5:19 AM, Friday October 16th 2020
Alrighty, so going over your submission, there's definitely a lot of work here and you've put a great deal of effort into it. I'm glad to hear that you did stretch this over many months, and as a whole you are demonstrating some well developing observational skills. That said, there are suggestions I have that should help you apply what you're learning through that observation more effectively into your actual texture gradients.
Just to set you at ease, though, no - the notes aren't important to me. It's just there to push the student to think more about what they're seeing, to further encourage study and observation.
The first thing I wanted to call out is an issue that is present in most of your gradients - it's that big black bar on the far left. As mentioned in the exercise, it's there specifically so in controlling the density of your gradient as you move from one side to the other, you can obscure and hide the side edge of that black bar. To put it simply, the goal is that in the end you no longer can identify where the black bar ends and where your texture work begins. For example, looking at this example or any of those here, there is no straight line to be discerned at all. If however we look at most of yours, there's enough visible portions of that black bar's straight edge peeking through (even if there are other places where it's a little hidden) that we can tell precisely where the black bar was. This simply means that you're not pushing the darks in your gradients enough, and it's not getting dense enough on the far left.
The second point I'd like to make is precisely what the marks we draw in this gradient are to be. As mentioned in the exercise instructions, as well as in the section from lesson 2 on implicit drawing techniques (that is, the techniques we use to communicate texture to the viewer), every single mark we draw as part of a texture is a shadow shape. Generally speaking, they're cast shadows specifically, meaning that they're filled shapes created by a form blocking a light source from reaching another surface.
In order to draw those shadow shapes correctly, it is necessary for us to use our observational skills, not to see the shadows themselves, but to identify the forms that cast them. From here, we find the shadows they're casting in our reference, and use our spatial reasoning skills to grasp how that would be captured in our drawing. This means thinking about how the shadow shape we want to draw is going to relate to the form casting it, and how it's going to wrap around the surface upon which it is falling. It sounds complicated - and arguably it is - but it's really just thinking about how these forms are all 3D, even if at a very small scale.
One thing that helps us focus on these shadow shapes is to specifically change how we go about making our marks. It's very easy to get caught up in outlining our textural forms (a big no-no since we're working implicitly rather than explicitly), but if we purposely draw all our textural marks using a two-step process as shown here (first outlining our shadow shape, then filling it in) then we can avoid that mistake. In addition to this, it basically eliminates the option of drawing with any basic lines/strokes, which themselves aren't nearly as dynamic as shapes can be as shown here.
Since you still ended up relying a fair bit on outlines, you ran into a lot of trouble when you had to figure out how to draw the sparser end of the texture to the right side. Lines tend to lock you in, so when you can no longer outline everything, you have to change to a whole new strategy, which results in a more visible shift from one to the other. If instead you work in shadow shapes all the way through, the further to the left you move, the more those shadows expand. It's still the same strategy though, so the transition is fluid and seamless.
The last thing I wanted to call out is that there's a trap you fall into on occasion where you fall into the trap of filling in "spaces". Rather than drawing shadow shapes, which relate directly to another existing form, you take a form itself (positive space) or the space between forms (negative space) and you fill them in. Because these are not cast shadows, the filled shapes don't give us the kind of information about the textural forms that are present that we would expect. A shadow when drawn correctly will actually tell us about the relationship between a form and the surface upon which its shadow is cast - but if we're just filling spaces in, the shape doesn't end up being useful in that way, and we're unable to gain the same kind of understanding from it.
As a side note, it's worth pointing out that the giraffe and melon 'textures' aren't actually textures at all. Texture is made up of 3D forms, whereas these are more about local coloration of a surface, and therefore is a pattern. That's the information we generally strip away and ignore (along with all local colour) in this course. The giraffe itself still has a texture, one of very short fur, and so does the melon (with little pocks and ridges, and the webbing itself actually has a texture because it's very slightly raised compared to the rest of the melon), but that wasn't what you were focusing on.
So! Hopefully this has been helpful to you. I'm still happy to mark this challenge as complete, as it's all about the journey and the exploration. There's still plenty of room for growth, but you're headed in the right direction.