How 3D sketching stimulates a more creative workflow

Designers are spending a lot less time ideating with 2D mediums in favour of working with immersive technology. 3D sketching has enabled a faster and more creative design pipeline. Designers are creating more unique and compelling designs through the use of Gravity Sketch at the early stages of their process.

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How 3D sketching stimulates a more creative workflow
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This is the 1st blog in the series where we’ll be looking at the various ways designers are implementing Gravity Sketch into their process. Each blog will focus on one of the four benefits we have identified across all of the designers and design studios we have engaged with over the past year. With this blog we will first focus on how, with project deadlines seeming to tighten throughout the industry and clients demanding ever more, 3D sketching can help designers work more creatively, while maintaining and often shortening the time to delivery. We overwhelmingly hear that designers are under a great deal of pressure to deliver high quality work at dramatically shortened time frames; this is a key theme we picked up on from designers, especially at consultancies. However, with the competitive nature of in-house design studios, this challenge exists there as well and can be felt throughout the industry.

A more efficient workflow preserves time for ideation and the deeper development of concepts which are often left on the table due to time and feasibility constraints. The more concepts developed the stronger end result. In addition to this we have also heard that through 3D sketching designers are able to realise concepts which are extremely challenging to visualize and iterate using traditional industry tools. Sean O’Shea, Anta’s LA Studio Director sums this up well:

“I never realised how limiting drawing in 2D was until I started using Gravity Sketch. The freedom and creativity are clearly the most enjoyable parts for me. Also the end result is shockingly impressive when compared to other 2D programmes I had been using”

We’ll share some insights from users and explain how designers are getting more compelling outcomes by bringing 3D earlier in their design process.

Shoe sketch created by Fynn Eckstein using Gravity Sketch
30 minute sketch by Fynn Eckstein

Time pressure on ideation

With several teams we spoke to there is an expectation for designers to produce work at the ideation phase which can be used much further downstream in the development process. Across the industry both clients and various stakeholders are requesting design reviews with digital 3D data at all stages of the pipeline. It appears the inductsy is tightening the design window and as a result, there is very little time left for designers to explore, ideate, and imagine. This reduction of time spent on ideation with pen and paper or digital sketching results in a series of compromises and in turn drastically affects the final outcome. This exploration and imagination phase is starting to become a second class citizen in the pipeline. The larger impact this has had is the transition to CAD, designers are moving into CAD programs much earlier in the process when they are still in the exploration stages. These tools are not fit for purpose, once a designer gets into the digital 3D realm with traditional CAD software, the process becomes more rigid and the ability to iterate becomes much harder due to the time needed to operate the software. These tools fail to capture the fluidity of hand sketching but rather generate seamlessly lifeless proposals.

The current version of Gravity Sketch is designed for this early stage ideation, and enables designers to use their gestural styles to generate 3D sketches and early sketch models in a free-form environment. With a typical onboarding time of only eight hours, the tool combines the fluidity of sketching with a digital 3D output that conveys proportions, volumetric information, and a more accurate iteration of the initial idea. Rather than spending hours behind a computer screen, or sketching multiple 2D views of a product, one 3D sketch/model created with Gravity Sketch captures any desired angle of the design. The 3D data, or screenshots of the model can be shared instantly with external stakeholders or management. 

The major advantage of sharing this work as 3D data is the ability for others to visualize the earliest sketches in 3D with 1:1 accuracy, comment in real time, and export like for like to traditional CAD programmes for use later in the pipeline. This increased speed of exploration of ideas allows designers to spend less time stuck behind a computer screen and frees up time to explore multiple ideas. With more time spent concepting, designers unlock a more compelling output and less time on the development of a single compromised concept.

Quick sketch of a helmet using Gravity Sketch
4 minute helmet sketch by Nitin Gurram

Uncompromised creativity

Design is a competitive sport. Whether it’s in competition with his/her peers or with themselves, designers often look to leverage emerging technology to elevate the quality of their work. Gravity Sketch has provided a new way to iterate on ideas and push designs forward at every stage of the process. Visualizing ideas in 3D in real time helps elevate creativity and eliminates the 2D-3D transition which has been the industry norm for forever. Often designs look great in 2D, but don’t credibly translate into 3D, which causes a lot of back and forth between designers and modelers or engineers; this is especially a challenge for designers who are early on in their journey.

Creating with gestures and free form editing SubDivision geometry in a limitless immersive environment provides an unrestricted experience when it comes to expressing organic forms. Users can better solve aesthetic or usability challenges, in turn making more informed decisions about which ideas to progress. With this method, designers can explore forms that would be difficult to produce with traditional tools.

In no way are designers we spoke with knocking transitional 2D sketching, the medium provides the fastest way of getting an idea out of your brain. However to fully express an idea designers must work through a series of sketches and 2D renders. This ability to immediately understand an idea and fully visualise a design in 3D early helps designers identify challenging areas in their concept. This opens an opportunity to immediately start problem solving in real time as the design is coming into focus.

3D printed chair, designed in Gravity Sketch
3D printed chair, designed in Gravity Sketch by Matthew Antes and Cullan Kerner

VR provides a limitless blank canvas to design within, allowing the visualisation of multiple concepts at once in 3D. Create image mood boards, a virtual studio set-up, or copy multiple instances of similar designs to compare closely. The power of this digital setup provides a new way of evaluating concepts at the early stages of the process and empowers designers to create more compelling products.

Product design concept exploration in Gravity Sketch
Concept exploration in Gravity Sketch - Pixel Light by Nicholas Baker

It’s fantastic to see creatives liberated and free to push their ideas in a new way. We have learned so much from users who have fully integrated Gravity Sketch into their workflow. We aim to increase the potential of the tool in the key areas from above. We also want to unlock unexplored ways of working which this medium supports. The most rewarding part of building this product is seeing the way designers are able to step up their game and work in a totally unrestricted way. If you’re using the tool to elevate the quality of work and depth of creativity we would love to hear about your process.

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