Lesson 3: Applying Construction to Plants

5:45 AM, Wednesday February 8th 2023

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This took longer than I'd wanted due to some personal lull in the middle of doing the 8 plant pages, but finally getting it done felt great. Looking forward to the critique!

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9:44 PM, Saturday February 11th 2023

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


Starting with your arrows your linework is looking confident and nicely executed, this is greatly important for arrows as it helps communicate the sense of fluidity they have as they move across the page.

There are some things you can look towards improving in this exercise, one of them is your application of hatching, sometimes it's placed at the wrong side of the bends, this disrupts the illusion of depth you wish to create.

  • Due to how perspective works, objects which are closer to the viewer will appear bigger, and appear smaller as they're further away. Following this logic, an object of consistent size that is moving away or towards the viewer must gradually change according to the perspective of the scene. As such, the bigger part of the arrow is always going to be the one closest to the viewer, therefore the smaller part of the segment should be the one getting the hatching instead.

The second thing is that you must be careful and make sure your edges always overlap when they should otherwise you'll get unnatural bends.

And lastly never forget to make use of added lineweight on top of the overlaps in order to reinforce their depth.


For your attempt at the drawing leaves exercise, the sense of fluidity present in your arrows carries over nicely to them, giving them a good sense of energy and flow as they move across the page.

However, there's a problem present in your page and this is something which isn't an outright mistake but does end up missing the point of the exercise and what it seeks to teach you, and that's the fact that many of your leaves don't have any kind of fold or overlap. As explained in the intro to this exercise leaves are objects which are very easily influenced by outside forces such as the wind or gravity, so when approaching this exercise, think of the forces that push through these leaves, and draw them with an awareness of how they flow through space, this includes drawing them bending and folding over themselves, this is important because you'll rarely find actual plant structures where all leaf structures are being looked at completely in a straight on view.

Moving on to your edge detail it's generally decent as you're often not trying to capture more than one piece of edge detail at a time, although there are some moments where you start to zigzag your edge detail. This is a mistake that goes against the third mark-making principle from Lesson 1 and is something you'll want to avoid. Another point you should keep in mind is to make to draw your edge detail with the same general thickness as the initial leaf construction, this is so you don't encourage yourself to draw more than you need to.


Moving on to your branches they're coming out pretty decently as you're generally following the instructions for the exercise.

There are a couple of things that you should look out for when attempting this exercise again, the first point is one that actually applies to all exercises you'll encounter in this course, and that's not to redo any lines. I've noticed that in here your branch has some segments with more than one visible tail, some thick lines and more than one line extended for certain segments. Remember the reason why we draw with pen for this course, it's so that we don't become wasteful with our marks, once you put down a line you must commit to it, even if it didn't turn out the way you wanted, making another mark isn't actually going to fix your mistake because the lines we draw here aren't just lines, they represent edges in a tridimensional space, once you make a mark trying to correct a previous mistake all you achieve is make it unclear to the viewer which mark is supposed to be the "true" edge of the form.

Your edge segments are overall being extended well, although there are some cases where you extend it further than it should have been, or start a new segment further up, instead of at the ellipse point.

So don't forget how branches should be approached, by having your segment start at the first ellipse, extending it past the second ellipse and fully 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 the pattern until your branch is complete.

Moving on to your ellipses, it's good to see thst you're making an effort to draq through your ellipses twice, but we really want to draw through all of our ellipses twice. You're doing well by keeping the ellipse degree shift in mind when constructing your branches, this is something that will greatly help with making your cylindrical forms feel tridimensional.

Plant Construction Section

And finally we reach the core of the lesson - the plant constructions.

In general you make use of the techniques and methods introduced in the lesson to construct your plants, you're definitely in the right track to start understanding these concepts and developing your sense of spatial reasoning but there are a couple of points that should be addressed so going forward you can get the most out of these exercises.

When constructing cylindrical structures such as mushrooms and flower pots, make use of a minor axis in order to keep your several ellipses aligned, this also means extending your minor axis all the way up, so you can also ghost the ellipses for the mushroom caps around the minor axis.

There are some moments where you don't apply the methods introduced in this lesson as thoroughly as you could have, such as for your carrot construction where you didn't draw the leaf like structures at the top with the complex leaf construction method. This is also in part because you're drawing way too small. You're pre-planning how many constructions you wish to fit on a given page before you actually commit to drawing any of them, it's admirable as it's clear you wish to get more practice out of each page, but this only stops you from getting the most out of these exercises by artificially limiting how much space you allow yourself when tackling these exercises.

So draw bigger, as big as it's necessary for you to be able to properly engage your brain and arm when drawing. Only after you're done should you observe and analyze if there is enough space left for one more drawing, if yes, great, you can proceed until you finish, and afterwards, ask yourself if there is enough space for another drawing again, if not, it's completely okay to have only a single construction per page.

Continuing on the previous point the methods introduced in these lessons are not suggestions, they aren't guidelines to use at our own discretion - they're tools. Tools which have a very specific purpose, that is, to help us deconstruct and understand our subjects of study in order to further our own knowledge and develop our sense of spatial reasoning and through this allow us to draw solid looking structures on our page.

So make sure that you're always using the methods introduced in the lesson - for example for this plant structure where you skip the leaf construction method almost entirely - otherwise you'll leave the relationships between your forms vague and undefined, or rely on flat shapes which don't convey any sense of tridimensionality.

In that same vein, draw through all of your forms and construct them fully as I've noticed that in some of your constructions you don't draw through your forms, such as petals in this construction this limits your ability to work through these tridimensional puzzles and limits how much you're getting out of the exercise as not drawing through your forms means relying on your observation skills, instead of engaging your sense of spatial reasoning and truly trying to understand how the object you're drawing works, where it comes from, what it attaches to.

  • It's incredibly important for you to draw through all of your forms, as small or as unecessary as you might believe them to be, forms don't stop existing when they become obscured by other forms. Think of it as building a house and having a full X-ray view of the building, it's a tridimensional puzzle that cannot exist before the foundations are laid out, the roof cannot exist before the walls, the walls cannot exist before the foundation, and the furniture cannot exist before the building, in that same vein tips of leaves or parts of a construction cannot exist by themselves, they still exist as full forms even when they're partially obscured by other objects. Therefore you should make sure you're always drawing forms in their entirety, this will help you develop your sense of spatial reasoning and make all of the relationships between phases of construction in your drawing clear and defined.

Speaking a bit more about this structure it strikes me as a palm tree. Trees aren't appropriate objects to construct in this lesson because the methods we use for constructing these objects aren't very effective when drawing trees, they're too big and have too many leaves which doesn't allow us to construct them thoroughly, as such they don't help us develop our sense of spatial reasoning as much as other structures do and shouldn't be used.

Don't leave forms open ended such as you did for this cactus as this undermines the solidity of the forms.

Make sure not to outline entire forms with added lineweight, this can take away from the original confidence your lines had and make them stiff and awkward, it can also remind the viewer that they're just looking at lines on a page more easily, instead, lineweight should only be used in key areas in order to differentiate between overlaps.

Your use of texture in this lesson is looking pretty explicit.. Texture in the context of this course is an extension of the concepts of construction, with construction being focused on the big and primitive forms that make up different structures and texture focusing on communicating the small forms that run along the surface of an object, essentially texture is a way of visually communicating to the viewer what it would feel like to run their hands across that surface.

None of this has to do with decorating any of our drawings, what we draw here is based on what's physically present in our construction. As introduced here, we can notice that we should focus on each individual form and how it casts a shadow on neighboring surfaces, understanding how each individual form sits on a 3D space, and analyzing all of this information present in our reference to be able to translate it to our study. The shape of this 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, as such you should design your shadow shape in a way that feels dynamic, as shown here.

This approach is of course much harder than basing our understanding of texture on other methods that may seem more intuitive, but in the long run this method of texture is the one who enforces the ideas of spatial reasoning taught in this course. By following these ideas, you'll find yourself asking how to convey texture in the most efficient way possible, with less lines and ink, focusing more on the implicit mark-making techniques introduced in Lesson 2. Going forward here are a couple of final reminders of how texture in Drawabox is approached.

Final Thoughts

You're moving in the right direction and starting to understand the concepts this lesson seeks to teach, but you're falling in a couple of bad habits which are holding you back from your full potential.

In order to make sure that you understand the purpose of these exercises it's important that you apply them to your work correctly, as such I'm going to be assigning you some revisions, don't forget to look over the relevant lesson material.

Next Steps:

1 page, half of leaves, half of branches.

2 plant construction pages.

When finished, reply to this critique with your revisions.
12:02 AM, Sunday February 12th 2023

Thank you so much for the thorough, constructive and helpful response. Before I start work on my plant constructions (after I finished going over the leaves and branches), there are some questions I'd like to ask, and I would love it if you can give me your perspective.

  • For my cactus, may I ask what do you mean by leaving my form open-ended? I observed the cactus to be constructed from roughly diamond shapes pieced together - should I have drawn the center out instead? I was a bit iffy about that since I'm not sure where exactly I should have placed the shape outlines, ending up only placing a small light bit at the start.

  • For the palm tree, I'll admit I skipped a lot of steps there since palm trees are both big as is, and the leaves are also tiny as well, so constructing everything feels like such an undertaking. May I ask for the future, what technique should I look into for drawing trees, as well as plants with a lot of tiny details, like palm trees, pines and the like?

  • And finally regarding texture, my mindset to it while working on this exercise has been to capture anything I can see, but instead of framing it like that, should I instead as you mentioned try to frame it as a question of "If I move my hand over it, what it would feel like" ? And from there, deciding whether a detail actually would be noticable enough to be included in the implicit depiction?

Again, thank you so much for your insightful critique, and I hope to hear from you soon.

1:27 AM, Sunday February 12th 2023

Hello Hxhexa, I'll try my best to address your questions and concerns.

For your cactus, you can see at the base of the plant, in the area I've outlined in red you can see that the lines that indicate other forms in the construction simply continue and then end, leaving gaps between them, this area of the cactus is left open, as such there's no indication of an edge in tridimensional space which flattens the form. Make sure all of your forms are enclosed, in cases like this you should cap off the construction with an ellipse or any other way appropriate for the form you wish to establish.

For the purposes of Drawabox such plants should not be chosen as reference pictures, for your own personal interests you can look around and find the method that works best for you, there are many methods for drawing trees, such as block ins, capturing the major forms and implying detail similarly to the way texture works in drawabox, or through other techniques found in painting. Look around for books, courses or other resources and experiment with drawing trees during that time.

And finally, yes, but also no. While you should be thinking of how it would feel to run your hands over the surface of the object you're constructing, remember that texture in Drawabox is based on cast shadows this means that your texture should be made up only of shadows that appear because a bump or part of a small form is blocking the lightsource and casting a shadow on it's own surface. This means that form shadows, aka shadows that happen when a part of the object is in shadow because the object's form itself blocks the light from reaching that side, as well as local color should be ignored.

If a shadow you can see in your reference is a cast shadow that is present in your structure's surface is caused by imperfections in that surface it's pretty safe to add it in, so in a way, yes, it's your own discretion to choose how much to draw in this case, since sometimes drawing every piece of detail you see can end up cluttering your construction, so remember the concepts introduced in Lesson 2 in the dissections exercise, and that leaving some areas of detail more dense and some more sparse can help direct your viewer's attention.

I hope my answers address your concerns adequately, best of luck.

3:01 AM, Friday February 17th 2023

Thank you for your reply! Here's my revision for the lesson. Please do let me know whether this would be sufficient, and what other areas I should focus on improving.


On that note too, since for the purpose of Drawabox, textures are made from cast shadow, may I ask for flat textures like for example butterfly wing pattern, should I draw that just as a pattern as regular with black and white, or is there anything I should pay attention there too?

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