Lesson 3: Applying Construction to Plants

12:21 PM, Friday March 31st 2023

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I feel like my plants are still not reading as super 3d-- would love any pointers you had about how to improve.

Reason for submitting during a Promptathon:

I'm going on vacation starting today and really wanted to get my homework submitted before then! It was kind of a psychological milestone that I've been working towards. (Obviously please feel free to delay reviewing it until it works for your team.)

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12:13 AM, Monday April 3rd 2023
edited at 12:14 AM, Apr 3rd 2023

Hello Megatherium2, I'm ThatOneMushroomGuy and I'll be the TA handling your critique today.


Starting wih your arows they're looking confident and smooth which helps sell the feeling of fluidity that arrows have as they move through the world. You're often making good use of the depth of the page with your use of perspective, although you can push yourself further with the different possibilities not only for rates of foreshortening, but how your arrows twist and move across space.

What you should keep an eye on as you work on this exercise is how sometimes your arrow's edges don't overlap when they should, which makes them look unnatural and flat. This is a mistake as outlined here.

Your application of hatching is looking well executed as you draw it with parallel lines and apply it to the correct side of the arrow's overlap which helps reinforce the feeling of depth for these objects.

After finishing your arrows, never forget to make use of extra lineweight, added on top of the overlaps in order to reinforce their depth.


Moving on to your leaves, they're generally looking very energetic as the fluidity you had in your arrows translates nicely into these new structures, you're not only capturing how they exist statically within space, but also how they move across it from moment to moment.

[This structure]() is looser than it 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.

Keep in mind that as denonstrated here in the instructions for the exercise, only the last step of construction, detail, is optional - so you should make sure to push your constructions further by adding edge detail to your leaf structures, which you don't always add to your work.

I've noticed that you seem to be adding lineweight to the line that crosses on top of the leaf structure, it's best to avoid this since this thicker lineweight comes across as a line made on it's own, making the actual edge for the construction to seem unclear to the viewer, it also makes it harder to add edge detail afterwards. Tracing is something to avoid whenever possible as it often makes us focus too much on following 2D lines on a page, rather than the 3D edges they represent, it can also encourage us to think in terms of doing a clean up pass - a problem that's actually present in your plant constructions. Instead, make sure to draw your phases of construction with roughly the same line thickness, delegating extra lineweight only for areas of overlap in order to clarify how different forms exist in relation to one another.


Moving on to your branches they're generally coming out decently as you're moving in the right direction, but there's a couple of points that are holding you back from reaching your full potential in this exercise and should be addressed going forward.

It's great to see that you're making an attempt to extend your lines, but you're not extending them with the correct methodology, either only extending them to the next ellipse, or extending them a bit past it, when they shoule be fully extended to the halfway point between ellipses, another issue is that you don't always start your next segment back at the ellipse point, either starting it roughly where the last line ended or at an arbitrary position close to your ellipse. These problems make it harder for you to maintain the smooth transition between segments that we wish to achieve in this exercise.

Remember how branches should be approached, by having your segment start at the first ellipse point, extending it past the second ellipse, and stopping halfway to the third, with the new segment repeating the pattern from the 2nd ellipse until your branch is complete. This helps us maintain control of our marks and allows for a healthy overlap between them, which helps to achieve a smoother, more seamless transition.

Another way you can tackle the previous problem is by drawing fewer ellipses and keeping them further apart, in order to ensure that they're at enough of a length of runway between each other so you can fully engage your shoulder when drawing and create a smoother, more seamless transition between segments.

Moving onto your ellipses you're making an attempt to draw through them which is great, but you don't always draw through them [two full times[(https://drawabox.com/lesson/1/12/drawingthrough) which limits your ability to draw smooth ellipses. Don't forget to always ghost and draw through your ellipses twice.

Something else to keep ib mind is the fact that while you seem aware of the ellipse degree shift, currently many of the ellipse's degrees in your branches barely change when they should due to how the ellipse degree shift works, as shown here. Remember that as a cylindrical form shifts towards or away from the viewer, the degree of the ellipses within that structure will also shift.

Plant Construction Section

Now let's move on to your plant constructions.

Your work here is looking good, you're starting to understand the concepts that this lesson seeks to teach and your work is looking tridimensional due to that, but there are a couple of issues holding you back from getting the most out of these exercises.

First things first, don't draw earlier phases of construction lighter, some parts of your constructions have noticeably lighter parts to them, this causes you to cut back into your constructions sometimes which undermines their original solidity and doing this tends to lead one to think of Drawabox exercises in terms of sketching, where the initial lines are just a base, a guideline that will be replaced by later, but what we're doing here is not sketching, we're working through exercises created with the explicit purpose of developing our sense of spatial reasoning. As such all steps of the construction process must be given equal importance by being drawn in the same rich shade of black. This is actually where lineweight comes into place, in the case of too many parts of the construction process overlapping one another, we make use of lineweight as outlined here only in key areas of overlap to define where the forms sit in space in relation to one another.

While this is not necessarily a big problem found in your work there are still some smaller cases where you don't draw through some of your forms, keep in mind that Drawabox seeks to develop your sense of spatial reasoning, as such you should be drawing through all of your forms, no matter how much it would be logically obscured by other parts of the construction or obscure said parts in order to allow your brain to work through the spatial reasoning challenges that arise in this course to it's full extent.

Going a bit further remember that these lessons aren't guidelines or suggestions, they're meant to be flexible and be able to be applied to a wide variety of structures in order to help you develop your sense of spatial reasoning and create solid looking structures - but the core instructions should still be always used, don't skip or change steps as this will cause your construction to be less specific than it could be, and in turn you'll gain less from these exercises.

Always employ these construction methods and techniques, which you're not doing in here, in this construction and in this page because you're not drawing your branch like structures with the branch construction method, more specifically you're not starting these structures with a minor axis, and you're not drawing your edges in segments, this causes you to lose control of your lines and create branch structures that suffer from size inconsistency problems, which flattens your work and reminds the viewer that they're just looking at flat lines on a page. Another problem in these constructions is also the fact that you're not making use of the forking branches construction method, which leaves the relationships between these forms undefined and unclear.

You don't always make use of the leaf construction method when tackling leaf structures that have holes in them, you can find this demo useful for how to remain true to the construction method while still being able to construct the structure in an accurate way.

When approaching cylindrical structures such as plant pots, starting with a minor axis will help you keep your several ellipses aligned more easily.

I've noticed that you've tackled a tree like structure in one of your pages. The thing about trees is that they're big, and leafy, think 200,000 leaves kind of leafy, the leaf construction method at the very least takes 3 lines for each leaf you wish to construct, and then several more for the additional edge detail, once you're getting past 10, 15 leaves, things are already going to get pretty busy and messy, now imagine doing that for the hundreds of thousands of leaves found in your average tree, and not only that, but think about doing it in your regular A4 page, with your fineliner pen.

This means that, realistically speaking, you can't approach trees with the construction methods introduced in this lesson, keep in mind that this lesson is not trying to teach you how to draw plants, it's using plants as a basis for which you can apply these methods in order to develop your spatial reasoning skills, if a certain structure doesn't help you achieve this it's best to put it to the side.

Final Thoughts

You're on the right track, but you hurt your progress by not always following the instructions as closely as they should be followed. Your work looks good when you take the time to follow things more closely, such as your pages of mushroom constructions, ven if those pages still have some problems, but they're much less detrimental than the problems found in the pages where you deviate from the instructions and the lesson material.,

I'm going to be asking you for some revisions before passing you on to Lesson 4, please revisit any relevant lesson material and take your time with it before replying with your revisions.

1 page, half of leaves, half of branches.

2 plant construction pages

Next Steps:

1 page, half of leaves, half of branches.

2 plant construction pages.

When finished, reply to this critique with your revisions.
edited at 12:14 AM, Apr 3rd 2023
12:49 PM, Tuesday April 4th 2023

Thanks for the thorough critique! You pointed out many things I missed the first time around -- there's so much information to absorb from the lessons. Here are the follow up assignments.

9:55 PM, Tuesday April 4th 2023

Hello Megatherium2, thank you for getting back to me with your revisions.

Your leaves are looking fantastic, they're incredibly energetic and well constructed and the edge detail adds an entire new dimension to these structures. Your branches are also looking very well made.

Moving on to your plant constructions they're looking good, although for your use of texture in this exercise you're approaching your texture very explicitly.

If we revisit how texture in Drawabox is approached, we can refresh our memory and see that texture through the lens of Drawabox is not used to make our work aesthetic or pretty, instead every textural form we draw is based on what's physically present in our reference. Our focus should be on understanding how each individual form sits in 3D space and how that form then creates a shadow that is cast onto that same surface, after analyzing all of the information present in our reference we'll be able to translate it to our study. This is why the shape of our shadow is important as it's the shape that defines the relationships between the form casting it and the surface it's being cast on, this is why we should consider carefully how to design a shadow shape that feels dynamic as shown here.

This approach is of course much harder than basing our understanding of texture on other methods that may seem more intuitive or basing it on the idea that texture = making our work look good, but in the long run this method of applying texture is the one that enforces the ideals of spatial reasoning taught in this course. By following these ideals, you'll find yourself asking how to convey texture in the most efficient way possible, with less lines and ink, focusing on the implicit mark-making techniques introduced in Lesson 2. Going forward here are a couple of final reminders of how texture in Drawabox is approached.

Another thing to keep in mind for this construction is that you attempt to add extra volumes to your branch structure in a way similar to edge detail as shown in the leaves exercise, 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.

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. Instead of trying to add volume in a way similar to edge detail, for forms that aren't flat we should make use of organics.

Overall, your work looks good and you're moving in the right direction, as such I'm going to be marking this lesson 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.
3:19 PM, Tuesday April 11th 2023

Thanks so much for this additional helpful critique, I will keep these concepts in mind going forward to lesson 4.

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Staedtler Pigment Liners

Staedtler Pigment Liners

These are what I use when doing these exercises. They usually run somewhere in the middle of the price/quality range, and are often sold in sets of different line weights - remember that for the Drawabox lessons, we only really use the 0.5s, so try and find sets that sell only one size.

Alternatively, if at all possible, going to an art supply store and buying the pens in person is often better because they'll generally sell them individually and allow you to test them out before you buy (to weed out any duds).

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