Tversky, B., Suwa, M., Agrawala, M., Heiser, J., Stolte, C., Hanrahan, P., Phan, D., Klingner, J., Daniel, M.-P., Lee, P. and Haymaker, J. Sketches for design and design of sketches. In Udo Lindemann (Editor), Human behavior in design: Individuals, teams, tools. Pp. 79-86. Berlin: Springer. [pdf]
This paper presents a summary of the different experiments the author did trying to understand the basic mechanisms of human drawings and how these are related to design.The basic assumption is that in sketches form is intimately interrelated to function. Also in sketches omissions and distortion are sistematic and so useful that they can serve as cognitive design principle for computer algorithms.
One of the core definition of the authors is the contructive perception: the ability to reorganize parts of a schetchin the service of generating new ideas. The authors believe that this ability can be fosterted. The paper report a study conducted with abstract drawings. People who adopted the strategy to reorganize the parts of the drawing produced more interpretations than those who did not reorganize the parts. Differences between novice and experts seems to pivot on the same ability.
Other studies on the ability of people to design diagrams to give directions or instructions shows an intentional distortion of these representation to highlight specific aspect or feature of the part represented. These distortions seems even to occur in memory and are used by the authors of the diagrams to increase their usefulness.