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Design Like Da Vinci: Sketching Lessons from Leonardo

Brian Sullivan

Leonardo Da Vinci is the archetype of a Rennaisance man--artist, mathematician, sculptor, scientist, writer, and more. As an artist, Leonardo produced a very small sample of great work that included the Mona Lisa and the Last Supper. Leonardo was a prolific sketcher, producing more than 13,000 pages, which are arguably his greatest legacy.

Within his sketchbooks, Leonardo thinks scientifically and creatively. We see sketches of futuristic devices, detailed drawings of human anatomy, postulations on plate tectonics, observations about diet, exercise, and heart disease. We see sketches of weapons, flowers, soldiers, flying machines, horses, and more. Some sketches serve as wireframes for statues and bridges, while other are early renditions of paintings. For Da Vinci, his sketches were his visual thoughts.

By studying his sketchbooks, lessons from Leonardo emerge. You can improve your own sketching and visual thinking on your design projects. You can design like Da Vinci.

About Brian Sullivan

Brian Sullivan is the Usability Principal at the Sabre Human Factors Center. Brian is actively involved in the design and usability community--Founder of Big Design Conference, Chair of World Usability Day (2007-11), and President of DFW-UPA (2006-11). Brian has worked with AT&T, Burger King, American Airlines, SkyChefs, United Airlines, and Carter Blood Center. Brian lives in Dallas, Texas with his wife, son, and cat (who runs the house).

This Meeting Happened in the Past

It was held on to at Improving Enterprises. This meeting was graciously sponsored by Improving Enterprises.