Year: 2015
Editor: Guy Bingham, Darren Southee, John McCardle, Ahmed Kovacevic, Erik Bohemia, Brian Parkinson
Author: Tatjana Leblanc
Series: E&PDE
Institution: University of Montreal, School of Design
Section: Design Methods
Page(s): 606-611
ISBN: 978-1-904670-62-9


Sketching is a form of communication and as such particularly effective for illustrating ideas or
sharing thoughts. For designers, sketching is an indispensable tool that helps them externalize
concepts, explore ideas and solve problems. However, the underlying principles of the cognitive
creative process appear to be difficult to grasp. Students use sketching to visualise ideas, yet many do
not know how to use it as a thinking tool. As a result, they tend to skip parts of the development
process: the doodling, exploring, comparing and assessing that help them refine the initial intent into a
mature design. To address this shortfall, a methodical approach to structuring exploratory thinking was
introduced into a classroom and studio setting of the 3rd year industrial design program. The exercise
described in details was initially developed for a theory course as a means of assessing students’
ability to assimilate theoretical notions and apply them to design. In fact, the approach proved to be
useful far beyond its initial scope. Students learned to externalize their thoughts, methodically explore
creative options, as well as distinguish between common and unique. Many recognized how
generating ideas in quantity enables the less interesting ideas to be discarded, paving the way for the
emergence of creativity. This paper describes in greater detail de exercise developed for this purpose,
observes and examines the challenges students face in transitioning from visualization to creative
thinking mode, and comments the obtained outcome.

Keywords: Sketching, creativity, design development, Gestalt psychology, principles of perceptual organisation

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