In this crazy world, where “crosshatch” is just a Photoshop filter, a good artist keeps his pen tool close and his pencil closer. Sketching is – and always will be – an invaluable start to the design process, and we cheat ourselves when we blow past this basic skill and go straight to the computer. At R2, we love sketching, and here are some of the reasons we put this hand skill over hardware:
Let it out
You may have heard the phrase “practice safe design; use a concept,” and what better way to explore that concept than by sketching it? Sketching can be quick and dirty – perfect for exploring and refining whatever ideas pop into your head. Sketching also lets you see all of your ideas side by side for comparing key design elements, which will aid you in your quest to filter out the sucky from the spectacular.
Tired of crappy client feedback? Try showing some sketches the next time you have to present a logo or a layout. It’s a lot easier for people to “edit” a sketch – as opposed to a polished design – in their mind’s eye, and you’re more likely to get clear feedback on how you should proceed as a result. This will help, rather than hinder, your revisions, and you’ll forge ahead with fewer migraines.
Review. Refine. Repeat.
Have you ever thought about sketching as a way to learn about your own design process? Once you’ve arrived at the end of a project, take a quick look at all of the sketches that got you there. This is a great self-study tool, and you might just learn something. Look for what design elements worked for you, and which concepts and ideas slowed you down – you’ll be ahead of your game when the next design gig gets got.
No one likes stinky design, so sketch to refresh your creative cogs when they go stale. Letting you ideas flow onto paper – even if they have nothing to do with what you’re currently working on – is a great way to clear your mind and cure your artist’s block. The brain is amazing at making connections in order to solve problems, sometimes from seemingly unrelated material, so give sketching a try the next time you’re stuck.
Do it new
Just because you can do everything on the computer, doesn’t mean you should. Constantly working on your laptop can make it way too easy to develop procedural habits that make all your designs look like something you’ve done before. If this sounds like you, try falling back on something new – work on paper instead of on the computer. Sketching your design gives you a fresh slate to play with, sans the grids, rulers and other mechanics that can get you stuck in a rut.
Make no mistake: you can still love your computer – just don’t sell out to the machine…at least not completely. Sketching is wonderful skill to have, and if you don’t already use it on a regular basis, give it a chance to see if it helps improve your design process.