Monday, March 17

Pick. Up. A. Pencil.

The title of this article is one of my personal rules of design. It is also the modus operandi of many other designers. Lets discuss a few reasons why sketching is an important aspect of design.

First, sketching is an excellent way to visually brainstorm. It is useful to quickly jot down the ideas that go through your mind for future reference. If you rely on memory you will lose many ideas that may come in handy further into the project. Also, once you jot down an idea, the visual tends to spark many other ideas that you would not have thought had you not quickly scribbled it down. Pick. Up. A. Pencil.

Another good reason for sketching as opposed to making a bee line for your computer is that it's faster to scribble on a sketch pad than on a computer. Drawing software is great for tweaking and twooking because of the high level of precision that can be achieved but unless you are using some sort of graphics tablet nothing beats a pencil for doing chicken scratch. Sketching is practically immediate. You meet with a client, go to your car and scribble a few things on an old napkin or a pocket notebook, voila! If you wait until you get to your computer, load up the software, create a file etc. the ideas will elude you or at best will not stay fresh. Pick. Up. A. Pencil.

Sketches are not only a good tool at the beginning stages of a project but also in the late ones. Once an idea is being developed digitally the initial sketches will help you stay on track and avoid un-necessary deviations or tangents. Pick. Up. A. Pencil.

For students, getting accustomed to sketching a lot will be good preparation for the professional world of design. The image below is of a Sockeye Creative intern standing next to the bulk of the sketches done for Portland State University.

As you can see, no holds are barred when it comes to sketching!

All of the examples I'm showing in this article are of logos. However, sketching is not just for logo projects. Book covers, package design, magazine ads and all other projects benefit from the designer stepping away from his computer and using other means of ideation.

One need not be a Da Vinci to use a sketch process. The goal of sketching is not to produce clean and polished drawings but simply to scribble rough approximations of what your mind's eye sees. Of course, you can take it further and do refined pencil sketches and that's great also!

So get to it! Chicken scratch, scribble, doodle and sketch. It's fun!

P.S: Pick. Up. A. Pen, marker, crayon are also good mottos. ;)

*no macs allowed illustration by juggling man


David Airey said...

Hi Jason,

Thanks for the linkback. You make a lot of great points here, and sketching is an integral part of my logo design process.

I hope all's well with you.

Juggling Jason said...

You are welcome David!