Lesson 3: Applying Construction to Plants

3:15 AM, Friday May 12th 2023

Lesson 3 HW - Album on Imgur

Direct Link: https://i.imgur.com/FrGr1Xn.jpg

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I was a bit overwhelmed with this for a while. I posted some of the pages on the discord, and someone was able to push me in the right direction to finish strong. I feel my biggest issue was dealing with lots of overlapping bits.

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3:25 AM, Tuesday May 16th 2023
edited at 3:27 AM, May 16th 2023

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


Starting with your arrows your original linework is looking pretty smooth which helps sell the feeling of fluidity that arrows possess as they move through the world, but you need to ease up a bit on the lineweight, it's not very subtle as the lineweight doesn't taper into the underlying line, and when your lineweight is inaccurate it's not uncommon for you to redo your line, which calls even more attention to the overlap.

Another thing that contributes to this messy look is that your hatching is not planned and goes beyond the boundaries of your arrow. Keep in mind that lines aren't just lines, they denote the edge of forms and when there's many lines which all contradict each other this hurts the viewer's belief that your construction is a solid, real tridimensional structure.

So make sure that when adding lineweight that you add it only once and that you do so subtly, focusing it on top of overlaps. When approaching hatching make sure to follow the principles of ghosting and mark making introduced in Lesson 1: all lines must be confident, and all lines must have a clear start and end point planned, for your lines these are the edges of your arrows and when executing your lines you must do so with confidence.

Your hatching is generally applied to the correct side of the bend which helps sell the illusion of depth you wish to achieve in this exercise. When you tackle this exercise again make sure to focus on your weak points, as well as challenge yourself, most of your arrows in this page are pretty similar in the way that they bend as well as the rates of foreshortening that they possess, but arrows are very flexible objects and you should explore that in your page.


Now moving on to your leaves, overall they are turning out nicely as the fluidity you had present in your arrows translates well into these new structures, but keep the concepts introduced in the arrows exercise of how to make flat objects appear tridimensional on a flat page in mind, you're not always considering how the flow line is more than just a 2d line and how establishes how a leaf flows through space and the basics for how your leaf structure will exist in 3d space. When tackling actual plant structures you'll find that it's very rare that all leaf structures in your reference will only face the viewer completely, with no kind of folds or overlaps, so it's useful to tackle these structures and how they would realistically exist in the world, otherwise they start to feel like flat stickers glued to your page, instead of the tridimensional and free-flowing objects that they are.

These two leaf srructures aren't as tight of a construction as they could be because you skip construction steps by not establishing the overall footprint of the leaf before defining the individual arms of the leaf structures. Here you can find a more thorough explanation for how we deal with complex leaf structures.

  • When approaching any construction you want to make sure that the relationships between your phases of construction are kept tight and specific, so don't leave any arbitrary edges between your leaf's flow line and it's outer edges, they must connect.

Your use of edge detail is moving in the right direction, it's good that you're not attempting to capture more than one piece of edge detail at a time with a single line, this allows you to maintain greater control over your marks. When approaching edge detail another important thing to remember is to be careful with each mark you make, your lines have some overshoots and gaps in between the edge detail mark and the outer edge of the leaf, sometimes your edge detail mark is completely separate from the outer edge mark.

This suggests that at least in some level you're not taking the time to carefully place your pen back down at the outer edge mark and carefully construct your detail, with confidence, before bringing your line back to the outer edge and integrating it seamlessly into the previous line. So don't rush, no part of the construction process is less important, and they should all be given the same amount of respect and effort.


For your branches they're moving in the right direction and it's good to see that you're sticking to the instructions for the exercise when it comes to extending your edges in segments, but you deviate from the instructions for this exercise slightly as your branches are not consistent in size which goes against the characteristics for basic branches - simple cylinders with no foreshortening. So pay close attention to the size of your ellipses, avoid big differences between them in order to keep the size of your branch structures consistent and solid.

You have many visible tails in your compound strokes, but this is completely normal, as you keep practicing the line extension method you'll notice that your accuracy will eventually improve.

It's not uncommon for you to not draw through your ellipses, but this is a mistake, you should always draw through your ellipses twice in Drawabox in order to ensure that they turn out smooth and confidently made.

Plant Construction Section

Now let's talk about your plant constructions, unfortunately it seems that you haven't paid as much attention to the lesson material as you should have, there are many mistakes and issues in your pages which hold you back from your potential as well as stop you from getting out of these exercises as much as you could if you had followed the course to the letter.

I'm going to be walking you through some of the major mistakes and issues present in your work and how to fix them so that you can keep these points in mind and apply them to your next attempts.

The first thing that jumps out to me and it's one of the biggest contributors to the issues in your work is the fact that you're planning how many constructions you wish to fit on a given page before you actually commit to drawing any of them, it's admirable as it's clear you wish to get more practice out of each page, but this only harms your progress by artificially limiting how much space you allow yourself when tackling these exercises, drawing too small doesn't allow you the space to fully work through the spatial reasoning challenges that arise when we work through these exercises.

So draw bigger, as big as it's necessary for you to be able to properly engage your brain and full arm when drawing, you mention how you struggled with overlaps during these exercises, and drawing bigger will also help with this as the extra space won't make your constructions as messy and confusing. Regardless, only after you're done with each construction should you observe and analyze if there is enough space left for one more drawing, if yes, great, you can proceed until you finish, and afterwards, ask yourself if there is enough space for another drawing again, if not, it's completely okay to have only one drawing per page.

As a result of the small size you're drawing at you're often not following or making use of the construction methods and techniques found in the lesson. Whenever you're approaching a construction it's important to remember that the methods and techniques introduced here are not guidelines, nor are they suggestions, they are tools with the explicit purpose of helping you deconstruct tridimensional objects in order to reconstruct them in your page and have it look solid and believable. These methods and techniques are definitely very flexible, and they will help you develop your sense of spatial reasoning in an effective manner, but it's still important to use them in your work so that they can be effective in teaching you.

Examples of you not making use of the methods introduced in the lesson material include:

  • How in this strawberry construction you rely on symbol drawing, you don't construct the strawberries with organic forms and rely on drawing their silhouettes first, but this flattens the drawing. You also skip construction steps in this page because you draw the branch structures in it as simple lines, which don't convey any sense of form or solidity, and do not clearly establish how the branch forms attach to the leaf forms.

  • Due to the size of the constructions you're unable to follow the demos to their full extent. Such as the potato plant demo.

  • I've noticed that in this page you've drawn what seems to be a Palm Tree.

There are a couple of mistakes present within this construction but I'd like to focus on the biggest issue, and that's the fact that trees aren't appropriate structures to tackle in this lesson.

That is because due to the natural sheer size and complexity of a tree's structure, along with the limits of our tools, the construction methods and techniques introduced in this lesson can't be thoroughly applied to a tree, which means that in general most students are forced to skip construction steps or deviate from the instructions ( as you yourself have done by not drawing the individual leaves in the tree with the leaf construction method and instead capturing them as shapes ) in an attempt to accurately capture these structures, but this is not necessary as Drawabox isn't a "how to draw X, Y or Z" course, it's a course that focus on developing some of the core skills needed for drawing, with the most important one being your spatial reasoning ability.

  • When approaching cylindrical structures such as plant pots, draw them around a minor axis in order to keep their several ellipses aligned. And make sure to fully construct them, don't leave their forms open ended and construct the rims around the border of the pot.

Due to the size that you draw at you're also forced to skip the instructions for how to draw branches in several constructions, and the forking branches method as well as the leaf construction method.

You may find this demo useful when approaching leaf structures with several holes in them in the future.

Final Thoughts

Unfortunately due to a couple of different factors your work is suffering in quality and you're not getting as much as you otherwise would in the lessons. I have reasons to believe that you're not allowing yourself the time and space needed to be able to do each construction to the best of your current ability, which severely harms your progress. You need to pay attention to the instructions more closely, but you also must apply what you learned to your new pages.

I'm not going to be moving you onto the next lesson yet, each lesson builds on top of the previous one and introduces even more complex concepts, if you haven't grasped the concepts in this lesson and haven't been able to apply these techniques to the spatial reasoning puzzles that arised then you'll struggle in the following lessons.

As such I'm going to be assigning you some revisions in order to give you the opportunity to review these methods and techniques before tackling more difficult exercises.

Please revisit the relevant lesson material then please reply with:

1 page, half of leaves, half of branches.

6 plant construction pages.

Next Steps:

1 page, half of leaves, half of branches.

6 plant construction pages.

When finished, reply to this critique with your revisions.
edited at 3:27 AM, May 16th 2023
12:19 PM, Tuesday May 16th 2023

Thank you for the analysis. I was expecting revisions being requested as I was definitely not happy the overall quality of this assignment. I appreciate you pointing out the areas I'm having trouble with. I will review those sections and do the revisions as requested.

Thank you again.

2:21 AM, Tuesday July 18th 2023


Sorry these took so long. It's been an extremely stressful couple of months for me.

2:57 AM, Tuesday July 18th 2023

Hello Ebni, thank you for getting back to me with your revisions. I'm sorry to hear you're having a rough time, I hope they get better with time.

Looking at your work these stick to the instructions for the lessons much more closely than your initial work, as such they are looking much more tridimensional and have a much greater feeling of volume.

Of course there are still some issues present, for example, you still have problems with redrawing your lines. There is a reason why we draw these exercises in ink, it's so that we can develop a deep respect behind each and every mark we make, in order to do this we must direct our energies to the planning section of making a mark, we must place as many dots as necessary and ghost as many times as needed - and only then must be execute our mark. If we were unsuccessful, then all we can do is accept it and move on to the next line. Do not redo any mark that turned out unsuccessful.

These leaf structures are looser than they could be, due to the flow lines for the individual "arms" of the complex structure going past the boundary laid out by the previous phase of construction (the one where you established the simple overall footprint for the structure). The bigger shape establishes a decision being made - this is how far out the general structure will extend - and so the flow lines for the later leaf structures should abide by that.

In general these are a vast improvement over your original homework pages, I believe you now understand the purpose of this lesson as well as what it seeks to teach you, and I'll be marking this submission as complete. Good luck in Lesson 4.

Next Steps:

Don't forget to add these exercises to your warm ups list.

Move on to Lesson 4.

This critique marks this lesson as complete.
12:52 PM, Tuesday July 18th 2023

Thank you for this reply. Redoing these things started to click for me as to what the exercises were going for. It's one thing to read it in the lesson, another to attempt to put it in practice.

I'm glad my improvement stood out. I will continue to work on issues like the redrawing lines thing.

Thank you again.

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