Greg Walsh


Home / Blog

Process Drawings as a way to think about Design

Thursday February 04, 2021

Estimated Reading Time: 1 minutes


I have been taking an intro to drawing class at Baltimore City Community College and it feels like being in Methacton High School Art class all over again. I took Art II my senior year but never really took it seriously (although I did learn about this new software call Photoshop and another called Aldus Illustrator). In that class, I was supposed to draw a self portrait but it never really worked out well. I also don't think I had the discipline to take from that experience any lessons that could translate to my adult life...I pretty much just rushed through and got what I got.

This class has been different because I've done so much Design kinds of work over the years that I never really thought about the process abstractly. Sure, I can talk all day about a Design process and discovery and iteration and all those concepts, but, I've never focused on the process of layering concepts. In my world, we sketch, we build, we test. This drawing class has helped me reflect on process as way to create better accuracy.

process_photo My willing subjects...the iPhone Deconstructed

To start, I layed out a few objects that I would use as my materials. We learned how to look at items in a way that helps us capture them. What a great idea for Design! Imagine taking the time to just think about your viewpoint. Hopefully, you do this...but maybe you don't. I recommend How to See as a good resource to think about this.

Process thumbnails After I set up the display, I needed to compose my drawing by looking at the scene from different points of view. One of the hardest things for me was looking through a viewfinder to compose my scene. This felt like an analogy of a design problem where a team has problems looking at the challenge in the right way. I eventually just took a photo to make it easier for me. As you look through your viewfinder, you draw little pictures called Thumbnails. These thumbnails are quick and messy and become your viewports into how you want to tackle the composition. Again, the parallels to Interaction Design are obvious...this feels like prototyping.

Process_drawing_lines Finally, you transfer the thumbnails to a composition, use rulers and lines to make sure it all looks right and then you are done...or should I say, then you are ready to start.

Again, I've never really appreciated the process to art. In my mind, Art is extemporaneous and is the expression of one's self. Instead, I am learning about the craftsmanship of traditional art and gaining a new appreciation for the process that I typically follow in Design.