How to visualize ideas?

We live in a world made out of screens. A surgeon who removes a tumor from a patient’s liver interacts with a 3D digital model of the tumor and liver to operate the surgery. A traveler learns geography and calculates distances of where s(h)e wants to go from Google Earth software. An architect generates a 3D model to simulate its structure, form, and materiality. In all illustrated cases, a person uses analog and/or digital tools like a computer or a lancet and to aid in some internal computation such as learning, comprehension, carrying out operations and inferring.

What is the way of doing of designers and design students? How do they represent their ideas? Do they use pen and paper or a model? Let’s think with/about tools to design. (for further reading, Dorta,2004)

Analog Tools are described as tools that do not require digital technologies and are often manipulated using more complex motor skills: hand sketching and hand-drawn illustrations, sketch model making and other handcrafting workshop practices (McCullough 1997). Analog tools are mostly preferred during conceptual design process due to their intuitiveness. (Alcaide-Marzal, J.,2013) For many design students, super shinny sketches don’t come naturally. No worries! It is not about your talent, you can improve them. Here some tutorials to follow, just follow the videos;

Ok. Your sketches are not fascinating but

if you read/understand your own sketches // it is ok,

and you need time to improve it //  it is also ok!

Anyway, you need to visualize data. You have a dataset (number of visitors, percentage of sunny days, etc.) How are you going to present them? Within a form of diagrams, maps or networks? You can use your pen or computer. If you feel comfortable with digital tools, use them.


Here is a good website to start to think with

Or you can produce 3D models to visualize the data? You can discover something new while building a 3D model. Both sketching and modeling, they have different missions.

Richard Ibghy & Marilou Lemmens

The next post will be about digital tools. I’ll continue with data vis. 


Alcaide-Marzal, J., Diego-Mas, J. A., Asensio-Cusesta, S., & Piqueras- Fiszman, B. 2013. An exploratory study on the use of digital sculpting in conceptual product design. Design Studies, 34, 264e284.DORTA, T. PÉREZ, E. and LESAGE, A. (2008) The conceptual design phase gap:: hybrid tools, design flow and practice. Design Studies, 29(2), pp. 121-141.

Dorta, T.: 2004, Drafted Virtual Reality: A New Paradigm to Design with Computers, in H. S. Lee, and J. W. Choi (eds), Proceedings of the 9th International Conference on Computer-Aided Architectural Design and Research in Asia, CAADRIA 2004, Seoul, pp. 829–843.

Book to read;



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