Design Drawing

“Drawing is just as legitimate and useful a tool for thinking and problem-solving as language or mathematics: it just happens to be neglected in conventional education.”

– William Kirby Lockard”

Design DrawingDrawing has been essential to my creative practice for years. I had the good fortune to be able to take twice weekly drawing classes  in high school where we used the well known Betty Edwards book , “Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain”.  I also grew up in a family where the study of arts was supported. My Mom earned an MFA from the Art Department at Catholic University in Washington DC . She taught her nine children drawing and sculpture at a young age and would take us to the National Gallery and the Smithosonian for regular outings.

I grew up thinking of drawing as an art form and did not start differentiating the various design practices until recent years. For this blog post, I discuss architectural design drawing and suggest integrating the formal process into drawing for interface design and interaction design.  I am drawing  (no pun intended) from two good sources by the architect, William Kirby Lockard’s, Design Drawing and Design Drawing Experiences, 2000 Edition.

Design drawing is the use of the hand skill of drawing to conceive and refine a concept and bring it to fruition. It is different from other forms of drawing in it’s intent. It is a part of the process of design. It is not the result.

” Design drawings should be committed to clear, completed representation of a design and simultaneously tentative and open to improvement”

” Design drawings may be informal but they must be accurate.”

” The function of drawing in the design process is generating, evaluating, and improving.”

– William Kirby Lockard

The big lightbulb moment for me in the Design Drawing text’s by Lockard was how he categorized the various types of drawings of the design process.

The following names are excerpted from the 2000 Edition of Design Drawing.

  • Opening Drawings: Exploratory and designed to prevent premature solutions.
  • Clearing Drawings: Designed to remove preconceptions and misunderstandings by offering alternative solutions to a design problem.
  • Stitch Drawings: Stitch drawings examine a specific part of a design problem.  They  search for direction.
  • Hitch Drawings: The establish direction. Hitch drawings anchor a particular conceptual solution to the design problem by offering a number of organizing concepts.
  • Zipper Drawings: They are designed to test, develop and rationalize the solution’s relationship to the problem. Zipper drawings integrate the various directions into the final one.
  • Zipped Drawings: They are the final drawings and they are meant to convincingly present the final solution.

The key words for me in describing the design process are SEARCH and DIRECTION.  You use drawing to search for the solution and then to present it in the best possible light.


Design Drawing 200o Edition,  William Kirby Lockard, W. W. Norton & Company, New York, ISBN 0-393-73041-7

Design Drawing Experiences 2000 Edition, William Kirby Lockard,  WW. Norton & Company,  New York, ISBN 0-393-73041

The New Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, Betty Edwards