to, despite complex structures being made up of several different parts, they still exist as a single entity, by not skipping construction steps you can ensure that your constructions are much more solid and specific.

Another point that needs to be addressed is the fact that you're adding your edge detail with a thicker, darker line weight. Be sure to keep the line thickness for each phase of construction roughly consistent, so as not to encourage yourself to redraw more than you strictly need to.

For your branches your line confidence is much better and it's good that you're drawing through your ellipses twice. However when it comes to following the instructions for how to lay out your edge segments your original page follows them much more closely - here you have less visible tails on your branches, but that's because you're extending edges in a single stroke and not extending your segments up to the halfway point between ellipses, which partially removes the healthy overlaps we seek to achieve in this lesson.

So remember how branches should be approached, by having your segment start at the first ellipse point, extending it past the second ellipse and fully up to the halfway point to the third ellipse, afterwards you'll start a new segment, making sure to place your pen at the second ellipse and repeat this pattern until your entire branch is complete.

Moving on to your plant constructions you're still trying to fit way too many constructions on a single page which artificially limits how much space you have to fully construct these structures and work through the spatial reasoning challenges that arise as we tackle them.

Your line confidence is generally looking much better, but the same issues present in your original constructions and that were mentioned in your original submission still apply, you're still deviating from the instructions for the exercises and the techniques introduced in the course.

You're not drawing leaf structures with the correct method and you're still drawing branch structures and stems by skipping the construction around a minor axis which flattens and stiffens the structure, as well as leaving it more inconsistent. On top of that, you're still manipulating silhouettes although to a lesser extent.

Considering the inconsistency in your usage of the methods, with you making use of it correctly in one page, and then within the same page skipping construction steps, then repeating this cycle in the following pages I am led to believe that you're not giving each individual construction the time it requires to be executed to the best of your ability, instead, you focus on the entire page, trying to get quantity over quality, but this hurts your improvement and how much you're getting out of this lesson.

As such I believe you still haven't grasped the importance of these exercises and should revisit them once again before moving on to the next lesson, I am going to be asking you for more revisions. Please reply with:

1 page, half of leaves, half of branches.

2 plant construction pages. Only one plant per page, draw it as big as you can.

Next Steps:

1 page, half of leaves, half of branches.

2 plant construction pages. Only one plant per page, draw it as big as you can.

When finished, reply to this critique with your revisions.
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