A sketching alphabet for paper-based collaborative design

P. Farrugia, J. Borg, X.T. Yan, K. Camilleri, G. Green

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Despite the importance of the early design phase, designers still lack computer support in rapidly modelling their form concepts in Computer-Aided Design (CAD) systems due to the rigid User-Interface. Owing to its efficacy in instantly capturing ideas, traditional pen-and-paper sketching is still very popular amongst designers to record their concepts not only inside but also outside their office. This paper reports the ongoing research aimed at developing a portable, sketch-based tool allowing designers to obtain and share 3D CAD models on cameraphones directly from paper sketches. More specifically, the focus is on a prescribed sketching alphabet required to create a seamless link between sketching and CAD. Results of semi-structured interviews carried out with various design practitioners contribute important insights into the alphabet suitability. Further, the results and an implemented tool indicate that a sketching language based on this alphabet will be beneficial for designers, especially in a collaborative design environment.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)260-288
Number of pages28
JournalJournal of Design Research
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 2006


  • early form design
  • sketch based modelling
  • 3D modelling
  • sketching languages
  • design process
  • early design stages
  • design research
  • collaborative design
  • mobile phones
  • cell phones
  • camera phones
  • paper sketches
  • 3D CAD
  • sketching alphabet
  • design engineering


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