Lesson 4: Applying Construction to Insects and Arachnids
7:58 PM, Tuesday May 17th 2022
Any feedback is appreciated.
I did all the demos, I only included the scorpion and shrimp here though.
Starting with your organic forms with contour curves, you've done quite well, and are moving in the right direction. Keep working on adhering to the characteristics of simple sausages (which you are doing, but there are some little discrepancies, with some ends being of different sizes, and some of the sausages getting wider through their midsection). Also, keep in mind that the degree of your contour curves should be getting wider as we slide farther away from the viewer along the length of a given sausage. You often stick to a consistent degree, and sometimes you shift them in the opposite direction. You can review the reasoning behind the rule of thumb of 'farther = wider' by watching the Lesson 1 ellipses video.
Continuing onto your insect constructions, you have by and large done a great job here, and I am very pleased to see the overall focus on taking actions in 3D space - that is, respecting the solid, three dimensional nature of each form, and reinforcing that nature in the existing structure, with every new element you add, over simply viewing your drawings as a series of lines and shapes on a flat page.
I do have a few recommendations to call out, to help you continue to get the most out of these kinds of drawing exercises, but overall you're doing very well.
So the first thing I wanted to discuss is simply a reiteration of what you're already doing - you're interacting with your constructions as three dimensional entities, going beyond the limitations of thinking on the flat page. 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. Rules that respect the solidity of our construction.
One common concern is that once we've put a form down on the page, we should 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.
This is actually something that I myself end up doing in some of the demos - especially cases where they're older, because this is one of the more recent concepts I've developed to further reinforce the core premise of the course (which itself has become more and more clear to me over the years). This concept will become a part of the lesson material when my overhaul of the videos get to this point, but for the time being I always make sure to convey this concept to students getting official critiques, as a sort of "preview" of things that will ultimately be shared with everyone.
Instead of altering our constructions in two dimensions, whenever we want to build upon our construction or change something, we can do so by introducing new 3D forms to the structure - forms with their own fully self-enclosed silhouettes - and by establishing how those forms either connect or relate to what's already present in our 3D scene. We can do this either by defining the intersection between them with contour lines (like in lesson 2's form intersections exercise), or by wrapping the silhouette of the new form around the existing structure as shown here.
This does come up at times in your constructions, usually in small areas - for example, here on your weevil's leg. I do have some examples to show how we can add this kind of structure while adhering to the idea of always working in 3D space - although I'll get back to that in a moment.
Beforehand, I wanted to mention that throughout your work you do generally stick quite closely to the principles of the sausage method when constructing your legs, but there are some cases - like this praying mantis where you're more prone to breaking away from it, especially in the placement of your contour lines. Remember that the sausage method diagram does specifically state not to place contour lines anywhere but at the joint between sausages.
The key to keep in mind here is that the sausage method is not about capturing the legs precisely as they are - it is about laying in a base structure or armature that captures both the solidity and the gestural flow of a limb in equal measure, where the majority of other techniques lean too far to one side, either looking solid and stiff or gestural but flat.
Once in place - and this is where we get back to how to capture those additional structural details using additive construction - we can then build on top of this base structure with more additional forms as shown here, here, in this ant leg, and even here in the context of a dog's leg (because this technique is still to be used throughout the next lesson as well).
One last thing I want to recommend is that when you work with filled areas of solid black, I've found that, given the specific restrictions of our tools in this course, it's best to limit how we use those kinds of tools. That is, the tool being shapes that are filled with black. Generally speaking the viewer, given the fact that we're working in strict black and white, will generally assume that what they're looking at when seeing a filled black shape, is a cast shadow - at least on a subconscious level. If however it's not meant to be a cast shadow, then their conscious brain gets involved a little more, going through the different possibilities and eventually figuring out what it was meant to convey.
We really do want to avoid having the viewer take extra steps. Whatever they can pick up on subconsciously, and whatever can diminish that potential confusion, is definitely something to consider. In the case of your drawings, I would generally recommend that you not capture any local surface colours - for example, filling in the eyes with black, or filling in markings (although I actually do this myself in the Lesson 5 intro video - just another one of those things that I've come to realize over the course of thousands of critiques). Since we can't actually capture any other surface colours, and are restricted just to black and white, technically filling in darker colours with black doesn't allow us to work in a consistent manner, so it can cause some visual confusion. Best to treat everything like it's covered in the same flat white.
And that about covers it! As a whole, you're knocking it out of the park. So, keep these points in mind and I'll go ahead and mark this lesson as complete.
Feel free to move onto lesson 5.
Thank you for the feedback, it was very helpful.