Lesson 3: Applying Construction to Plants
The demos here have been drawn in the course of a student's homework critique, but contain information that can be useful to all working through this material.
Building upon forms that aren't already flat
This is something we look at more in the next lesson, but with certain structures - like cacti and some mushrooms - you may find yourself wanting to build more complexity on top of structures that are already 3D and voluminous, rather than the flat leaves and petals we introduced at the beginning of this lesson.
Unfortunately, using the same technique of altering the silhouette of that structure doesn't work. Instead, we have to build up new, complete forms onto the existing structure, making sure everything continues to read as three dimensional.
Here you'll find some notes on issues I frequently see from students once you've broken free of the first two lessons. The bit about lines and the tendency to draw them with no real variation or liveliness to them is an especially common one. Remember that a line drawn confidently will always have a little bit of tapering where it touches down and where it lifts off the page.
If you're having trouble reading the handwriting due to the unfortunately small scale of the image, here's a transcription of it: https://pastebin.com/T9FAnStH
Complex leaf structures
All too often I have students who look at the leaf construction method and think, "this is for leaves, and therefore all leaves are inevitably constructed with these exact steps in this exact order".
Instead, think about what the steps are meant to achieve, and consider that a tool in your toolbox for approaching anything similar to a leaf. Sometimes a leaf is composed of multiple smaller leaves - so consider applying the technique to each smaller element, then merging them.
If you're having trouble reading the handwriting due to the unfortunately small scale of the image, here's a transcription of it: https://pastebin.com/niMEJiUD
Poles - like what you'll find on the top and bottom of a globe - are extremely useful when it comes to taking a circle and making it feel like a sphere. They are essentially contour ellipses, but the key point here is that the whole thing is visible and does not go onto the opposite side of the sphere, since it is facing us.
Ellipse Master Template
This recommendation is really just for those of you who've reached lesson 6 and onwards.
I haven't found the actual brand you buy to matter much, so you may want to shop around. This one is a "master" template, which will give you a broad range of ellipse degrees and sizes (this one ranges between 0.25 inches and 1.5 inches), and is a good place to start. You may end up finding that this range limits the kinds of ellipses you draw, forcing you to work within those bounds, but it may still be worth it as full sets of ellipse guides can run you quite a bit more, simply due to the sizes and degrees that need to be covered.
No matter which brand of ellipse guide you decide to pick up, make sure they have little markings for the minor axes.