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Sketching is good

[Hey students! is a multi-part series. Read the rest.]

True story. Since I started at Oxide last June, I have filled 14 official Oxide sketchbooks (and I’m well on the way to finishing the three I have on my desk right now), a large 200-page sketchbook, a small hand-bound sketchpad, three Field Notes memo books, and countless index cards. In addition, I have a three-inch stack of computer printouts, hand-rendered sketches, and other miscellaneous design ephemera. (And those are just the notebooks I used at work”¦ I also have a giant stack at home.)

I guess what I’m trying to say is that”¦ I sketch a lot.
And I think you should too.

I’ll let you in on a little secret. I’m not really an artist, I really can’t draw, and most

of my sketches are ugly. But I am a designer, and I communicate ideas. Sketching helps solidify those ideas and work through how to present them.

Here are a few thoughts to get you started:

In the beginning, make them quick and dirty.

The really great thing about sketching is it lets you work through a large number of different ideas very quickly. At Oxide, most projects kick off with all of us sitting around a giant sheet of paper and getting all of our ideas out there.

They don’t have to be pretty.

Concept, not execution, is the name of the game. Like I said, my sketches tend to be pretty ugly. But they help to refine and clarify my ideas. In fact, sketches shouldn’t be perfect. They should be loose and helping you work toward the solution of the conceptual problem.

Take notes.

Design is as much about thinking as it is about creation. So write down your thoughts, make notations. Why do you want it to look that way? What are you trying to get across? This not only helps you remember where you’re coming from, but it helps you to explain your work and process later.

Refinement comes next.

Once you’ve got your ideas out there, then you can start to refine where you want to go. What concepts are rising to the top? Can you combine any of your ideas? How can you make it better? This is the point where sketches can get more detailed.

Use sketching to work through your problems.

After all the initial sketching, and finding the right concept to work from, I most often find myself sketching to work through the problems that come up along the way. Even the best-laid plans can fall apart once you start translating things to the computer. Sketching throughout the project makes it even better.

Grab a pencil (and a sketchbook) and start sketching!



25 Mar 2017

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