Why Draw?

Research confirms that sketching, or indeed any form of hand-eye co-ordination provides valuable functions in the creative process. Whether a pencil or stylus is used, the physical act of drawing can aid concentration and memory, (Jackie Andrade, 2010).

Thinking through ideas using drawing can help both novice and professional designers visualize their ideas quickly. The ambiguous nature of a rough sketch can provide a fluid interpretation, which can be a positive quality at different stages of the design process, (Steve Garner, 2011).

Sketching can encourage ‘a fluency’ and iteration, which promote creativity and innovation. It can also improve a designer’s sensitivity to visual qualities and understanding of visual style, (Pam Schenk, 1997).

Crossing out, making mistakes and finding visual connections with a pencil can leave a ‘thinking trail’. This can provide valuable insights into creative processes for both students and teachers. (It may also discourage plagiarism). These trails can also be time based. iPad sketch apps can accurately record how the user works through a problem or creates an image, right down to the quality of the brush strokes, (David Hockney, 2009), providing a tool for process analysis.

Most importantly, rough sketching can encourage students to start from the problem (or brief) to find an appropriate response, rather than first seeking a ready-made solution on Google or Pinterest.

Despite reduced budgets and deadlines, and the prevalence of design templates and pre-designed components, many professional designers still use process drawing as part of their ideation process. Commentary from design industry leaders reveals that basic sketching ability is still valued in new recruits, and many academics and practitioners fear that a lack of basic drawing skills may reduce students visual literacy skills and undermine their ‘fluid capacity to express ideas’, (Pam Schenk, 2005).

Therefore the focus of my research is to identify methods of promoting the rough sketch as a valuable tool in the creative process. In association, I hope to demonstrate that students who were not previously confident drawers, or did not value drawing as part of their process, emerge with an increased appreciation of process drawing.

Andrade, J. (2010). What does doodling do?. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 24(1), 100-106.
Garner, S. (2012). Writing on drawing: Essays on drawing practice and research. Intellect Books.
Grant, C. (2010). David Hockney’s instant iPad art, BBC.
Schenk, P. (1997). The role of drawing in graphic design and the implications for curriculum planning. Journal of Art & Design Education, 16(1), 73-82.
Schenk, P. (2005). The Why and How of Drawing: A 20 year shift in design procedures and priorities. In Proceedings of European Academy of Design Conference (pp. 1-11).