Lesson 3: Applying Construction to Plants

11:42 AM, Tuesday August 4th 2020

Drawabox Lesson 3 Homework Submission - Album on Imgur

Direct Link: https://i.imgur.com/osR6F6g.jpg

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Hello Critiquer,

For my homework page in which I did the Pitcher plant, I clearly screwed up many curves. My curve game needs work. I grinded this a couple of times and decided to submit this. I also was not sure if my construction page for the melon patch was enough. I don't want to cheat myself, so any honest feedback would be appreciated. I also worry if the detail I added to the leaves ended up hiding too much of the construction.

Thanks again for reading this,


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6:31 PM, Thursday August 6th 2020

Starting with your arrows, these are largely decently done. They flow smoothly through space and convey a strong sense of fluidity to them, though you do still have a tendency to apply foreshortening only to the positive space (the ribbon itself), and not the negative space (the distances between the zigzagging sections). This is an issue I addressed in lesson 2, but in case you did not understand, it is depicted here.

Moving onto your leaves, what stands out most to me is that it is very clear you were focused primarily on the texture and detail in these drawings, to the detriment of capturing the sense of flow or structure of each individual leaf. I can also see you apparently working with more than just one pen - the simple leaf shape appears to have been drawn with something faint and light, whereas all of the "final" lines were drawn with a heavier pen. Nowhere in the instructions was it stated you could stray from using the recommended 0.5 fineliner for any part of the drawing. More than that, back in Lesson 2's form intersections exercise, we clearly go over this "underdrawing/clean-up pass" approach being inappropriate for this course.

As a result, your leaves tend to feel quite stiff. Where your arrows convey a sense of fluidity to them, and the impression of movement, your leaves all have the impression of being extremely rigid. The first step of the leaf construction process - establishing the flow line - is critical to this idea that the leaf is representative of the forces of wind and air that push it around. When we draw it, we must take care to really focus on how this line is to move through all three dimensions of space. Sometimes to remind myself of this idea of motion, I'll add a little arrowhead at its tip. Next, we echo this motion by defining the simple edges of the leaf form, drawing them as confidently as anything else.

These two steps are the most important portions of this exercise, though it seems to me you've treated them as the least. While I do want students to explore different kinds of complexity in their leaf constructions, texture itself is not of particular interest. When texture itself is explored, however, it should be done so using the textural techniques covered in Lesson 2. That is, implying the presence of textural forms along the surface of the object (in this case, like the veins of the leaves) through the shadows they'd cast on their surroundings, not as individual lines of their own, as you've done.

I'll leave you to read those instructions again on your own - perhaps you skipped through them, or perhaps there was too great a gap of time in between the time you did read them, and the time you did the work. Keep in mind above all else that Drawabox is not about creating detailed drawings. It is about understanding structure, and how the forms we construct exist in 3D space.

Moving onto your branches, there are a few issues I noticed here as well:

  • It appears that you extend your first segment a little ways past a given ellipse, then start the next segment where the previous one ended, resulting in no overlap. You should be extending each segment fully halfway towards the next ellipse, not just a little past the previous one, then starting the next segment at the previous ellipse. This would result in a healthy overlap between the two, allowing them to transition more smoothly and seamlessly from one to the next as shown here.

  • Another issue is that the degree of your ellipses all appear to basically be the same throughout the whole length of each branch. As described back in Lesson 2 (both in the lesson and in the critique), the degree of a contour line represents how that cross-section is oriented in 3D space relative to the viewer. If it's very narrow, then it's pointing right across our field of view - the branch at that point would be moving rapidly from left to right, for example, whereas if it's very wide, then the branch at that point is moving straight towards us, rather than from side to side. Due to how geometry and space works, even if a branch is perfectly straight in its trajectory, the degree of the cross-section at different points along its length will not be the same - it'll be narrower when it is closer to the viewer, and wider when it gets farther away, causing it to shift smoothly over its length. This aspect also relates to the spacing between the contour lines themselves. The viewer will automatically assume that no matter how they're spaced out on the page, the contour lines are spaced out equally in 3D space. This means that if the contour lines are very wide in degree, suggesting the branch is moving towards the viewer, then there's going to be very little room on the page between the contour lines - they'll probably be overlapping. If the degree is very narrow, then there would be more space in between them as it moves across from side to side. If you have a wider degree but lots of space in between them, the viewer's eye is going to notice that something doesn't feel right, and this will undermine the illusion that this is a 3D object, and not just a drawing on a flat page.

Moving onto your drawings, the ones with just construction are generally well done. Your petals here flow a little better through space, your mushrooms feel quite solid, and you're patiently drawing through all of your forms. Your application of the branch technique is still incorrect, resulting in more disjointed transitions from segment to segment, but we've already addressed that. The one plant page that didn't come out well is this one, where you delved into texture in ways that are entirely different from what we covered in Lesson 2 - so I'm not going to address that, as it just seems to me you'd forgotten about employing implicit drawing techniques, capturing cast shadow shapes to imply the presence of textural forms. To be completely honest, I'm unsure of precisely what you were trying to replicate there on the big left section, but again, I think that is derailing us from the focus of this lesson.

One thing I will state is that when doing your plant drawings, you don't have to try and capture everything. You can zero in on a specific area of a given plant and draw only that, allowing yourself to blow it up big on the page. A whole melon patch is biting off way more than you can chew, and isn't going to serve as a good exercise in any way. Focusing on a single melon, its stem and immediate surroundings however, may be a little more useful. To that point, drawing big is important. Similarly for your lilypads, each one ended up being very limited in scale, giving your brain relatively little room to think through its spatial problems. Using the whole page to construct a single lilypad is far more valuable as an exercise.

So, this critique has gotten long enough as it is. As such, I'm going to give you the opportunity to reread the instructions for both the leaf and branch exercises, as well as the texture section from Lesson 2, along with some additional work to demonstrate your understanding of that material. You'll find the assigned work below.

Next Steps:

I'd like to see the following:

  • 2 pages of leaf drawings. Be sure to read the instructions thoroughly before starting it. Don't focus on quantity over quality, and don't try to bury everything in detail. First and foremost your focus is on constructing leaves that flow smoothly through space with a sense of motion. Secondly, is attempting to explore more complex constructions (which are covered in the notes and the additional informal demos).

  • 2 pages of branches. Same deal, read the instructions first, then do the work.

  • 4 pages of plant drawings. Take care to draw big. If you only give your brain a cramped space to work in, it will be clumsy in its spatial problem solving, and you'll be more enticed to draw from your wrist rather than your whole arm.

It's very clear to me that your biggest struggle here has been in processing and following the instructions. Being aware of that will help you push yourself to actively counteract it.

When finished, reply to this critique with your revisions.
9:19 PM, Friday August 14th 2020

Hello Mr. Irshad,

I did not use any other pen besides the 0.5 fineliners. I just screwed up the texture guidelines really bad and went over the leaf veins with my fineliner again. I also believe my pen was drying out, so I got a new one. I may not be pressing my pen hard enough at times, thus causing the faint grey lines. My apologies for this confusion. I have my next steps homework here: https://imgur.com/a/HAegrZG

Any of your feedback would be appreciated, I am curious to know if I keep messing up my branches.


6:45 PM, Monday August 17th 2020

I'm assuming that you were using the same dying pen when laying down the basic construction of your leaves, and switched to one with richer lines when adding detail. As I'm sure you now understand (though perhaps not since you did it in your revisions), you should only be using pens that are creating rich, dark lines. While there is obviously the temptation to make use of that faint grey line, as you did here, it defeats the purpose of how Drawabox approaches learning and isn't all that different from using a pencil instead.

One thing that stood out a lot in your leaves is that you're really focused on detail and texture. Because you're more interested in how you're going to tackle the texture of your leaves, you end up distracted when actually drawing the underlying construction. As a result, you start repeating the same leaf forms (the top row of the first page of leaves, for example), you don't really think about how they're flowing through space (the lavender, rose leaf, mulberry leaf are all just laid flat upon the surface of the page, as are several in the second page). You also completely skip construction on the maple leaves both times (I'm unsure of what you mean by fixing construction on the second one, since as explained here you skip quite a few steps). I actually have a demonstration on how to approach drawing a maple leaf correctly right here. As you can see there, everything is built up with simple shapes/forms, and we never move ahead until there is enough of a scaffolding to support the next level of complexity.

The rest of the submission is fine. For your branches, just two simple things to keep in mind:

  • Get used to lifting your pen when you hit the end point, as right now you tend to veer off track right at the last second. This might be because you're trying to slow to a stop, so lifting the pen off the page is a more reliable, immediate action you can perform.

  • When your line does veer off the track, make sure you draw your next line so it overlaps the previous one directly. This will make drawing each individual leaf harder, but will ultimately force you to learn from the mistakes, since you're made to actually deal with their results instead of drawing your next stroke where the previous one ought to have been.

Your other constructions are coming along decently, for the most part. There's still room for improvement but these are going in the right direction.

Now, as I still feel you're getting distracted and focusing on the texture when you should be focusing on construction, I'm going to ask for another 2 pages of leaves - this time with no texture whatsoever. Make a point of rereading the instructions for this exercise. If you're interested in seeing what other students have drawn for their leaves, take a look at this example. Many students like to go through other students' submissions (which you can do by clicking on the "View Homework Submissions" button on the lesson page, and then turning off "Community Submissions" in the filter to see only the ones I've critiqued.

Next Steps:

Please submit two more pages of leaves. Don't include any texture, focus entirely on construction and how the leaf is flowing through space. Do not repeat the same leaf position over and over - remember that Drawabox is not really concerned with detail and texture, it is all about learning how forms exist in 3D space.

When finished, reply to this critique with your revisions.
11:38 PM, Wednesday August 19th 2020

Hello Mr. Irshad,

I did not use any other pen than a staedtlr 0.5 fineliner. I am not attempting to make use of a faint grey line in any way. I think I am hesitating when I draw leaf curves (even when ghosting). I really lack experience with ghosting curves, but I am practicing this everyday. Should I be drawing these curves in the same way as branches? Or should I be doing them in one confident swoop? Thanks for the advice on the branches and I will be sure to put it into practice. Thank you for sharing the image of another students homework. I will be sure to look at other students submissions to get an idea of the final homework. I read that one should read all of the sections material before starting any homework page. My first time around, I did not see the information about the leaf construction before I had already completed the leaves exercise. I hope to have fixed it this time around. Here is my imgur link: https://imgur.com/a/fXP5M9S

Thank you for your critique Mr. Irshad


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