the era of digital sketching

the role of freehand sketching has been described as important and even dispensible in the design process as the motivator for creativitiy and production. The characteristics of sketches, such as vagueness, discrunity, overlayered, contributes greatly to producing ideas and advancing the design process.

With the progress of CAD technology, major part of the design process could be enhanced by differerent CAD system. In traditional method, freehand sketches, 3D model, and working prototype have been used to carry out the design process to finally create the end artifacts of design. The drastic advances of 3D modelling software has replaced these media successfully. However, some researches have been advocated that the role of freehand sketches could not be taken by CAD system. The fundamental difference of their features, precise and vagueness, has prevented the freehand sketches be replaced by any CAD systems.

Many sketches-based CAD systems have been established by Gross and DO, but most of them failed to fulfill the basic requirements of freehand sketches, the vagueness and tinyness. Their research provide a theoretical fundation to establish a better sketches-based CAD system, but still the simple basic of sketching behaviors do not exist in their systems.

The emerging problem is that there is always a missing part of the whole CAD process. The beginning is different. The new generation of designers have shown their abilities to design with 3D modelling from struch. The researches of Liu have shown the CAD could be used in the conceptual design process in Architectural design, and it provides different stimulats compared to freehand sketches. However, it would really makes the CAD process completed if we can establish a computer aided concepual design that has the basic features of sketches.

Most of the computer-mediated collaborative design system focused on the communicative roles of the design process. Very few can facilitate the collaborative design process. If the ideal computer aided concepual design could be established, combining with the internet technology, we can have long-distance design collavoration in designing not only communicating.

This study proved that our system is similar to freehand sketches. Therefore, combining our systems and the theory-proving systems of Gross and Do, we will be able to aid the completed design process from idea generation to manifacture.

SO this is the era of digital sketches.

Hsien-Hui Tang

Associate Professor, NTUST, Taipei, Taiwan