Lesson 3: Applying Construction to Plants

4:44 AM, Monday March 15th 2021

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8:28 AM, Tuesday March 16th 2021

Starting with your arrows, these are generally looking pretty good. You've drawn them with confidence, and have for the most part done a good job of capturing how they flow through space with a good deal of fluidity. That fluidity is something that carries over into your leaves fairly well, capturing not only how they individually sit in space, but also how they move through the space they occupy.

It does however appear that there were fairly limited attempts to add edge detail, and the main one I can see appears to use a single continuous line, zigzagging back and forth (specifically as seen here). This is something I talk about in the instructions - as explained here you should not be drawing your edge detail as a single continuous stroke, and should not be attempting to fully replace the existing edge. You should instead add individual bumps/cuts/spikes, one at a time, coming off the existing edge and returning to it. That's how we hold to the third principle of markmaking from lesson 1.

Additionally, remember the principles from lesson 2's texture section. I can see that in a few of these, you tried to draw the veins as forms (drawing on either side of them rather than just drawing the veins themselves as lines. This is definitely more correct - but even then, try not to just put lines down. When drawing your textures, always purposely stick to drawing actual cast shadow shapes. You can use this two step process to force yourself to think in terms of shapes, always relating them back to the forms that cast them. When we draw individual strokes, we have a tendency more to think in terms of drawing outlines, and artificially breaking them up.

Continuing onto your branches, here unfortunately we're running into some issues. The main one is that you're drawing these really small, and as a result the linework is pretty clumsy. When we draw smaller, cramming everything into a tiny space, it tends to limit our brain's capacity for spatial reasoning, while also making it way harder for us to engage our whole arm while drawing. It's important to draw big to counteract these effects. Furthermore, you also don't appear to be drawing through your ellipses. And lastly, this exercise is about learning how to take a longer more complex line and break it into separate segments, having them flow more smoothly and seamlessly together through overlapping. You don't appear to have done that at all in your attempts, which suggests that you didn't actually follow the instructions.

Moving onto your plant constructions, your work here has its ups and downs. With drawings like this one you're demonstrating an excellent fluidity with the petals, and overall structure. Remember though that there shouldn't be any gaps between the end of the flow line and the tip of the petal. The flow line defines the petal or leaf from tip to tip. That's really at the heart of construction - every phase or step gives an answer to a question. Once given, we need to maintain consistency, rather than redefining that answer at every turn. So once that flow line asserts the length of the overall leaf or petal, stick to it.

One considerable issue with this pitcher plant is simply all the wobbling to the linework. Having the width of the form behave so inconsistently introduces complexity to the structure, which in turn undermines the overall illusion that we're looking at a solid form. If this was an accurate representation, then it'd be better to first construct it as a simpler form with a more gradual shift from narrow to wide, then build up additional forms around it to add bulk where necessary. Jumping right into that level of complexity simply causes the form to fall flat early on. We can see the same principle at play as well with the wavy line around its opening, where you captured the complexity of those leaf-like structures. As discussed before, this continuous zigzagging stroke has the same issue - it's just too complex, too soon. Better to construct a simple silhouette, then build complexity onto it.

With this one it seems you were probably trying to follow along with the potato plant demo, but for whatever reason, gave up half way. Regardless of the reasoning, you should strive to push every drawing to completion. While that is left somewhat up to interpretation when they're your own references, when drawing along with a demonstration, there is no reason not to push it all the way to the last step.

One last thing I want to call out is the fact that your linework does often feel kind of heavy. This suggests to me that you might be pressing too hard on your pen. Ease up on that pressure. Sometimes students press too hard because they're otherwise forcing their hand to hover over the page (pressing harder can provide some stability). Instead, it's perfectly okay to rest your hand gently against the page, as explained here, for added stability.

While overall I do feel you're moving in the right direction, I'd like to give you the opportunity to fix some of the issues I pointed out here.

Next Steps:

Please submit the following:

  • 1 page of branches. Take care to read through the instructions for this, as you don't appear to have followed them the first time around.

  • 3 pages of plant drawings. I'd like you to try to take these further - right now you're limiting yourself to like two, maybe three phases of construction, and it honestly doesn't feel like you're really studying your reference closely enough to find all the wealth of visual information that is present. You don't have to get into detail, but do try and find everything you could ostensibly capture through construction. For reference images with a lot of different copies of the same plant, you can also focus in on one particular part, in order to get a closer look at everything going on with it in particular, rather than forcing yourself to draw a bunch of the same thing, but given them each a smaller portion of the page. Drawing bigger is always better.

When finished, reply to this critique with your revisions.
6:53 AM, Saturday March 20th 2021
11:08 PM, Monday March 22nd 2021

Looking at your branches first, it's actually a little difficult to tell, but it appears that you may be starting your next segment roughly where the previous one ends, as shown here. In the instructions from the lesson it explains that your segments should start at the previous ellipse, allowing for a healthy overlap between them.

The size/fluidity is looking good in your branches exercise, however.

Another point I called out in my critique was this:

When drawing your textures, always purposely stick to drawing actual cast shadow shapes. You can use this two step process to force yourself to think in terms of shapes, always relating them back to the forms that cast them.

Throughout your revisions, I'm still seeing you relying pretty heavily on just putting down individual marks for your textural marks. Texture is very much about identifying the actual form information that exists along the surface of your object, and determining the kinds of shadow shapes they'd cast. It's not simply a matter of putting down arbitrary marks, or drawing the perceived lines you see in your reference image. That is a trap your are still falling into, and need to continue to work at.

Another point to keep in mind is that throughout this course all filled black shapes should be reserved for cast shadows, and should not be used to simply fill in the negative space between your leaves as you did here. By keeping to a single purpose to every given visual tool we have in our arsenal, we can keep our drawings more consistent in what they're communicating.

Your addition of edge detail is improving here, but you need to take it a bit slower and make sure you're executing each mark to the best of your ability. You want to avoid instances of gaps or overshooting the original edge - work on getting them to flow right off the existing edge, and to return to it, smoothly and seamlessly.

Overall I think this is good enough to mark as complete. I am concerned about the branches, just that you're not necessarily following the instructions to the letter, but I will leave you to handle that on your own.

Next Steps:

Move onto lesson 4.

This critique marks this lesson as complete.
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