Visual Papers: Sketching in Design Practice, Education & Research

Sketching is a fundamental language for design and designers. It helps us analyse, organise, communicate, reflect, negotiate, persuade, explain, discuss, and present design concepts, products, experiences and services.  It is used throughout a project’s lifecycle, from strategic initiation to tactical implementation.

This track seeks for papers and authors who choose to use visualization methods to communicate rather than the written word. This track enables authors to “sketch” a paper on any design related topic that provides original knowledge, methods or processes that would benefit our design audience of practitioners, researchers and educators.

This track is inspired by the success of non-written and peer-reviewed outcomes from various contemporary technical and scientific conferences and publications such as CHI, DIS and, a scientific video journal. It is also the direct result of the workshops held at Design 2018 and E&PDE 2018 and the success of the call at E&PDE 2019 – 2022.

What are Visual Papers?

Visual papers are papers in which the sketched images are essential in communicating the primary information while the text plays a supporting role. Visual papers should contribute new knowledge and have educational or research interest for the Engineering and Product Design Education (E&PDE) community. They can utilize colour, have flexible layouts and overall lengths, and enable new types of communication.  Past authors have expressed that creating a visual paper takes more time to organize and construct than a traditional written paper.

Examples of visual papers:

Review and Selection

Visual papers will follow the standard double-blind peer-review process that the conference utilizes for all papers. The review process is managed by the conference organisers in conjunction with the visual paper chairs and associate chairs.

Paper selection will be based on:
  • Content – is it thoughtful, complete and insightful and use a standard academic paper framework?
  • Significance – is it useful, useable and desirable of our audience?
  • Originality – is it new knowledge or methods?
  • Presentation – is it visually well organized, and easy to understand and read?
  • Image quality – is it clear, well-constructed, and above average quality?
  • Thematic Relevance – is it a visual paper or should it be moved to one of the other conference’s written topics?

Accepted submissions will be included in the conference book of abstracts, the conference program and posted digitally as Visual Conference Proceedings on the E&PDE and Design Society Sketching SIG website. However, they will not be printed in the physical conference proceedings book which limits papers in length, format and use of colour. This allows authors more flexibility to accommodate colour, content, layout and length.


All submissions should be submitted via the E&PDE23 ConfTool system

  • File size is limited to less than 10 Megs.
  • Templates are provided in three formats: .doc, .ai. and .indd.
  • Abstract and final paper submissions should be made in .pdf and the original file format to allow final publication formatting corrections.
  • The abstract should primarily be sketches that convey the papers content and organizational framework. Text should be utilized to support the images.
  • The images and text should fit on one A4 size paper. Use the E&PDE abstract template which is formatted for printing in the conference abstract catalogue).
  • The title, authors, keywords and references should all be text as on a traditional paper but authors names and references to institutions should be absent from the initial abstract to enable respectful double-blind reviews.
  • The abstract should succinctly describe, using both words and sketches, the proposed papers content, purpose and impact.
Full Paper

With the acceptance of your visual abstract, you will be invited to submit a full paper and prepare a conference presentation. Given the visual character of the papers, specific criteria are as follows:

  • Use the visual paper template provided on the E&PDE23 website. Being that the paper will be disseminated digitally on the website, and not physically printed, it can exceed the 6-page limitation that written texts are limited to. We expect contributions to be between 8 and 15 pages long and vertically
  • Visual imagery should be of good quality and the primary form of communicating your narrative accompanied by text to support the imagery.
  • A good visual paper requires precision and contextualisation in terms of evidence and detail in argumentation. It should consist of normal research issues: a research question and an outcome, a claim and an argument, and proper contextualisation through literature. Designs can be contributions to knowledge in and of themselves as a form of making, but they should be accompanied by a narrative that helps the audience understand what that knowledge contribution is.
Conference Presentation

As with the traditional papers, visual presentations will be limited to 20 minutes; 15 minutes to present and 5 minutes for discussion. Demonstrations, activities, audience participation, the use of whiteboards or wall space and adjusting the room layout (within reason) are acceptable components of a presentation.


Deadlines for visual papers will follow the same as paper submissions.

Visual Paper Chairs

  • Jan Willem Hoftijzer, Technical University of Delft
  • Bryan Howell, Brigham Young University

Associate Chairs

  • Jan Corremans, University of Antwerp
  • Jason Germany, University of Washington
  • Pepijn van Passel, University of Twente
  • Amos Scully, Rochester Institute of Technology
  • Mark Sypesteyn, Technical University of Delft
  • Mauricio Novoa, Western Sydney University

Send questions or comments to:

Special thanks to William Odin and the Creators of the original 2014 DIS Pictorials Track and its recent revisions that has informed much of this track.