Visual Design and Engineering Laboratory

Carnegie Mellon University

An Evaluation of User Experience with a Sketch-based 3D Modeling System


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With the availability of pen-enabled digital hardware, sketch-based 3D modeling is becoming an increasingly attractive alternative to traditional methods in many design environments. To date, a variety of methodologies and implemented systems have been proposed that all seek to make sketching the primary interaction method for 3D geometric modeling. While many of these methods are promising, a general lack of end user evaluations makes it difficult to assess and improve upon these methods. Based on our ongoing work, we present the usage and a user evaluation of a sketch-based 3D modeling tool we have been developing for industrial styling design. The study investigates the usability of our techniques in the hands of non-experts by gauging (1) the speed with which users can comprehend and adopt to constituent modeling steps, and (2) how effectively users can utilize the newly learned skills to design 3D models. Our observations and users’ feedback indicate that overall users could learn the investigated techniques relatively easily and put them in use immediately. However, users pointed out several usability and technical issues such as difficulty in mode selection and lack of sophisticated surface modeling tools as some of the key limitations of the current system. We believe the lessons learned from this study can be used in the development of more powerful and satisfying sketch-based modeling tools in the future.


Levent Burak Kara, Kenji Shimada, Sarah D Marmalefsky. (2007). An Evaluation of User Experience with a Sketch-based 3D Modeling System. Computers & Graphics, Volume 31, Issue 4, Pages 580-597.

 title = "An Evaluation of User Experience with a Sketch-based 3D Modeling System",
 journal = "Computers & Graphics ",
 volume = "31",
 number = "4",
 pages = "580 - 597",
 year = "2007",
 note = "",
 issn = "0097-8493",
 doi = "",
 url = "",
 author = "Levent Burak Kara and Kenji Shimada and Sarah D. Marmalefsky",
 keywords = "Pen computing",
 keywords = "Sketch-based interaction",
 keywords = "3D modeling",
 keywords = "Styling design",
 keywords = "Curves",
 keywords = "Surfaces",
 keywords = "User study "