Designing the Future by Ada Chiu

Ada Chiu is an Industrial Designer & SketchBook Pro user from Vancouver BC.

In my childhood, my grandfather used to play a drawing game with me—we would each take turns to build on one drawing. The collaborative approach was incredibly fun and the results often inspired me to refine the final sketch. I had strong interests in taking something in the present and envisioning what it may look like in the future. However, I also had a growing curiosity for turning my 2D conceptual designs into something tangible.
I chose Industrial Design as my career path knowing that I could easily intertwine Concept Art in the learning process. I get the best of both worlds: conceptual sketching to physically building and testing real prototypes.


When a design opportunity is established, I ask questions beyond the limited project scope. By fully understanding the particular design problem, the brainstorming process would have a controlled focus, instead of detouring to unnecessary decisions. When I take familiar objects and look at it in a new light, I prefer exploring ideas that are more conceptual and pushing boundaries of designs, while ensuring a strong relation to a design solution.

The amount of design iterations vary between the types of projects, with each promising iteration going through the traditional design workflow: sketching, prototyping, testing, analyzing, refining. The amount of iterations, and changes to them, depends heavily on communication between the designer and the user—this is an important aspect in creating a meaningful design.

If I’m designing a product for a specific brand, I first learn about the brand’s history, values, and the emotional connection it has with people. A very successful and strong design would not need a logo on it for people to identify what brand it is.



The Bentley flashlight concept is an example of integrating design and brand.
Aside from researching the brand’s background information, it is important to identify existing visual cues that are consistently used throughout the brand’s designs. I took visual cues from the logo, car silhouette, interior and exterior design features, and materials, and translated the brand language through shapes and lines onto the flashlight concept. By pinpointing and applying the specific consistent design details, the final design will easily associate with the brand.



Despite the differences in their ending phases, Concept Art and Product Design are very much alike in the ideation stage. The process of refining and finding the emotional connection plays a crucial role in both creative industries.

Due to my interest in the future and technology, I was recruited into a design team to work on a new groundbreaking and innovative cell tower for a major telecom company in Canada. The project name has not been finalized as it is an ongoing project.

The constant challenge on this project is to maintain a low carbon footprint cell tower infrastructure, and establishing a meaningful and emotional connection with the target users. With thoughtful design, it is possible to reduce the negative stigma causing people to fear cell tower antennas emitting life-threatening radiation.


The official public design launch is anticipated to be in the near future. There are also ambitious plans to replace all existing cell towers with this design across Canada.


 All trademarks and images belong to their respective copyholders.

A composite image of the completed cell tower. 


SketchBook Panel Session

Here is an update on our SketchBook User Group activities at this upcoming CAVE Conference in Las Vegas.

If you are a SketchBook user and a CAVE attendee, you won't want to miss this special "off the program" Panel Session.


Chris Cheung, along with Toby Wang (product manager) and Mathieu Lesage (lead designer) will be giving a talk and sharing a behind-the-scenes look at SketchBook.

We also have a special panel featuring 3 talented, but distinctly different creative professionals:

Calum Alexander Watt (UK) is a freelance storyboarder, concept artist and illustrator working in the entertainment industry. With the essential aid of Sketchbook Pro he has created concepts for Disney’s Pure and Split Second titles, Framestore, Sega and most recently, the entire in-game cinematic for DC’s Batman Arkham Origins Blackgate with Armature Studios.

Spencer Nugent  is a professional industrial designer and co-founder of Studio Tminus.  After graduating from the industrial design program at Brigham Young University, he founded, a website dedicated to helping art students hone their sketching skills. 

Weber Zhang is a freelance illustrator based in Shanghai, China. He has been worked in the advertising industry for more than 15 years, before he opened up his own studio, he worked as the art director of Ogilvy and DMG. Weber specializes in people and portraits, using great detail and shading throughout all of his pieces. His work is widely used in the commercial of luxury, fashion and consumer products, including Chivas, Porsche, Martell, Citizen, Chrysler etc.

This session wraps up with a special appearance by Joe Quesada, CCO of Marvel.  Joe, a fellow SketchBook user, will hold a mini "Cup of Joe", answering questions about art, entertainment business, and life at Marvel.

(LEFT) Joe's pencils in SketchBook Pro. (RIGHT) - Joe Quesada and Chris Cheung,

This small group session will be BIG fun!

Looking forward to seeing everyone at #CAVEConf2013!


Do the work to get the work

By Kevin Mellon


There happened to be a comic shop a mile or so away from my house growing up, so I would bike there and use whatever lawn-mowing money I could, or change I had scrounged together, to buy comics that I would then take home and pour over and study. I memorized the names of creative teams and began looking for more books by those people.

I realized, at a young age, that these were things made by people and I wanted to be one of them.

So I made the decision to go to college. But I didn't want to go to just any college. I'd been through high school and knew that it was full of distracting classes that wouldn't further me in what I wanted to do. The state-school experience wasn't going to be any different. 

American Muscle, from Image Comics. Thumbnails by Kevin Mellon.I had always been aware of the Kubert School from ads in comic books from when I was really young, and after some extensive looking and comparing I came to realize it was the one school that offered EXACTLY what I was looking for. I feel like it was one of the best things I could have done to prepare myself for working in the industry.

The adage of "do the work to get the work" was and is how I operate. I've always been bad at making and sending out portfolios, but I can make a comic and put that out and let that speak for me. I have never liked waiting on others to tell me what to do and when I can do something. I try to just do it, then be mindful about the choices I make if and when things come to me after.

My first year full-time freelance was 2008. I have to be honest, I screwed the pooch on that one. IAmerican Muscle pencils by Kevin Mellon. quit my day-job as a cook (can you blame me?) and threw myself into the first signs of money that I was getting. That ended up biting me in the ass when clients didn't pay on time, or didn't pay at all.

I went back to a part-time job in 2009, and also took some time to re-evaluate where I was with my art and my "voice". I knew that if I was going to get work for any reason other than being "fast", I'd have to break my process down and get "good". So I took on very little freelance work in 2009 while I regrouped. In 2010 I got offered a graphic novel to draw, and a did artwork for an iOS game that financed me through that year.

At the same time, I was a fan of the show Frisky Dingo. So I was stoked when those same guys announced they were doing a new show called "Archer". The show is smart, witty, dirty, and just plain fun. Around the time of season 2 beginning to air, I tweeted about how good a birthday present it was that the s2 premiere was airing on my birthday. Neal Holman, the Art Director, tweeted back "You're welcome" or something like that.

I started following him on twitter and talking to him occasionally that way. In the fall of 2011, he put out a tweet that Floyd County(the company that makes Archer) was hiring for various positions: one of them being storyboards. Casually and not expecting an actual answer, replied to him "Oh f@$k, I wish I could apply for this."American Muscle, final colors by Kevin Mellon. A few hours later he messaged me to send him my portfolio. I quickly scrambled one together (remember, I had never really put one together) and sent it off to him, assured that it wouldn't go anywhere.

But it did.

He sent me back a few pages of script to test on, telling me how long it should take, and some other details to keep in mind.

So I did that, sent it back and then got an email saying they'd hire me on a part-time basis for season 3. 

In the next post, Kevin talks about working on ARCHER, and how he uses SketchBook Pro in his personal work.

Come see Kevin in person at Autodesk CAVE.

All trademarks and images belong to their respective copyholders.


Copic and SketchBook

Since introducing Copic Markers and the Copic Color System in SketchBook Pro two years ago, we've received a lot of incredible feedback from artists around the world.  We've heard from traditional artists who have had their first digital experiences and, vice versa, digital artists who've since stocked their marker supply and re-introduced them back into their creative process.  

More than ever, artists can combine tools across digital and physical to express themselves in increasingly creative and productive ways.  

Today, Copic Markers and the Copic Color System are available in virtually all versions of SketchBook, from smartphone to desktop application.

Read more about our collaborations with Copic Markers:

Copic Markers is an official sponsor at Autodesk CAVE Conference, this December.

Read our original Copic announcement from July, 2011: Team up with Copic Markers

YouTube video featuring Spencer Nugent and Terryl Whitlatch 



Wishing everybody out there, young and old, a very Happy Halloween. 

From everyone here on the SketchBook team. Play safe!

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