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Drawing in the Design Process: Characterising Industrial and Educational Practice

Drawing in the Design Process: Characterising Industrial and Educational Practice

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Drawing in the Design Process: Characterising Industrial and Educational Practice

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Lançado em:
Apr 4, 2017


In the early days of the digital revolution in graphic design, many designers and teachers of design were convinced that the era of drawing on paper was over – that there would soon no longer be a place for craft-based drawing at any stage of the design process.   It soon became apparent, however, that technological progress had not obviated the inherent value of drawing, and that, in fact, it opened up new avenues for convergent and hybrid drawing practices. This book traces the evolution of design-based drawing through analysis of a series of research projects from the 1980s to recent years that have sought to characterize the changing practices of design within various industries. Built on more than three hundred interviews with designers, academics and design students, and an exhaustive analysis of thousands of drawings, it aims to generate discussion around historical and contemporary models of the design process.
Lançado em:
Apr 4, 2017

Sobre o autor

Pamela Schenk is a visiting research professor at the School of Textiles and Design, Heriot Watt University, Scotland.

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Drawing in the Design Process - Pamela Schenk

First published in the UK in 2016 by

Intellect, The Mill, Parnall Road, Fishponds, Bristol, BS16 3JG, UK

First published in the USA in 2016 by

Intellect, The University of Chicago Press, 1427 E. 60th Street,

Chicago, IL 60637, USA

Copyright © 2016 Intellect Ltd.

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without written permission.

A catalogue record for this book is available from the

British Library.

Cover designer: Emily Dann

Copy-editor: MPS Technologies

Production manager: Katie Evans

Typesetting: Contentra Technologies

Indexer: Róisín Nic Cóil

Print ISBN: 978-1-78320-679-7

ePDF ISBN: 978-1-78320-680-3

ePub ISBN: 978-1-78320-681-0

Printed and bound by Gomer, UK

This is a peer-reviewed publication.


List of Figures and Tables



Part I – Context and Conduct of the Long-Term Study

Chapter One: Context of the Long-Term Study – Theoretical Framework

Introduction to the long-term study

The design process

Drawing for creative thinking

Drawing, memory and visual literacy

Drawing for ideation and communication

Drawing in the digital age

Drawing in design education

Chapter Two: Conduct of the Long-Term Study – Investigative Framework



Variables and topics investigated

Part II – Phases of the Long-Term Study

Phase 1

Chapter Three: Drawing in the Graphic Design Industry in the Mid-1980s

Introduction to Project One

Preparation and inspiration

Briefing and ideation

Development and synthesis

Presentation and evaluation

Commissioning and specification

The importance of drawing in graphic design

Chapter Four: Developing Drawing Competence in the Mid-1980s

Introduction to Project Two

Developing drawing competence in industry and education

Curriculum planning and drawing tuition

Professional practice or artistic expression

Phase 2

Chapter Five: The Impact of Digital Technology on Drawing for 89Graphic Design in the 1990s

Introduction to Project Three

New uses of drawing

Individual drawing practices

Drawing in the design process following the introduction 102 of the new technology

Preparation and inspiration

Briefing and ideation

Development and synthesis

Presentation and evaluation

Commissioning and specification

The impact of the new technology on drawing for graphic design

Phase 3

Chapter Six: Drawing in Contemporary Design Education

Introduction to Project Four

Developing drawing competence for professional practice

Drawing on the curriculum in the digital age

Curriculum planning and drawing tuition

Discipline-based diversity

Chapter Seven: Drawing in Contemporary Design Practice

Introduction to Project Five

Individual drawing practices

Drawing in the contemporary design process

Preparation and inspiration

Briefing and ideation

Development and synthesis

Presentation and evaluation

Commissioning and specification

Relative advantages of paper and screen

Part III – Characterization and Generalization

Chapter Eight: A Taxonomy of Drawing in Design

Systematic classification

The development of the taxonomy

Structure of the taxonomy of drawing in design

Categorization and characterization – Task, use and type of drawing

Categorization and characterization – Task and drawing competence

Applications of the taxonomy

Chapter Nine: Models of Drawing in Design and in Education


The three environments of drawing in design

The three environments of teaching and learning

The student experience

Chapter Ten: Drawing Conclusions

Patterns of change in drawing practice and drawing tuition

The importance of drawing in design practice

Developing drawing competence



Appendix I: Respondents in Phase 1: 1984–1989

Appendix II: Respondents in Phase 2: 1990–1999

Appendix III: Respondents in Phase 3: 2004–2015

Appendix IV: Student Respondents in the Three Phases 1984–2015

Appendix V: Advisors for the Long-Term Study – 1984–2015


List of Figures and Tables

(Note that in the list of figures given below, while each of the drawings illustrated is credited to a single individual, in some cases the drawings involved the work of more than one designer and the named individual was either the design team leader or chief designer.)


Phase 1

Chapter Three

Figure 1 Drawings from photographic references, Richard Tilley,

Figure 2 Analytical sketch from historic letterforms, Stephen Raw,

Figure 3 Sketches produced with a client during briefing, Richard Tilley,

Figure 4 Drawings for briefing a specialist, Richard Tilley,

Figure 5 Written and visual notations for early ideation, David Crow,

Figure 6 Reassembled concept notes, David Crow,

Figure 7 Label design for wine bottles, Richard Tilley,

Figure 8 Careful indication of a design for the cover of Which? magazine, David Case,

Figure 9 Client presentation drawing for wine bottles (1), Richard Tilley,

Figure 10 Client presentation drawing for wine bottles (2), Richard Tilley,

Figure 11 Client presentation drawings for posters, Richard Tilley,

Figure 12 Client presentation drawing, Stephen Raw,

Figure 13 Artwork for book cover, Stephen Raw,

Figure 14 Presentation drawing with thumbnail revisions, Richard Tilley, mid-1980s

Figure 15 Specification and artwork for a book cover design, Stephen Raw, 1985

Phase 2

Chapter Five

Figure 16 Fax for communication with an art director, Malcolm Garrett, 1990

Figure 17 Concept sketch and notation for the 1991 Bloomingdale’s bag, Malcolm Garrett,

Figure 18 Layout development drawing for the 1991 Bloomingdale’s bag, Malcolm Garrett,

Figure 19 Hand-drawn amended image for the 1991 Bloomingdale’s bag, Malcolm Garrett,

Figure 20 Digital drawing printout for the 1991 Bloomingdale’s bag, Malcolm Garrett,

Figure 21 Hand-drawn specification for the 1991 Bloomingdale’s bag, Malcolm Garrett,

Figure 22 Digital printout used for specification for the 1991 Bloomingdale’s bag, Malcolm Garrett,

Figure 23 Hyperlink map for an interactive catalogue, Malcolm Garrett,

Figure 24 Notation for ideas relating to ‘Retrievalism’, Malcolm Garrett,

Figure 25 Concept sketches for page design, Susanne Dean,

Figure 26 Drawing exploring grid variations, Susanne Dean,

Figure 27 Visual formats for a magazine cover, Jake Abrams,

Figure 28 Client presentation drawings (1), Richard Tilley,

Figure 29 Client presentation drawings (2), Richard Tilley,

Figure 30 Client presentation drawings (3), Richard Tilley,

Figure 31 Detail from Figure

Phase 3

Chapter Seven

Figure 32 Drawings from photographic references, Marion Parola,

Figure 33 Visual references and notations, Sarah Dearlove,

Figure 34 Drawing to decode historical knit, Sarah Dearlove,

Figure 35 Drawing for observation and for decoration, Fiona Pankhurst,

Figure 36 Pencil drawing for animated character design, Hannes Rall,

Figure 37 Ink drawing for animated character design, Hannes Rall,

Figure 38 Pencil drawing to explain a technical process, Maria Silies,

Figure 39 Digital concept development drawing, Christopher Beath,

Figure 40 Drawing for exhibition stands, Paul Kerlaff,

Figure 41 Design for a web page, Alan Wellburn,

Figure 42 Early ideas sketched on a scrap of paper, Shelly Davies,

Figure 43 Concept development drawing for fashion, Sarah Dearlove,

Figure 44 Development through drawing, Stephen Raw,

Figure 45 Digitized drawing, Mark Parker,

Figure 46 Client drawing to evaluate and modify a design, Christopher Charlton,

Figure 47 Communication with the client through drawing, Richard Tilley,

Figure 48 Concept development fashion drawings, Theresa Coburn,

Figure 49 Client presentation fashion drawings, Theresa Coburn,

Figure 50 Specification drawing, Sarah Dearlove,

Figure 51 Drawing for repeat, Ruth Walker,

Chapter Eight

Figure 52 Three categories of design tasks

Figure 53 Three areas of drawing competence

Figure 54 Six categories of drawing abilities

Chapter Nine

Figure 55 Three Environments Model of Drawing in Design

Figure 56 Three Environments Model of Drawing in the Generic Design Process

Figure 57 Project A – Design for hand-printed textiles

Figure 58 Project B – Design for a website

Figure 59 Three Environments Model of Teaching and Learning Drawing

Figure 60 A first-year design student’s experience of drawing studies

Figure 61 A final-year design student’s experience of drawing studies


Table 1 Drawing task and succinct term for the type of drawing produced

Table 2 Drawing competence linked to the performance of intellectual/practical/technical tasks

Table 3 Taxonomy of drawing in design


I am grateful to the many people who have helped me in the investigation which this book describes. The designers and academics on whose comments much of the findings and analysis are based are listed in the Appendices, and their generosity in sharing their own experience of drawing has enabled me to make a unique record of a crucial aspect of industrial and educational practice over a period of profound change. Again, I am grateful to all those who provided guidance at various times in the research, particularly the supervisors for my initial Ph.D. programme, John Langrish and Michael Yeomans. The expert advice on the conduct of research given by Mantz Yorke early in the study proved particularly timely, as did that provided by Malcolm Garrett on developments in digital design. I also remember the generous support of Nigel Barron who ‘stood-in’ for me for a while so that I could write my thesis. Throughout the investigation, the information and opportunities for discussion of industrial drawing practices provided by Richard Tilley and Stephen Raw, and on educational practice by Tony Clayden have been invaluable. I am also grateful for the assistance given by many of my numerous students over the years who have shared their confidences and concerns and have thus greatly contributed to the study.

Similarly, I would like to acknowledge the generosity of colleagues who have helped to form my opinions through discussion and debate about the subjects covered, including my colleagues from the Manchester Metropolitan University, Glasgow School of Art, Birmingham Institute of Art and Design, University of Central England and Duncan of Jordanstone College of the University of Dundee.

More recently colleagues from the School of Art, Design and Media (ADM), Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore, provided new insights into specific forms of contemporary drawing practice, especially Hannes Rall, Ina Conradi, Mark Chavez, Kok Cheow Yeoh and Chris Toh. Moreover, I would also like to express my appreciation to Isaac Kerlow for his insistence that the new first-year programme at ADM should be largely predicated on paper-based drawing as a fundamental introduction to art, design and digital practices.

Most recently, my colleagues at the School of Textiles and Design, Heriot-Watt University Campus in the Scottish Borders have shared many profound insights about the role of drawing in fashion and textiles, particularly the members of the Drawing Research Group, namely Sarah Dearlove, Ian McInnes, Fiona Pankhurst, Mark Parker and Ruth Walker, and special thanks also go to the Head of School Fiona Waldron and to her predecessor, Alison Harley, for their encouragement and practical support for the publication of this book.

However, it is necessary to add that the final conclusions reached in the study are solely my own and there is no intention to imply that the individuals participating in and/or contributing to the study necessarily agree with those conclusions.

I would also like to thank the people at Intellect Books, particularly Katie Evans, who have helped me with the publication of this book, and all those talented designers who very kindly let me use their drawings to aide its effectiveness. I must particularly thank Christopher Beath who designed the fine diagrams in Chapter Nine from my tentative scribbles.

Finally, I would like to acknowledge the indispensable role of my family, my mum Peggy with whom I discussed the beginning of the research shortly before her death, and my dad Kenneth who sadly died as the book was in its early stages. My son Daniel grew up with the long-term study and remained patient when some disruption to family life was required. My husband Vic has been my friend throughout, and has helped and supported me with his own unique blend of ‘critique’ and encouragement.


In 1984 work began on a research project to investigate the role of drawing in the graphic design process. The topic of drawing proved so complex, and graphic design such an ideal subject for investigation, that the basis was formed for a long-term study conducted over a 30-year period. Although research into designers’ use of drawing had been conducted for other disciplines, the graphic design process had, at the time, been subject to very little formal enquiry and yet it proved to be a rich source of information. It was found that there was an even greater use of drawing than had been predicted, with drawing supporting a wide range of designerly activities from initial briefing to final production. However, it was also found that many graphic designers did not think that the kind of drawing they did was what might be termed ‘real drawing’, the kind that artists or illustrators did, and this perhaps accounts for the lack of earlier research. Drawing, in fact, proved to be absolutely intrinsic to all the key design procedures including creative thinking, client presentation and crafting artwork, and it was apparent that great demands were made on the drawing competence of the designer. Moreover, very little guidance was available in drawing manuals on the acquisition of the particular types of drawing competence graphic designers needed to develop. As the project to investigate drawing in professional practice progressed, a study of graphic design education was also instigated, paying particular regard to the drawing curriculum and drawing tuition.

Through these in-depth studies of graphic design in both the commercial and educational environments, an extensive range of paper-based drawing activities and drawing competences was identified and characterized. However, even as the initial investigations were reaching completion, the effects of the major changes to the graphic design industry brought about by the impact of digital technology were becoming increasingly noticeable. Modifications to the role of drawing and to the types of drawings being produced were also becoming evident. Therefore, in a second phase of the study, further research was undertaken across the 1990s, with the effects of these changes being monitored. In 2004, the third and final phase of the long-term study began. It was decided that a review of the approaches to drawing studies in design education at this time would provide a basis for comparison with the academic attitudes recorded in the earlier study of the mid-1980s. Moreover, it would offer an opportunity to achieve an overview of changes in both designerly and educational practice due to the technology-led transformations that had accrued over the previous decade. In order to achieve as comprehensive an analysis as possible, a range of design disciplines was further included in addition to graphic design, extending the investigation to design for digital media, fashion and textile design, and three-dimensional design. A new enquiry into the role of drawing in commercial practice was also commenced at this point, reaching completion in 2015, and undertaken to explore the long-term effects of digital technology on the drawing practices of designers and the convergent and hybrid drawing systems that had evolved.

This book charts the three phases of the extensive study conducted over the 30-year period, and which encompassed five distinct research projects. By focusing on drawing, it was possible not only to investigate processes at the very heart of the UK’s design industry and educational provision, but also to do this during a period of most profound change. Because of its focus on the use of particular types of drawing in the execution of distinct tasks within the design process, the study has explored the opportunities and concerns of individual designers reliant on drawing to assist their own creative thinking and other aspects of their day-to-day work. From a detailed discussion of the role played by specific drawings, to the broader consideration of the effects of technological developments on drawing usage over the decades, the investigation has involved both close scrutiny and broad appraisal to provide an in-depth account of continuity and change over one of the most significant periods of transformation in the design industry. The three decades over which the study was conducted saw a revolution in the whole industry, with new specialist fields emerging to cater for the massive demands for the new products and new forms of communication enabled by digital applications. Therefore, the development of the design skills, and particularly the drawing competences necessitated by these changing demands, was also an important aspect of the research. Both the individual designer’s personal development and the contribution of design education to this process have been investigated.

It was the opportunity to talk to many academics and to many designers in industry, to visit them in their place of work and to discuss their drawings and drawing practices that helped to sustain motivation over the long period of the research. One of the most intellectually stimulating aspects of conducting the first phase was the opportunity to talk to many designers who had been instrumental in establishing and underpinning the considerable reputation of British graphic design at the time, including Ken Garland and F. H. K. Henrion. It was also opportune to be able to interview young designers, then at an early stage in their careers, who went on to become some of the most influential designers of their time. These included Neville Brody, Malcolm Garrett and Peter Saville. Moreover, by interviewing designers whose own use of drawing had been established before the digital revolution, and comparing their comments to those who entered the profession fully conversant with the new digital technologies, it was possible to both monitor change and register continuity throughout a major shift in industrial and educational practice. In the most recent round of interviews it has been fascinating to find out how, ever resilient and resourceful, designers have responded to technological progress while also adapting the new technologies to fit their own particular needs. In a similar way, it has also been valuable to observe how design academics have adapted to new developments while maintaining, where relevant, important traditional elements on the drawing curriculum.

Where particularly apposite, the comments of a few of the respondents included in the study have been quoted verbatim and attributed. However, on the whole, while quotations are frequently employed on the basis of allowing designers and educationalists to ‘speak for themselves’, they are not credited to named individuals but are used to represent the experience of certain groups of designers or academics. In this way, the study includes a perhaps unique ‘oral history’ of design and designers over the period of the investigation. In effect, the opinions and remarks of all the designers and design academics who have participated in the study have been taken into careful consideration and, as far as possible, given equal weight, to reveal the range and diversity of views held. The research was never intended to argue the case for particular types of drawing, and it was as important to include the views of those who believed drawing to be relatively unimportant as those for whom it was essential. It must also be remembered that drawing is a difficult and, frequently, a private activity, leading to inhibition and reluctance by some respondents to reveal precise details, especially when associated with professional practice. Thus, describing this form of tacit experience could be challenging. It was interesting to note that it was not uncommon for some respondents to claim at the outset of an interview that they did not draw, only then, as they warmed to the discussion, to reveal quite extensive recording and development of ideas in drawn form. Each interviewee had something unique to contribute to the findings while definite trends in opinion were nonetheless readily discernible.

Where possible, interviews and discussions were conducted at the respondent’s place of work, where the activity of drawing could be witnessed and where examples of drawings were available for reference and close examination. Whenever permitted, copies were made of examples of designers’ drawings, and the fact that some designers continue to keep the drawn record of their work has consistently aided the conduct and depth of the study. Nevertheless, with the passage of time, it has become increasingly difficult to get access to designers’ drawings, especially those created in the digital environment. It must also be emphasized that none of the drawings illustrated in this book have been produced for their own sake, and each has been produced as part of a designer’s efforts to deal with a specific design task. Furthermore, while each of the drawings illustrated is credited to a single individual, in some cases the drawings involved the work of more than one designer and the named individual was either the design team leader or chief designer.

The conduct of interviews and visits continued until the completion of the research in 2015, but this collection of information was only part of the long-term study. The analysis of data and subsequent categorization and characterization of drawing use, drawing type and related drawing competences progressed consistently throughout in order to achieve a detailed taxonomic presentation of the findings. Part of this exercise, and one of the most exacting aspects of the analysis, was achieving a reliable definition of terms. It was found that at any given time the terminology for different types of drawings was not consistently applied across the profession, and also that the use of terms altered with time. At this point an attempt to define the term ‘drawing’, the subject central to this book, may act as a demonstration of the nature of the problems encountered.

In his essay dedicated to the purpose of defining drawing, and in which he ranges ‘widely over the concept of drawing’, Perry (1992: 96) ultimately regrets that he has ‘no compact definition to offer’. Indeed, to provide a compact definition of both the acts and the products of drawing that is sufficiently generic to encompass the range of uses of drawing, and types of drawings identified, is particularly challenging. Drawing can range from the purely abstract to the highly representational, and from quick, careless ideation scribbles to carefully rendered presentation drawings that skilfully imitate the qualities of print. Some drawings are exploratory and playful, others precise and purposeful. Some are hand-drawn with a pencil or other type of marker on paper, while others may be created from a meld of digital techniques. Therefore, put as simply as possible, or, as Perry would have it, put in its most compact form, the following ‘working’ definition is offered. The act of drawing may be seen to be the playful and/or purposeful manipulation of a mark-making tool on a real or virtual substrate to facilitate recording, analysis and/or invention. Furthermore, a drawing is the product of such an act.

This definition may be reasonably applied to the various descriptions of the uses of drawing given by designers in this study and to the range of drawings produced. It implies not only the adaptability, flexibility and variety of drawing, but also its haptic and temporal nature and the range of media that may be involved. It also encapsulates the link between the action and outcome encompassed by the term ‘drawing’. However, it is a dry description for what is a vital part of the designer’s working practice and a more apposite definition would still seem to be called for. This book is dedicated to exploring the richness and variety, the infinite possibilities of drawing. It is based on the comments of people who have both a personal and a professional relationship with the fundamental human capacity to draw. It describes ways in which drawing fuels imagination, through to ways in which it is used to provide accurate and prescriptive instruction. New approaches and new ways of drawing have been identified throughout the 30 years of the study, and are still unfolding in the twenty-first century with the increasing recognition of the versatility of this unique form of human communication.

The book is presented in three parts beginning, in Part I, with a contextualization of the investigation and a summary of the way in which the research was conducted. In Part II, accounts are given of the five research projects that have made up the long-term study, illustrated where appropriate by contemporaneous examples of designers’ drawings. In Part III, findings are detailed based on a Taxonomy of Drawing in Design, and new models for designerly and educational practices derived from a generalization of these findings are proposed.

To be more specific, the development of an intellectual framework for the long-term study is described in some detail in Chapter One based on an examination of earlier models of the design process and creative thinking, as well as of historical forms of drawing tuition for design students. In Chapter Two, the choice of respondents and methods for achieving consistency when evaluating findings made over the duration of 30 years are discussed. In Chapters Three to Seven, the three individual phases of the study are described, each chapter dealing with one of five different projects and respectively describing the research conducted into the industrial and educational environments in the mid-1980s, across the 1990s and, finally, from around 2004 up to 2015. The detailed findings from these projects are characterized and categorized, and presented in tabular format in Chapter Eight, where the development and structure of a Taxonomy of Drawing in Design is explained. In Chapter Nine, based on a generalization of these results, new models for drawing in the design process, namely the Three Environments Model of Drawing in Design, and for drawing curricula, namely the Three Environments Model of Teaching and Learning Drawing, are proposed. In Chapter Ten, the conclusions reached from the overall investigation are brought together and some proposals for drawing studies are offered.

Part I

Context and Conduct of the Long-Term Study

Chapter One

Context of the Long-Term Study – Theoretical Framework

Introduction to the long-term study

It was a professional interest in the teaching of drawing to design students, particularly to graphic design students, that initially led to the undertaking of this investigation. In the

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