1:35 PM, Wednesday January 4th 2023
Hello Tjudy, I'll be the teaching assistant handling your lesson 4 critique.
Starting with your organic forms some of these are spot on, well done. Not all of them are sticking to the characteristics of simple sausage forms as as explained here. For example this one is swelling throughout its midsection and the ends are slightly pointy, and this one has one end larger than the other.
I can see that you're working on varying the degree of your contour curves, which is good. As a general rule of thumb these ellipses should get wider as we slide further away from the viewer along the length of a given cylindrical form. This concept is shown in this diagram and is explained in the ellipses video from lesson 1, here. You can see this in action in this diagram which is a good example of how to vary your contour curves to show a form in various orientations. It's not impossible for the opposite to happen, if the form is bending sharply as seen in this banana. It's not what we'd normally expect though, so be aware of what you're communicating through the degree shift, it is never random.
Moving on to your insect constructions
Now, jumping right in with how you're arranging your constructions on the page, you are unfortunately doing yourself something of a disservice in this regard, and making things harder than they need to be. There are two things that we must give each of our drawings throughout this course in order to get the most out of them. Those two things are space and time. Right now it appears that you are thinking ahead to how many drawings you'd like to fit on a given page. It certainly is admirable, as you clearly want to get more practice in, but in artificially limiting how much space you give a given drawing, you're limiting your brain's capacity for spatial reasoning, while also making it harder to engage your whole arm while drawing.
The best approach to use here is to ensure that the first drawing on a given page is given as much room as it requires. Only when that drawing is done should we assess whether there is enough room for another. If there is, we should certainly add it, and reassess once again. If there isn't, it's perfectly okay to have just one drawing on a given page as long as it is making full use of the space available to it.
I'm a bit concerned that this point is something that ThatOneMushroomGuy brought up on your lesson 3 revisions and you're drawing even smaller now than you were then. This suggests that you may want to be more attentive to the feedback that you receive, which is all written for your benefit.
My second point concerns markmaking. Everything you add to these constructions- every form, every mark, needs to be the result of a conscious decision. If I were to point to something in your construction and ask "why did you do this?" the answer should not be "I don't know". The answer can be wrong, in the sense that your thinking was wrong, but as long as you're thinking it through and have some reason you can give, correct or not, that shows you thought about it. At no point during your construction should you be "sketching" lines on the page, you're drawing solid forms with specific relationships between each step in these exercises. Please reread the principles of markmaking that were introduced in lesson 1. Your lines should be smooth, continuous and unbroken. Do not arbitrarily redraw your lines, as seen here it makes your work messy and confusing. Instead, reserve any additional line weight for clarifying overlaps as explained here. Always take your time to plan every mark you wish to make, and use the the ghosting method to give yourself the best chance of producing a smooth, confident line.
Thirdly, the first four pages of insect constructions should have been purely constructional with no texture or detail. I know you read this part of the homework assignment, because you did label the first four pages differently, but either you didn't understand what this meant, or you allowed yourself to get carried away and added texture anyway. Here is an example of a section from your first page with a lot of extra marks that have nothing to do with construction. You are in the driving seat when you draw, you are in control of the marks you make, and you need to exercise the decision to refrain from shading on your drawings when we ask you not to. This shifts your focus away from construction, and limits how much you learn in terms of thinking in 3D and improving your spatial reasoning skills.
In terms about how you can treat your constructions as 3D, I have some further advice that should help you get more out of these constructional exercises in the future.
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.
For example, I've marked on your mosquito and your mayfly in red where you cut back inside the silhouette of forms you had already drawn.
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.
You can see this in practice in this beetle horn demo, as well as in this ant head demo You can also see some good examples of this in the lobster and shrimp demos on the informal demos page As Uncomfortable has been pushing this concept more recently, it hasn't been fully integrated into the lesson material yet (it will be when the overhaul reaches Lesson 4). Until then, those submitting for official critiques basically get a preview of what is to come.
The next thing I wanted to talk about is leg construction. It looks like you tried out lots of different strategies for constructing 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.
Looking at how you're handling texture and detail on your pages, you're not really sticking to any of the guidance for textures that was given in lesson 2 nor do you appear to have listened to the advice on this subject that was given to you by ThatOneMushroomGuy in your lesson 3 critique. Please refer back to those lesson instructions, and the explanation from your previous critique for information on how we handle texture in this course, and why.
Rather than repeating information that is already at your disposal I'll try to keep this brief and highlight some specific ways you're deviating from the correct approach here.
On this mosquito you're primarily relying on randomness and scribbling Please don't ever do this in this course.
On this page you've colored in stripey markings and dark colored eyes, responding to changes in local colour instead of focusing on shadow shapes. Remember that when using texture in this course you should be using the shapes of cast shadows to implicitly describe the smaller forms on an object's surface. You're telling the viewer how that surface feels. This has nothing to do with what color the surface happens to be. For the sake of these exercises, imagine your insect is all one colour, like it has been painted white or grey.
This page has some more examples of copying color patterns, but also shows use of hatching lines as form shading. Please refer back to the lesson 2 texture page for an explanation on why we focus on cast shadows instead of form shading, and how to tell the difference between the two.
Finally, when you do identify a cast shadow shape you wish to include in your drawing first outline it (the shadow shape, not the textural form) in order to design it in a specific, intentional manner, then carefully fill that outline in. Right now most of your textural work relies on scribbling and hatching, rather than designing specific shadow shapes.
Now, I have given you a number of things to work on here, so I am going to assign some revisions below. For these, I'd like you to adhere to the following restrictions:
Do not work on more than one construction in a given day. So if you happen to put the finishing touches on one, do not move onto the next until the following day. You are however welcome and encouraged to spread your constructions across multiple days or sittings if that's what you need to do the work to the best of your current ability. That's not a matter of skill, it's a matter of giving yourself the time to execute each mark with care (which as I noted earlier is something you sometimes don't do as well as you could).
Write down beside each construction the dates of the sessions you spent on it, as well as a rough estimate of how much time was spent on it.
Please complete 4 pages of insect constructions. The first 3 of these should focus purely on construction only, with no texture. You may choose to add texture to the last page, if you wish.
Please complete 4 pages of insect constructions.
5:49 PM, Thursday February 9th 2023
Hello Tjudy, thank you for replying with your revisions.
These are much, much better! Good work.
You're giving each construction plenty of space on the page, allowing you to explore each individual form more thoroughly.
Your markmaking is considerably better. Everything looks like it is the result of a conscious decision and there are no haphazard sketchy or scribbly marks, good work.
I think you may have missed, or misunderstood my previous comment about line weight. I say this because there are a lot of areas where you appear to have drawn your lines twice or sometimes 3 times. I've pointed out a few on this spider. For these constructional exercises redrawing lines hurts the 3D illusion we're trying to create. In ending up with two or more different lines representing the edges of the same form, the viewer is given a number of different possible interpretations. Regardless of which interpretation they choose to follow, there will always be another present there to contradict it, which ultimately undermines their suspension of disbelief and reminds them that they're looking at a flat, two dimensional drawing.
I find that the most effective use of line weight - at least given the bounds and limitations of this course - is to use line weight specifically to clarify how different forms overlap one another, by limiting it to the localised areas where those overlaps occur. You can read more about this here. What this keeps us from doing is putting line weight in more random places, or attempting to correct or hide mistakes behind line weight.
On that same spider I made a little note on leg construction. This is another aspect of your work that has vastly improved. I just wanted to note that is will be easier to include the contour curve for the intersection where sausage forms join if you give them a more generous overlap than you did in this particular section. This is something you're generally doing pretty well.
In my initial critique I introduced the following rule to help you to treat your constructions as 3D- once you've put a form down on the page, do not attempt to alter its silhouette. You've mostly avoided cutting inside of the silhouette of forms you have already drawn, I just spotted a small area you chopped off the head of this insect which is highlighted in red.
On the same image, in blue, I highlighted some areas where you'd extended the silhouette of your forms without really providing enough information for the viewer to understand how those new additions exist in 3D space. Whenever you want to add something to your constructions, do so by drawing a form, which must have its own, complete, fully enclosed silhouette. Please reread the initial critique for a fuller explanation and several diagrams showing how to do this.
On the same construction, I noted in green the importance of "drawing through" and completing your forms. If you cut off a form where it passes behind something else, it becomes a partial shape, and this will flatten your construction and break the 3D illusion we're trying to create.
Allrighty, it looks like you're back on track with these constructions so I'll go ahead and mark this lesson as complete. Please refer back to the feedback you have received and the diagrams shared with you as you work through the next lesson, these techniques will apply to animal constructions too.
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).