Visual Design and Engineering Laboratory

Carnegie Mellon University

Computationally Enhanced Product Form Design Through Sketch-Based Interactions


PDF available upon request.


Drawing is a simple yet powerful way to describe shapes. Combined with its practicality, it has become a fundamental and indispensable part of engineering and product design. Artists and engineers extensively use conceptual sketches to externalize and communicate their design ideas regarding product forms. As much as it is a communication tool, it is also an integral part of the creativity process.

Despite all of the advantages, the utility of sketching has been particularly unique to the early stages of design. The downstream processes strictly require well-defined, digitized, 3D geometries for purposes that range from realistic renditions to detailed engineering and manufacturing analyses. Thus, the current modeling tools have grown into sophisticated collections of atomic geometric operations. However, as opposed to the intuitiveness of sketching, operating such software require the use of a sophisticated collection of geometric operations in carefully planned sequences. As a result, the users are forced to abandon their natural drawing habits and adapt to complicated tools through long learning curves.

In this thesis, I propose novel computational methods that attempt to alleviate the technical challenges that stand before an active utilization of sketching in modern 3D modeling environments. Toward this end goal, I will make contributions in three major areas: (1) Sketch interpretation mechanisms that follow visual expectations and user preferences, (2) sketch-based conceptual exploration and concurrent 3D geometric modeling, and (3) enhanced design discussions on digital 2D media through sketched annotations. Technically, I will describe algorithms that accurately imitate the visual perception mechanisms in extracting salient geometric entities from sketches. These algorithms will facilitate novel preprocessing techniques that convert the salient geometries into suitable computational representations. I will then describe methods that allow a quick generation and editing of 3D geometries all through sketches strokes. Following this, I will present a sketch-based image deformation approach that facilitates design discussions by rapidly visualizing suggested edits on images. Finally, I will demonstrate the utility of the proposed methods by presenting typical user scenarios accompanied by a user study for an objective evaluation.


Gunay Orbay. (2013). Computationally Enhanced Product Form Design Through Sketch-Based Interactions. PhD thesis. Carnegie Mellon University, USA.

 author = {Gunay Orbay},
 title = {Computationally Enhanced Product Form Design Through Sketch-Based Interactions},
 school = {Carnegie Mellon University},
 address = {USA},
 year = {2013},
 type = {{PhD} dissertation}