Document Design and Production



Sketch an egg


Sketch an egg and post your image to blackboard.

Put the egg on the table and spend 30 minutes sketching it (even those of you, like me, who are not artists). There is an image below that has a red circle on it; that is how much you sketch or maybe a little more. However, zoom in on the texture of the egg surface. You are not creating a still-life with eggs.



This idea come up yesterday in a different context, but it fits within the deeper philosophy of the critical thinking papers.
First, I want you to go get a pencil, paper, and a white egg.  Put the egg on the table and spend 30 minutes sketching it (even those of you, like me, who are not artists).  If you need help, google “draw an egg.” I’ll wait.
Now that you are back (yeah, right, like anyone actually did it.), you either took 10 seconds to draw an oval or you only had half the egg sketched and need at least another 30 minutes.

Here’s the issue that relates to critical thinking. Instead of the sketch, let’s think of writing a description of it:  “It’s a white oval with a yellow yolk inside”….crap, I’m suppose to write 500 words and I’m out of stuff to say at 9.  By the way, we are only looking at the outside of the egg, the yellow yolk is irrelevant to this discussion. Stay focused in your critical thinking.

In astronomy, images though an eyepiece don’t look anything like the color photos that show up in magazines. Even this image looks better than what is often seen through the eye piece.:

To learn to see more detail, you are told to sketch it.  You have to spend time really looking at it and pulling out the subtle differences. To learn to do that, you learn to sketch eggs.

The thing is, if you really take the 30 minutes, you start to see lots of detail on the egg.  The surface isn’t smooth, it has a texture. There are shadows with the light.  But it’s all very subtle, that’s what makes it so hard to sketch. And I want you to sketch ONLY a part of the egg.

In the critical thinking papers, yes, I’m accusing you of saying “it’s a white oval”  What I want you start to figure out is the subtle shadings and textures.  At the length we are dealing with, you only have time to consider the part of the egg inside the red circle. Your entire sketch (or critical thinking paper) should only consider that small area.
There is a lot going on just within that circle, but you need to train yourself to see it.

Here's what one student turned in. He said he was a horrible artst, but his girl friend wass really good. These are her sketches. Total it took her about 30 seconds for the egg from memory and maybe 2 minutes for the sketch looking at an egg.

I included this image in a negative way.  The sketch from memory is more/less equivalent to the designer who asks you a few questions and then goes off and creates a design with no further input.  The deeper issues of audience, prior knowledge, the subtle levels of what should be communicated get ignored.  Instead, a generic design (egg) gets created. The sketch that was made looking at the egg is too high level.

I realized that at some level, the detail level of the design (and the egg) needs to be done as if there are two different eggs.  If there were two eggs, you should be able to tell from the drawing which egg was which.  The subtleties of the surface textures, rather than just the basic shadows, need to be captured. Drawing the design like this, with background and shadows, etc. capture the big picture, but tell us nothing about the details of the egg.

That is why you only sketch a small part of the egg shell. The part in the red circle.

Now, go sketch the egg….seriously.


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