Last week you took a product to two different extremes, then created a final design that used the best parts of your extreme concepts. This week you’re going to create “frankenproducts”: mashups that combine the features of two wildly different products.
Try to spend at least 30 minutes sketching, 5 or 6 days a week. Short practice sessions each day usually lead to better results than longer, less-frequent sessions. You should make at least one new sketch each day, so by the end of the week you should have at least 4 new designs and your studies of the original products.
Building your visual vocabulary
Use this week’s first two sketching sessions to build your visual vocabulary. Pick two electronic or mechanical products from the same category. One should be brand new. The other should be very old. These products should have at least three major interface details in common.
For example, you could choose an antique movie camera (the kind with the two spools of film perched above the body of the camera) and a digital SLR camera. Both cameras have viewfinders. The movie camera has a long, telescope-like lens where the user puts their eye. The DSLR has an LED screen. Both cameras have lenses. The movie camera may have several different lenses on a wheel, or a large square shade to prevent lens flare. Either way, the settings must be adjusted by hand. The DSLR has a sleek, motorized lens that adjusts itself automatically. Both camera have a way to advance from one frame to the next. The movie camera has a hand crank. The DSLR has a set of buttons.
Spend your first session exploring the old product. Draw as many sketches as it takes to understand the overall form, and the forms of the three details your products have in common. Quick orthographic views are a good place to start but spend most of your time on perspective views.
For your second session, do the same thing for the new product.
Creating new forms
Days 3 and 4
Create new designs by replacing elements of the new product with elements from the old product. Start by replacing single elements. If you’re using cameras, you could put an old-fashioned manual lens with a giant lens flare shade on the modern DSLR. Then you could make a new design by replacing the forward and back buttons on the DSLR with a hand crank.
Your initial designs will probably look a little silly. That’s OK. Use them to understand how the pieces might fit together. Then go back and refine them. By the end of each day, you should have at least one well-developed idea. This will probably take 2-3 drawings, so plan your time accordingly. And don’t let yourself get stuck on one drawing for the entire session.
Days 5 and 6
Do the same thing but replace elements of the old product with elements from the new one.