Lesson 3: Applying Construction to Plants

6:11 PM, Monday May 27th 2024

Album — Postimages

Album — Postimages: https://postimg.cc/gallery/NBqK9BF

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6:41 PM, Thursday May 30th 2024

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


Starting with your arrows your lines are looking fairly confident and smooth, which helps communicate a nice sense of fluidity in your arrows as they move through the world. You're keeping foreshortening in mind while constructing your arrows which allows you to make really good use of perspective and the depth of your page, this gives a nice extra layer of tridimensionality to your arrows.

Your usage of hatching helps you establish how your arrows twist and turn in space and further your own understanding of the tridimensional space these objects occupy, but do remember that your hatching lines must still follow the principles of ghosting and mark-making, they must have clear end and start points, be carefully planned and executed and not end at arbitrary points. As a finishing touch to your arrows don't forget to make use of added line weight on top of the overlaps to reinforce their depth.

You've done a good job on this exercise, what I'd like to tell you so that can keep getting the most out of this exercise is actually to encourage you to get out of your comfort zone more often the next time you tackle this exercise, your arrows are all very similar in the way they move through space, so try arrows with different kinds of twists and turns and different rates of foreshortening, keep in mind that arrows are very flexible objects and can move freely across the world in all sorts of manners, so you should push yourself and explore the different possibilities.


The linework for your leaves is looking smooth which helps communicate their fluidity and sense of energy, however you have a lot of unnatural bends present in your leaves. The majority of your leaf structures don't fold or bend in any way, this is something to keep an eye on whenever you tackle this exercise again, and keep in mind that even though leaves are very flexible structures, that mostly applies to their length and not their width. They're like a piece of paper, not a piece of rubber, they can fold and bend in a lot of ways, but they can't stretch or compress, and if you try to force them to they'll simply rip apart.

Your addition of edge detail is generally looking good, as you don't usually attempt to capture more than one piece of edge detail at a time, and you generally construct your edge detail additively. You're also keeping the line thickness between your phases of construction roughly consistent, all of which is very good and helps you create a tighter, more solid construction that still feels fluid and energetic.

Your addition of texture is coming along quite explicitly made as you outline textures which leaves no transitions from light to dark in an attempt to capture the representation of what's going on with your structure.

This doesn't allow you to properly focus on the cast shadows present and thus your addition of texture is less specific than it could be. There's much more going on than just a few stray marks implying veins and we can do much more to accurately communicate this type of texture, take a look at this informal demo on how to approach leaf texture, and make sure to give these reminders on how texture works in Drawabox a read.


Moving on to your branches they are coming along really decently made as you're generally following the instructions for the exercise, but they can still be improved. While it's good to see that you're drawing your edges in segments you're not always extending said segment completely up to the halfway point between ellipses, which partially removes the healthy overlaps we seek to achieve in these structures.

So remember how branches should be approached, by having your segment start at the first ellipse point, extending it past the second ellipse and fully up to the halfway point to the third ellipse, afterwards you'll start a new segment, making sure to place your pen at the second ellipse and repeat this pattern until your entire branch is complete.

For ellipses it's good to see that you're making an attempt to always draw through them twice, as that allows for a smoother mark overall. When it comes to your application of the ellipse degree shift to your branches it can be improved, as it stands your degrees are too consistent and hardly change which is a mistake that flattens your structures. Remember that as a form shifts in relation to the viewer, so will the degree of the ellipses within that structure also shift.

Plant Construction Section

And lastly let's take a look at your plant constructions, which are starting to come along well constructed. You're generally making use of the construction methods and techniques introduced in this Lesson which helps you create the illusion of tridimensionality in your work, however the majority of your work is made up of demos. As mentioned in the homework section of this lesson only less than half of your total plant construction pages should be made up of demos if you wish to include them, in this case that means at most 3 of your pages should have been made up of demos, rather than the 7 you submitted.

Think of the demonstrations as essentially training wheels, they're helpful in that they help us understand how to apply the exercises we just learned to proper tridimensional structures and how to make the most of them, however, in the same way we won't know if we know how to ride a bike until we take them off and attempt on our own, we won't know if we understand how to apply the constructional techniques introduced here until we apply them to our own work, attempting to distill the information we can gather from our reference picture and being able to translate it to a piece of paper.

As such, it's difficult to fully gauge if you have understood the concepts and principles taught in the lesson, and I'm going to be asking you for some revisions before you can move on.

On top of that do not grind constructions, attempt them once and then move on, do not try to draw them several times.

When approaching cylindrical structures such as mushrooms starting with a minor axis will help you keep your several ellipses aligned to each other more easily.

You're not making use of edge detail in your pages, edge detail would have greatly helped you further communicate the form of your structures and how they move through space, but by not adding it they're left very simple, so make sure to add edge detail whenever possible, and remember that only the last step of leaf construction - texture - is optional.

And lastly let's take a look at your addition of texture to these structures, which needs some work as it's looking very explicit because you're making use of generic hatching to communicate texture at points which is not allowed for this course, as well as big areas of filled in black which cannot logically be cast shadows, you also don't design your shadows with a specific purpose in mind and so there are not a lot of clear focal points of detail in your constructions.

So let's revisit how texture in Drawabox is approached, by looking back on this page we can refresh our memory on texture through the lens of Drawabox and see that it is not used to make our work aesthetic or good looking, 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. Only after analyzing all of this information present in our reference will we be able to translate it to our construction. This means that 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, which is why we need to consider carefully how to design a shadow shape that feels dynamic and communicates this tridimensional information.

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. Make sure to go over these reminders in order to solidify your understanding of texture further.

Final Thoughts

Because you've drawn mostly demos it's difficult to fully gauge if you have understood the concepts and principles taught in the lesson, and as such I'm going to be asking you for some revisions before you can move on.

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.
8:49 PM, Friday June 7th 2024

Hello ThatOneMushroomGuy!

Here's my revision: https://postimg.cc/gallery/WZ5G0zw/7c26162f

The two plants I constructed were Hydnora Africana and Darlingtonia Californica.

Take care,


5:22 PM, Sunday June 9th 2024

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

The linework for your leaves is looking smooth which helps communicate their fluidity and sense of energy, it's good that you're not only trying to capture how these structures sit statically within space, but also how they move across it from moment to moment. Your edge detail is also looking quite well made.

Your addition of texture is coming along quite explicitly made as you make use of large areas of black in your work which aren't actually cast shadows, make sure to carefully analyze your reference picture and find any grooves or any veins raised from the surface of the leave in order to identify any cast shadows present and only then translate them to your construction.

When it comes to your branches you are still not always drawing through your ellipses twice which is a mistake. Make sure to also pay close attention to the ellipse degree shift in your branches, while you seem aware of if your degrees are often too close together or there's barely a noticeable difference which flattens yohr structures.

Onto your plant constructions they're coming along quite nicely made. You're usually making use of the construction methods and techniques introduced in this Lesson which helps you create the illusion of tridimensionality in your work.

But do keep in mind that 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.

  • 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.

While this is something that you do generally respect we can see in here spots where you cut back into the ellipse you've laid down. The way you've approached this structure is also very non-specific and does not communicate any clear sense of tridimensionality because there are no clear plane shifts.

You can find here more information that talks about how to make use of organic forms to construct plants that aren't simple branches with leaf structures attached to them, and you can see here how you can construct on top of your preexisting structures with new organic forms.

Your addition of texture is starting to head in the right direction but it still needs work as there are points where you start to outline your textures and think of them quite explicitly, so don't forget to revisit the feedback in my first critique and continue to practice your texture skills.

In general your work is good, you're on the path to understanding the purpose of these techniques and exercises and you're making good use of them in your work, if you iron out on a couple of issues you'll be on the path towards drawing even more solid and believable tridimensional structures.

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 list of warm ups.

Move on to Lesson 4.

This critique marks this lesson as complete.
5:46 PM, Sunday June 9th 2024

Great, thank you so much for your feedback!

Take care,


11:25 PM, Thursday May 30th 2024

Hi! Thank you so much for your feedback!

I'll work on improving the areas you mentioned and submit my revisions soon.

If it's alright, I had a few questions I wanted to run by you before I submit my revisions.

1. In terms of the plant construction, I did not use the images from the demos for the majority of the drawings I submitted (I'll still do the plant construction revisions, I just wanted to ensure that was clear). I'll attach the reference images I used here: https://postimg.cc/gallery/GLH8nrp/47f4ee38. However, if the goal was to draw plants *other*  than those in the demos, rather than use different images of the same plants, then I completely misunderstood that aspect.

2. I'm having some issues understanding the ''fun with textures'' section, specifically the shadow shapes in step 3 and what those are supposed to be corresponding to the leaf image given. I understand the ''circles'' are the gaps between the veins, but I can't figure out why shading is being done in the specific areas outlined by the shapes in step 3: https://drawabox.com/lesson/3/8/texture

Thanks again and take care!

7:54 PM, Tuesday June 4th 2024

Sorry for the wait - Mushroom's temporarily away, but I figured I'd step in and answer your questions.

In regards to your first question, when drawing along with the demos, it is best to follow it directly, rather than trying to interpret it more loosely against a different reference image, so that you can put yourself in our shoes so to speak, and better understand why we're making the choices we are in those demos. That said, students aren't required to draw along with the demos (we do recommend it of course), so it's fine to do studies of different photos of the same plants, I just wouldn't recommend mixing the two as you did here. It's not inherently wrong or against the instructions, but it does reduce how effectively you'd be internalizing the demonstration compared to following with the demo and its reference, and then applying what you learned to the constructions based on entirely different reference images.

For your second question, I'll be completely honest - I totally forgot that demo was there. This course has evolved over the years in regards to how we tackle texture, starting from where Peter Han's Dynamic Sketching course really just regarded it was a visual pattern to create an effect, and gradually shifting more and more to thinking of texture as just a different manifestation of the 3D spatial relationships we deal with through the rest of the course.

As we work through our overhaul (Lesson 2 is what we're looking at right now, trying to figure out how to apply all that we've learned from providing students official critique, and all that we've conveyed through that feedback), this is an issue that is steadily being resolved - but right now it does mean that some of these demos are less relevant. For right now, the texture analysis demo material, which focuses heavily on cast shadows, is the most "current" and "accurate" explanation of texture we've got, where it's all about focusing on the concrete relationships between the textural forms and the surfaces around them, which are defined by the shapes of our shadows.

In step 3 of the "fun with texture" demo, that's not really what we're doing - rather, it's more that it's leaning into shading, which based on our current approach is not correct. So, I'm going to go ahead and remove that demo to avoid confusion.

Instead, I'll give you these:

First, as shown in this diagram, depending on how far the form is from the light source, the angle of the light rays will hit the object at shallower angles the farther away they are, resulting in the shadow itself being projected farther. This gives us the logical grounds to say that despite two forms being identical, they don't have to cast identical shadows - and therefore we can control where we want shadows to be longer or shorter, without changing the nature of the texture being conveyed.

Next, building off that premise, this diagram refers to the Lesson 2 texture analysis exercise and explains how it is we think when we tackle it:

  • First in the traceover of the reference image, we're identifying the kinds of forms that are present and how they vary/how they're similar.

  • Then in the first rectangle labeled "the forms we're transferring" this is more of an idea of how we would, in our heads, think about arranging those textural forms on our surface based on what we saw in the reference.

  • Next in the rectangle labeled "how we're thinking about the cast shadows" are the actual lines we'd be drawing to design those cast shadow shapes, based on our understanding of the relationship between each textural form and the surfaces around it. The forms from the previous step are faded out here, because again - they weren't drawn. This is definitely the most challenging part, because working implicitly requires us to think about multiple forms simultaneously without drawing them - though not all at once, more a small handful including the one whose shadow you wish to design, and those whose surfaces that shadow might touch.

  • And finally, we'd fill in those shadow shapes.

At its core, this is how we can think about texture in any of our constructions - it's about acknowledging texture as being made up of small forms, which cast shadows which can join together to create larger and more complex shadow shapes, or which can be so small as to not be seen.

That gives us tools that we can use to convey the nature of the surface's texture to the viewer. Keep in mind it's never about reproducing our reference perfectly - it's about having something concrete that we wish to convey or communicate to the viewer, and then using the reference and all of the forms it displays as tools to help convey that.

Anyway, I'll leave it at that. Don't worry if texture doesn't really sink in for a good while - we'll have updated the texture section of Lesson 2 (mostly to convey what I said above, but also to present it with exercises further help in applying those concepts) well before you're finished with the course as a whole, and ultimately it still is going to depend heavily on the overall spatial reasoning skills the rest of the course material focuses on. In other words, don't let it hold you up too much right now, as it's expected to still be rather perplexing at this stage.

When you do have your revisions ready, be sure to respond to the original critique, so Mushroom gets notified.

7:54 PM, Wednesday June 5th 2024

Hi, thank you so much for the detailed response!

The info and diagrams for the texture analysis are super helpful!

As for the response for my first question, I just wanted to say that I think there's been a bit of a misunderstanding. You see, I understood the part about following along with the demos, and that is in fact what I did. However, for the homework that is required to be submitted for lesson 3, I understand that most of the submissions should NOT be from the drawings I did while following along with the demos. That begs the question though, what is the rest of the homework supposed to consist of? I interpreted it as meaning that the homework should consist of "drawings of all the plants from the demos, using your own reference photos (from the internet, for example) of those plants, for the most part", which is what I submitted. My question was whether that interpretation was correct, or if I was supposed to find reference photos of completely different plants that were NOT featured in the demos. For example, one of the plants in the demos is a king's oyster mushroom. For my homework submission, I drew a king's oyster mushroom using a reference photo from the internet. Was I supposed to do this, or was I supposed to draw any other plant than a king's oyster mushroom, since it was featured in the demos?

Sorry if that was long winded but hopefully I got my point across anyways :)

Thanks and take care,


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