Sketching on two sides of the brain

When I want to draw an idea out from my head, I like to draw it on paper. Usually I use a 0.7mm #2 mechanical pencil, a gum eraser, and a fresh clean sheet of white paper, usually just the ordinary printer paper we have in the lab.

I tend to work with a stack of paper, so if I don’t like what I’m sketch I can just start fresh on a new sheet. By the second sheet, I’m usually drawing what was in my head.

There is an incredible freedom to this process, and I find it very pleasurable. After all, anything that’s in my head can go onto that sheet of paper.

If I want to refine what I drew, I’ll sometimes use a head-worn x2 magnifier as I sketch in fine details. This is because the limit to how accurately I can draw fine details is never in how my hand can move, but rather always in what my eyes can see.

I have an entirely different creative process for illustrating animated mechanisms. In that case I write code, using a library of helpful tools that I’ve built up over many years. The advantage of this approach is that I can directly show process, rather than just a static snapshot.

These two ways of creating are so different, and so complementary. The first is very right brain, and the second is very left brain. I wish I could figure out a way to join them together into a single creative process.

My Chalktalk program creates the impression of doing so, but that is somewhat of an illusion. Chalktalk is very useful for showing ideas to others, but the work of visualizating those ideas takes place largely in code. Sketching is mostly used for presentating the result of that creative process.

I am hopeful that at some point I will find a way to better join these two ways of describing ideas. Guess I’ll just have to keep trying.

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