The importance of sketching

KellyR's picture

Hi everyone,

I'm trying to brainstorm some ideas of relaying to my team the importance of sketching during their ad layout process.

We actually have a couple artists here who actually never went to any kind of an art/design school, even though they're very creative people. But it still shows in their work. I recall sketching being emphasized many times in all the schooling I had for designing.

One of the humps I'm trying to get everyone over here (myself included) is emphasizing the need for utilizing thumbnail sketches when brainstorming a new layout/design. Usually it's "skip the damn sketchbook and go straight to the computer" with a lot of us. This does work fine at times, but there are definitely times where perhaps slowing down and taking a moment to jot out a few random layouts on paper could help us conceptualize better.

So, how many of you are die-hard sketchers? Would you mind explaining to me how you feel it is important for your own work flow? How does it save you time in the long run?

Thanks for anything you feel like sharing.

natobasso's picture

I went and got an 8month

I went and got an 8month design certificate in 1996 so I don't know how they do it in art school (got my B.A. in Spanish, but that's Liberal Arts!), but sketching has been vital for me.

Not only is it important for the artist, but it shows preparation in a design. "Someone says, why should we do that" and you can show the drawing: "Because the proportions/Golden Mean say we should". :)

An old saying goes, "Measure twice; cut once". Sketching is measuring, in my mind.

Powerpoint is not a design application

Leaky Penny's picture

Usually when you're brainstorming...

You have thoughts coming out in rapid fire. Rarely is the first idea the good one and you want to keep the creative flow going. The best way I find to do this is as ideas come sketch them down, even if it's little illegible sketches, as long you understand them, put them on paper, make way for the next idea. The creative process is interrupted every time you stop, fire up Illustrator, spend 5 - 10 minutes creating the concept then going back to brainstorming. To get back into the creative flow takes anywhere from 25 minutes to 2 hours depending on your level of focus., be it from stopping and going on the computer, answering your phone, etc.

Even when I think I have a good idea I try doing a few more thumbnails to see what else would come out. I don't like dwelling on an idea until I've exhausted all other possibilities. On average per project I try and start out with 30 - 60 thumbnails, each about the size of a match book. Then I leave them alone, jump in the shower or go train. I come back, eliminate them to about 20, start thumbnailing again, modifying existing ideas and trying to bring them down from 20 to about 7 - 10. From there I try to come up with a rough comp, working out the elements in the comp, type etc. When I have a linear, I jump onto the colour comp. Only then would I jump onto the computer. I do this for hand drawn illustration and digital work alike, btu things like layouts, business cards, pamphlets and even websites can benefit from this method, in my opinion.

Finally, from there, I take reference photos ( or any other kind of reference if necessary) and start the final.

Another reason why this is a good method is for freelancing. Gradually showing the client the project gives more value to your work, as even the littlest details get taken care of even before you start the linear, in opposition to getting the idea, jumping on the computer and coming out with a semi - decent product. In the clients eyes, if you go directly to that stage right after coming up with the concept, making any changes should be easy, as you already have the product nearly done. Also, with that method, you most likely just go with the first idea you had, and don't attempt to push the idea further, therefore just handing in something that looks clean, but with no real thought or concept behind it.

Anyways, to cut this short, it's a very important step, and even if you don't feel the need to do it on some projects, do it when you can, it's good practice and helps you think logically, it's a more streamlined way of thinking and helps you come up with better ideas.

Leaky Penny
Aka Artfiend Part Deux

plugz's picture

I always have a book and pen with me

notes, ideas and small concepts will be scribbled down on the go, I find myself sketching more and more on paper.

KellyR's picture

Fantastic - thanks,

Fantastic - thanks, everyone, for sharing.

3dogmama's picture

My hand's up.

Big time sketcher here. A college prof once stated that 90% of the work is the idea--the sketch-your-thoughts-down-on-paper stage. 10% is the execution. I still believe and practice that to this day. Why chase your tail in circles on the computer? So much time--a precious commodity--can be conserved if you just sit down and sketch out your ideas. Sure, once in a blue moon you can bang out something half decent on the computer sans the pre-sketch/think stage, but I've always found these to be my weaker works.

A sketch in time saves 9 wasted hours on the computer.

"Without deviation from the norm, progress is not possible."
— Frank Zappa

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