Hello cag_29, I'll be the teaching assistant handling your lesson 4 critique.

Starting with your organic forms you're doing an excellent job of sticking to the characteristics of simple sausages that are introduced here, and most of your linework looks smooth and confident.

You tend to keep your contour lines quite similar in degree. Keep in mind that the degree of your contour lines should be shifting wider as we slide along the sausage form, moving farther away from the viewer. This is also influenced by the way in which the sausages themselves turn in space, but farther = wider is a good rule of thumb to follow. If you're unsure as to why that is, review the Lesson 1 ellipses video. You can also see a good example of how to vary your contour curves in this diagram showing the different ways in which our contour lines can change the way in which the sausage is perceived. When you open those diagrams, also pay attention to the placement of the small contour ellipses on the tips of the forms. I noticed on the form at the top left of this page you'd put the contour ellipse on the end of the form facing away from the viewer. Remember that these ellipses are no different from the contour curves, in that they're all just contour lines running along the surface of the form. It's just that when the tip faces the viewer, we can see all the way around the surface, resulting in a full ellipse rather than just a partial curve. But, in this case if the end is pointing away from us, there would be no ellipse at all.

Moving on to your insect constructions when it comes to what you mentioned with having difficulty drawing small parts, something I think will help you is to make the drawings larger overall. On some of your pages, such as this ant, there is a great deal of empty space that could have been used for your drawing. By artificially limiting the amount of space you use for some of these, (by drawing smaller than what the space on the page allows) you're making things more difficult than they really need to be, making it more challenging to engage your whole arm and draw smoothly, as well as more difficult to think through the spatial reasoning problems presented by these constructional exercises.

Looking back at your lesson 3 submission, I notice that drawing small was the biggest issue that ThatOneMushroomGuy called out for your plant constructions. Keep in mind that the advice in these critiques is all designed to be applied by the student as they move forward, so that issues do not need to be called out repeatedly.

It is important that students make every effort to follow the principles of markmaking introduced back in lesson 1 throughout the course. If we look at this page of ladybirds for example, it looks like you're starting off with nice smooth confident ellipses, but then going back over them with chicken scratch, breaking the first principle of markmaking. You're also getting a mixture of smooth lines and some which are hesitant and wobbly, breaking the second principle of markmaking. Both of these issues suggest that you may not be using the ghosting method consistently, which is something you should be doing for every line. Using the ghosting method not only helps to produce smooth confident lines, it also ensures that each line is planned, the result of a conscious decision, and prevents student from making unnecessary extra lines on autopilot. The wobbly scratchy lines may also be a symptom of switching to drawing from the wrist, so make sure you're engaging your whole arm.

Remember to keep additional line weight subtle, it should be a whisper, not a shout. The most effective use of line weight - at least given the bounds and limitations of this course - is to use line weight specifically to clarify how different forms overlap one another, by limiting it to the localised areas where those overlaps occur. This recently added video explains correct use of line weight in this course. What this keeps us from doing is putting line weight in more random places, and worse, attempting to correct or hide mistakes behind line weight.

I'm noticing a tendency to start your construction off lighter, and then increase the weight of your marks as you progress. For example on this beetle the big ellipses you drew for the head/thorax/abdomen are actually fainter than the ellipses you drew on the other side of the paper, suggesting you might be switching between pens for different stages of the construction. This can encourage us to redraw more of the structure than we strictly need to. I would strongly recommend that you maintain roughly the same thickness of line throughout the entire construction, applying further line weight as discussed above only towards the end.

I'm seeing a few places where it looks like you'd redrawn a line a few times in an effort to correct it, for example on this beetle horn. In ending up with all of these different lines representing the edges of the same form, the viewer is given a number of different possible interpretations. Regardless of which interpretation they choose to follow, there will always be another present there to contradict it, which ultimately undermines their suspension of disbelief and reminds them that they're looking at a flat, two dimensional drawing.

Furthermore, the ghosting method emphasizes the importance of making one mark only. Correcting mistakes isn't actually helpful, given that the end result of the exercise is far less relevant and significant than the actual process used to achieve it. Rather, having a habit of correcting your mistakes can lean into the idea of not investing as much time into each individual stroke, and so it's something that should be avoided in favour of putting as much time as is needed to execute each mark.

I've also used that beetle as a reminder to start each construction with simple solid forms for the head, thorax and abdomen. The more complex a form is, the more difficult is is for the viewer (and you) to understand how it is supposed to exist in 3D space, and the more likely it is to feel flat. So, we always start as simply as possible, and build complexity gradually, in successive passes, establishing clear relationships between each piece we add and the existing structures, so we can understand how it all fits together in 3D space.

The next point I wanted to talk about differentiating between the actions we can take when interacting with a construction, which fall into two groups:

  • Actions in 2D space, where we're just putting lines down on a page, without necessarily considering the specific nature of the relationships between the forms they're meant to represent and the forms that already exist in the scene.

  • Actions in 3D space, where we're actually thinking about how each form we draw exists in 3D space, and how it relates to the existing 3D structures already present. We draw them in a manner that actually respects the 3D nature of what's already there, and even reinforces it.

Because we're drawing on a flat piece of paper, we have a lot of freedom to make whatever marks we choose, but many of those marks would 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.

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.

For example, I've marked on your bee in red where it looks like you cut back inside the silhouette of forms you had already drawn. One thing I did notice is that some of the instances of cutting into forms (though not all) came down to the fact that your ellipses would come out a little loose (which is totally normal), and then you'd pick one of the inner edges to serve as the silhouette of the ball form you were constructing. This unfortunately would leave some stray marks outside of its silhouette, which does create some visual issues. Generally it is best to treat the outermost perimeter of the ellipse as the edge of the silhouette, so everything else remains contained within it. This diagram shows which lines to use on a loose ellipse.

On the same image I marked an example in blue where it looks you'd extended off the leg with a single line, not quite providing enough information for us to understand how it actually connects to the existing structure in 3D space. I've marked a more substantial extension to the thorax of your beetle in a similar manner.

Instead, when we want to build on our construction or alter something we add new 3D forms to the existing structure. Forms with their own complete 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 is all part of understanding that everything we draw is 3D, and therefore needs to be treated as such in order for both you and the viewer to believe in that lie.

You can see this in practice in this beetle horn demo, as well as in this ant head demo. You can also see some good examples of this in the lobster and shrimp demos on the informal demos page. As Uncomfortable has been pushing this concept more recently, it hasn't been fully integrated into the lesson material yet (it will be when the overhaul reaches Lesson 4). Until then, those submitting for official critiques basically get a preview of what is to come.

The last thing I wanted to talk about is leg construction. It looks like you tried out lots of different strategies for constructing legs. It's not uncommon for students to be aware of the sausage method as introduced here, but to decide that the legs they're looking at don't actually seem to look like a chain of sausages, so they use some other strategy.

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, we can then build on top of this base structure with more additional forms as shown in these examples here, here, and in this ant leg demo and also here on this dog leg demo as this method should be used throughout lesson 5 too.

Now, I have given you quite a few things to work on and will be assigning some revisions for you to address these points.

Please complete 3 pages of insect constructions.