Pursuits of Design and Robotics

The documentation of concept development and general processes

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Sketch Helper: Precedents, Ideas, Goals.

There are a couple of projects that were really inspiring to me as drawing aids. The first being from a Carnegie Mellon student from Computation Design years ago, Sketch it, Make it, which is now called Zotebook. The app allows you to draw quickly on your tablet and it offers corrections and perfections as you go.

What is particularly nice about this application is that it can be output straight to a 3d-printer or laser-cutter to create quick models that were drawn up in minutes. Very useful and accurate way to ‘sketch’ prototypes and have them realized immediately.

Another precedent to look at is the NeoLucida which incidentally was also started by someone who was at CMU, Pablo Garcia. The NeoLucida is essentially a lucida with some electronics involved. It allows the user to trace the reality that the user sees through the lucida as it is projected, in a way, on to the paper.

This project is great for its unobtrusiveness in the analog process. It does not limit the user, as it can only provide visual suggestion. I think this could help a lot in how I think about how my application will aid the drawing process.

People today are relying quite heavily on the aid of technology and in my opinion it is losing people the touch of the hand, the personal quality of mistakes, imperfections, and personality. This feels especially true in renderings of architecture, as the goal is to be realistic but in being so all images to me look like they could be made by the same person, nothing really stands out. I think it’s valuable to add personal flair to an image. In the style of the drawing, through the personal touch. Even when this is not the case, when the drawer is simply trying to quickly output a sketch for an idea, when using technology the image tends to come out very complete-looking. The common thought about this is that completed and accurate drawings look resolved and thus makes the conceptual idea being communicated uninviting to critiqued by clients or peers because it seems resolved. This is a real issue in the world of HCI, for example, when it comes to sketching user interfaces and testing them with surveys. The surveyor will feel inclined to say less if the tested product is more complete or finalized looking.

Essentially then, what feels necessary that seems missing in the technologically aided drawing world is something that provides the efficiency that drew people into the digital drawing world, while maintaining the hand-drawn sketch feeling that can only be provided by the old fashioned pen-and-paper method. My idea is to make that happen using the Equill pen and combining it with another technology, which I’m currently considering to be either a screen or a projector.

This is what I had had up until a short while ago, using the Surface Pro 3 and its pen with the tip replaced by a piece of graphite. As you can see in the second video there are plenty of comments to be made on how it can be improved.

In addition to Rohan’s comments in the video, I’ve also come to the conclusion that there should also be a small space designated to construction drawing. As you saw, Rohan even drew a smaller version of what he was to draw. It is common in perspective drawings to first draw a floor plan and the viewpoint and viewing angle. I could use that basic plan and possibly an additional section to automatically construct the room for the user.

Because that could be complicated and not quite intuitive for a beginner, I’m also considering having the option for a default scaffolding that can be navigated through and have the view be selected before beginning the drawing process. This option allows for a building off of the scaffold, which could inspire ideas and be easier to start from than nothing.

I think both can be done. I am currently tapping into the Equill Pen SDK and trying to figure out how to take advantage of all of its features. I am hoping to move completely away from the Surface Pen because it is obviously limited to itself, while the Equill can work on multiple platforms.


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Sketch Helper

Pen with graphite tip replacing the plastic one it comes with


SketchHelper is an app that aids in the analog perspective sketching process. The idea is that the artist can use the application to provide on-the-go construction lines. Currently the design of the interface is static and not technically optimal; there is much left to be done in this project and for this reason it will be continued next semester with a lot of surveys, user-testing, and design upgrades based on the advice.

SketchHelper speaks to the growing world of intelligent machine-aids in analog processes. The interest to these kinds of process designs is to create potential for the quick and intuitive methods of making that people are capable of responding to in the living world, in real time, to incorporate efficiency and insight and thus allow the designer to create things, and in ways, that might not have been possible before. By doing the tedious work for the designer and intelligently responding to the designers gestural habits, this application will become embedded into the processes that designers are already familiar with. I envision the work to be analogous to a calculator in the math world, there to make math easier but not to replace the person’s thought process.

The first video shows the app in use at high speed. The second video shows someone who was newly introduced to the application at that instant and providing what I considered to be extremely insightful feedback, and communicates the direction that I intend on going as I continue this project.