10:09 PM, Friday April 15th 2022
Starting with your organic forms with contour curves (note - I did assign two pages of contour curves, you appear to have done one of curves and one of ellipses), overall your work is progressing quite nicely. You're sticking fairly closely in most cases to the characteristics of simple sausages (which shows that you're aware of this as one of the targets of the exercise), and your contour lines are generally fitting snugly within the silhouettes of each form. I did notice a couple issues I wanted to call out however:
There are a few places where you place a smaller ellipse on an end of your sausage which, according to all of the other contour lines, is pointing away from the viewer. We can see this in cases like this and this. Remember that the ellipses are no different from the contour curves - it's just that when an end turns to face the viewer, we can see all the way around the contour line instead of just a partial curve. And so, the nature of that ellipse needs to follow the pattern set by the contour curves preceding it.
Extending off that point, I did notice that you have a tendency to draw the small ellipse at the end as a circle, or close to it - regardless of how that cross-sectional slice is meant to be oriented in the page. We can see this more clearly in the contour ellipses page (so I guess it is a good thing you did one page of that) in cases like this where the preceding contour ellipse is fairly narrow, but the one at the tip is still very wide. This tells us that the end of the sausage suddenly turns towards the viewer, despite having very little space to actually do that.
Continuing onto your insect constructions, I think there's a lot of good here. I'm very pleased with the fact that you're focusing quite heavily on the idea of working from simple to complex, and while there are a few places where you try to take some shortcuts by making some marks that only really exist in the 2D space of the page (with no clear sense of how they're meant to change the 3D structure we're depicting - something we'll talk about quite a bit more in a moment), overall you're doing a great job of focusing on the use of individual, solid, fully self-enclosed forms, adding them together one by one.
So, let's talk about that issue first. 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.
I used this spider as an example because compared to the others, it's definitely a lot looser and more haphazardly drawn. In red I've identified areas where you went back in and cut back into existing forms' silhouettes (usually to try and redefine the edge of that given silhouette), and in blue where you either used one-off lines to add elements rather than complete forms, or where you attempted to extend out or otherwise redefine an existing form's silhouette.
Instead, whenever we want to build upon our construction or change something, we can do so by introducing new 3D forms to the structure - forms with their own fully self-enclosed 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.
One good comparison within your own work is if we compare the spikes at the front of that spider's abdomen to how you added spikes to the weevil using separate, fully enclosed cone-like structures.
This is all part of accepting that everything we draw is 3D, and therefore needs to be treated as such in order for 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 I've 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 last thing I wanted to call out is that while you definitely make an effort to employ the sausage method when constructing your legs, you don't necessarily adhere to every element of that approach. Sometimes you stick to the characteristics of simple sausages quite well like here in the louse demo drawing, but in other cases you slip into working more with elongated ellipses like in this ant. Similarly, sometimes you'll define the joints between the sausage segments with contour lines, and in other cases you'll forget to.
Think of the sausage method as a very specific approach, every element of which should be followed as directly and strictly as you can. 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 as shown here, here, in this ant leg, and even here in the context of a dog's leg (because this technique is still to be used throughout the next lesson as well). Just make sure you start out with the sausages, precisely as the steps are laid out in that diagram.
Now, all of the points I've raised here can certainly continue to be addressed into the next lesson, where they're just as relevant as they are here. So, I am going to go ahead and mark this lesson as complete. Just be sure to, as you move forwards, be more purposeful with your linework (avoid putting down one-off strokes as shortcuts for adding structure or detail). In fact, the tendency to put your early construction down more faintly and loosely, then come back in with darker strokes (as we can see here on this beetle should be avoided altogether - it encourages you to think of the early construction as a loose sketch, rather than the solid forms it's meant to establish. Maintain the same general thickness to your lines, and use the ghosting method for every structural mark. You can always leave a step to add line weight at the end, but when you do, try and focus its use on establishing how different forms overlap one another, restricting the added line weight only to the areas where those overlaps occur (as shown here).
Move onto lesson 5.