The Line in between Paper and Screen – An Analytical Reflection of the Researcher’s Own Costume Sketching Practices

The Line in between Paper and Screen – An Analytical Reflection of the Researcher’s Own Costume Sketching Practices

Kirsi Manninen: Aalto University. Finland


The aim of this study is to create better understanding of the differences and the interconnection between past, present, and future sketching methods. This artistic research investigates the shift from paper-based, hand-drawn sketching to tangible screen sketching in the field of costume design.
In this study, the source of knowledge is based on thinking through drawing and on the interpretation of physical and digital costume sketches. The material for this paper is collected through autoethnography, through the analysis of the designer-researcher’s creative processes through epiphanies. The data is analysed through a Self-Organizing Map (SOM), to trace the development from physical to digital costume sketching over the years 1985-2016. The research questions are: Does tangible screen sketching have effects – how, when, and where, costume sketching activity occurs. This project provided an important opportunity to advance the understanding of what effects tangible screen sketching has on the design process for a character and other designs related to character creation: e.g. animation and story books. Overall, the results of this study strengthen the idea that the digital sketching techniques are easy to experiment with as they always go hand in hand with the portable sketchbook.


Keywords: costume design, screen sketching, autoethnography, epiphany, self-organizing map

Author: Kirsi Manninen (MA) is a Helsinki-based costume designer, a teacher of digital character creation and a doctoral candidate at the Department of Film, Television and Scenography, Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture. The topic of her research is Creating a Character – Thinking and Communication through Digital Costume Sketching. She has specialized in costume design and digital character creation and is one of the pioneers of teaching screen sketching on the touch screen mobile device in Finland and abroad. Kirsi’s career as a costume designer includes over 100 productions of television, theater and film.