Drawing Ideas Workshop at Interaction’09

After a week vacation in China, I’m back in Vancouver this week and just in time for IxDA’s Interaction’09 conference. I’ve been looking forward to this conference for a while, especially to the workshop I signed up called “Drawing Ideas” by Mark Baskinger and William Bardel. The reason I want to take this class is to improve my paper prototyping skills. While it’s very natural for me to sketch out design ideas on paper in the early conceptual design and wireframing stages, I’d like to improve my drawing techniques to communicate my ideas more effectively through sketch.

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It’s somewhat debatable whether Interaction Designers need to be good at drawing my hand. To me, this is a very important skill not only for designers but for everyone. As Mark and William pointed out in the workshop that learning drawing by hand well can help you

  • become a better communicator
  • see the world differently and engage yourself. For example, trying to draw out a conversation in a dull meeting can make you actively engaged.
  • explore possibilities. Sketches indicates work in process, so it invites others’ feedback and active brainstorming.
  • tell your stories to others. Drawing by hand can be a very powerful and engaging way to tell your story.

However, we have all the computer technology help us draw now days. Do we really need to draw by hand? I agree with the counter-arguments that Mark and William provided. First of all, drawing with mice is really awkward. You can’t freely move across the canvas and it gets in the way of natural thinking. Many computer drawing software requires users to go through many steps in order to make a simple mark. In addition, it requires knowledge on how to use the drawing tools (e.g. Pen tool). Another problem with using computer tools is that users try to be so perfect in their drawing (e.g. drawing a perfect circle or a curve) that it breaks the natural flow of sketching out ideas.

Drawing ideas doesn’t mean you need to produce really polished drawings. You certainly don’t need to be Piccaso. Basic drawing techniques such as pulling a line rather than pushing a line is very handy. Pulling a line means you draw the line towards you and look at where the line ends. This way your line doesn’t trail off in the end and it tends to be more straight. This workshop offers a handful of techniques like this teaching you how to draw basic shapes, people and 3D perspective better. Next, Mark and William talked about Visual Story telling. It’s a key to make sure in your storyboard, there’s a beginning, middle, and end. How to draw scenes and connecting them together using action arrows. The middle picture above is my drawing trying to convey the one pain point in doing laundry which is sorting out the lights from darks. The one beside it is the drawing about how to get involved in local IxDA groups. Sketching or drawing ideas is a hot topics now in interaction design. If you want to learn more, make sure you look out for Mark and Williams’ upcoming book on drawing ideas this summer. Also, Bill Buxton’s book on Sketching Experience is a great resource on the topic.

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