#30 - Custom MAde

All in the Hand: Drawing Technology


Courtesy of Apple

Drawing is the first step to brainstorming as much as it’s the final form of an idea. On the one hand, drawing can be regarded as an act of personal meditation, and on the other, it’s a format of visual communication. Like the expression “back to the drawing board” suggests, drawing is a process of research, aiding artists and designers to explore the limits of a project as well the pure possibilities of seeing.

As a process or result of fine art, drawing is the attempt to capture the beauty and essence of nature or a moment in reality. Take artists such as Nester Canavarro, Cath Riley or Paul Cadden, who spend hours illustrating hyper-realistic portraits by hand using graphite or colored pencil. Drawing is also an act of expression that displays abstract systems of marks, streaks and shapes, which is the role it plays for Julie Mehretu. As a contemporary artist who uses an incredible amount of hand-rendered pencil and ink marks upon layers and layers of hand-painting that were digitally pre-designed, her work accumulates forces and atmospheres to display an intricate network of histories.

While some designers and artists display the pure craft of hand, others necessitate technology in the certain stages of conceptualizing, proving that the ability to visualize pictures with the swipe of a mouse and to undo, or paste an icon in three seconds may be handy to those under pressure. Skeptics and traditionalists drawn to the prodigy of a hand-rendered representation may not be keen on the possibilities that technology has to offer. However, new advancements are proving to be pretty close to the real thing, and with aspects that pencil and paper can’t rival.

The Sensel Morph, a product currently on Kickstarter is actually a track pad packed with 20,000 sensor elements, using its own patented pressure grid technology that can detect a large range of subtle pressure made by the human hand. Unlike many other tools out there, real tools such as paintbrushes, pens and pencils can be used normally upon the track pad, digitally capturing the natural expression and impression of creating.


In line with the simulated experience, the Apple Pencil permits shading, change in line-thickness and pressure sensitivity. For different strokes, the Sensu Artist Brush & Stylus has metallic particles built into its bristles, acting as conduits scanning to the iPad.

For those who aren’t concerned with it feeling like the real deal and look for the ease of technology’s helping hand, Adobe’s stylus, The Ink, allows users to cloud share, copying and pasting images to and from Photoshop or Illustrator. Its useful partner, Slide (a ruler), assists with those necessary straight lines as well as perfect circles and precise curves.

Find more technologies here.

Find more technologies here.  

However, drawing is not always the go-to starting point or the final form of representation. It can be a way to represent form or it can be a point of reference used to instruct or guide manufacturers as they produce a designed object. Considering how 2-D moves to 3-D, ArchiExpo spoke with Andrea Trimarchi, one of the two Italian designers behind studio FormaFantasma. The studio’s work has been presented and published internationally and museums such as New York’s MoMA, London’s Victoria and Albert, New York’s Metropolitan Museum, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Textiel Museum in Tilburg, and more.

“Forma Fantasmas is about absent form, because our work is not about shaping. We aren’t sitting and drawing. Our drawings are more for a narrative purpose. We always say that we never draw. For us it was this important moment from digital to physical and then again physical with the object. A lot of designers are starting with programs and designing from the programs, but for us that’s not working, we need other kinds of tools before to get there. Programs are a technical tool in our opinion, not a creative tool.”



About the Author

Erin Gigl is a freelance design and travel writer, editor and artist.

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