So You Think You Can’t Draw? A Hands-on Introductory Course on Sketching in HCI Techniques

ACM CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, 25 to 30 April 2020

Hand-drawn sketching is a practice as old as our ancestors. From cave painting to picture-books, we have explored the world with our visual senses. Within Human-Computer Interaction, sketches can be used to document, ideate, and describe concepts between researcher, user, or client. Attendees will leave the course with the confidence to engage actively with sketching on an everyday basis in their research practice.

Image 1 - CHI 2018 Attendee Sketches of People and Actions

Detailed Course Structure

  1. Warm-up ‘The Humble Line’
  2. ‘Sketchy’ Ice Breaker
  3. Sketch gallery
  4. Visual language including shapes, connectors, and separators; people, gestures and actions; scenes; icon dictionary; typography and hand lettering; and colour theory
  5. Visual Storytelling including rapid story sketching and HCI Improv
  6. Applying Sketching in HCI
  7. Resources and tools ‘show and try’

The instructors will ensure feedback is given to each participant during the course. Participants will also be invited to join our existing network, ‘Sketching in HCI’: engaging with sketching research and practice in HCI at

Course History

Sketching in HCI courses at CHI 2018 and CHI 2019  and a special interest groups Sketching in HCI at CHI 2018 and Sketching in HCI 2.0 CHI 2019 has been previously given by the authors. Similar courses and workshops have been provided by the authors at: DIS 2017, NordiCHI 2016, and TReSSPASS Summer School 2016. Lewis has provided industry tuition at Design Exchange UK 2019, Agile in the City: London 2019, UX Cambridge 2018, UX in the City: Manchester 2018, UX Oxford 2017, UX Scotland 2017, UX Leeds 2017, UX Bristol 2016, UCD 2015, and TCUK 2014. Sturdee has carried out sketching in HCI related research. The CHI 2020 course will have a greater focus on developing core sketching skills and sustaining sketching in HCI on an everyday basis.

Instructors biography

Makayla Lewis is postdoctoral research fellow at the University of the Arts London, she uses visual methods to explore human factors of cybersecurity, smart money, and artificial intelligence. Makayla is also an accomplished visual thinker and sketcher who organizes the monthly, SketchnoteLDN amongst other sketching events and courses, and provides visuals and sketchnotes for international companies and conferences such as CHI and ISS.

Miriam Sturdee is a Research Fellow at Lancaster University, specialising in creative practices in computer science. She holds an MFA in Visual Communication from Edinburgh college of art, and works at the intersection of art and computing, as well investigating how sketching practice can support the development of novel technologies and public engagement.

Instructors resources

Makayla Lewis  contains HCI sketchnotes, daily sketches and illustrations, and links to public engagement events e.g. SketchnoteLDN, sketching crib sheets and worksheets, and Adobe XD sketching feature. Authors co-authored ACM Interactions magazine features the latter is also ACM featured blog. Other helpful resources include Sketching User Experiences: The Workbook, The Back of the Napkin and The Sketchnote Handbook, Doodle Revolution, Visual Notetaking for Educators, and Visual Thinking: Empowering People & Organizations through Visual Collaboration books, which offer a beginner’s perspective on different sketching approaches.

Course notes will be produced before course and shared. Following the course, a visual summary ‘sketchnotes’  and crib sheet will be produced and shared.

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