Scientific sketching for collaborative VR visualization design

Daniel F. Keefe, Daniel Acevedo, Jadrian Miles, Fritz Drury, Sharon M. Swartz, David H. Laidlaw

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


We present four studies investigating tools and methodologies for artist-scientist-technologist collaboration in designing multivariate virtual reality (VR) visualizations. Design study 1 identifies the promise of 3D interfaces for rapid VR design and also establishes limitations of the particular tools tested with respect to precision and support for animation. Design study 2 explores animating artist-created visualization designs with scientific 3D fluid flow data. While results captured an accurate sense of flow that was advantageous as compared to the results of study 1, the potential for visual exploration using the design tools tested was limited. Design study 3 reveals the importance of a new 3D interface that overcomes the precision limitation found in study 1 while remaining accessible to artist collaborators. Drawing upon previous results, design study 4 engages collaborative teams in a design process that begins with traditional paper sketching and moves to animated interactive VR prototypes "sketched" by designers in VR using interactive 3D tools. Conclusions from these four studies Identify Important characteristics of effective artist-accessible VR visualization design tools and lead to a proposed formalized methodology for successful collaborative design that we expect to be useful in guiding future collaborations. We call this proposed methodology Scientific Sketching.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number4447665
Pages (from-to)835-847
Number of pages13
JournalIEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2008
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was performed as part of the dissertation research of the first author, who received valuable advice in this effort from John Hughes and Andries van Dam. The authors also thank Peter Richardson for his support in investigating the arterial blood flow application, and the students of the Brown/RISD course Virtual Reality Design for Science. This work was partially supported by NSF (CNS-0427374, DBI 05-52051, IOS-0723392, CCR-0086065), NIH (EB4155A1), and the W.M. Keck Foundation. Daniel Acevedo contributed to this work while he was still with the Department of Computer Science, Brown University.


  • Art
  • Artistic interface
  • Critique
  • Design study
  • Virtual reality
  • Visualization methodology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Signal Processing
  • Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition
  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design


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