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What are your sketching shortcuts?

Postby BlackEmrald » November 28th, 2017, 12:08 am


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Hi Designers,

Just wondering what your shortcuts/tried and true methods are when sketching? Is there a go to perspective view that you use? A trusty underlay that just wont go away? Do you use pre-prepared grids or any other type of resource? What type of guides do you use? Sitting down to a stack of white paper, where do you start? What do you do? What method do you use to get going?

Re: What are your sketching shortcuts?

Postby ralphzoontjens » November 28th, 2017, 4:18 am

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There are no shortcuts. The only way to start is by putting down the first stroke.
I don't use guides either. Sometimes I use template underlays for perspective setting, for vehicles I print features like grille, drop shadow, wheel arches, glasshouse in black so you don't have to fill it in manually. A light box helps too for tracing.
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Re: What are your sketching shortcuts?

Postby Cyberdemon » November 28th, 2017, 8:55 am

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You can use an underlay if you know you're going to be sketching iterations of the same design & angle (helpful for cars where you don't want to keep filling in wheels, but the flip side of that is if you don't constantly draw wheels you'll never be good at drawing ellipses).

Depending on what I'm sketching I like to sometimes use a 20% gray marker to start. It lets me be really broad and loose and see if the thing in my head makes any sense and put down some perspective guidelines before jumping back to ball point. The light gray can be quickly taken out in photoshop with a quick levels tweak if I need to.

Re: What are your sketching shortcuts?

Postby cwatkinson » November 28th, 2017, 8:59 am

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If i want to do a tighter sketch - i will sometime lay down a few CAD surfaces to ensure i am 95% dimensional accurate and blend them into the sketch- but i only do this after my initial rough sketches and have a clear understanding of where i want to take that concept.

Or in reverse if i have several hard engineering points (other then LxWxH) i use the CAD data to create a under lay.

Re: What are your sketching shortcuts?

Postby lychee » November 28th, 2017, 10:42 am

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I like to sketch really quickly and loosely when ideating. They're not at the quality I'd present to clients with, but are fine when communicating to another designer. I used to draw in perspective all the time, but have found that sometimes a 10-second profile sketch is enough to get an idea across. Then I have like 20 of these thumbnails on a single page!

Sketching on post-it notes is great, too. One idea per note, stick them on a wall, and move them around/group them to develop additional ideas.

Re: What are your sketching shortcuts?

Postby FH13 » November 28th, 2017, 12:57 pm

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I sometimes switch media if I'm getting to constrained, specially during ideation. I'll go back and forth between pencil, pen and gray marker w/pen & sketchbook pro. I try not to use templates at the beginning so that I don't get too constrained.

Like others have mentioned, once I need to create presentation drawings or proportions need to be correct then I'll use a 3D CAD template. You can reduce the opacity to 10-30% and print multiple pages and then just sketch over them. I'll use my loose ideation sketches and modify them to fit the proportions. If it's a simple model or basic geometry I'll even create renderings and digitally sketch over them.

Whatever works.

Re: What are your sketching shortcuts?

Postby AndyMc » November 29th, 2017, 3:23 am

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I don’t have anything pre-prepared for a certain sketch, but I’ll use absolutely anything that helps me sketch it better or faster. Underlays, guides, roughing the shape out with light gray marker, sketchbook line and predictive stroke tools, whiting parts of the sketch out, scanning and sketching over the top etc.

Whatever gets it done better, faster or both.

Re: What are your sketching shortcuts?

Postby yo » November 29th, 2017, 10:00 am

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Best shortcut, practice. :-)

Re: What are your sketching shortcuts?

Postby Robin » November 29th, 2017, 3:25 pm


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Practice, yes.
I also find that when I get stuck, unsure, or just want a new perspective, reversing the sketch often helps.

Re: What are your sketching shortcuts?

Postby Mrog » November 29th, 2017, 5:59 pm


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Isn't practice the opposite of a shortcut? It's what you try to cut down with shortcuts.

Re: What are your sketching shortcuts?

Postby yo » November 29th, 2017, 6:37 pm

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It depends on your point of view. If you practice all the time, then when you have to do something for a client to communicate an idea you do it in 1/4 the time, twice as good, for three times as much. I'll take that short cut any day.

Re: What are your sketching shortcuts?

Postby Mrog » November 29th, 2017, 7:02 pm


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If you practice all the time


But that's the important part. I don't get paid to practice sketching. I get paid to design stuff. If I spend less time practicing by taking shortcuts I have more time to actually make money with design. Otherwise I would mainly be an illustrator.

My main shortcut is the massive use of any sort of underlay I can find. Also outsourcing the sketches to the intern works pretty well :D

Re: What are your sketching shortcuts?

Postby yo » November 30th, 2017, 12:28 am

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I hancent found any of that to be true, but to each their own. :-)

I don’t think of underlays or things like that as short cuts, they are techniques.

Re: What are your sketching shortcuts?

Postby junglebrodda » November 30th, 2017, 5:13 am

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Mrog wrote:
If you practice all the time


But that's the important part. I don't get paid to practice sketching. I get paid to design stuff. If I spend less time practicing by taking shortcuts I have more time to actually make money with design. Otherwise I would mainly be an illustrator.

My main shortcut is the massive use of any sort of underlay I can find. Also outsourcing the sketches to the intern works pretty well :D


astute observation! drawing/sketching and design are separate skills albeit ones that seem complementary or parallel but not really; one could be good at one and not the other...kinda like a rapper's ability to spontaneously freestyle vs. actually make a song; impressive to see but kinda unrelated really to the business of making the end product...

sketching does help with the communication/visualization but i guess everyone's process is different
no ideas original....there is nothing new under the sun...it is never what you do but how it is done

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Re: What are your sketching shortcuts?

Postby iab » November 30th, 2017, 8:11 am


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Mrog wrote: Also outsourcing the sketches to the intern works pretty well


Ding, ding, ding.

We have a winner.

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