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An oyster card for crossing borders, a digital picture frame that syncs with local art museums, and an airline that takes destination requests mid-flight. Fantastical ideas, but the making was real. This week Spencer Wilton, Charlotte Hillenbrand and myself ran an intensive paper-prototyping workshop with 50 young creatives at the D&AD New Blood Academy.

The ultimate design and advertising training experience, D&AD New Blood Academy is an exclusive, creative boot camp for New Blood Pencil winners making the transition from education to industry. Partnering with WPP, New Blood Academy is dedicated to finding new and diverse talent: nurturing, equipping and guiding young creatives into their future careers.

D&AD New Blood Academy

Our mission was to challenge the way these 50 pencil winners approach creative briefs by training them to make prototypes and test ideas early. The workshop was as rapid as prototyping gets — we had under 3 hours to get from rough sketches to tested concepts. Here’s how we did it.


Everyone knows what they look like, but do they imagine the same style? We focussed first on quantity, not quality, of sketches by drawing as many hats as we could in one minute.

Rough sketches

Like Harry Potter, we let a hat choose our destiny. We chose three sketching briefs from said hat and got the participants to work through one at a time.

Again the focus was on quantity not quality, but we did want to see visual sketches, not words on a page. We used the mountain of ideas produced by each table as the building blocks for a more developed concept.

Sketches to concept

We taught the basics of synthesis — a method for combining ideas to create new concepts.

‘Concept capture’ sheets helped the participants flesh out their clustered ideas further. We got them to answer simple questions like ‘who is this product for?’, and 'in what context will your product be used?'.

Concept to prototype

After a crash course in what makes a good sketch, we turned concepts into high fidelity sketches. These sketches, or paper prototypes, are perfect for testing ideas quickly and without much effort. They have the benefit of looking disposable, meaning the viewer can focus on the quality of the idea, not the execution of design.


The New Bloods still have energy and appear to be smiling in most cases...

We finished by teaching them how to ask the right questions to learn from their paper prototypes. Alas, we could not test with real users, but our New Bloods got a taste of sharing their ideas with others at an early stage.

We loved seeing young creatives putting so much effort into a process that was new to them. They produced 50 brilliant concepts — many taking pride in what they had made and tested, and some learning that they may have some refinement to do.

After testing pizza arrived to refuel creative brains before their next workshop. Well deserved. 👏

Exhausted and jealous of the New Bloods, we also went to get some pizza.

If you would like to partner with Made by Many to run a similar workshop, please get in touch here.

Mike Walker

Mike Walker, Senior Product Designer

I design products and services that make life better for people. I put making, collaboration, and testing with real people at the heart of my process. I’ve worked with the Victoria and Albert Museum, NHS, Finnair, Universal Music, and Cannes Lions, to name a few. I’m passionate about side-projects too, working on Hackaball, and Bloop: an app for people living with diabetes.


Further Reading

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On not-knowing

Sam Small

Out of all the advice I’ve been given over the years there’s one that has been by far the most valuable.

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How to run a sketch session

Tom White

Sketching sessions can happen at any stage of a project, but we most typically use them in the first week (or day) of a project. They’re an effective way t...

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