Back to the basics in ideation: Chris Cheung sketches out what new apps mean for designers

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How is digital sketching fitting into your workflow, if at all?

Sketching still forms the launchpad for most designs, with digital tools now speeding up the workflow – letting designers share, edit and output ideas faster.

We grabbed a chat with digital sketching app Made with Mischief‘s ‘head of mischief’ himself, Chris Cheung, who gave us his thoughts on what digital sketching applications are offering designers:

Innovation and creativity have always gone hand-in-hand, but when it comes to software, it isn’t just about features and cutting edge technology any more. These days, when it comes to technology enabling creativity, less may indeed be more.
One of the great benefits that creatives have is the sheer variety of tools that are at their disposal. Artists and designers want to be immersed in a particular task, so a purpose-built tool can have a huge impact on productivity.

There is no need to rely exclusively on all-in-one packages, so long as the applications have good interoperability and export out standard formats, people have the flexibility to share and move between packages.

Tools on the market are also required to be as easy to use as a pen and a piece of paper, augmenting the user’s own talent, rather than substituting.


Sketching applications like Mischief follow the ethos of simplicity and seek the balance between ease-of-use and functionality: Mischief is a great example of this with a minimalistic user interface that really focuses on a vast ‘infinite’ canvas that enables creativity to grow organically without the boundary of image size (something you cannot have in the real world).

Accessibility in terms of use and affordability plays a big factor in tool adoption. The right mix can widen the market and introduce a great deal of value to people who have roles that may not be considered ‘creative’.

Many can rediscover their love of drawing and find tremendous reward for it on a personal level as well as utility in their professional life.

Art and design methodology are demonstrating increasing importance outside of the usual creative industries. Ideation techniques and storyboarding have been embraced by the business world. Naturally, the creative tools and the techniques follow.

‘Many can rediscover their love of drawing and find tremendous reward for it’

Digital note-taking and sketching can make a boardroom meeting more effective, but can also make collaboration possible in an age where team members are less and less likely to be co-located.

Businesses are also recognising the value of creative talent in the boardroom. Artists are becoming valuable resources as visual facilitators and graphic recorders, effectively using their skills to sketch and capture ideas, communicate scenarios, and literally help stakeholders ‘see’ in a different way.

Tools such as Mischief provide ‘pins’ that allow a canvas to become an interactive ideas map, making it easy to index a brainstorm session or call-out important highlights from a flowchart and export them as thumbnail images to be shared.

This culmination of tools, people and techniques really shows that creativity and visual thinking bridge all industries.

Problem solving and thinking are universal, just like drawing is, so it isn’t a surprise that we see these intertwine as technology advances and becomes easier for everyone to access. There really are no borders on creativity.

We’d love to hear your views on how sketching fits into your workflow, and your thoughts on the new digital tools – perhaps you can’t beat the feel of pen on paper, or the apps are letting you get more done – tell us below the line.

If you’d like to hear more from Cheung, it just so happens that he took to the stage at our annual DEVELOP3D LIVE event.

Watch his full talk for free below:

DEVELOP3D LIVE 2015: Chris Cheung, The Foundry from DEVELOP3D on Vimeo.

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