Sketching for Mixed Reality Just Got Easier

HoloSketch: A spatial layout and UX sketching app for HoloLens

What is HoloSketch?

HoloSketch is an on-device spatial layout and UX sketching tool for HoloLens to help build holographic experiences. It works with a paired Bluetooth keyboard and mouse as well as gesture and voice commands. The purpose of HoloSketch is to provide a simple UX layout tool for quick visualization and iteration.


Importance of experiencing your design in the device
When you design something for HoloLens, it is important to experience your design in the device. One of the biggest challenges in mixed reality app design is that it is hard to get the sense of scale, position and depth, especially through traditional 2D sketches.

To effectively communicate UX flows and scenarios to others, a designer may end up spending a lot of time creating assets using traditional 2D tools such as Illustrator, Photoshop and PowerPoint. These 2D designs often require additional effort to convert them it into 3D. Some ideas are lost in this translation from 2D to 3D.

Complex deployment process
Since mixed reality is a new canvas for us, it involves a lot of design iteration and trial and error by its nature. For designers who are not familiar with tools such as Unity and Visual Studio, it is not easy to put something together in HoloLens. Typically you have to go through the process below to see your 2D/3D artwork in the device. This was a big barrier for designers iterating on ideas and scenarios quickly.

Deployment Process

With HoloSketch, we wanted to simplify this process without involving development tools and device portal pairing. Using OneDrive, users can easily put 2D/3D assets into HoloLens.

Simplified process with HoloSketch

Encouraging three-dimensional design thinking and solution
We thought this tool would give designers an opportunity to explore solutions in a truly three-dimensional space and not be stuck in 2D. They don’t have to think about creating a 3D background for their UI since the background is the real world in the case of Hololens. HoloSketch opens up a way for designers to easily explore 3D design on Hololens.


Use primitive shapes for quick massing studies and scale-prototyping

Import PNG/JPG images and 3D FBX objects(requires packaging in Unity) into the mixed reality space through OneDrive

Manipulate objects(move/rotate/scale) with familiar 3D object interface

Supports Bluetooth mouse/keyboard, gestures and voice commands

Microsoft Design

Putting technology on a more human path, one design story at a time.

Yoon (Dong Yoon Park)

Written by

Designer & Creative Technologist. Creator of Typography Insight App. UX Designer @Microsoft HoloLens. Parsons MFADT alum. Opinions are my own.

Microsoft Design

Putting technology on a more human path, one design story at a time.