Lesson 3: Applying Construction to Plants

4:47 AM, Wednesday August 30th 2023

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Lesson 3 completed

I think my leaves got better as the lesson went on, but I am still not sure what the flowline is supposed to be. Like if its curved, does that mean that the side where the curve leads has to be bigger and be like the curve or smaller? I am not really sure, I kinda just went with the flow and hoped for the best lol

I am very thankful for your time in reviewing my homework and I cant wait to hear from the team!

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5:27 PM, Thursday August 31st 2023

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

Arrows

Starting with your arrows your linework is looking confident and smooth which helps communicate the feeling of fluidity that arrows have as they move through the world. You're making really good use of the depth of the page and your arrows are looking fairly tridimensional.

It's good to see that you're making use of both well applied hatching as that helps you clarify how your arrows twist and turn in space and reinforce your spatial reasoning skills. Making use of added lineweight on top of the arrow's overlaps as a finishing touch is a nice touch which helps reinforce the feeling of depth in your arrows. In order to make your lineweight even more subtle you should try to taper your new lines, creating a smooth transition between the original mark and the new one.

The only thing you can do in order to take your understanding of arrows and 3D space further is by exploring the different ways arrows can move across the world, while your arrows certainly look tridimensional, they're a bit too similar to one another, explore the different ways they can twist and bend and move across the world as well as experiment with the negative space between overlaps.

Leaves

Moving on to your leaves the fluidity present in your arrows is generally showing through in your leaves, you're not only trying to capture how they sit statically within space, but you're also putting in the effort to draw how these leaves move through space from moment to moment.

There are some unnatural folds found in your structures which flatten them, keep in mind that leaves are very much like arrows as they move through space, they're flexible objects, but they're not stretchy, when they move through space their size must be kept consistent - like a piece of paper, if you try to stretch it on it's sizes to force it to move in a way it can't, it will simply rip apart.

When it comes to your edge detail, keep in mind that it must always be approached additively whenever possible, avoid cutting back into the forms you've already drawn, as that can cause us to focus too much on the 2d shapes present in our page, instead of the edges they represent in 3d space.

It seems that you're attempting to add some texture to your leaf structures, but it's looking really implicit as you draw what you think leaf texture look like, instead of focusing on the principles of texture in Drawabox. Take a look at this demo that demonstrates how we can create more dynamic shadow shapes, as well as this informal demo on how to think when approaching leaf texture, notice how there's a lot more going on than just a couple lines implying veins in the surface of the leaf - there's a lot you can explore to more convincingly communicate this type of tridimensional information.

Branches

For your branches you have a couple noticeable divergences from the instructions for this exercise. You're not following the simple characteristics for branches - simple cylinders with no foreshortening - make sure not to try to alter the exercises from what's shown in the lesson material.

Make sure to keep filled in areas of black reserved for cast shadows only, instead, make use of hatching in order to show which side of your branches is closer to the viewer.

It's good that you're drawing your edges in segments, but you're not always completely extending your edges fully up to the halfway point between ellipses, this partially removes the overlaps between marks that we wish to achieve in this exercise.

So make sure to revisit the instructions for the exercise, and follow them closely, on top of this, make sure to place your ellipses further apart, currently they're too close together, which doesn't allow for a nice length of runway which is important for a smoother, seamless transition between marks.

For your ellipses you're putting in the effort to always draw through them twice. Something you should keep in mind is that many of your ellipses degrees barely change when they should due to how the ellipse degree shift works, as shown here. Remember that as a cylindrical form shifts towards or away from the viewer, the degree of the ellipses within that structure will also shift.

Plant Construction Section

And lastly let's take a look at your plant constructions, which are looking fairly tridimensional, you're generally making use of the construction methods introduced in the lessons to good effect, which help you create structures that feel fairly solid and tridimensional. There are a couple of issues here and there in your constructions, so here's some things you should look out for in your next attempts at these exercises.

Make sure that you're always drawing through your forms and constructing them fully, in this construction there are a couple of spots where you haven't drawn through some of your forms, such as leaves or branch like structures, this limits your ability to work through these tridimensional puzzles and keeps you from engaging your sense of spatial reasoning and truly understanding how the object you're drawing works, where it comes from, how all of it's parts exist together in 3d space.

On top of this, always follow the instructions for the exercises to the letter, as you haven't drawn your branch structures in the previous construction as they're outlined in the instructions for the exercise.

Don't leave any of your forms open ended, such as your branch structures in your daisy, leaving forms open ended will undermine the solidity of your construction, so make sure to always close them, or cap branch structures with an ellipse.

The leaf structures present in this construction are much looser than they could be, that's because you're not respecting the boundaries laid down by the initial construction, which flattens and stiffens your structure. When leave structures make it so that it's impossible to construct it without cutting back into your initial structure, you can still respect the solidity of your construction by still abiding to the same principles of edge detail, this informal demo shows how this can be possible.

For your Venus fly trap there are a couple of changes that you could have made which would have allowed you to create a tighter and more specific structure. Currently you approached the "body" or the "stem" of the venus fly trap as a sort of leaf shape, while this is a valid way to approach this structure it leans too heavily on the side of oversimplification for this part of the plant structure and makes the structure feel fragile and flimsy.

This part of the Venus Fly Trap is actually cylindrical in nature, but it's hidden underneath the more leafy part of the stem, it's helpful to understand this because you can then simplify the forms by capturing this part of the structure as a branch structure ( which helps specify how the trap of the venus flytrap connects to the rest of the structure ) and afterwards build the rest of the structure with the leaf construction method, which will allow for a structure that feels less flimsy and much more solid, while still capturing it's overall look.

  • When drawing cylindrical structures such as plant pots, make sure to do so around a minor axis, this will help you keep your several ellipses aligned to one another much more easily. Going further, you must also attempt to construct the outer rim present in most types of plant pots and vases, and add an extra inner ellipse in order to communicate the thickness of the border of the pot and the plane shift to the inside of the vase.

    think my leaves got better as the lesson went on, but I am still not sure what the flowline is supposed to be. Like if its curved, does that mean that the side where the curve leads has to be bigger and be like the curve or smaller? I am not really sure, I kinda just went with the flow and hoped for the best lol

You can think of the flow line as the spine of the leaf, it's the representation of the forces that flow through your leaf structure and it establishes how it will move through 3d space. The different parts of the leaf work in conjunction, but are not completely dependent on one another, one part can go up and the other can go down, as long as the initial flow line allows for it, usually flow lines which are more curvy will allow for more experimentation than the ones which are more straight, but you can still curve your outer edges around it in a way that feels realistic.

When constructing leaves think of the forces that flow through them, but also keep in mind that while flexible, leaves are not stretchy, they can bend easily, but not compress or stretch in order to move, if a piece of paper would rip if you tried to bend it in a certain way, so would a leaf.

Final Thoughts

I believe you've shown yourself to understand the concepts shown here and be capable of applying them to your work, a lot of it is pretty solid and turning out very well, although you're encountering a couple bumps and hiccups along the way as you don't always apply the instructions as carefully as you should. Make sure to take as much time as you need in order to ensure you're always applying the instructions to their full extent, so that you can get the most out of these exercises.

I'm going to be marking this submission as complete. Good luck in Lesson 4.

Next Steps:

Don't forget to add these exercises to your list of warm ups, in order to keep improving your skills.

Move on to Lesson 4.

This critique marks this lesson as complete.
6:15 PM, Thursday August 31st 2023

Hey hey, I have some questions, I hope that is alright.

1, do I draw plants as potential warm ups too now? I find it very hard to start and stop a long project like this and treat it as a warm-up, I have a lot of problems with doing warm-ups that arent the tables of ellipses and straight lines actually (I replaced the straight line warm-up with form intersection now tho), I havent done anything in texture for a bit because of it haha. I try but my 15 minutes are up before I am done looking at my ref or before I have done more than a few strokes so I never really know what to do haha

2, I dont really understand how shifting ellipses works. I understand what is meant but I dont really know from what angle someone is looking at it. I mostly shift them when an object goes away/towards the viewer, bending away from it. But otherwise I don't know how I am supposed to make them bigger or smaller, considering that if something stiff and round is just infront of me, the ellipses will barley change, except if the object is like super long or I am looking at it from a not straight angle, but again, I dont know where the viewer is in relation to my object, which makes that subjective, I suppose? You can see me using different degrees here https://i.imgur.com/uUeYdnw.jpg for example because the bamboo and vase go down, so I understand that the ellipses go wider the further down it goes. But with a stiff stick there isnt really much to do, the ellipses change so little that its very hard to really show them change, you know?

3, I didnt really leave my daisy open, its going outside the page because I didnt want it to look cut off, is that not allowed?

4, I didnt draw through my forms at point because I ironically I wanted to understand my object better. I did a lot of mistakes because I couldnt tell which object was infront which and it threw my understanding of the form either off or made the form look so confusing that it became a mess to work with. I know we are supposed to make edges thicker where the objects overlap but I was told to do that with the same speed and confidence as with any other lines and when the line is either very small or curvy it becomes a real mess to make the line perfectly match up. And if I mess it up too much it becomes even more confusing to look at. I dont really know how I will do the insects and animals with that problem haha

And lastly,

"The leaf structures present in this construction are much looser than they could be, that's because you're not respecting the boundaries laid down by the initial construction, which flattens and stiffens your structure. When leave structures make it so that it's impossible to construct it without cutting back into your initial structure, you can still respect the solidity of your construction by still abiding to the same principles of edge detail, this informal demo shows how this can be possible."

I am sorry for being a bit slow here, but I dont really know what you mean by that. How do I respect the structure? Because the other demos also went outside the shape of the leave and when the leave is really edgy and big its impossible not to go very off structure. I am also still not sure what the flowline is haha. Like if I can make a stiff flowline still with a curvy leave and a bend parts of the leaves as I please then whats the point of the flowline? I thought the point was to have something to closely follow and so I can focus on one problem at a time, but what problem does it solve? Again, sorry for being a bit slow here, I just dont really understand what it means haha

Sorry for the long message, please do take your time responding, I wont do Drawabox for a week (break time) so you have all the time in the world to respond. Thank you and have an amazing day!

10:39 PM, Saturday September 2nd 2023

Hello turtlebelowski, I will do my best to try to clarify some things.

  1. Basically this is up to you. Here is what Uncomfortable himself says on the matter:

So this is one of those areas where we keep things a little vague so the expectations we place on our students aren't excessive, while also leaving the door open for the student to venture into that territory of their own volition.

Basically, every single drawing we do throughout this course is technically an exercise - including the constructional drawings, which are less about drawing a particular thing, and more about the 3D spatial puzzle we're forced to solve in the process. When it comes to the warmups, we definitely want students doing regular rotations of the exercises they encountered throughout Lessons 1 and 2, the challenges, as well as the exercises we encounter here for the leaves and branches.

In terms of the actual constructional drawing exercises that involve actually constructing something based on one or more reference images, we certainly are open to students including that kind of thing into their regular workflow, but because the warmups are generally framed as two or three exercises chosen at random to do for 10-15 minutes, there's definitely a time aspect to it. It is of course fine for students to allocate additional time if the particular task demands it, but we also encourage students to look at spreading an exercise across multiple sittings, or in the case of the rotated boxes, doing just one quadrant instead of all four.

Warmups serve two purposes - they're to help us loosen up and get in the right frame of mind to embark on the next step in the course itself, and they're there to help us continue refining and developing our skills. The 10-15 minute aspect leans towards the former priority, and makes it more difficult to also include the constructional drawing exercises as part of that.

So instead, I leave it vague. Students certainly can continue exploring the kinds of constructions they've tackled in previous lessons, but doing so as part of the 10-15 minute warmups probably isn't the best spot to do it. Rather, you may want to set aside a session here and there to do a constructional drawing of a random type - but ultimately how you go about it is up to you.

  1. It's important that you're always thinking critically about your constructions, because the ellipse degree shift is dependent on where the viewer is in relation to your form, not on whether your form is stiff, straight, or bending in any way. Every cylindrical form will always have some variation in the ellipses in it, whether that change is more drastic or more subtle will vary, but it will always be there.

The degrees of your ellipses are not subjective, they will follow the rules introduced in the section that explains the ellipse degree shift, in order for you to make the most use of it you must consider the angle your structure is being viewed at, is it being viewed from the top? Or closer to it's middle? If your cylindrical structure is being looked at from a high angle, that means that your ellipse's degrees will get wider as they go down, if it's a low angle, they will get wider as they go up, if they're at a fairly neutral angle, being viewed straight on, the thinnest ellipses will be closest to the middle of your structure.

  1. Don't let forms run off the page, do your best to keep your constructions contained to the inside of your page. If a form, such as a branch is going to run off from the page then it's best to cut it, and cap it off with an ellipse.

  2. You will not understand how your object sits in space better by not drawing through your forms, this will do the opposite and make it harder for you to understand how each of the forms in your structure exist in relation to one another, as well as risk flattening your structure.

Not drawing through your forms because you want to understand how they sit in space better is a bit counterintuitive, it doesn't actually help you understand how your structure sits in space because it doesn't help you understand how each piece connects in space, how each forms exists in relation to the other, how they're all influenced by one another in a real, 3d space. Remember that the point of these exercises is not the end result, the most important part is the process, as this process of solving the spatial reasoning challenges present in your reference, working your brain and forcing yourself to understand this structure are what actually matters, not how easy it is for you to draw it.

It will feel confusing at first, it will be hard - one of the hardest things you can do, it will be messy and you won't understand what you're doing or what the point might be, but you can only develop your skills by doing the exercises as they're instructed, the more you practice these exercises the more you'll develop your skills, and the easier it will become to navigate your constructions.

I am sorry for being a bit slow here, but I dont really know what you mean by that. How do I respect the structure? Because the other demos also went outside the shape of the leave and when the leave is really edgy and big its impossible not to go very off structure.

It means you must respect the original construction, think of it as grabbing some scissors and cutting back into them - your cut must start at your outer edge, cut the piece of leaf necessary, then come back and integrate seamlessly into the outer edge, this is what's shown in this informal demo. All of the Drawabox demos respect this fact because whether the edge detail is being worked on additively or subtractively, that is building on top of the leaf, or cutting back into it, it always comes back to the outer edge.

There may be some small moments where the demos have some small mistakes, such as zigzagged edges and such, but keep in mind that they are not supposed to be a perfect representation of how these structures should be approached, instead they're a demonstration of how the construction techniques and methods introduced in the lesson can be used in a different set of plant structures so that you can have a good basis when you tackle plant constructions on your own.

I am also still not sure what the flowline is haha. Like if I can make a stiff flowline still with a curvy leave and a bend parts of the leaves as I please then whats the point of the flowline?

Again, you can think of the flowline as the spine of the leaf, it's the backbone ( haha get it? ) of your construction for this type of structure, it establishes how your structure will move in space, just like how your first line establishes how your arrow will look like in the first exercise for this lesson.

But differently from arrows, which only have 1 side to them, leaves have two sides, and to clarify, the outer edges are not completely dependent on one another, the lines you make for them don't need to be perfect mirrors of each other, one line can be more curvy, the other more straight, but you must consider how the entirety of your structure exists in space, as leaves are, for the most part, symmetrical. They must be symmetrical in 3d space, but that doesn't mean that the 2d lines you make to achieve that goal need to be the same.

However your outer edges are still dependent on the flow line, which is the most important part of the leaf structure. It always establishes the forces that flow through your structure - the wind, gravity, their own weight, the more curved your flow line is the more obvious this is. Your flow line will always establish where your outer edge marks start and end, and because the outer edges must be simple curves the flow line establishes not only how your leaf moves through space, but the extent of how your outer edges will be laid down.

This may feel confusing, but as you continue to practive leaves the purpose of the flow line will become more clearer.

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