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Sample Research Proposal Essay on Art Ability Using Value to Create an Illusion of 3D Mass and Space in Drawing

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Sample Research Proposal Essay on Art Ability Using Value to Create an Illusion of 3D Mass and Space in Drawing


This introduction focuses on giving a background for this research paper and help assist the reader to understand how the findings of the research through research objectives and aims will make an impact on art and drawing in particular. The purpose of this cross-sectional study  is to test the theory of drawing that describe the ability to use value to create an allusion of 3D mass and space in drawing by college art students and non- art students in Arizona state University campus.The research is meant to reach upcoming artist, art students and will involve the use of both art student and non-art students as samples. The samples will be selected randomly and the number of samples will be 30 students. One of the major forms of visual art is drawing; created through lines and on a surface drawings are used to display visual world on a surface. Drawing can be used to create an illusion of 3D effect and it is an assumption that all the art students in Arizona State University can relate to this kind of drawing. The findings of this research are important because of the rampant change and adaptation of 3D use in television and computers. It is important that students are aware of the elements and process responsible for the creation of 3D illusion so as to prepare them in future to create their own work and know how to handle the existing works. The elements of 3Ddesign on focus are value and mass/volume.

It is evident that art has consistently been changing over time. The reason for change is mainly attributed to the difference in the use of art elements and principles such as, shading, highlighting and object positioning. The illusion of 3D art is possible mainly because shading and its principles. As much as position and visual aspect also play a role in creating the illusion, shading is significant. In order to achieve this research question will be developed and later in the paper use of literature review will be adopted. Literature review will assist in bringing out past research and crucial information on the topic.

Key words: Value, Mass/volume and Space

Research Question

With the increased use of 3D technology in different aspects of entertainment and daily life, there is need to involve as many art students in the creation and improvement of 3D works. Students can only be able to apply what they learn if they understand what is involved. The research question in this cross-sectional research is:

What is the difference between Art students and non- Art students use value in drawing?

Literature Review

3D design has got various elements that ensure the art is achieved. The elements include line, plane, value, mass or volume, space and texture. Value refers to the amount of light and shadow; space can be defined in form of positive or negative space and mass looks at the dimension covered by space. In looking at the literature review it is important to understand the elements and principles of art especially ones that are used in drawing. Edwards (2002) suggests that drawing requires the involvement of both the L-mode and the R-mode of the brain. The R-mode part of the brain deals with visual part aspects of the body. The 3D illusion created by drawing cannot be appreciated and seen if the visual aspect of the body is not functioning. When looking at art it involves both paintings and drawings. However there is a difference between painting and drawing and most notable difference is the difference in line. Drawing have a clear line compared to the blurred painting lines. When comparing a 2D drawing to a 3D drawing, the difference comes in appearance. The 2D drawing will appear to be flat on the drawing paper while the 3D drawing will appear to be standing out from the drawing paper. In order to achieve the 3D illusion or effect, a drawing must use different elements of drawing. The element can be change in angle or perspective or even the object or feature being drawn. When lookingat a 3D painting According to Marr’s theory from primal sketch to 3D, models, there are three different levels of understanding information (         Sun, 2010).The theory suggests that the brain internalizes what the eye sees (Marr, 1982, as cited in Pike &Edgar, 2005).The three levels include hardware implementation, processing systems and computational theory.

In the theory one of the most notable contributions was use of vision to derive shape information from available images. Marr’s found and concluded that the 3D is image is as a result of the visual system. The image is more is based on object center and less of how the viewer is looking at the image. Later Watts (1988) came up with a theory based on Marr’s theory talking about vision maintain the main ideas regarding the hypothesis of sketch. Thomas (2012) describes the role that shading plays in depicting the depth perception in 3D. In both the theories Marr’s and Watts found out that vision plays a significant role when it comes to understanding and appreciating drawings. Value in 3D design refers to the light and shadow created by the surface of the object being drawn. In order to bring change to value, use of color can be adopted. Thomas (2012) suggests that there is ongoing researchbeing carried out on why some people are better in drawing than others; it was revealed that there are three factors that are important in realistic drawing ability. Such a research is vital especially for students taking art as a subject because it can enlighten them more on ways of improving in their artistic skills. One of the three factors is object to be drawn and its elements, another factor is how well visual information is remembered and how an individual sees reality. According to research carried out by McManus et al. (2010), the visual ability that a person has can interfere with object attributes such as color, shape and size. Further research indicates that the visual interference can lead to drawing errors. There is no research that has looked at the level how mass or volume can affect a drawing and bring the illusion of 3D.

A research carried out by Schmidt et al. analyzed a drawing of a 3D scaffolds. The one evidence that underline works of 3D line is that compared to 2D, the latter is more natural (Shmidtset al).  According to the research, drawing of 3D models does not only require the assembling of frameworks to draw curves; it also requires learning. To come up with a successful 3D image one has to learn how to construct a properframework through the knowledge of geometric ingenuity. Mass and volume touch on the geometric aspect of a 3D design, for example a block of stone. This is a clear statement on the importance of art education, knowledge of art ability and how it can be used to improve art work. When it comes to complex drawing like drawing of images that create a 3D illusion, art goes to an extra level. The extra level demands that a drawing is given maximum attention even in the slightest details like the lines highlighting and shadow.

In this paper, comparison on how students and non-students perceive and understand an illusion to create 3D mass and space in drawing is one of the aims of the research. The level of understanding can be differentiated through knowledge acquired during a course or natural ability to draw out of talent. Understanding factors that can effect on individual from seeing what another individual is seeing is also important in this paper. The effect that value, mass and space have in this case is will be the foundation of this study. Most focus on art ability especially drawing dwell on visual aspect of an individual as a decider on how an individual perceives a drawing or how well they can draw.  The simple ability to remember the attributes of an object is important; angles and lines play a significant role.

The choice of object to be draw varies between skilled artist and normal artists. This means that factors such as mass are considered when drawing. McManus et al. (2010) in their research carried out by Colombia University press insisted that drawing can’t be learned. Constant practice on drawing cannot guarantee an improvement in a person’s ability to draw. Learning in this case means familiarization with the elements and principles of visual art forms like drawing. Shading has five principles which are important in the creation of a 3D illusion. The principles include shades, shadow, reflected light, highlights and back shading. Light and shadow if properly used can change shapes into forms. A drawing stands a chance of having more life and depth if shadows and lights are used.The shadow is always on the opposite side of the light source. All through the literature review many articles, papers and research focus on the principles of shading.

According to Sinha and Adelson (1993) in their research on shading patterns and 3D structures, there has always been a problem when it comes to interpreting pictures as far as shading is concerned. In their research Sinha and Adelson differentiate the appearance of same images but with different appearance. A suggestion that the grey color matter can make a difference is made. The consistency of gray levels matter and the gray level can be interpreted as shading. In trying to derive a 3D image from a 2D image, the difficulty comes in form of line drawing. In drawing a simple line shape can be turned into a shape by simply using several components of shadow and lights. The brightest area in a drawing is usually the one closest to the light source and it is called the highlight. A drawing consists of parts that are on the same side with the light source, another part that is opposite to the source and a part that is in the middle. A combination of all the areas can create an illusion if well used.

A shadow can have dark values; shading is only relevant in curved shapes. In case a part of a drawing has little light then it should be shared with dark values. Drawing requires the sufficient knowledge of the five principle elements of shading (William, 2013). Optical stimulation has many different aspects that can help in the provision of useful information when it comes to viewing of 3D forms of art (Georgieva et al,2008). Other than the effect of visual deformation especially when objects are moving and inconsistency between each eye view in the binoculars vision, there are still other information sources when it comes to still 3D images. The shading of an image provide the most complicated source of information because it is affected by different factors like pattern of illumination, surface geometry and the surface (Koenderink and van Doorn 2004).

In general many research carried out on drawing base their focus on visual contribution to art. As much as the visual information may have a role when it comes to identifying whether an image is 3D or not, it is important that students and people in general appreciate art ability because of the principles of art. Understanding how value or mass is important in deciding whether a drawing appears as 3D can assist a student in becoming an excellent artist. Realizing the positioning of a drawing can determine whether it appears as 3D or not is also necessary.

In a recent paper, Aubryet al. (2014)tried to align 3D models to historical photographs and paintings. In their findings, Aubryet al. were able to align 3D models with historical photographs in a challenging experience due to the difference in complexity between elements of drawing used in the past and adopted elements in 3D models. The relationship between 3D models and other drawing dimensions like 2D lies in the difference in the use of drawing elements. 3D models are complemented by addition of color to a drawing, use of shading and shadows and the position of the image or drawing.

There are available articles on elements of shading but very little research focusing on elements of shading. However the available research is sufficient to show the significance of visual information, shading and its elements in creating a 3D illusion. As far as visual perspective is concerned, the position of a drawing can have a big significance in the creation of a 3D illusion. Furthermore the position of the viewer of a drawing can also determine how a person sees a drawing. Elements of drawing like color, shading, lighting and shadow also play a part in the creation of a 3D illusion. More research on drawing and 3D effect is necessary especially in looking at other factors that can be used in the creation of 3D illusion other than position and the principles of shading. As seen throughout this literature review research leans towards one side of visual art. There is no sufficient research on usage of value to create a 3D illusion. However this literature review has indicated some of the elements needed in order to create the 3D illusion. As art students, many could be aware of the elements needed but cannot apply the elements in a drawing to successfully come up with a drawing with the 3D illusion.

Research design

In a research, there are two different approaches that can be used to come up with findings. According to Donley (2012) qualitative and quantitative methods, can be used to carry out academic research. The difference in the two approaches comes in terms of instruments used when carrying out the research. When seeking to test an existing hypothesis, the best approach to use is the quantitative research method. Qualitative research method is suitable for use when researching on social elements Donley (2012) adds. In this study, the use of quantitative research method will be used because it seeks to consider previous findings of former researches carried out on plays and films. Vogt (2011) also notes that quantitative research method is suitable when the sample used is large. 

Quantitative research can use interviews, questionnaires and surveys, clinical trials, observation and obtaining information from data systems as research strategies. Since this research is based on quantitative research methods, the use of face to face interviews will be adopted. The selection of the face to face interview strategy was motivated by the fact that there will be the creation of rapport between the researchers and the participants. The rapport created is necessary for the cooperation of the participants who can, therefore, feel free to give an honest response to the questions raised by the person conducting the interview. Interviews are appropriate because where there is a misunderstanding there can be a clarification. Baum and Lampel (2010) insist that face to face interviews give the highest response rates in survey research. In the interviews, both the non-students and students will be required to view different types of drawing. The art students will further be asked questions on difference between the images and what could be the cause of the difference. The two different images will vary with one being a 3D image another of a lower dimension.


There will be a random selection of both art students and non-art students in Arizona State University Campus.  The participants will be of both sexes and selected from different age groups. The participant will be 30 in number so as to allow a wide range of response from the large sample. The samples will be required to view different images drawn in different dimensions and give their opinion on the images. The time set for interviewing one participant will be between 1-3 minutes.

Data Collection

In a research, there is primary and secondary information. A combination of both forms of data adds credibility to a research due to the size of available information. Secondary data is the information collected from already existing sources such as books, journals and existing research. Primary data, on the other hand, is the data collected from interviews, surveys and questionnaires (Sten, 2004). As seen in the research strategy data will be collected through face to face interview. However, the interviews will not be the only source of data collection. Use of a literature review will also be used to compliment the available data from the interview conducted. In this research, all the thirty participants will go through a face to face interview with differently employed assistants in order to conduct as many interviews in the shortest time possible. The collected data will be recorded with the use of videorecorder.

Limitations of Quantitative research
Quantitative research involves the collection of data through structured data collection methods like interview. It is a challenge to obtain honest and reliable responses from participants through these data collection systems especially when research is based on sensitive issues like domestic violence or sex. Due to a sensitivity a large number of minorities in the society cannot be reached when use of quantitative methods are used thus limiting the findings due to insufficient data collection. In this case, the study will be costly and time-consuming considering the large sample and the method used to collect data from them (face to face interview). Since quantitative research depends on the hypothesis if the hypothesis had errors then, it might affect the quality of the research. Most hypotheses that are compared to this study talk about the development of drawing from lower dimensions to a level of the creation of 3D illusion.
Ethical issues

Considering possible ethical issues when preparing to conduct research is important. Love (2012) insists that a research must ensure that they keenly go through the right path when conducting research. Getting consent of the participant is necessary. If a participant is not interested in the research then they are at liberty not to be involved against their will.  It is also necessary to protect the identity of the participant especially if the research is on a sensitive topic such as drug dealing and if their response may affect other people. In this research, the sensitivity of the topic is not alarming but the participant will be enlightened on what the research is about and can only volunteer to take part in the research. As far as instruments used in the research are concerned, the images and paintings that will be used will be selected carefully not to offend any individual or group of people taking part in the research.

Time table

Develop a research objective

1 day

Design research protocol

2 days

Adapt research instruments

1 week

Recruit Interviewers

3 weeks

Train the selected interviewers

1 week

Transcribe recordings

1 week

Analysis of the field

2 days

Prepare presentation

1 day

Complete analysis

3 weeks

Prepare final report

2 weeks


The findings and results of this study will be examined and compared to the previous hypothesis and literature touching on art, drawing and the creation of 3D illusion. The literature review on 3D drawing and elements of shading will be combined with the data collected primarily through interviewing the participant to set a foundation for discussion. It is expected that some of the participant may have a challenge completing this research but that will also indicate other factors that play a role in determining the creation of 3D illusion other than the five principles of shading. The discussion will be important in setting future recommendation as far as research is concerned based on the findings.

    As seen earlier in the paper, quantitative research methods have limitations and the limitations have been discussed. In the discussion, the limitation of this study will be pointed out, and ways of preventing them in the future will be suggested. Use of face to face interview to collected data will render this research expensive and time-consuming. Finding space and proper location to conduct the interviews will be a major challenge. In the future use of questionnaires would be appropriate and time-saving. At the end of the research, the findings will be simplified through a summary. 



Research structure

This research paper will be divided into five chapters. Chapter one will focus on the introduction of the topic, and the purpose of the research. In the introduction, a look at the research question will also be covered. The second chapter will be the literature reviews. In this chapter, literature review about the connection between drawings, 3D, visual and the five principles shading will be analyzed.  The third chapter which is the methodology will aim to give the methods that will be used in this research. The focus will be on the research methodology, research strategy, research philosophy, ethical issues the research might have and limitations of the research method. Findings and discussion will be covered in the fourth chapter with a focus on both data from secondary and primary sources. Finally, chapter five will give a conclusion of the findings in the research and recommendations made on future research on the topic and area of research including specific issues about creation of 3D illusion.


In conclusion, the creation of a 3D illusion depends on many different elements of drawing put together. The elements must be used in harmony and in the right way for the drawing to appear as three dimensions. As much as the drawing can adopt all the elements in the right manner, there is a significant role that an individual visual aspect plays. The position of the drawing or the viewer of the drawing can determine if the drawing will appear as 3D or not. Value, mass and space are important in the creation of a 3D illusion. Value includes the use of shading and lighting while mass looks at the dimension covered by the available space.



Aubry, M., Russell, B. C., & Sivic, J. (January 01, 2014). Painting-to-3D Model Alignment via Discriminative Visual Elements. Acm Transactions on Graphics, 33, 2.)

Edwards, B., & Edwards, B. (2002). The new drawing on the right side of the brain workbook: Guided practice in the five basic skills of drawing. New York: Jeremy P. Tarcher.

Baum, J. A. C., &Lampel, J. (2010). The globalization of strategy research. Bingley, UK: Emerald.

Donley, A. M. (2012). Research Methods. New York: Infobase Pub.

Georgieva, Svetlana S., Todd, James T., Peeters, Ronald, &Orban, Guy A. (2008). The Extraction of 3D Shape from Texture and Shading in the Human Brain.Oxford University Press.

Koenderink JJ, van Doorn AD. (2004) Shape and shading. Visual Neuroscience. (2). 1090–1105.

Love, K. (2012).Ethics in social research. Bingley: Emerald.

Marr, D. (2005). Perception. In N. Braisby& A. Gellatly (Eds.), Cognitive Psychology (pp. 71-112). UK: Oxford University Press.

McManus, I. C., Chamberlain, R., Loo, P.-W., Rankin, Q., Riley, H., & Brunswick, N. (February 01, 2010). Art Students Who Cannot Draw: Exploring the Relations Between Drawing Ability, Visual Memory, Accuracy of Copying, and Dyslexia. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, 4, 1, 18-30.

Schmidt, R., Khan, A., Singh, K., &Kurtenbach, G. (December 01, 2009). Analytic drawing of 3D scaffolds. Acm Transactions on Graphics, 28, 5.)

Sinha, P., Adelson, E. H., & Massachusetts Institute of Technology.(1993). Recovering reflectance and illumination in a world of painted polyhedra. Cambridge, Mass: Vision and Modeling Group, Media Laboratory, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Sten, S. (2004).Bovine teeth in age assessment from medieval cattle to Belgian Blue: methodology, possibilities and limitations. Stockholm :Karolinska University Press.

Sun, P., & University of Birmingham. (2010). Modelling the human perception of shape-from-shading. University of Birmingham.

Thomas, I. (2012). Drawing. Chicago, Ill: Heinemann Library.

Vogt, W. P. (2011). SAGE quantitative research methods. London: SAGE.

Watt, R. J. (1988). Visual processing: Computational, psychophysical, and cognitive research. Hove, UK: L. Erlbaum Associates.

Williams, D. (2013). Drawing. New York: Alpha.                                                     

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