Drawing on air: Input techniques for controlled 3D line illustration

Daniel F. Keefe, Robert C. Zeleznik, David H. Laidlaw

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

80 Scopus citations


We present Drawing on Air, a haptic-aided input technique for drawing controlled 3D curves through space. Drawing on Air addresses a control problem with current 3D modeling approaches based on sweeping movement of the hands through the air. Although artists praise the Immediacy and intuitiveness of these systems, a lack of control makes it nearly impossible to create 3D forms beyond quick design sketches or gesture drawings. Drawing on Air introduces two new strategies for more controlled 3D drawing: one-handed drag drawing and two-handed tape drawing. Both approaches have advantages for drawing certain types of curves. We describe a tangent preserving method for transitioning between the two techniques while drawing. Haptic-aided redrawing and line weight adjustment while drawing are also supported in both approaches. In a quantitative user study evaluation by illustrators, the one and two-handed techniques performed at roughly the same level and both significantly outperformed freehand drawing and freehand drawing augmented with a haptic friction effect. We present the design and results of this experiment, as well as user feedback from artists and 3D models created in a style of line illustration for challenging artistic and scientific subjects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1067-1080
Number of pages14
JournalIEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2007
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors would like to thank Misha Zaitzef and David Eigen for their efforts contributing to this work. Thanks also to Fritz Drury, Sharon Swartz, Cullen Jackson, Tomer Moscovich, Timothy Miller, and John Hughes for helpful discussions. This work was partially supported by the US National Science Foundation (CNS-0427374).


  • Artistic interface
  • Bimanual interaction
  • Haptics
  • Modeling
  • Tape drawing


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