Industrial designer Bruce Thomson is a man "[obsessed] with the visual archiving of automobilia through sketching, illustration and painting." He's also on an epic quest to buy a sweet vintage car—make and model TBD—and has created the Kicking Vintage Tyres blog to combine these two things.
In a word, the site is awesome. As Thomson chases down one lead after another, showing up at car dealerships and people's driveways, he sketches the car in question.
Industrial designers do at least two types of sketching. The first is the messy kind where we're "thinking out loud," problem-solving technical details or quickly trying to explain a concept to a colleague. The second is the stuff we'll actually let clients see, which typically has to be a bit more polished. Because with the latter, whether you're using a Wacom or a Prismacolor, the goal is the same: You're trying to tell the client a story and/or persuade them of the soundness of your approach.
In Sketching, Product Design Presentation, a new book out this month, two pros discuss this latter breed of drawing. Koos Eissen runs the Industrial Design Engineering freehand and digital drawing classes at Delft University of Technology, and Roselien Steur, who runs design sketching workshops for professionals, lectures at the Royal Academy of Arts in The Hague. In the video below Steur explains precisely what's in the book and why you might want to read it, and as she covers everything from the reptilian brain to rhetoric, you feel you're in good hands:
Drawing is about muscle control, and muscle control comes from reps. Which is why Professor Gary, our Drawing teacher at ID school had us draw hundreds, then thousands, of cubes in perspective. And once we'd gotten those down to his satisfaction, we drew yet more cubes in perspective, then started filling the planes with ellipses.
There is no shortcut, he taught. If your circles suck, draw 10,000 of them and at some point they'll stop sucking.
Well, turns out there is a shortcut, at least for drawing circles of a few specific sizes. Not much applicability for ID sketching, but it was clever enough that we at least had to show you:
One of the first things they taught us in ID Rendering 101 was about reflections: You need a sky and you need some earth, and placing these correctly indicates the contours of whatever you're drawing up. Nowadays software takes care of all that, but in the days of hand rendering, you created sky and earth with markers, Prismacolors, charcoal or an airbrush. And getting the gradations was just a matter of layering strokes and/or going over it with your fingers.
But in this video, hot rod artist Glen Weisgerber shows us how he does it "When the compressor goes down or the power goes out," i.e. not using an airbrush, but an actual bristle brush. At 23 minutes long, the demo isn't short, but it's worth a scan-through to watch him go from zero to done:
Am I the only one who got the design-school-flashback stress jitters while watching him? I almost found myself glancing towards my window to see if the sun was coming up yet.
In a previous life, I rendered bottles for a living, and as I was doing it without rendering software, I was always happy when the assignment called for glass and bummed when it called for PET. PET bottles always had crazier shapes, and the amount of reflectivity required to get the material to read was a PITA.
Obviously a hyperreal illustration and an ID rendering are two different things, as the latter's more concerned with form, gesture and emotion than cold accuracy, but Barenghi's understanding of light, texture and surfaces is unparalleled. So much so that while his channel is called "How to Draw," it might as well be called "Things Most of Us Wouldn't Want to Render by Hand." Like this ruby:
Using sheets of acetate, some markers and his phone's built-in camera, the artist known as Hombre_Mcsteez creates brilliant animations that overlay his drawings onto the environment. Mcsteez, a.k.a. Marty Cooper, refers to the clips as "Aug(De)Mented Reality," and a more accurate description isn't possible to create:
Cooper regularly updates his Instagram page with both still shots and mini-videos, like this update on the classic videogame Frogger:
"It nearly moved me to tears," a Ford executive once said of a Michael Santoro car design. "It's the best set of proportions I've ever seen on a sedan." In the early '90s Santoro was an upstart designer largely responsible for turning Chrysler's fortunes around with his radical cab-forward concepts and dropped-headlight-fender trucks, and me and my ID classmates were lucky enough to visit his Detroit studio. There we saw some of the most mind-blowing ID sketching I've ever seen, all done in one color with a Berol Prismacolor. His line quality was unbelievable: While there were sketch marks all over the page, Santoro could unerringly hit the same curve or corner he wanted to emphasize 40, 50, 60 times, with his precisely built-up strokes creating more pop than a Pepsi factory.
Woman shopping for groceries in South Korea at a HomePlus display using her mobile phone
Earlier this month, Adaptive Path held the Service Experience conference in San Francisco, CA. The conference invited designers and business leaders who are out there 'in the trenches' to share insights, tips, and methods from their case studies in service design.
Service Design is an emergent area of design thinking that's been percolating in design circles for many years. Though corporate brands like Apple, Nike, P&G and Starbucks have built their success on the principles of good service design, it's an approach getting more serious consideration in countries like the U.S. after years of being developed in Europe.
Service Design, Service Experience, or Consumer Experience is a design approach that understands that the process by which a product is made and the organization that produces it, not only affects the product, but also defines the experience of the product. Service Design is made up of many ecosystems, including a company's own internal culture, their approach to production and development, as well as the context of the product as it exists in the day to day life of the users. Think about how Apple represents not only the product, but also customer service combined with the branded architectural experience of the Apple store. Or how Tesla motors is not only considering the product (an electric vehicle) but also mapping out a plan for a network of electric charging stations in California.
Service Design is a holistic system that takes into consideration the end to end experience of a product, whether it be a car, a computer, a trip, or a book. It is invested in creating the infrastructure that supports and empathizes with human needs by prioritizing people and experiences over technology during the design process. Service design is a design approach that can be applied across fields.
Swimming in Culture
A key perspective of Service Design is the ability to grasp organizational culture. Ever wonder why you had a great time working for one company and another company, not so much? Maybe it's not all 'in your head': According to keynote speaker David Gray of Limnl, culture is a summation of the habits of a group, and that "people swim in culture the way fish swim in water," using the analogy of dolphins and sharks.
Illustration from David Gray's presentation. (People may prefer to self-identify as a dolphin rather than a shark.)
In order to change culture, one must be able to find its foundation first. Ask dumb questions, talk to the newbies, gather evidence, and the evidence (what you see) usually leads to levers (how and why decisions are made and the protocol used) which leads to the company values (the underlying priorities and what's considered important) that uncover foundational assumptions (how they view the way the world works and what is the reasoning behind those values).
Last week, the Institute of Design held its annual Design Research Conference at The Field Museum in Chicago, Illinois. The conference explored four main themes; ego, empathy, humanity and technology. Speakers from a wide range of fields spoke on design's role in mediating these forces, and attendees were given two full days of interesting and dynamic presentations.
Don Norman kicked off the conference introducing some of the new concepts featured in his upcoming release of The Design of Everyday Things: Revised and Expanded Edition, and Anne Burdick gave attendees a window into the curriculum at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California. Crowdsourcing was a hot topic, from EteRNA crowdsourcing the scientific method to develop more successful RNA spirals, to DIYRockets crowdsourcing the design of space technology. And rounding out the conference experience was a range of lunch workshops, evening dinners with selected speakers, and museum tours to visit the mummy exhibit and Sue, the largest, best-preserved, and most complete Tyrannosaurus Rex ever found. The sketchnotes below highlight all of the talks and the big take-aways from each.
Take a look and keep your eye out for next year's conference!
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When Wacom swung by the Core77 offices to show us their Cintiq stuff, that wasn't the only demo they had prepared. Rick Peterson, Wacom's Consumer Products Brand Director, broke out his department's new tool: The Intuos Creative Stylus. With Wacom's pressure sensitivity, palm rejection technology and a host of industry software partnerships, the brand has aimed to create a high-end stylus better suited to industrial designers working SketchBook Pro than laypeople scribbling around in Draw Anything. (You've also gotta love the nifty case it comes in, which stores backup batteries and nibs.) Check it out:
The Intuos Creative Stylus is currently available on Wacom's E-store, and should be available through Best Buy any day now.
This past weekend was the occasion for the annual IDSA International Conference, the premier professional development and networking event for Industrial Designers practicing in the States... and, as Conference Chair Paul Hatch noted, increasingly from abroad as well. The ever-self-deprecating Founder of Teams Design MC'd the lecture sessions, as noted sketchnote-taker Craighton Berman busily filled several posterboards with his pithy yet expressive doodles. "It's been while since I have been to an industrial design-specific conference," he writes on his blog, "So it was interesting to step back into the industry conversation."
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Friday morning started with Brooklyn-based Ben Hopson—who we'd recommended for gainful employment some years ago—who has established a niche in what he calls "kinetic design," which has traditionally been the domain of engineers (as opposed to designers, who define the formal language but not necessarily the moving parts). Leading with the example of the highly articulated output paper tray of a Canon printer, Hopson demonstrated how a designer might approach the problem precisely by applying his or her sketching skills in three dimensions in order to "make sure they look like how they move and move like how they look."
Origami is certainly a reference point, but the kinetic experiments (which Hopson teaches at Pratt) perhaps better construed as three-dimensional pop-up books. "Today, we are beginning to gesture at our artifacts," he noted. "And they will eventually begin to gesture at us." [Ed note: Hopson has also explored the topic at length in an essay here on Core.]
Speaking of cities with medieval layouts, living in a pre-smartphone-Japan was a navigation nightmare. In a city like Tokyo, the lack of right angles, the language barrier, and an insane system of building numbering—they are numbered in the order in which they are built, not in a geographically linear sequence—meant that your average citizen had the cartographic skills of Magellan. People were constantly sketching little maps to offer directions, and any business relying on foot traffic offered pamphlets, business cards or flyers that always had minimaps as a prominent part of their design. I assumed every graphic designer there had a subset of their portfolio dedicated to demonstrating map-making competency.
New-York-based artist Nobutaka Aozaki, who originally hails from the Japanese city of Kagoshima, is presumably well aware of citizen cartography. And having earned his New Yorker stripes with nearly a decade of residency, he started his "From Here to There" project intending to create a hand-drawn map of Manhattan... without ever laying down a line himself. Instead, he came up with a clever way of generating the content:
[I pretended] to be a tourist by wearing a souvenir cap and carrying a shopping bag of Century 21, a major tourist shopping place, [and asked] various New York pedestrians to draw a map to direct me to another location. I connect and place these small maps based on actual geography in order to make them function as parts of a larger map.
What's more fun that putting callouts on an ID sketch? Nothing. Everyone loves drawing that little squiggly line and a row of rakish text describing various design features, as in the sketches above from the supremely talented Rhett Miles' Coroflot page.
For the most part, we ID'ers use language on callouts that anyone can understand; but callouts on more complicated items—like, say, Wehrner von Braun's design for the Saturn V rocket—are too jargon-filled for anyone outside of the Johnson Space Center to understand. So Randall Munroe, the cartoonist behind XKCD and a former NASA roboticist, whipped up an annotated sketch—using only the 1,000 most-commonly-used words in the English language. ("Saturn" is not one of those thousand words, hence the spacecraft has been retitled the "Up Goer Five.")
Yeah—and that's just the nose. You'll want to hit the jump to see the entire drawing. (Or at least you'd better want to, since the thing is huge and took us forever to upload.) Look for the Hindenburg reference!
The IIT Institute of Design held its annual Strategy Conference last week in downtown Chicago, a two-day event full of inspiring and interesting talks about using design thinking and innovation to solve complex issues. Socially conscious innovation was a common topic this year, from improving agricultural techniques in Africa to enabling University of Chicago students and professionals to collaboratively tackle major problems in healthcare, as well as revitalizing abandoned lands in Detroit with a community development and agriculture program.
Check out the sketchnotes below summarizing the ideas behind this year's event. You'll find synopses on speakers like Carl Bass with Autodesk, Catherine Casserly of Creative Commons, Stepan Pachikov, founder of Evernote, Bruce Nussbaum and Barry Schwartz from Swarthmore College, among others.
Click to view full-size images.
Carl Bass, President and CEO, Autodesk
Mark Tebbe, Operating Executive, Lake Capital / Stepan Pachikov, Founder, Evernote
Amory Lovins, Cofounder and Chief Scientist, Rocky Mountain Institute / Kim Erwin, Assistant Professor, IIT Institute of Design
I've said it before and I'll say it again: Playing Pictionary with a group of art students, or fellow designers, is what the Brits would call "terrific fun." (Your American correspondent can't describe it without using a meliorative preceded by the F-bomb.) Inventors Robert Angel and Gary Everson could not have created a better parlor game for people who can draw their asses off, and it makes "Exquisite Corpse" look lame in comparison.
Which doesn't mean we shouldn't stop trying to invent more communal drawing activities. Core77 Boarder sketchroll has come up with his own plan which combines the "Geography" game with chain letters. Called "Chain Drawings," the scheme he cooked up last night starts with his shoe sketch. The next person then drew an eraser, which sketchroll followed with a robot.
So...who's next? T-square, telephone or turbocharger, anyone? And how long until someone introduces an abstract concept like "trust?"
Craighton will also be running a Visual Thinking 101 workshop on Wednesday August 29th at General Assembly, the start-up community/coworking/education network focused on entrepreneurship in technology and design. If you're curious about how visual thinking might help you to better generate, communicate, and shape ideas—especially in collaborative environments—this workshop will be a great primer to philosophy and techniques. The class will cover the building blocks of visual thinking, basic rapid viz training, sketchnotes, and experience storyboarding. Drawing skills not required at all—just a willingness to use drawing to explore ideas.
Also keep an eye out this Fall for the return of regular posts in the Core77 Sketchnotes channel, with articles on digital sketchnotes, brainstorming, storyboarding, graphic facilitation, and book reviews of recent books on sketchnotes and visual thinking at large. In the meantime, keep the pens moving and the ink flowing.
This past Monday evening, on an unseasonably warm night in Chicago, sustainability expert Ezio Manzini gave a thought-provoking lecture at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Mr Manzini is a Professor of Industrial Design at Politecnico Milano, and is a renowned expert in the application of strategic design for sustainability. His perspectives on systems and service design relate nicely to his core message of sustainability, yielding a compelling framework for a vision of the future city. Of course, as your resident sketchnote correspondent, I was there to cover his lecture in drawing-form; the scans of which follow below:
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Since a bit of time has passed since I last wrote for the Core77 Sketchnotes Channel, let me take this time to briefly revisit the concept of sketchnotes. Simply put, sketchnotes are visual notes that are drawn in real time. These notes take advantage of the "visual thinker's" mind by pairing images, text, and diagrams to help make sense of the information being presented. As a tool for designers, they're a great way to capture information and synthesize your thoughts in real time—also great practice for the same kind of process one uses in an ideation situation.
A few weeks ago the Pritzker-prize winning Japanese architecture duo SANAA gave a lecture to a packed house at the Art Institute of Chicago. Most famous in the US for their design of the New Museum in New York City, they shared 9 additional projects from their impressive portfolio—both built and in-progress—and shared renderings, sketches, models, and construction photos from each one. Since their Wikipedia entry has more information on them then their own website, it goes without saying that they their point-of-view tends to be that of understatement. As they shared their work, it became quite apparent quickly that SANAA doesn’t so much employ a signature style, but common experiential qualities that link their projects together—qualities of light, transparency, and openness.
As part of the Core77 Sketchnotes Channel, I’m presenting my personal sketchnotes from the lecture to briefly analyze how I approached making them. Since the lecture was primarily visual, I spent the majority of my time soaking in the projected photos and chose not to bury my head in my book. How often do you get to experience architectural photos on a 60 foot wide projection screen? Since I decided to work this way, the notes I captured tended to try to create iconic representations of each building, capture the basic information, and any notable details or interesting quotes. In the age of Google Images, its much more important to me that these sketchnotes can cover what was presented at a high level to job my memory, than to capture each image as a sketch.