What's your workflow ?

My workflow is now entirely 3D based. As an in house designer/design manager we use Alias. I model/render my designs, present them on screen. Then I have models made using the 3D files. Then I forward the design skin to the internal or external R&D teams who works on all the inside. They send their files back to me and I point out details I would like to be changed. All 3D based.
I never use 2D based elements to present no longer. I haven’t shown a markers drawing in years. Nor an Illustrator based design.
Around me designers are working the same way.
This kind of led me to the wrong impression that almost no one else was using hand drawings or computer generated 2D elements to present a design nowadays.
Prove me wrong. Tell me more about your workflow, I’m curious.

For external presentations mostly we use either renders or prototypes generated from 3D.

That said depends on the client, If they want to be involved early doors with decision making we often present sketches of initial concepts. Likewise we have presented blue foam models before.

That all said we still do alot by hand for internal presentations, its quicker, cheaper and more refreshing. Does my head in having my nose perminately infront of my screen all day.

Im almost 100% illustrator from rendering to mechanicals. I only sketch out my first initial ideas, and sometimes I clean things up in photoshop.

All early work is done with sketches, either analog or digital.

Refinement drawings in illustrator/photoshop.

3d done by 3d CAD team and I redline sections, talk through revisions.

As a director, I like my team to work in sketch mode first, and I can tell when they cut corners. I also find the clients and marketers respond to the sketches much better. I’m not sure if it is because they are so used to seeing 3d, that the sketches seem special, more creative, or that they are able to read in and see what they want to see, but I find it helps a lot.

I just wrapped up a project for these guys: http://www.icon4x4.com/ that went to the SEMA show. Because the elements were very linear I did all of the exploration in illustrator, with highly rendered orthos. I thought they would get us down the road faster, but instead we ended up doing 3 months of variations… until I did a ballpoint pen, marker, and pastel sketch… and we were done in one round.

Sleek, it looks like you’re working in a pretty small window of the total product development process–so much so that it sounds more like production than design. That can be dangerous as it’s highly commoditized, easily outsourced, and most troubling, relies on others to control everything outside of your workflow. Ideally the designer should be involved in all phases of development. Here’s the general process I typically follow, which is very close to CGMP standards like ISO 13407, and Stage-Gate:

Phase 0: Market Identification
Portfolio planning & market identification (this usually forms the project charter and comes from Product Marketing)

Phase 1: Concept Definition
Secondary & primary research (market & user)
User Needs documentation
Work-modeling & framing (personas, mood boards, flow, sequence, space, artifact, culture, hybrid, etc.)
Concept definition (low fidelity–sketches, storyboards etc.)
Formative research including preference & usability testing
Downselect and/or iteration (via framing tools and/or formative research)
Concept refinement (highest fidelity required)
Market validation research (gating factor)

Phase 2: Design
Requirements definition
User Interaction Hazards analysis
Concept prototyping & detailing (highest fidelity required)
Iterative formative research including preference & usability testing
Downselect and/or iterate until project objectives met (typically time based!)
Engineering Specifications
Vendor sourcing

Phase 3: Development
Design detailing, engineering & production liason
Iterative functional prototypes (high fidelity)
Summative validation testing

Phase 4: Release
Post-market surveillance

Good point cg. The workflow I outlined is only what you (accurately) define as Phase 2. Long before pen hits the page I’m doing a lot of market, trend and consumer research, and building a world that the phase 2 work fits within and then defining product goals, functions, etc and defining product success. This is done in collaboration with my peers in marketing and engineering.

Post phase 2 it is all about refinements, meeting with the sales organization and key retailer, refining more, product testing, and refining more.

Well thank you cg for your advice. The point is not that “I’m only part of a very small window of the whole process” the point is that my question was what is your production workflow. Maybe I should have asked it in the software discussion or the sketching discussion.
I didn’t want to sound pretentious talking about myself that’s all. But as an insider who is higher in the corporate ladder than the Product Managers asking me for a design I’m part of the brief definition and more often than not I write/define the core definition.
I’ve been team leader in several occasions for rupturist (is that proper english ?) innovative processes implying temporary transversal teams with Marketing/Sales/R&D/etc folks. I also have many designs done by external consultancies, carefully picked and internationally known. I’m part of the consumer tests we conduct in several countries. And I won’t even mention the obvious production follow-up part. Concerning the marketing vision not mentioned in my “production workflow” question I’ve recently achieved a part time Master in Marketing recently, while working. So I’m not an Alias monkey, thank you very much.

Thats being said my question was misleading what I’m talking here is just about the 2D vs 3D workflow. Maybe it’s a langage related issue.
So back to “What is your down and dirty production process, gentlemen ?”

I don’t think it is a word… but it should be.

but I think I like rupturist better

sketch to think.

CAD to refine.

Depending on the stage…either can be presented to the client (internal or external) depending on what you are trying to solve and communicate.
I think its dangerous to think only in CAD. Don’t get me wrong…somethings you can only evaluate in CAD, but you cannot beat the speed and free-form nature of sketching.

So if I understand this correctly, the original question is really:

what does the workflow of CG’s Design phase 2 (what Sleek refers to as production) consist of, 2D sketches, 3D models, or both.

Looking at the list, concept prototying and engineering specifications would require 3D, at least if we’re talking about manufactured products. In the world we live in now with the advanced technologies we employ, there would be little use for 2D sketches in the stage. Right? Isn’t this long past the conceptualizing & presentation stage?

Just a little follow up on my answer. I realize it was kind of agressive, but, you know, it’s hard to express what you really want to say in a foreign langage, even if you believe you master it enough to have a written only conversation on a forum.
I should precise that I always sketch to create my designs, maybe my question was in a way more about should I/we the designers involved in that particular company try to rely more on hand sketches ?
I’ve tried that some time ago but my marketing colleagues are now so used to realistic and now photorealistic renderings that they seem no longer interested in early hand sketches. I guess they lack the designers ability to imagine what a product will be based only on initial phase drawings ? I really can’t say if this is a normal evolution or if we should “learn” them to give us a feedback based on our primary medium of expression.
The wow effect with Hypershot or the like renderings does help to deeply convince them. And, as this is a collaborative process we need their support. Don’t we ?
Thanks for the vocabulary hints. Rupturist “It’s not even a word” [as a “Friends” sitcom character said like 10 years ago]. But it’s a concept ! : )

I don’t show many had sketches to marketing. We use them more internally on the design team to explore and communicate together.

sometimes we will show marketing a few of the solutions we are feeling really good about in a more polished sketch form to draw them into the process. By being involved in this earlier stage they typically feel more a part of the process, so they are more involved in the next steps which are 2d photoshop renderings and 3d physical prototypes.

I agree w/Yo. The sketching is important for the designer, not the customer. A page full of thumnails will almost always lead you to directions you wouldn’t take in 3D due to the effort required in modeling. It’s the exact same in Interaction Design, where designers increasingly use “paper prototyping” instead of high-fidelity prototypes or coding.

My “synthesis” workflow hasn’t changed much in 14 years: thumbnails, sketches, 2D Illustrator renderings, and maybe 3D CAD if I don’t have a good partner in Mechanical Engineering to do it for me. It’s common for me to take a digital photo and use it as an underlay in Sketchbook Pro, sketch, email it to a design-engineer, wait for them to email me back some screenshots of their 3D model or send me an SLA, then possibly sketch on top of that to refine. Deliverables are always 3D. Frequently there’s also a design-spec document.

I started out as an Alias jockey, but I gave it up once I earned more control and realized this workflow was more liberating and efficient. I think I also became more confident in the process and realized I didn’t always need photorealistic renderings to look legitimate or solve a design problem.

give or take depending on what’s being designed…research (ethnographic, benchmarking + materials) >ideation sketches and team brainstorm >2D drawings to scale + foam models > illustrator/photoshop renderings for idea presentation> refined 2d drawings+3D Cad models >tech dwgs for production

for presentation… we show bits of research and ideation sketches as well as renderings and prototypes. It is sometimes important to show the client how we got to the final rendering.

I agree with Yo! Who doesn’t? :wink:

3d is a great tool to be used when all the thinking and creative pondering is over.
Its really hard to imply the necesity of sketching to my students. You can only start to 3D-model when a concept/product idea is chosen. Before that you first draw 200 ideation sketches -communicating the idea-. Then you explore and combine these ideas further in about a 100 exploration sketches. You explore them further in 50 explanatory sketches -it’s not a bad idea to show these to your client-. And after all you have learned you should now be able to create 5 - 10 concept-sketches. These are the final sketches to present to your client. After the client has chosen a final concept. Then you can start prototyping in the virtual and real world -this does not mean that you cant be cooking up some fast proof-of-principal mockup or even a blue-foam model before the concept-choosing-. Be aware of showing a client a clean photoreal render of something that is just an idea. He’ll expect the final product to be looking just like the render and he’ll be expecting it tomorrow. Sketches communicate the creative process and thinking the product is undergoing. Also if you are in a CAD environment you tend to loose yourselfs in details. In other words. You’ll just develop one idea and not generate lots of them and this is exactly what you need in the beginning of the design-process lots and lots of ideas.
I prefer sketching because it allows me to communicate lots of ideas in a very short time.