Lesson 1: Lines, Ellipses and Boxes

6:25 PM, Tuesday April 14th 2020

Drawabox Homework Lesson 1 (Thomas Ruff Eriksen) - Album on Imgur

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Very challenging and fun to do, The exercises for spatial awareness has been especially good as I've never developed that area.

Still struggling with knowing how I use my shoulder correctly at times, but happy that I've done Lesson 1 nonetheless!

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8:54 PM, Friday April 17th 2020

Hi Lifebeat, I'll be handling your lesson 1 critique.

It's great that your enjoying the lessons so far, but before I get to specific exercises I just want to clarify a few things. On your ellipses in planes page you ask about hovering your hand above the page, so basically you want to have at least some form of support under your arm. Resting your hand or elbow gently on the table is fine as long as you aren't using them as a pivot. If you just try to keep your entire arm held in the air you strain your shoulder which you may not notice at first but if you continue to do can result in injury which can take quite a while to heal.

With that out of the way let's start with your Lines exercises. Your biggest mistake across all the exercises in the lesson is basically that there is no confidence in your linework and you're adjusting to using your shoulder. Across super imposed lines to ghosted planes you get quite a bit of wobbling and arcing. Remember that before every mark we make (whether it's lines or ellipses) we use the ghosting method, plan out our lines a few times above the page before lowering our pen and in a single smooth fast motion we create a confident line. If we go too slowly our brain tries to course correct what it sees as mistakes and instead of correcting it just creates wobbling the entire length of the line.

In the Ellipses section it's a bit of the same story, you left quite a bit of space in between ellipses in your tables and you get some wobbling occuring which makes your ellipses not as smooth as they should be. It's great that you experiment with shapes and sizes, keep that up since experimenting is what leads to understanding, we just need to improve your confidence to really show the quality of work I know you're capable of. I can tell that you tried to keep your ellipses in funnels divided evenly which is great, but you ended up with poor spacing between the ellipses as seen here.

Lastly we'll go over your Boxes. In your Rough Perspective exercise your correction lines are mostly converging in the area of the vanishing point which is great, you do need to pay attention to how you construct your boxes however. You want to make sure that your horizontal lines are parallel and your vertical lines are perpendicular to the horizon line, due to some wobbling and maybe rushed planning you end up with some tilting that you want to try and avoid. For a quick reminder of the rules you want to follow regarding where your lines should be check here. You showed that you have some grasp of 3D space in the rotated boxes exercise which is great. You mostly kept your spacing even and you achieved a nice bit of rotation, once we tidy up your linework it'll look even better. Your organic perspective exercise is really interesting compositionally, I'm glad you experimented and made them look as interesting as you did. Your linework also took a step in the right direction here, your lines look more confident and thus look straighter. You did a have a habit of trying to redraw your lines to cover up your mistakes which is something you need to avoid doing, but overall this is a solid attempt and a step in the right direction.

So to finish up your critique I will say that I'm happy to see you understand a lot of the concepts being shown here, but I don't feel you're ready to move on just yet. I'll need you to go over the super imposed lines and table of ellipses exercises and resubmit 1 page of each. When doing so remember that we want you to ghost a few times and create your mark with a smooth confident motion. We need to get rid of your wobbling as soon as we can because it will create a weaker foundation for the rest of the concepts to sit upon if we don't address it.

So take a deep breath, go through the exercise material again and give them your best attempt. We don't expect perfection but I know you can do better than this and once you see you can as well you'll hopefully have less issues with line confidence and feel great going forward.

Next Steps:

Redo and resubmit:

-1 page of Super Imposed lines.

-1 page of Table of Ellipses.

When finished, reply to this critique with your revisions.
10:47 AM, Monday April 20th 2020

Hey Nihlex, thanks for the criticism!

As you very accurately point out, artistic confidence is by far the largest issue that hinders most of my progress, and it's something I'm not sure how exactly I would be able to tackle.

Long story short, despite wanting to become a concept artist for most of my life, I have had a really rough and unfortunate start when it comes to drawing, and while I know most of the technical skills can be trained through Drawabox (Which I am incredibly happy with!), artistic self-confidence is an issue I don't know what to do with.

In a more practical example, the ghosting in the Super Imposed Lines and Table of Ellipses exercises, I grow more and more insecure about screwing up as I ghost a line that I would often have to ghost the line 40-50 times before then putting the pen on the paper, immediately panic as I don't believe I can do it, and then produce the wobbly lines seen through the results as my brain takes over in fear of failure.

I've tried most usual suggestions such as trying to calm down as much as possible before doing the exercises, trying to completely focus on the task at hand, convince myself that this is not something I should judge myself on, but insecurity always sets in.

I don't know if there are any exercises for "believing in yourself", but If you had any ideas, suggestions or advice at all, I would love to hear them as this is by far the most important issue when it comes to improving!

7:45 PM, Monday April 20th 2020

I'm not sure of any exercises that would necessarily help with this, but at least conceptually there is one thing you absolutely need to continually remind yourself of: every single action you perform is the result of choice. Whether or not that choice is a conscious one is the problem, and making more purposeful choices is itself something that we improve on over time, as long as we do so... well, consciously.

Your choice to hesitate before putting a mark down is a choice you are making. You second-guess your preparation out of the fear of a negative result. The solution here is not to believe in your abilities, to trust in the idea that "you've got this" and "you can do it". The solution is to choose to accept that the second your pen touches the page, any opportunity to avoid a mistake that may or may not happen has now passed. Whether or not you put the stroke down accurately is no longer within your control. What is within your control however is whether or not you choose to hesitate (and therefore eliminate any chance of having a smooth stroke) or whether you choose to push through with confidence, putting the mark down.

The ghosting method's strengths are not just in the fact that you're made to run through the stroke several times before committing it to the paper. Instead, it actually lies in the idea that each of the three stages has its own responsibilities and goals, and they can be treated as different people working in an assembly line in a factory.

The first person is responsible for identifying the specific mark that needs to be drawn, what task this mark needs to accomplish, which angle of approach would be most comfortable, and determining whether the mark you want to make is the best for the given task.

The second person in the line is responsible for getting your muscles accustomed to the motion required to make this mark. They're unconcerned with the how's and why's, and don't care if those things are correct. The motion required was determined already, its job is simply to get your muscles ready to execute it.

Finally, the third in the line is responsible for making a single, smooth, confident stroke. They're not responsible for accuracy, for how closely you reproduce that planned, prepared motion. It's just to make a simple stroke - and you know you can make a smooth stroke because if you go to a page and draw them as quickly as you can without even thinking about which stroke you want to make, they'll come out smoothly. Their job is just to make the mark with no hesitation, because they have nothing to hesitate about.

Now, it's easier said than done to put your mind in the shoes of each of these individual workers, to focus on just doing that individual, simple task, at any given point. But to do so is a choice, and to worry about the stage preceding where you are now, is also a choice.

So, long story short - take responsibility for the choices you make. If your marks are inaccurate, that's not that big of a deal. Flow and smooth execution is first and foremost your priority, and only once that is nailed down does accuracy become a concern.

You're not alone in your struggles with this, and if you want to talk to people who struggle through similar issues, you may want to join us on the drawabox discord chat server. Talking with others who are at various points along a similar trajectory may help you see a path forward.

4:49 PM, Wednesday April 22nd 2020

Your explanation of hesitating being an choice really made a difference for my understanding of how to approach the confidence problem I have.

In a way, it's much like preparing to dive into cold water, but knowing it's cold (in my case fearing failure), I never get swimming in the first place. The example of three men having their own specific tasks on the assembly line really helped visualize exactly what my issue was, and I actually tried doing a few extra exercises with the mindset you had in mind, and found that my confidence actually grew.

While it's something I have to get used to (and probably for a good amount of time), I slowly started reducing the times I had to ghost my lines, and the acceptance that whatever chance I had to stop is now already behind me allowed me to loosen up much more up.

Many thanks for the input, It really helped me out!

9:24 PM, Wednesday September 23rd 2020

This was helpful for me too. Thank you!

6:36 AM, Saturday May 8th 2021

This is really useful, thank you!

8:11 PM, Wednesday December 22nd 2021

Commenting to keep as a future reference.

4:29 PM, Wednesday April 22nd 2020

I have redone the two additional pages of Super-Imposed Lines and Ellipses In Planes as you requested, here they are!

11:21 PM, Wednesday April 22nd 2020

Hey there Lifebeat.

Your ellipses are looking more consistent and smooth which is great, they are a bit loose but practicing them in warm ups will help tighten them so I'm not too worried.

Your super imposed lines have also improved, but when doing this exercise as a warm up in the future try to keep an eye out and reduce the times you get fraying on both ends.

I'll be marking your lesson as complete and moving you on to the 250 box challenge, good luck.

Next Steps:

Finish the 250 Box Challenge before starting lesson 2.

This critique marks this lesson as complete.
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A lot of my students use these. The last time I used them was when I was in high school, and at the time I felt that they dried out pretty quickly, though I may have simply been mishandling them. As with all pens, make sure you're capping them when they're not in use, and try not to apply too much pressure. You really only need to be touching the page, not mashing your pen into it.

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