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There was a really nice set of responses to a post last week about sketching. Basically, I asked whether blog readers and MakerBot operators were accustomed to sketching their designs from the very beginning or using CAD tools to 3D model a design from the get go.

I just thought the responses deserved a quick recap, especially because they underscore the point that there is no right answer. As someone who jumped into this company with no background in 3D printing or any other hardware hacking, I have been continually surprised how accessible the concepts are. I think it’s nice to point out that those of you who do such great work all also have varying processes — so the results aren’t just individualized, the process is too.

The star of today’s episode of MakerBot TV, Kacie Hultgren (aka PrettySmallThings), said that the sketching stage is often absent from her work; not because she eschews pencil and paper, but because much of what she does comes from photographs. It’s pre-sketched, in a way.

Emmett, whose Things number among the most notable contributions in the Thingiverse, similarly doesn’t sketch much. But in his case, it’s because his “imagination works in 3D already.” Communicating an idea to someone else, however, deserves a sketch. Renee  not only sketches, but cleans that sketch up in Illustrator before bringing it into a modeling environment.

The creator of MakerBot mascot R.Maker (pictured above), ErikJDurwoodII, said he sketches to lend some purpose to the CAD process, even if that sketch will change over time, and Gregg Wygonik also uses sketching to make sure the computer phase doesn’t include avoidable elements that cause discouragement. (Visit Gregg’s Thingiverse page here.)

Stephen Holmes, who writes for Develop3D, pinged us on twitter with a really relevant article showing yet another mindset: 3D sketching. The people at the UK product design consultancy 3form Design (3fD) do specifically leave pencil and paper sketching out of their process. Founder Austen Miller argues that the “reverse engineering” required to take a designers sketch on paper into the domain of the engineer can cause the loss of original design intentions. Instead, the groups designers start in SolidWorks.

Echoing what our commenters said:

Miller doesn’t succumb to the argument that by jumping straight into CAD stifles creativity. In his opinion, just like pen and paper, CAD is a tool and depends whose hand it’s in as to the end result. “Creativity should not be measured by the medium we choose but how successful we can be with it…”

Thanks, all, for the input!

Link: Sketch Or SketchUp, A Summary

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