CS 467 - Sketches

Class sketchbooks

One of the requirements for this class is that you maintain a virtual "sketchbook". What does that mean?


In physical terms, we think of a sketch as being a rough, possibly hastily made, drawing or painting. A virtual sketch will be similar, but made with code. These are typically quick experiments to test out ideas. While you shouldn't completely abandon good programming practices, they definitely take a back seat to quick exploration. This is a place where happy accidents can happen. Maybe in your haste, you don't achieve what you set out to, but it still is visually compelling -- that's okay. Or maybe you implement what you meant to, but visually it falls flat -- that's also okay.

Please read the articles written by Zach Leiberman about his daily sketches in 2016 and 2017. Leiberman discusses a lot about his approach, and how he views the sketching process, which I think will be valuable to you. He also goes into a fair amount of detail about his various experiments which will hopefully serve as inspiration for you.

I will not be asking you to do daily sketches (though I won't stand in your way either). However, if you do the math, you should be doing almost two sketches a week if you are aiming for an A in the class.

What to sketch?

Really, you can sketch anything you want. My hope is that you will be inspired about things that we talk about or do in class, and will want to try to emulate what you have seen or you want to try out variations. Or perhaps you will get inspired by something you find online or in a book. I use my phone's camera as a photographic sketch tool -- capturing textures or patterns I find interesting that I might try to emulate with code.

As we move into the semester and the assignments get more open-ended, you could also use the sketches to explore ideas that you will use in a piece.

One thing that you should have noticed is that Leibermen tended to get attracted to a theme and then spend time doing variations, making a family of related sketches. I encourage you to do this as well. However, I will take a dim view of folks who try to satisfy the letter of the requirement with the least possible effort by putting up a collection of sketches that vary in minimal ways (such as a change in color, or slight rearrangement of objects). While there is value in these close variations, they will not be considered fully unique sketches when the collection is tallied. If you have questions, please ask me (and sooner rather than later).


Once the semester gets going, we will have frequent critique sessions. I'll ask for volunteers to show us a sketch (or family of sketches) and we will talk about them. This will be an opportunity to share what you are interested in, but also to get feedback from the class about new directions to try or how to deal with issues that are vexing you.


We are going to maintain an open sketchbook in this class, so I am going to ask you to deploy your sketchbook on basin, so we can all access your sketches (I'll aggregate everyone together into a single page).

To get started, please visit our GitHub Classroom and accept the assignment, which will set you up with a skeleton sketchbook. The README has more information about how to work with the skeleton and deploy it, so please make sure to read it.