Sketching Studio

Activity Time
1.5 - 2 Hours
Pre-printed sketchboard template, 8-up and 1-up variations, Pencils with erasers, Optional: Post-it notes and other additional tools for creative prototyping, Optional: Easel-sized post it notes for larger group collaboration (with sharpies)
Client Stakeholders + Internal Team Project Members

Our approach to a Design Sketching Studio is an adaptation of the Design Studio/Prototyping Exercise published by the good folks at Good Kickoff Meetings.


  1. Gather all materials and participants in a large, quiet room.
  2. Write out the design problem(s) that the group will be ideating around in the session on a whiteboard or flipchart sheet.
  3. Pass out a few 8-up preformatted sketch sheets to each participant.
  4. Instruct participants that they are to come up with and express at least 6 design solution ideas for the problem(s) at hand. Remind participants that sketching does not mean photo-real illustrating. There are lots of ways to capture an idea beyond just drawing an interface design.
  5. Set a timer. We usually do 10-15 minutes depending on the confidence of the participants.
  6. When time is up, have participants pair up. It’s better if you can cross-pollinate¬†participants. If there are client stakeholders, pair them up with members of the internal team. Even within groups, try to pair people who work in different departments or disciplines.
  7. Have the pairs take turns presenting their sketches to each other. Timebox this at 10 minutes – 3 minutes to present and 2 minutes for critique for each participant in the pairs.
  8. Give the participant pairs a few 1-up sketch sheets.
  9. Now have each team of participants collaborate on a new, single sketch that leverages the best ideas from each other’s original work.
  10. Set a 10-minute timer.
  11. At the end of the time limit, have the groups of two combine into groups of four. Repeat steps 7, 8 & 9 until you have consolidated the group to 2-3 teams.
  12. Have teams present to the whole group for critique.
  13. At this point, you can collect all of the ideas and save them for a next step such as an Effort/Impact  Matrix Exercise.