Drawing Comparisons

Digital Media Design Final Year Project 2020 – Research Path

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The Final Year Project (FYP) in 4th year at the University of Limerick is a student-driven learning experience in which the student gets to choose a topic of his/her choice. The project spans over two semesters. As part of my Degree of Bachelor of Science in Digital Media Design, I conducted a research investigation into how a sample of visual artists interacted with Augmented Reality (AR), 3D-printed and live physical models in the practice of observational drawing, and evaluated their experience of using the three representations as drawing subjects. The tittle of my project was Drawing Comparisons. It was awarded joint winner of Best Digital Media Design Final Year Project 2020, an award sponsored by CSIS/LERO.

The artists’ keen observations expressed through their drawing process, coupled with an investigation of how they interacted with the subjects revealed some insights into their experience of viewing digital objects with AR. I had hypothesised that a human-centred understanding could be gained through this process, which might be applicable to the design of interactive technology such as an AR app to help people learn how to draw.

A significant portion of my project involved learning how to make the 3D digital models for the drawing workshop. During semester one I was to be found in FabLab Limerick learning to 3D print models on the Prusai3 printer.


I used photogrammetry to make the digital objects for both 3D printing and for uploading to an Augmented Reality app, Aryzon’s AR Studio app on iPad Pro, for use in the drawing workshop. I used a DSLR camera and the Meshroom software for the photogrammetry. See more about that process on the Photogrammetry post.

Research questions & findings

Does the AR subject work as well as the real? It does in so far as it can be copied faithfully by the artist to produce a drawing that looks like a human subject. The artist may find it more fatiguing than drawing from a live model due to it being slightly more demanding on the optical system. The AR subject may appear to hover, which makes it appear weightless. It neither casts shadows nor reflects the light in the environment as a real subject would. As a representation of a human (or part thereof), it displays a visual simulation but lacks the sense presence of another being, which diminishes the enjoyment factor for the artist.
There is a level of interaction and engagement between the model and the artist that it cannot replace.
Regarding the question of AR helping people to learn skills, the Aryzon AR Studio app can help in the same way that copying from 2D images can be good practice for people learning to draw. It has some advantages over copying from a 2D image in that the user can rotate and zoom the object to view and draw it from various angles and at various sizes. A disadvantage is that it will not teach you to draw the subject using the direction, contrast or intensity of light into good effect because of its independent lighting system. It has therefore some possibilities to be used as a resource for the atelier system of learning traditional figure drawing.
Regarding the question of humans being centre stage in AR design. Viewing the display through an iPad is a bit awkward. A hands-free set up such as glasses or projections would help this technology to get out of the way of the task the human is focusing on.

drawings and word cloud
Comparisons in mark making details. Word clouds generated from the focus group transcript.

Regarding comparisons, by far the most significant comparison is the freedom and expressiveness in the mark making of the drawings of the live model drawings compared with the straighter crisper marks in the drawings of the AR and 3D printed models.


The exhibition of the drawings that had been planned for the CSIS Showcase Day at University Limerick was cancelled due to the Covid-19 situation. Instead they can be viewed in the Drawing Compassions video below. Additionally, I made the artworks into digital objects to display in the Aryzon AR app making it possible to share them for individual exhibition via AR with anyone, anywhere.

a screen
The drawings transformed into objects to display via the Aryzon AR Studio app.

View Drawing Comparisons exhibition video in this video below.

This year due to the college closure due to Covid-19 students made presentation videos of their projects in place of Showcase Day presentations. My presentation can be view in the video below.