Lesson 4: Applying Construction to Insects and Arachnids
Black Widow Demo
This demo is a little older, having been published in August 2016. As such, while I have decided that there is still something of value here, any techniques or approaches outlined in demonstrations not flagged with this message should be considered to take precedence over what is covered here. This is a natural part of Drawabox being an evolving, growing resource.
Unfortunately I wasn't able to get reference with a pose I liked that had the iconic red hour glass on it. Oh well.
This photograph was taken by Bo Jonsson.
Step by step
So you want to start out by fleshing out your three major forms - head, thorax and abdomen. Even in the case of spiders, with their cephalothorax (fused head/thorax), I'll usually still block them out as separate masses very close together, but in this particular situation the reference doesn't really show me much of the head. So, we've got the thorax and abdomen.
Next I want to try and find out roughly where and how the legs connect to the body. It can be helpful to look up other images of your subject matter, especially ones that show how the underside of its body is arranged.
It also helps to block in those joints (as circles) for the opposite side of the body as well, at least for the legs that are going to be visible. Of course, being on the opposite side of the body, we are likely going to take steps later to flatten them out and make them less dominant, but for now we want to make sure we can largely understand how the whole object exists in three dimensions.
At first glance this may seem like a huge jump, but it's absolutely not. Each leg is segmented, and so while carefully observing my reference image, I built each segment out one at a time. I find the most success from drawing the same segment for all of the legs before moving onto the next, rather than building out each leg one at a time. This helps keep the arrangement balanced, rather than finding later on that you've accidentally run out of space to include the last leg in any reasonable way.
You will make mistakes in your arrangement of things, but at least this way you can compensate and shift things around together, evenly spreading out the impact of your blunder over all of the legs rather than having it focused on one.
The most important thing I've done here is just adding line weight (and blacking out a few small sections to help clarify my leg-forms and reduce a lot of the clutter going on). At this stage in the drawing, you're going to have a lot of overlapping lines vying for your viewer's attention. You want to set these out in a sort of hierarchy of importance, so your viewer ultimately knows what to look at first. As we covered in the last lesson, your first tool for achieving this is simple line weight to clarify what exists in front of what. Second is filling in areas with solid black to help another area of white to really pop into view.
You'll also notice that for the back legs, I added some very simple, straight hatching. Straight hatching on a rounded object is usually a no-no, because it'll flatten your form out completely. In this case, that's what I want. It's a design choice to help push those legs back in terms of importance. I want the viewer's eye to glaze over those details in favour of the legs closer to them.
My last step is limited to just a few minor touches - adding a cast shadow (just a quick outline of the shape with no fill whatsoever) and little details to suggest what kind of ground this creature is resting upon. It's not that important, but it does help in terms of presentation to ground the object and offer hints regarding the world beyond this very focused snapshot.
The Science of Deciding What You Should Draw
Right from when students hit the 50% rule early on in Lesson 0, they ask the same question - "What am I supposed to draw?"
It's not magic. We're made to think that when someone just whips off interesting things to draw, that they're gifted in a way that we are not. The problem isn't that we don't have ideas - it's that the ideas we have are so vague, they feel like nothing at all. In this course, we're going to look at how we can explore, pursue, and develop those fuzzy notions into something more concrete.