Lesson 4: Applying Construction to Insects and Arachnids

11:40 PM, Tuesday October 27th 2020

Drawabox lesson 4 - Google Photos

Drawabox lesson 4 - Google Photos: https://photos.app.goo.gl/P9SnPSMDjApFX3zg6

Had difficulties with blocking out the upper part of the thorax and what's bellow it (where the legs come out (4th insect). Also was rather difficult to simplify the facial features (8).

Thank you for the critique!

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9:18 PM, Thursday October 29th 2020

Starting with your organic forms with contour lines, there are two main concerns that I'd like to share:

  • First and foremost, while this was largely well done in your first page, your second page's contour lines were drawn way too shallow, and did not wrap around the surface of the sausage forms as explained here.

  • You're generally quite close, but there are definitely some places where you didn't quite adhere to the characteristics of simple sausages as explained in the instructions. It is important that you keep the ends of your sausages equal in size and circular in shape (avoiding having them get stretched out), and also to keep the width of your sausages consistent throughout its length.

Moving onto your insect constructions, you are off to a decent start, and are definitely moving in the right direction, but there are a number of issues I want to draw your attention to.

Firstly, I noticed a number of places where you weren't drawing through your forms - that is, drawing each form in its entirety, even where it gets overlapped by another. We can see an example of this in this beetle, specifically where the large form of the abdomen suddenly stops where it hits the thorax. Drawing each form in its entirety is important for helping us understand how each one sits in 3D space, which in turn is important to understanding how they relate to one another within that space, rather than as flat shapes and lines on a page.

Keep in mind that every single drawing throughout this course is an exercise, specifically for improving our spatial reasoning skills. We are not here to produce a bunch of pretty, impressive drawings, and so whenever you find yourself avoiding drawing a mark because you'd like to keep things "clean", don't.

Now there are plenty of cases where you have drawn through your forms, so I believe you do understand this - it's just important to point out examples where you skipped this important step.

Secondly, it's important that you interact with your drawing primarily by introducing new forms to the construction, and establishing how they relate, wrap around or connect to the structure that is already present. As shown here, when drawing that insect's head, simply taking the head/cranium's silhouette and extending it doesn't introduce a new form to the construction. It merely changes the flat, 2D footprint of the head, reminding the viewer that they're looking at a flat drawing. Instead, adding a new form and then defining how it wraps around the head on one end, yields a more believable result.

Construction is very heavily based on this idea that everything we do adds another solid, 3D form - and above all else, we need to ensure that we strongly believe that the form we've drawn is three dimensional. That's why working with simple forms is so important - complexity is what undermines the illusion of solidity, and sticking to simple forms allows us to make them feel 3D with less overall effort.

The last point I wanted to raise for now comes down to how you've constructed your insects' legs. I noticed that you seem to have employed a lot of different strategies for this. 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 here, here, 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). Just make sure you start out with the sausages, precisely as the steps are laid out in that diagram - don't throw the technique out just because it doesn't immediately look like what you're trying to construct.

So! With that in mind, I'm going to assign a few more pages below, so you can demonstrate your understanding of these concepts.

Next Steps:

Please submit 3 more pages of insect constructions.

When finished, reply to this critique with your revisions.
8:43 AM, Monday November 2nd 2020

I do agree that using sausages for the construction of the legs is extremely useful, however I caught myself using cylinders instead. I think it was because of the scale and the type of insects that I'm drawing: most of them have relatively long legs with few sections, and so using sausages was quite difficult as it's way harder to "freehand" them to be of a consistent width and at the same time quite long.

3 additional drawings can be found here.

For the second drawing, how should I have constructed the thorax's bottom part that is mostly "fur"?

With the third drawing, I kind of went a lot into the detail to try to replicate the segmentations of the bottom part of the abdomen, which when now I look at, looks quite flat. I guess more shadows could have given it a better 3D look?

7:09 PM, Monday November 2nd 2020

In regards to the point you were making about using cylinders instead of the sausage method, it comes down to this - using sausages may be harder, and therefore will yield a weaker immediate result. That is no reason not to use them, however. We're not focusing on creating drawings that come out looking good - each drawing is an exercise to help develop the skills being used. Sidestepping an important technique because it is harder to use in this context simply avoids getting practice with it in that context, and will continually cause you to avoid it in the future. At its core, the sausage method is still preferable because of how it allows us to capture the kind of gestural flow that basic cylinders do not.

In regards to the second drawing and the question about fur, when it comes to construction, we don't worry about what the texture of a form may be - only the fact that these masses exist in the first place. So yes, you should be capturing any and all major forms using construction. I quite like how you handled the abdomen in this one, building up that structure to feel solid and believable.

There is a major issue that I want to point out in the third drawing however. Here you drew a ball for the head, and then went on to ignore it entirely, drawing a new more complex head structure on top of it. As discussed in the original critique (when talking about not modifying the silhouette of a form), cutting across your silhouette like this is also going to undermine the solidity of your construction. Always build things up steadily, one form at a time, and once you've introduced a form into the world (like the initial ball form you started with), you have to work forwards from it. You cannot choose to ignore it, or to use it as some kind of loose suggestion. Everything you add to the scene must be treated as a solid element upon which the rest is built.

The one other thing I wanted to mention was that as a whole, throughout these revisions your line quality appears quite scratchy. I'm seeing some hesitant lines, some areas where you're going back over lines needlessly, and so on. I'm unsure of whether this is because you're not applying the ghosting method to each of your marks to keep them confident and consistent, if you're falling back to bad habits, or if your pens are just giving you more trouble as they run out of ink. Be sure to keep an eye on this, and figure out what is happening. You may want to reflect on the mark making techniques from lesson 1.

Anyway, I'll go ahead and mark this lesson as complete, so you can continue to work on this in the next one.

Next Steps:

Move onto lesson 5.

This critique marks this lesson as complete.
10:52 AM, Wednesday November 4th 2020

Not that this is an excuse, but the problem with my line quality is that I struggle with estimating where certain construction lines should go in the first place (for example in the third drawing, the lines going along the thorax and abdomen). Committing too much to these crucial lines on which I build on top afterwards is kind of scary and can screw up the drawing. Would you recommend me to instead accept the result of the first try and continue?

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