Here's my thing.
Where is the factory that they send all the ID people to to make them draw
things the same way? I mean seriously, this guy's stuff looks nice, but it
looks exactly like every car concept drawing I've ever seen. Its like going
to McDonalds. The fries taste just like the chicken which tastes just like
the burgers. Do they all go to the Conformist Institute? or maybe they just
all read the same magazines, which is what made 1701 so smart (but spell so
Must be the same place that brainwashes them to be so self-congratulatory.
Odd comment from Daisy - when I am at a design review with stuff from
five designers, I can usually tell who did what based on their styles.
There is a difference in line weight, choice of views, use of color,
the pens or pencils they prefer, etc.
Ummm... why do all the Engineers detail drawings look the same?
- Ed Eaton
P.S. Oh, I could leave it at that, but how could I pass on the
opportunity to go on and on in detail for a little bit? I've got to
AND... I have to acknowledge that the dude has a point. There does
appear to be a general conformity in how designers, or at least really
good ones like Parel, make presentation sketches (personal to Daisy -
I will ignore the weird potshot aimed at me. Are you catching on to
how I dissect the content from the attitude of the poster? I stand by
that. You made a good point, and I just ignore the meaner junk)
I have also noticed and made snide jokes about how sketches look
homogenous, but when I gave it some thought last nigth I saw that there
are good reasons for that perceived similarity.
The conventions used in presentation sketching have evolved over the
years, just like the conventions in shop drawings have evolved over the
centuries (when was the last time you put a serif font or a curly
leader on a drawing?). This is not to be confused with thumbnail
sketching, which can look like scribbles from anybody.
I would say that the driving factors for this apparent conformity are
how people interpret sketches, advances in technology, and competition
First, we can't change how humans perceive things or increase the
time they have to invest in understanding a sketch. Sketching
techniques have evolved over the years to get the idea across as
unambiguously as possible as fast as possible - you have just a few
seconds of your audience's time to get them to understand a concept,
and you have to make the most out of that time. The sort of sketching
you see from Industrial Designers works, so we evolve to do what works
or we are weeded out. Its like writing, another form of communication
- we can all experiment with writing styles in our own time, but in
business we use short, organized structures (bullets, short paragraphs,
no fluff, even sentence fragments) because it is efficient, it works,
and it fits with the readers expectations.
Second, the available tools influence the style of the presentation
sketches, just like the tools in your shop or the vendors you use
influence the products you design.
Early designers used ink and water colors. I love Frank Lloyd Wrights
presentation sketches, but would never go want to do it because
watercolor is messy and a bitch to master (all my attempts have
devolved into a messy gray).
In my old man's day (I'm a 2nd generation ID), they upped the bar and
used air brushes to fill in color and it would take a couple of days to
get out a presentation sketch (lots of masking). Take a look at car
concepts from the forties, fifties, and maybe early sixties.
When I was starting off in the mid nineties, it was the last hurrah of
several decades of markers. They were a lot faster, but still- when
you put down a line of color, you were kind of stuck with it. You
could bang out a rendering like Parel's helmet in half a day, but if
you wanted to experiment with color you would have to do it on a side
sheet, adding time. And it still wouldn't look quite as nice unless
you spent the better part of a day (or more) on it.
A few years ago it was mostly computer rendered orthographics - lay
out the design in Illustrator and color it in Illustrator or Pshop
(still used a lot, BTW, but it has limitations - you can walk through
stores and identify the products designed this way if you pay
Today, using a tablet you can bang out a perspective rendering AND
experiment at the same time, all within a few hours. Sweet increase in
productivity, and also allows the designer a little more room to
experiment and push out more designs.
To sum up - "It's the technology, stupid".
Third, there is fashion as a result of the evolution of sketching. We
see something that was effective in someone else's sketches and we
use it ourselves, be it line weights, contour lines, whatever. There
are conventions that have evolved for sketching glass as people copied
from one another, because they just work - everyone that looks at it
interprets it as glass, so we use it. There are conventions for
repetitive patterns (we don't draw every hole in a perf panel, just a
few here and there to get the idea across). There are conventions for
using heavier weight lines at the back of the sketch to reinforce the
We sketch like we sketch because it is efficient and it works, not
because we went to a 'conformist institute' (and who the f*** told
you about that???? I need to get a name to pass on to ID central
command or they will confiscate my square glasses).
Personally, I admire the current trends, and if I were starting off I
would feel pressure to sketch like that because people looking to hire
me would interpret a mastery of that style as someone who also
understands design. But I am 37, and am ultimately smitten with the
heavier sketching (lots of blacks with maybe some washes of gray if I
feel up to it) that I grew up with, like Joe Johnston used to do for
ILM. I also have a pencil sketching style that is crisp and quite
effective, and frankly most of my stuff is done like that because it
communicates well and is fast to do (but I usually present to technical
people - if I had to do stuff for marketing folks, I would pull out
the big guns and add pizzazz and color because that is what they have
been trained to read)
Old goat, signing off...
not siding with t.p
but whilst his sketching style may not seperate him from the 10,000
other IDers out there
if you look at what won him the photoworks rendering compe hosted by
rob it wasnt the quality of the render but more the originality of the
mikemcd: thanks- I will try and get it more realistic next time.
Ed- agreed with what you said. Though I can appreciate an interesting
sketch, I believe that I evolved my personal technique as a mish mash
from the designers I work with, the work I see online, ArtCenter
techniques and from the techniques of Ryan Church. However I ferreted
out all these sources not to become an individual looking sketch
artist, but somene who can quickly pump out as many directions as
The crux of the sketch is that it is merely a means to an end. I am not
really worried if my sketch looks like everybody elses. If the design
is generic however thats the problem. I am still working on that. It is
only recently that I have grown comfortable with my sketch technique
and its abitility to represent shapes. I still have a lot to goas far
as clearly representing mechanical concepts and manually drawing
exploded view during meetings.
The frustrating part of designing products, is partially my own lack
of knowledge of all the manufacturing processes possible in China (it
is a pity that you can have really cool processes available
domestically that the marketing team doesnt consider because of
location), working with skittish marketing teams, as well as
time-frame. I suscribe to many different publications to get me more
information about materials and processes, but time-frame of
development usually means that the development team is not particularly
interested in rocking the boat. My own fear is that I am slowly
becoming too much of a trouble-shooter not exploring ideas, but
evaluating those created by others. So any empirical comments regarding
generating genuinely new ideas are much appreciated.
Yup. I think this is common - thatnks for confirming.
I might add that while designers want to pump out as many concepts as
possible, there is still pressure to take more time to make them more
readable and appealing. For instance, things like vignettes in the
background add time, but they help clarify what is object and what is
negative space, and a well-chosen vignette can reinforce the message
(I've seen rocky vignettes for climbing gear, ice for a coolers,
flowers for feminine/softer products, etc. I saw a contest that was
won not because of the concept imo, but because of the Japanese kid
smelling a flower in the vignette).
When it comes to how much pizazz to throw in, the bottom line is that
when faced with many concepts, the audience will gravitate towards
colored ones or really spectacular ones with interesting views - that's
a little bit of human nature that can be manipulated to steer your
audience when you need to, like in a rendering contest (back to Mikes
comment). Fortunately, I don't have to play that game much anymore.
But I used to work with a guy who would always go larger and with more
color than the job was spec'd at, but darn it, his stuff got chosen a
lot because on a wall of 8.5x11 black-and-white sketches he delivered
14x17 color renderings - I keep that in mind for the next time I have
to play that competitive game
What I find hard to keep up with is the constantly shifting costs of
different materials and manufacturing processes coupled with the
drastic changes in tooling costs we have seen in the last decade.
On one job, we tried to shift an aluminum extrusion to a plastic
extrusion when the cost was coming in too high, and I'm still a bit
incredualous that the savings from the change were trivial. With
injection mold prices in china dropping fast compared to extrusion
dies, we might consider just molding the parts (or die casting!
Unlikely, but its that crazy right now)
I used to have links to various material price resources that I would
refer to, but by the time you finish the design things could flip due
to fluctuations, so I frankly don't bother anymore. I just work close
with the manufacturer or manufacturers rep after we have an initial
design, review the costed BOM, and look for opportunities.
In my expereince, as the design develops and costs of the things that
'have to be there' gel, manufacturing processes suggest themselves.
Still, there's voodoo to those manufacturing processes, AND still more
voodoo when you apply the process to the client. For some customers,
it's desirable from their perspective to mold several parts and screw
them together (?? - too long to go into) while for others part count
and assembly time are paramount. Some are averse to tooling
investments, while others just don't care. Corporate culture can
obsolete any research on materials and processes - have you noticed how
many times accountants, cost centers, whether tooling is amortized or
purchased from a separate budget, and junk like that drives design
Fortunatley, working on as many jobs across as many industries as we
do, we get a general 'feel' for the current state of things, and
even get a vibe for what our clients company will do/can't do. To
add to the database, when I first meet with a client I ask as least as
many questions about money/accounting/etc as I do about what they want
the product to actually do. And its all thrown into the creative mix.
To maintain creative flexibility, I always keep focuses on the product
spec for the 'home run product' - if this could be the best it could be
(per the projected volumes), what would it be? I don't latch onto a
look or process and certainly never marry to anything - I just keep
referring to that spec and roll with it (and of course challenge and
modify the spec to make it even better) as things develop.
I keep that home run spec in my mind at all times - the product, the
money-making for my client, etc. I find that when I am absolutely
expert on what the product has to do for my customer to be the best it
can be, I can shift directions in a second on processes, look, etc, to
keep it on target towards that home-run spec. I have literally
redesigned products for an entirely new process in 30 seconds. Is this
creative? Maybe - I have been accused of it. But its all quite rote
for me - I have to achieve X, but now use Y to do it. Just make it
In my experience, the biggest killer to creativity is to pretend away
limitations (usually manufacturing) or to compromise on the spec,
something I see happen a little bit too much. When I hear someone bithc
that 'it cant do X and Y', I ask 'prove it', and constantly challenge
myself to do the same. Literally 90%+ of the time, it can be that home
run ifyou just aren't lazy or overly married to an eralier direction
that you were fond of.
Oddly, another killer is embracing limitations that aren't real -
for instance, does it have to be a new idea? Its not something we
Industrial Designers are supposed to say publicly, but isn't it brave
and creative to occasionally see what might work that's already in
the box? After flailing unsuccessfully past the edges of the envelope,
the route to the home run might be right there in the envelope. I love
how we are so entrenched against 'in-the-box' thinking that we have to
come up with cool designer words to justify it ('retro' comes to
mind). Four wheeled cars are still cool - it doesn't have to have 3 or
13 wheels to be useful or interesting or creative.
You know, I started to read this, and really. I just coudnt make it
trough. This group does have its windbags.
I'm going to try to comment without taking myself too seriously or
rambling about in a self-conscious stream of consciousness blather.
> when I am at a design review with stuff from
Can't see the forest for the tress, sonze like to me. Hekter Criminy!
Were all cubists the same? No. But they were all cubists. How could you
tell they were cubists if they were different?
You got theat from a fotun cookie.
I suppose you'r just trolling for an answer, but of corse since you read
magazines you already know. Engineers don't make detail drawings.
Detailers do. Assuming you'r just teasing, it has something to do with
standards which specify that drawings are supposed to look the same.
That is why detailers put their initials on them. You know the guy from
Ukraine always draws first angle projections.
Remember? Engineers are not creative people. All we can think of is boxs
all day. We draw the same because we are the same. 1701 should know
about engineers from watching TV and reading magazines. Pop cultur tells
you wat to think. We all have pocket protectors and teach our kids how
to use sliderules and , ah shit. You know all this already.
pity you don't read your own stuff.
> but how could I pass on the
> opportunity to go on and on in detail ......
which business would that be in? not one that you are acquainted with.
oh, that explains it. I thought you were 19 and really did know
everything. Wow, 37?!?! You must be the onely one here what got that
old! That must make you REALLY EXPEREMCED.
no, no, "spouting" is spelled differntly.
You know, the "old goat" bit was a touch of sarcasm that I dont think
has penetrated yet.
When you get old enough to understand how little you know instead of
continually calling attention to it, then you have achieved something.
Posted via a free Usenet account from http://www.teranews.com
I will accept some of the crits based on what Ive shown in the blog- I
am the first to say that the posts so far are not designed to sell the
products themselves. All the stuff so far is demonstration of
Solidworks capabilities. I have not really posted real development work
for the ID work I do.
Also who cares about the sketches? Who cares if the sketch is on a
marker doodle on the fore-arm? The important thing is to solve
problems. I was personally happy with the squirt bottle, based on
existing market solutions. I approached it from a power-tool design
perspective. None of the units hook over your hand well. Their
triggers' sharp edges rest on your fingers, and the angle is
ergonomically incorrect for spraying.
Further the shapes do not flow with the palm of your hand and are
pretty broken up. I actually went and purchased a few bottles to see
construction methods to see what could be eliminated, buttressed or
approached differently. There were enough low lying fruit that I did
not have to examine too far to get a decent improvement. Granted I
have not prototyped or tested, but that wasnt the point of the project.
The point here was to create a software demonstration. Again the
priorities are totally different, but I wanted to show a concept that
was at least well thought out.
If you have specific crits as to lack of originality or specific
improvements, that would be appreciated.
I appreciated the video on the helmet - it is cool to see the process,
and the experimentation/back-and-forth isntead of just the final
Wacomb tablet? We have been seriosuly considering getting one.
Yup- Wacom tablet.(Intuos2 9x12) Definitely worth the expense as far as
I am concerned. The only disadvantage to them is that it is harder to
create a paper trail of your ideas. But the huge upside is the natural
movement, emulation of pencil and paper, and what I think is an
increase in speed. The wacom is directly mapped to the screen and so
you can see the pointer jump from one are to the other instead of
Wacom sales might actually ship you a demo unit if you talk to them. Of
course this would probably be for their higher end units.
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