Project Example: Depth from Brightness: 3

AD 175: Visual Structures

Project Example: Depth from Brightness

Title of Project

Depth from brightness

Methods and Concepts

Figure/ground, planar/volumetric interpretation, physical-visual structure


Figure/ground, gradient, line (implied), size, shape, brightness, texture, depth cues: shadows/shading


As realization of brightness as a depth cue, create a relief with white paper. Illuminate the relief at a low angle to create shadows and a full range of brightness. Create a brightness study drawing of the completed relief using only small black dots on paper. Observe how line is implied, but does not actually exist.


Paper of various stocks/weights, Bristol board, adhesives, black fine-tipped felt-tip pen, focused light such as a desklamp or flashlight

Physical processes

1. Create a paper relief 7” x 7” x 1” in heavyweight white paper. Start by creating a shallow box of Bristol board. The relief may use cutting, folding, tearing, curling, and fastening to create the design. Be exact in the measurements.
2. Illuminate the relief from a low angle to create shadows and a full range of brightness. Do this in a location that it can remain undisturbed.
3. Create a brightness study drawing of the relief. The study will be on Bristol board, 7” x 7”. Use a fine felt-tip pen and create the study using only dots (no lines) to create the brightness gradients. Be exact in the measurements (seeCritique)

Critique approach

Steps #2 and #3 will be assembled as a large format presentation in class with all of the projects assembled in a grid. So all of the #2 stages will create one grid and all of the #3 stages will create a second grid. The critique will involve discussion of the individual elements of the grid as well as the grid as a whole. Re-arrangement of elements of the grid can be explored.

Return to the Project Examples