Lesson 4: Applying Construction to Insects and Arachnids

4:01 PM, Wednesday February 8th 2023

DrawABox Submission - Lesson 4 - 2.8.23 - Shogun69 - Album on Imgur

Direct Link: https://i.imgur.com/dgof6XU.jpg

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Really enjoyed the challenge in this lesson! I hope I'm going in the right direction.

Some questions/thoughts:

  • Per my last critique, I put more effort into my line weight to help forms stand apart and give priority to the ones in front. When it comes to large areas of shadow though, I'm not sure if I'm doing it correctly, as sometimes it feels like it's just flattening out my underlying forms? Should I simply be creating shadows more through concentration of texture from dense to sparse, instead of completely enclosed shadow shapes?

  • Sometimes I wasn't clear where the line was between defining texture implicility and sticking to cast shadows vs. treating them as full 3D forms, and thus drawing through them completely. For example, drawing hair on the silhoutte is technically partial 2D shapes, that come up and down along the edge, but drawing the little appendage spikes as 3D forms that wrap around.

As always, any insight is greatly appreciated.

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8:27 PM, Thursday February 9th 2023
edited at 8:33 PM, Feb 9th 2023

Hello Shogun69, I'll be the teaching assistant handling your lesson 4 critique.

Starting with your organic forms you're doing a good job of sticking to the characteristics of simple sausages. Sometimes one end of a form will be a little wider than the other or your midsection might get a bit wider, but overall you're pretty close to those characteristics.

Additionally, your contour lines are pretty well drawn, although I would still recommend that you overshoot your curves as explained here to ensure that you get the right curvature as you hit the edge of your sausage's silhouette.

I can see that you're working on varying the degree of your contour curves, which is good. The idea we're trying to get across here is that these curves should generally get wider as we slide further away from the viewer along the length of a given cylindrical form as is explained in the ellipses video from lesson 1, here.

Moving on to your insect constructions your work here is great. I can see you've been really mindful about treating these constructions as 3D and you're showing a good understanding of how the forms you draw exist in 3D space and connect together with specific relationships.

Because we're drawing on a flat piece of paper, we have a lot of freedom to make whatever marks we choose, but many of those marks would 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.

Fortunately this is something you largely avoid, but I’ve marked on your ant in red where you cut back inside the silhouette of the form of the abdomen. Sometimes I think you accidentally cut inside your forms where there is a gap between passes on your ellipses. It is completely normal for there to be a gap between passes on your ellipses, we ask you to prioritise confidence over accuracy and you should be drawing around them two full times before lifting the pen off the page. There is a way we can work with a loose ellipse and still build a solid construction. What you need to do if there is a gap between passes of your ellipse is to use the outer line as the foundation for your construction. Treat the outermost perimeter as though it is the silhouette's edge - doesn't matter if that particular line tucks back in and another one goes on to define that outermost perimeter - as long as we treat that outer perimeter as the silhouette's edge, all of the loose additional lines remain contained within the silhouette rather than existing as stray lines to undermine the 3D illusion. This diagram shows which lines to use on a loose ellipse.

Instead, when we want to build on our construction or alter something we add new 3D forms to the existing structure. forms with their own complete silhouettes - and by establishing how those forms either connect or relate to what's already present in our 3D scene. We can do this either by defining the intersection between them with contour lines (like in lesson 2's form intersections exercise), or by wrapping the silhouette of the new form around the existing structure as shown here.

This is all part of understanding that everything we draw is 3D, and therefore needs to be treated as such in order for both you and the viewer to believe in that lie.

This is something you're already doing very well with but I'll go ahead and share a couple of examples that I normally provide to help students with this lesson.

-Beetle horn demo

-Ant head demo

The next thing I wanted to talk about is leg construction. I'm happy to see that you're applying the sausage method for constructing your legs. 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 shown in these examples here, here, and in this ant leg demo and also here on this dog leg demo as this strategy is the one we would like you to use for animal constructions too.

Now, I haven't forgotten about your questions and concerns regarding the application of texture.

When it comes to large areas of shadow though, I'm not sure if I'm doing it correctly, as sometimes it feels like it's just flattening out my underlying forms?

Filling in large areas with black is generally not helpful from my point of view as a TA, as it obscures the underlying construction, making the homework more difficult to asses.

Filling areas with black doesn't necessarily have to flatten your construction, but it certainly can. It really hinges on whether the shadow shape is a cast shadow- which is something we can choose to include, or if it is a form shadow or change in colour pattern, which in this course we do not include.

So, I've made some notes on your beetle to help you understand this point. In green I've marked where you included cast shadows, both a large shadow cast by the shell on to the lower forms, and smaller shadows, cast by the tiny bumps on the surface of the shell. These are correct.

In red I've drawn over some patches of shadow that cannot logically be cast shadows, if we think about the forms present in your construction. For these to be cast shadows there would need to be other forms present to cast them, such as the blocks I added in blue.

Should I simply be creating shadows more through concentration of texture from dense to sparse, instead of completely enclosed shadow shapes?

Your texture is a collection of completely enclosed shadow shapes, just very small shadow shapes. Yes, working dense to sparse is a great way to show form through texture, as well as allowing you to control the density of detail. Being able to control the density is a very useful skill to develop, it will allow you to communicate the texture of your subject without having to apply it liberally over the whole surface (which is very laborious) as well as controlling focal points, people tend to look at the area with the most contrast and detail first.

Sometimes I wasn't clear where the line was between defining texture implicitly and sticking to cast shadows vs. treating them as full 3D forms, and thus drawing through them completely. For example, drawing hair on the silhouette is technically partial 2D shapes, that come up and down along the edge, but drawing the little appendage spikes as 3D forms that wrap around.

I think this comes down to a matter of resolution- as in "how big is the structure relative to the thickness of my lines?" If a form is so small that it is too small to construct without the lines getting mushed together, then I'd consider it texture. Texture within the silhouette of your construction should be drawn implicitly- that means we only draw the shadow it casts, not the form itself. Where texture breaks the silhouette we have to draw it explicitly- with lines. Uncomfortable talks more about how to tackle this when he discusses drawing fur in the next lesson. If after reading up the material in the next lesson you still feel unsure how to tackle this, just reply to let me know and I'll think of another way to explain it.

Okay, I think that covers it. You're doing a great job so I'll go ahead and mark this lesson as complete. Again.

Next Steps:

Lesson 5

This critique marks this lesson as complete.
edited at 8:33 PM, Feb 9th 2023
12:08 AM, Friday February 10th 2023

Thank you very much Andpie! I really appreciate the details here. If I have any further questions regarding texture I'll be sure to circle back.

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