Article – CAD verses Sketching, Why Ask?

Spencer sent me this article and I liked it so much I sent it to every individual on my design team. Its a great read. I’m constantly running into interns and designers who are limiting their creativity, exploration of problem, and communication of a solution because a program wont let them do what they see in their mind, or they are to so afraid of a program they take shortcuts and their designs never measure up.

“…design students tend to take a more constrained and fixated approach to their design activity. Their use of CAD tools only compounded a pre-existing tendency towards attachment to concept and fixation. This approach influences the ways in which students approached design activity and tool use. A tendency to fixate reflects the students’ lack of confidence in their own design ability derived from a limited understanding of why and how design tools are used.” – Dr. James Self

I think this is an excellent reminder that CAD, Photoshop, Illustrator, Sketching, etc.. are all tools for us to use. If we want to use them effectively and correctly we have to become confident and comfortable with them. A new tool is like a brand new leather jacket its rough, stiff, uncomfortable to wear until its tried on and worn for a while. So…Keep practicing, try something new, branch out and explore a new tool.  It’ll make you a better designer.




  • Mike Kinihin

    nice article

  • Ben

    This brings up some interesting things to think about down the line.  When will designers not even need to be concerned about manufacturing processes in their designs with all new technologies like 3d printing that exist?  Also what changes will come about in the 3d modeling world with the ability to sketch surfaces?  What unknown shapes and surfaces will exist for instant production on individual or mass scales.  Could result in some very interesting and revolutionary designs.  Also could bring us back out of the industrial age possibly and back into a world where individuals are crafting many of their belongings for themselves.  Exciting stuff.

    • Nate Finlay

      I totally agree. There’s a lot of possibilitys opening up and because of that ive really been thinking about taking a zbrush class. They speed and detail of Zbrush coupled with rapid prototyping…crazy.

  • Bboygto

    To Ben, as I’m an mechanical engineer (but interested in ID), I would say forget about manufacturing processes for a fresh men. There is thousands of solution for mechanical constraints such as new assembly methods, new molds technology, etc. Thus, the ID in our organization do not consider about the possibility when exploring all the possible ideas. The problem will be discussed after releasing the model to us.

  • P4N4D4

    Hey I am a budding designer as it where, been working in boat building / webdesign / pos design and I do find the computer as a tool is great to use and has several avenues available to us, but I cant help to think that people in  the past have done so much by just using the pen and paper. I rely heavily on my computer skills but still think and believe that my sketching needs more work and is not getting the work out it needs because of the attention placed on new technologies.

    Therefore it is nice to see when someone expands past the boundaries of their computer based knowledge. stretching to new visual aesthetic design.

  • James Self

    Many thanks for your kind words with regards the article. James Self.

  • momobobber