what is texture / cast shadows really ?

3:05 PM, Tuesday November 1st 2022


Hello, like many others going through lesson 2, texture has been a difficult task for me.

My biggest obstacles when tackling texture seems to be that I do not even know what I am looking for besides "cast shadows" and I put cast shadows in quotation marks because I do not think I really know what they are anymore,

I thought they were simply the shadow cast by an object/form, however; when looking at the crumpled paper I can not seem to define cast shadows objectively enough for me to draw them,

I also do not really understand what texture is, is it a recurring pattern of some sort? Or simple stuff on top of the" main object"?

I have attached images of some of my work; besides drawing all over the place and not keeping track of proportions, I am not sure if I am on the right track or not.

Sorry for the long rant; I am sure I am probably overthinking some of this, but really pinpointing the point of the exercise would be helpful.

Thanx for reading


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7:50 PM, Tuesday November 1st 2022

I thought they were simply the shadow cast by an object/form, however; when looking at the crumpled paper I can not seem to define cast shadows objectively enough for me to draw them

As noted here in the assignment section where we mention the first row should be crumpled paper, I explain that this is actually something of a special case. Perhaps you missed this section, so give it another read - hopefully it will clarify your concerns.

I also do not really understand what texture is, is it a recurring pattern of some sort? Or simple stuff on top of the" main object"?

Texture is not a recurring pattern - it is referring to the smaller forms arranged along the surface of another object - so in your words, it's the "simple stuff on top of the main object". These notes from the lesson should help explain the process of how we engage with our references to extract that 3D information and use it to make decisions on how we design our shadow shapes.

2:28 PM, Friday November 4th 2022

Hi Uncomfortable. I have noticed over the past year how many questions concerning texture there are. I did lesson 2, the texture challenge, and have continued to practice texture on my own. And I still find it challenging and confusing. Apparently I am not alone. I know you have been revamping your lessons. Have you redone the texture one yet?

Personally what would be helpful is a wide variety of exemplars, maybe in the 10 to 15 range. I feel that would be very helpful for learning the process. I understand however why you wouldn't want to do this, however, as students tend to just try to copy what the teacher does in the "correct" model. "This is how you do fried chicken", "this is how you do tortoise shells", etc. It does appear to be one of the areas that cause the most trouble for students though, so just spit balling an idea to help.

7:08 PM, Friday November 4th 2022

The texture section is something we are indeed going to be addressing with one of the more significant parts of the overhaul, and we have some plans on how to tackle that differently than we are now. However, the overhaul is progressing very slowly, due to the fact that there's very little time in between critiquing the continuous flow of submissions we receive, and so I have no guarantees as to when the overhaul will reach this section.

6:58 PM, Tuesday November 8th 2022

hello uncomfortable, thank you for your comments and sorry for the late reply.

in regards to the first part(crumpled paper) i do not understand how i can focus on "black shapes" when a black shape is not defined; it is more of a scale from white to black or black to white,so when it comes to drawing the shapes i do not understand where the middle value shapes go, as white or as black? to but it simply in my mind there are a lot of values and defing them with just black and white is not clicking.

second part, what about bricks on a wall, you mentioned they are not a texture,however, are they not forms on a surface, a wall? just like the fish wallpaper?

hopefully what i said makes sense.

thank you

7:58 PM, Wednesday November 9th 2022

Crumpling up a piece of paper results in the once flat page (which was essentially a single plane) forming many separate planes, each oriented differently from one another. Thus the form shading on them differs, some being lighter, some being darker, due to their orientation in space. You would essentially be picking a level of darkness, anything darker than which you'd represent as black, and anything lighter than which you'd represent as white - resulting in your different major planes being either black or white.

As to your second question, the pattern of bricks (where you've got rectangles laid out) is not a texture, but the bricks themselves - where you have some bricks sticking out more, some sticking out less, the brick material and the mortar between them having their own little bumps, scrapes, flakes, etc. - are texture, made up of forms along the simple flat surface of the wall itself.

7:05 PM, Thursday November 10th 2022

hello Uncomfortable, thank you for you quick response.

Okay the paper forming many separate planes, due to it being crumpled makes sense, however. i do not understand"picking a level of white or black" would that not make the observation of what is white and black subjective? how do i know if i am doing the assignment right, when it is kind of subjective ?

Thank you.

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9:50 AM, Wednesday November 2nd 2022

It is very easy to confuse texture with pattern, especially if the object reference has a relatively uniform pattern on the surface. i made this mistake on a first attempt as practising the exercise. I chose a woven pot holder that seemed like a good idea because the surface is very contoured with a lot of obvious shadow, but those contours are very uniform and regular. the 'trap' in using this type of surface is that the brain keys on thr pattern and not the shadows that define the contours. Observing drop shadow finally clicked in my brain when I chose a surface that was as randomly rough as possible with no discernable pattern that could be drawn without direct observation of the object... that is the mental trap for me - if the texture is uniform and repeatable, my brain reverts from drawing what I see to drawing the pattern from memory. Brains love patterns.

The fried chicken surface texture in the lesson is a great example of random texture, but it is a complex object. I needed something much more simple. Crumpled paper works, but there are some ways to make it easier to observe the drop shadows, which might help just to give your eyes and brain a very clear example to start with. First, don't crumple the paper... randomly fold it as many times and in many directions as possible. Think origami. Them open the sheet up and press it flat. Shine a light on the paper from a side angle that is elevated, but not more than 45degrees, which will create distinct shadows. Then take a photo of the surface from directly over the page, not for use as a reference to draw from, but as a way to give your brain an example of what your drawing on a flat piece of paper will look like. It helps to edit the photo by boosting the contrast a lot. Then spend some time mentally comparing the photo to the paper and linking the shadows on the paper to the shadows in the photo. I know this sounds like a lot, but it is really about five minutes of effort. The objective, for me at least, was to try to make it as easy as possible for my brain to register the drop shadows observed in a texture by eliminating as much distracting stuff in the observation as possible.

I did this only as an exercise to think about and did not save that high contrast photo, or even draw that example, so I cannot post it. i will recreate it and try to post and example, but we are literally packed up and starting a move today.

12:54 AM, Friday November 4th 2022
edited at 1:07 AM, Nov 4th 2022

Here is what I did to help see cast shadows in textures.

Randomly folded piece of paper, flattened and then illuminated with a light from one side at a 45 degree angle. I snapped a photo, made it monochrome and boosted the contrast. Since the paper itself is white, any level of grey is a shadow. The darker the shadow, the 'deeper' the contour.


Here is a crumple piece of paper prepared the same way.


This helped me to see the cast shadows as they relate to texture more clearly. I hope you find it helpful.

edited at 1:07 AM, Nov 4th 2022
7:23 PM, Tuesday November 8th 2022

First of all, thank you so much Tjudy, this is a lot of effort to help a stranger on the internet, really appreciate it.

A few questions though:

what are distinct shadows ?

what are drop shadows ?

What is deep contour ?

and do you mind if i see some of your texture work?

Thank you

5:33 PM, Sunday November 13th 2022

Here is what I understand those terms to mean... but I may not understand them as well as I should.

distinct shadow... I think this what you get when a cast shadow closely resembles the object that the shadow is being cast from. For example, stand in direct sunlight and your cast shadow would be distinct. An example of a cast shadow that is not as distinct could be the shadow cast by a forest. The shape of the shadow does not match any one tree, so it is not distinct.

A drop shadow is a graphic design tool to create a 3D effect. The shadow is drawn slighly off set behind the object (or letters) to 'lift' the object off the page.

A deep contour is when the elevation of one section of the subject/object is different than an adjacent part of the object, and the linear distance on the object between those sections is relatively short. An example could be a very choppy surface of a body of water. The result in drawing should be darker shadows between those parts of the drawing. The deeper the contour, the harder it is for light to penetrate.

Here is a link to my Lesson 2 HW exercises 1-4: https://imgur.com/a/41X0t6n

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