Lynne Kesselman

Sketching, Story Boards, and Wire Frames

Share your ideas and best practices about how to help students create visual sketches to plan out and/or refine their projects.

What are some proven strategies for developing a pre-planning process for your students? Do you have ways to encourage students who are reluctant and are saying "I can't draw?" and to help them create sketches, story boards, and/or wire frames?

Maybe you thought your own artistic skills were insufficient and have learned new skills to help draw your ideas?

What tools do you find most helpful in the process? Paper and pencil? Crayons? Index cards? Sharpies? White boards? Drawing apps? 

Does your process change depending on the type of project? Apps vs. Web pages vs. Animations?

Does collaboration help or hinder the process?

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Jody Campbell

Posted on 9/3/14 3:54:06 PM Permalink

I start students out with speed sketching. I put up a still life and and give them 60 seconds while telling them to focus on only what is important to communicate image. Then I reduce the time to 30 seconds, then 15 seconds. This helps the student to master using shape to capture structure.

Cheez Denard

Posted on 9/3/14 1:13:11 PM Permalink

I work with Middle School students. To introduce story boarding, I have them story board the old Terry Tate Office Linebacker commercial. It takes two days. I show them how to use circles for heads and hands, upside down triangles for upper bodies, and rectangles for limbs. I have my students start with their subjects head first. They seem to then be able to build off of that and keep a relatively nice idea of what they want their shot to look like. I am still looking for a good app for an ipad that has stock people that they can manipulate to get a rough sketch of their shot.

Ahmed Ali Moselhi

Posted on 9/2/14 6:22:05 PM Permalink

Hi Lynne,

i like your discussion, i am always telling my students Sketching is a way to print out your imagination from mind, then we go through design process to develop our ideas.

Actually no need for perfect sketcher to do a sketch, they can use pencil, cutout papers, collage from magazines/newspaper to do their sketches and mode board. To develop my students sketching skills first we need to ignite their imagination with some influences to make their mind working and weave a new concepts; always keep asking questions while they are brainstorming to orient/align their objectives and task-scope.

Mary Slumpff

Posted on 7/26/14 9:48:43 PM Permalink

I use research from the right brain/left brain mapping. "Drawing on the right side of the Brain" available on Amazon for about $12.00 will give you the info. It demystifies the drawing process and gives the students the courage to try. I get great results from the simple assignments. The students are very surprised at what they can do.

Christina MacLaughlin

Posted on 7/15/14 8:46:41 PM Permalink

I find that "how to draw" tutorials on YouTube really help my kids gain confidence in their drawing skills. We start my animation class with a 5-10 minute warm-up. My personal favorites are Mark Kistler or Mark Crilley. Once they gain that confidence, they seem to have more success with storyboards.

Joseph Walsh

Posted on 7/4/14 4:55:06 AM Permalink

I have students write storyboards for all of their video productions. Drawing is not important, it is the framing and motion that is important to show to a cameraman or director. Collaborating on a team project is key to success, where one person's skill is in script, another may be a better drawer.

uma ravi

Posted on 7/4/14 12:42:53 AM Permalink

I like my students use pencil and crayons because it can be easily accesed with less of cost.Students try to put their best of ideas in it.but i would like to collaborate with others to gain new ideas and skills for better presentation.

Mona Brisco

Posted on 6/19/14 2:21:56 AM Permalink

Hey Lynne!

So far with my students I have only used Visio & Word but in the past UML. For apps it appears as though its not technical just informal drawing. For Software Engineering course we used UML and for teaching C++ they draw flowcharts(or use Word or Visio). I guess the sketching for any student is to sketch how they comprehend/perceive the problem and/or coming up with the solution. Drawing stick people like hangman is easy for anyone using simple shapes. I actually bought a cartoonist book and drawing human anatomy book that extends basic geometric shapes that help you morph these into actual realistic looking cartoons and people.

Paper and pencil, Sharpies and White boards, and etch a sketch are helpful for any level. Whichever is most comfortable to the students is best. I do not think it matters what type of project it is as long as your thoughts are on paper and you sketch it how you perceive it as you are the one who comes up with the solution. Collaboration helps but they should at least sketch what they are thinking individually first.

Hope this is enlightening.


Lynne Kesselman

Posted on 6/19/14 10:31:15 PM Permalink

Hi Mona,

Thanks for sharing.

I really like my students to use crayons or colored pencils to plan out their web sites on paper before beginning any technology work. Some feel it's just busy work, but as they begin to work in teams, they begin to see the value much more clearly.

We have not used them yet, but I have some cute drawing books, and some drawing tutorials on our classroom iPads, too. One of the free apps we are going to try with our students next year is educreations. It's like a white board on the iPad.

At the beginning of the year, I have them watch the archive of the Doodle 4 Google virtual tour which shows the artists in their planning and sketching stages. Then we talk about the different ways each doodler creates their pre-planning sketches. I even ordered an extra wall board for them to use for collaboration, just like in the video.

Lynne K.