Imperial College London

Dyson School of Engineering brings sketching masterclass into students’ homes

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Student sketchbook

Image credit: Joy Zhang, MA/MSc Innovation Design Engineering student

In partnership with stationery-maker Moleskine, expert illustrators hosted a week of sketching workshops with Imperial students.

Innovation Design Engineering MA/MSc students, and guests from across the College’s Departments, discovered creativity does not have to stop when you leave the classroom. As the spring term begins in remote mode for many students, the Dyson School of Design Engineering and Royal College of Arts have delivered a week-long series of training sessions that were entirely online. 

As a result, students unable to come together on campus due to the COVID-19 pandemic were able to get creative and learn from each other and a group of experienced illustrators from the UK, EU and USA. An intensive four-hour workshop was delivered on each day of the week from 11 January onward.

Students were asked to sketch live during the sessions and to submit their work at the end of the session for further feedback. Much of the workshop content centred upon developing the skills to complete fast, lucid design tasks.  

Student sketching at deskThe daily sessions were hosted by world-leading design educators, such as Prof. Kevin Henry; author of Drawing for Product Designers, Andres Parada; concept artist (American Horror Story), Pam Smy; Lecturer for Illustration at the Cambridge School of Art, Spencer Nugent; creator of Sketch-a-day and Martijn van de Wiel; long term design educator and founder of sketch drive (TU Delft, TU Eindhoven, Twente).

The student perspective

"This week was amazing! I think it would be valuable to have these workshops even earlier in the year so we can learn the processes." Tobias Kappeler

Over 60 students took part across the entire week of workshops. For those wishing to join in from other time zones across the globe, the sessions were recorded for later viewing.  

Tobias Kappeler said: “This week was amazing! I think it would be valuable to have these workshops even earlier in the year so we can learn the processes. This was a super helpful exercise, especially for those that have not had a classic design education before.” 

Joy Zhang, “The incredible Sketchweek illustrators and designers explained (among other lessons) three-point perspective, orthogonal drawings, the power of templates, character design, and communicating emotion through something as simple as a line. It was super cool learning more about the theory and practice that goes into each masterpiece!" 

Collaborating with industry

Moleskine notebooksOver one hundred notebooks were provided by Moleskine for use throughout the week, and ‘phone holders’ were in use so that students could broadcast video of their sketches in progress while still engaging with the group on their device’s camera.

Dr Elena Dieckmann, Teaching Fellow, Dyson School of Design Engineering, said: “Enhancing psychomotor skills is very important for our students. This usually requires access to workshops - now we are discovering how those skills can be taught through a camera and vocal instructions. We are experimenting and pushing the restraints of remote design engineering education every day. We are discovering the limits of what design engineers can do and can’t do remotely.” 

The combination of markers, graphic fine-liners and paper resulted in what felt like a traditional sketching session, but with the added advantages of digital technology allowing skills and feedback to be shared with the entire class. 

Audrey Gaulard
Audrey Gaulard, Teaching Fellow

Audrey Gaulard, Teaching Fellow, Dyson School of Design Engineering, said: “The Sketchweek has brought IDE design practice to a new level.  It was incredible to be able to learn from highly skilled instructors from all over the world and pushing the boundaries of remote working by sharing sketching classes online live. It was also a fantastic way to connect the IDE community between students, staff and alumni.”   

Alumni, Amir Afshar, said: "Sketch week was a great opportunity to relearn some of the basics around thinking and developing ideas through drawing.  Having mostly taught myself to draw and sketch throughout my career, it was really useful to learn the fundamentals of new techniques that I had not used in the past.

"The instructors were all people I'd come across and had been following online for a while so it was a real treat to have the opportunity to engage in a personal session with them!" 

Find out more

Innovation Design Engineering is a leading-edge, creative product development double Master's programme run jointly between the Royal College of Art and the Dyson School of Design Engineering, which offers a double Master's degree. It involves experimentation, design, engineering, and enterprise activities with an emphasis on prototyping and proving propositions. 

Potential applicants are encouraged to explore the full range of programmes available from the Dyson School of Engineering.

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Murray MacKay

Murray MacKay
Communications and Public Affairs

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