Many designers, despite the individuality
of their approaches, tend to follow a
staged process that leverages basic
notions garnered from early formal
training, even if they are very experi-
enced. The fundamental idea of this
process is to deﬁne the simplest aspects
of the image ﬁrst—the broad strokes,
as it were—and then, through succes-
sive stages, to clarify and enhance
more complex aspects with increasing
speciﬁcity; in effect, building a rough
foundation and then ﬁlling it in. Although
this process may be described and under-
stood intellectually as linear, it is usually
reiterative and circular, meaning that it
often necessitates stepping back as a
result of going forward. Intuition guides
the exploration; analysis of what results
deﬁnes a particular direction; intuition
returns to test variations; analysis guides
the drawing toward its ﬁnal form.
The design process may be mapped using
a few different models. As seen here,
such models typically incorporate similar
stages of inquiry that act in different rela-
tion to one another.
The designer examines a range of
different approaches to understand
their respective potentials in the
given context: visual brainstorming
to discover possibilities.
Comparing the results of the explo-
ration, the designer evaluates
which possibility—or combinations
thereof—may yield the most inter-
esting and clearest direction for the
visualization of the subject.
The designer integrates and “builds”
the components of the form and
composition, working with the attri-
butes he or she has selected.
As the drawing takes shape, the
designer experiments with varia-
tions—in scale, rhythm, position,
and so on—to determine how these
options confuse, clarify, or augment
the constructed image.
Not to be confused with “clean-
up” or mere simpliﬁcation, this
stage concerns editing the form
to clarify relationships—to bring
them to a state in which they
appear purposeful and somehow
Visualized as a series of stages in which
multiple alternatives are compared, and
some selected for further reﬁnement, in
successive rounds; at each juncture, the
choice of alternatives narrows until only
one reﬁned state remains.
Similar to the tree model, each set of
alternatives directs the designer to the
next level of speciﬁcity; in this model,
however, only one option is given focus at
a time and future directions selected from
testing and reﬁning it alone.