T07: Sketching in HCI

Sunday, 19 July 2020, 13:30 – 17:30
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Makayla Lewis (short bio)

University of the Arts London, United Kingdom

Miriam Sturdee (short bio)

Lancaster University, United Kingdom



Sketching is a practice as old as our ancestors. From cave painting to picture-books, we have explored the world with our visual senses. Now as technology develops, we are discovering ways in which the traditional visual arts can co-exist alongside the complexity of computing. Within Human Computer Interaction (HCI), this co-existence can be embodied in ideation, design spaces, storytelling and impact and much more. To learn to sketch gives a researcher or industry practitioner a toolkit of skills, images and creativity that can support and influence insightful work. We learn to sketch much as we learn to speak, so this is a skill that can be learned at any stage in life. The purpose of this tutorial is to take the learner from basic, hands-on sketching to practical research contexts over the course of a half-day, with opportunities for practice, feedback and creative thinking. Attendees will leave with the confidence to begin to employ sketching in their own HCI environment.


Content and benefits:

Tutorial participants will be guided through selected sketching techniques and strategies that will support exploration and practice of sketching in HCI, the tutorial is in six parts:

  1. Sketch warm up: Participants will be asked to embrace their ‘younger selves’ by mark making (scribbling), its purpose is to let go of perfection.
  2. Introduction to sketching in HCI: Presentation and discussion outlining visual thinking and sketching with examples from HCI, interaction design and computer science.
  3. Building a visual language: Participants will sketch-along with the instructors using digital drawing devices for immediacy, following a series of best practice examples, that will be live drawn and digitally projected for immediacy, this will include: shapes, connectors, and separators; people, gestures and actions; scenes including buildings, and place; building a HCI icon dictionary; typography and hand lettering; and colour theory.
  4. Creating affective visual stories: Participants will rapidly sketch individually and collaboratively (group work) using instructors developed prompts, its purpose is to practice quick ideation, storytelling and sketching. Followed by a more advanced sketching activity, ‘HCI Improv’, where participants will be asked to theoretically prototype (peer generated) or storyboard a user experience.
  5. Applying sketching in HCI: presentation and discussion outlining visual thinking and sketching from HCI, interaction design and computer science. Precisely, instructors and participants will produce a visual mind map exploring significance, benefits, and pitfalls of sketching in HCI and how participants could/will apply sketching into their everyday work practice.
  6. Resources and tools for continued skill practice and development: The course will culminate in with the instructors introducing recommended sketching resources (reading and practice materials) and demonstrate tools (traditional and digital). This will be followed by a Q&A and an option to sign up to Sketching in HCI Slack community.

The instructors will ensure feedback is given to each participant during the tutorial.


Target Audience:

The content of this tutorial is suitable to individuals from industry and academia that have an interest in learning and or improving their visual thinking and sketching skills, and to apply these skills to HCI and their day-to-day working practices.

Attendees are not required to have a background in sketching, graphic design, or illustration. Beginners are encouraged to attend.

Bio Sketches of Presenters:

Makayla Lewis has a PhD in human-computer interaction from City University London. Makayla key interests are user experience, co-design, human factors in cyber security and smart money, and sketching in HCI. Currently, Makayla is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow on artificial intelligence futures in next generation professional services project at the University of the Arts London. Makayla is also an accomplished visual thinker, sketcher, and visual note taker (sketchnotes). Makayla website (www.makaylalewis.co.uk) contains HCI sketchnotes, daily sketches and illustrations, and links to public engagement events e.g. http://SketchnoteHangout.com, SketchnoteLDN, sketching crib sheets and worksheets, and Adobe XD sketching feature.

Makayla Twitter: @maccymacx

Miriam Sturdee is a research fellow at Lancaster University specialising in creative practices in computer science. She holds an MFA in Visual Communication from Edinburgh college of art, and works at the intersection of art and computing, as well investigating how sketching practice can support the development of novel technologies and public engagement.

Miriam Twitter: @AsMirry