Transitioning from Physical to Digital Sketchbooks for Industrial Design Education

An essential element of industrial design education is the project sketchbook, traditionally submitted as a physical (paper-based) portfolio. However, the ability for such sketchbooks to capture design decision-making and project progress made through increasingly digital design tools is ineffective. To help formulate a solution to this problem, the authors undertook a feasibility study to examine opportunities and barriers of transitioning from physical to digital student sketchbooks. Stage 1 of the research classified the content of approximately 50 paper-based student sketchbooks, illuminating the possible content of a digital equivalent. In stage 2, semi-structured interviews were made with five instructors and five students regarding perceived strengths and weaknesses of physical and digital sketchbooks. Stage 3 comprised a technology review, deciding on a system comprising Apple iPad, AluPen stylus, Sketchbook Pro and Dropbox. In stage 4, six students generated digital sketchbooks during a short concept design project, followed by a post-project questionnaire. Major conclusions include: (i) all students appreciated the portability and professional visualization offered by the digital system; (ii) all students resorted at some point back to paper-based sketching, revealing inadequacies in the chosen system; and (iii) considerable training is needed for students to generate a digital sketchbook effectively
Design Principles and Practices: An International Journal—Annual Review


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Citation Formats
B. Şener Pedgley, “Transitioning from Physical to Digital Sketchbooks for Industrial Design Education,” Design Principles and Practices: An International Journal—Annual Review, pp. 31–41, 2015, Accessed: 00, 2020. [Online]. Available: