Thesis Title: Back to the drawing board? Exploring the value of drawing in the creative visual thinking process using improvisational drawing techniques.

My methodology is based on the belief that most people will seek the shortest possible path or the most efficient means in order to achieve a desired outcome.

Using a quick sketch or thumbnail to externalise and think through a concept and plan a design strategy can save time and ultimately money as well as avoid accidental plagiarism. Yet many students are reluctant drawers, preferring to rely on mental imaging, found ready-made solutions and written explanations. Unless they perceive themselves as an illustrator they fear drawing while others believe it is a waste of time. Many students are ‘time poor’ and the temptation to find shortcuts and plagiarise is great.

My thesis does not aim to prove that using sketching, or indeed any  form of hand-eye coordination, can aid fluency and creative thinking. Studies already exists to support this assumption. It aims to develop strategies and activities that may provide evidence to students that it is worth considering some form of process drawing as part of their creative and planning process. How can this be integrated into current design thinking practices?

This research will utilise a qualitative methodology. Through participant observations and diary analysis, auto-ethnographical and practice-based methods to gain insights into the following questions.

Methods Mapped to Research Questions

Is process drawing encouraged as part of the design thinking process of design students at WSU?

  • Literature review of Unit Outlines and Learning Guide Assessment tasks
  • In-depth interviews with teachers providing insights into delivery and expectations

How is process drawing utilised in the design thinking process of students? What is the current attitude to drawing? 

Before I can devise relevant strategies and activities, I need to find out why many design students don’t make rough sketches or thumbnails as part of their creative thinking process. What are they doing instead?

  • A questionnaire will be collected with first year design students over several years to gain insights into students’ creative processes and attitudes to drawing.
  • In-depth interviews will be conducted with high achieving design students accompanied by an analysis of their diaries.

Do design professionals use and value drawing in their design thinking process?

  • Literature review of existing research studies

Can improvisational drawing strategies demonstrate the value of a rough sketch and encourage drawing participation?

Through analysis of my own visual arts practice and drawing trail, I will develop improvisational drawing strategies and exercises like doodling and squiggling to demonstrate the value of drawing in the creative thinking stage.

Visual arts practice:

  • iPad response drawing
  • Water Squiggles
  • Forward/Reverse doodling

Class exercises:

  • Speed squiggling exercise
  • Speed storyboarding exercise
  • Talk aloud squiggling exercise

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