Lesson 4: Applying Construction to Insects and Arachnids

1:17 AM, Thursday November 10th 2022

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I'll be glad to draw something other than bugs!

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9:25 PM, Thursday November 10th 2022

Hello JustCuteGirlzArt, I'll be the teaching assistant handling your lesson 4 critique.

Starting with your organic forms with contour curves there are a couple of things to call out.

Firstly, it seems you did one page of contour ellipses, though the assignment was for both to be contour curves. Not a huge problem, but it does suggest that you may want to be more attentive when reading through the instructions.

Second, you've done a great job of keeping your lines smooth and confident but you appear to be building your organic forms from 4 separate line segments, one for each side and one for each end. In some places this results in you leaving a small gap between each stroke, or making a sharp corner. If you refer back to the principles of markmaking section in lesson 1 it will remind you that your lines should be smooth continuous and unbroken. While your approach here is a long way from the dreaded "chicken scratching" I'd still like to encourage you to draw these with a single stroke in the future to avoid any little gaps or breaks.

You're mostly doing a good job of keeping your sausage forms simple as explained here. but the one at the top of your page with the contour curves has ends of different sizes and some pinching in the middle and that end in the top right corner isn't spherical.

I can see you're working on varying the degree of your contour curves, just keep in mind that the contour curves should get wider as we slide further away from the viewer along the length of a given cylindrical form. This is explained in the ellipses video from lesson 1, here.

When you draw an ellipse on the end remember that we can see the entirety of this ellipse because it's facing towards us - this also happens to serve as a very effective visual cue. You would want the contour curve next to it to curve as shown in this diagram. You have this correct for most of them, just that one at the top of the page with contour curves seems to have been a little miss-hap.

Continuing to your insect constructions you've done a good job of starting with simple forms and carefully building up complexity and detail step by step. There's plenty that you're doing well, although there are some areas where I can provide advice to help you continue to make the most out of these exercises. The first of these relates to differentiating between the actions we can take when interacting with a construction, which fall into two groups:

1 Actions in 2D space, where we're just putting lines down on a page, without necessarily considering the specific nature of the relationships between the forms they're meant to represent and the forms that already exist in the scene.

2 Actions in 3D space, where we're actually thinking about how each form we draw exists in 3D space, and how it relates to the existing 3D structures already present. We draw them in a manner that actually respects the 3D nature of what's already there, and even reinforces it.

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.

So for example, I've marked out on your shrimp areas where, in red, you cut back into the silhouettes of your forms, and in blue where you attempted to extend them out without really providing enough information for us to understand how those new additions were meant to exist in 3D space. I also called out a section where you'd replaced an existing line by crossing back and forth across it making little extensions and cuts back into your silhouette as you did so, and demonstrated a better alternative of building spikes as complete new forms attached to the existing surface.

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.

I need to call out that for a couple of your constructions, including this one which is your most recent, you appear to be drawing the first steps of your construction more faintly than the later ones. In some cases you're starting your constructions out with lines that are effectively designed to be replaced, and then going back in to apply a clean-up pass of thicker lines to replace them. While this is a valid approach in general, it is one we firmly avoid in this course, as discussed here in Lesson 2. These initial forms are not a loose underdrawing, but solid forms that make up the backbone of your constructions, so draw them clearly. When you trace back around the silhouette of your construction to add line weight it will generally result in your lines becoming more wobbly and undermining the solidity of your forms (as the wobbles make little alterations to the silhouette) so instead, make sure you reserve adding line weight just for where you want to clarify overlaps as explained here.

Continuing on, you've used a variety of different strategies for capturing the legs of your insects. It looks like you're working towards using the sausage method as described here, but aren't always applying it correctly. It's not uncommon for students to be aware of the sausage method, 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 important for tackling animal constructions too.

So for example, there is no need for you to include a central flow line for your leg sausages, as the sausage form itself will provide adequate gestural flow for you (and adding an extra flow line can cause these constructions to get unnecessarily cluttered.)

You appear to have missed the part of the sausage method diagram that states "NO contour lines through length of sausage, you'll flatten it needlessly." So for example the shrimp I marked on earlier has quite a lot of unnecesary contour lines on the legs and on this insect there is some rather liberal use of contour lines on the hind leg and abdomen.

Contour lines themselves fall into two categories. You've got those that sit along the surface of a single form (this is how they were first introduced in the organic forms with contour lines exercise, because it is the easiest way to do so), and you've got those that define the relationship and intersection between multiple forms - like those from the form intersections exercise. By their very nature, the form intersection type only really allows you to draw one such contour line per intersection, but the first type allows you to draw as many as you want. The question comes down to this: how many do you really need?

Unfortunately, that first type of contour line suffers from diminishing returns. The first one you add will probably help a great deal in making that given form feel three dimensional. The second however will help much less - but this still may be enough to be useful. The third, the fourth, the fifth... their effectiveness and contribution will continue to drop off sharply, and you're very quickly going to end up in a situation where adding another will not help. I find it pretty rare that more than two is really necessary. Anything else just becomes excessive.

Final thoughts While you are doing a lot of things fairly well I won't be moving you on to the next lesson just yet. Each lesson builds off concepts in the previous course material so if you move forward with un-addressed issues you may end up just creating further issues on top of them. Please complete 1 page of organic forms with contour curves (not ellipses) and 2 pages of insect constructions.

Next Steps:

1 page of organic forms with contour curves

2 pages of insect constructions

When finished, reply to this critique with your revisions.
10:52 PM, Friday November 11th 2022

Here's a link to the revisions.


2:43 PM, Saturday November 12th 2022

Hello JustCuteGirlzArt, thanks for replying with your revisions.

Starting with your organic forms, I'm pleased to see you're drawing the forms with a smooth, continouous line, good work. Pushing you out of your comfort zone has caused a couple of your forms to get a bit pinched in the middle but I'm confident that you'll be able to keep them simple after a little more practice in your warm ups.

When it comes to the ellipses on the ends, I just spotted that the work in your original submission was upside down, so when I was talking about the form at the top of the page being wrong, you may have thought I meant the bottom one. I do apologise if this caused you any confusion, to avoid this happening in the future, it helps if you check that your work is the right way up when you post it. I've marked on your work here which ends should have an ellipse on them because they face towards us, and which ends face away and will not have an ellipse. Look carefully at this diagram I shared with you previously, it shows which way the contour curves need to go. You can see that when an end is visible, there is a contour ellipse on that end, and the contour curve next to that ellipse curves away from the ellipse, not towards it.

There is a new issue here with some of your contour curves that wasn't present in your initial submission. Remember to hook your contour curves around the form. Uncomfortable calls it overshooting, and it is explained on the exercise instructions page here

Moving on to your insect constructions, you're taking steps to perform actions in 3d, and the way you've handled the head of your shrimp in particular is showing a lot of improvement. I'm not too sure what the heavy use of black on the abdomen segmentation is for. If you're adding cast shadows remember that they are cast from one form onto another, in a specific direction (away from the light source) so applying them uniformly the whole way across has flattened the form of your abdomen.

You're not applying the sausage method of leg construction correctly. I went over this at length in your critique. In particular I wrote in itallics "NO contour lines through length of sausage, you'll flatten it needlessly." So it does seem like you are not really doing what you need to in order to absorb and apply the feedback you've received. I've marked on a section of your work here one example where you're forgetting to add the curve for the intersection to reinforce the joint, and peppered the length of the sausages with contour lines instead.

On the subject of time, I noticed that you turned in three pages of revisions about 24 hours after I assigned them. While your enthusiasm is admirable, this does lead me to think that you may be underestimating how much time these constructions may need to take.

While we do not expect students to produce perfect work, or even good work, what we do require above all else is that the student invest their time in every way they need to execute the work to the best of their current abilities. That can mean taking as much time as one needs in the construction of each form, the drawing of each shape, and the execution of each mark. It can also mean taking plenty of time to observe one's reference - not just at the start of a drawing, but frequently throughout its process to inform every choice and decision we make. And moreover, it also means taking the time you require to ensure that the feedback that has been provided in the past - not just in reading through it the first time, but in revisiting it as frequently as you require to keep that information fresh in your mind as you work through the homework, or whatever else you may require to do so. For some students that means taking notes so they have what they need to keep in the forefront of their minds open in front of them as they do their next work. I'd reccomend you give this video a watch as it explains how to get the most out of Drawabox, and what your responsibilities as a student are.

I won't be moving you on to the next lesson just yet. Each lesson builds off concepts in the previous course material so if you move forward with un-addressed issues you may end up just creating further issues on top of them. Please complete 1 page of organic forms with contour curves and 2 pages of insect constructions.

Additionally, I'd like you to adhere to the following restrictions when approaching these revisions:

1- Don't work on more than one construction in a day. You can and should absolutely spread a single construction across multiple sittings or days if that's what you need to do the work to the best of your current ability (taking as much time as you need to construct each form, draw each shape, and execute each mark), but if you happen to just put the finishing touches on one construction, don't start the next one until the following day. This is to encourage you to push yourself to the limits of how much you're able to put into a single construction, and avoid rushing ahead into the next.

2- Write down beside each construction the dates of the sessions you spent on it, along with a rough estimate of how much time you spent in that session.

Of course if anything I've called out previously, or here, is unclear or confusing, you are allowed to ask questions.

Next Steps:

1 page of organic forms with contour curves

2 pages of insect constructions

When finished, reply to this critique with your revisions.
5:10 PM, Saturday November 12th 2022

Let me try to rephrase each of your criticisms just so we are both on the same page:

  1. When a sausage is pointed towards the viewer there should be a contour curve arching away from that side. The opposite is true when a side is pointed away from the viewer. The smaller the degree of the contour curve the less dramatic of the change will be. I will keep that in mind when doing the organic form exercise.

  2. my contour curves need to be more hooked

  3. the black line was originally a form that showed the segmentation of the shell. I tried to use a brush pen to create a shadow, but ended up messing it up and flattening the form

  4. No contour lines through the length of the sausage forms. I am a little confused by this as there were no constructions that I submitted for revisions that had a contour line through the length of the sausage form. The example you show doesn't have a contour line through the length. Did you mean the width? Because that is what you show in your example.

  5. You brought up time as being a concern and I'll be sure to record that on the pages, but I would like to know what is enough time? I spent 45 minutes on the sausage forms, and an hour each on the insect constructions. Is that not enough time?

Let me know if I missed anything.



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9:28 PM, Sunday November 20th 2022
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