Feedback Please

Hey All,

This is the first sketch I’ve been happy enough about to show. I’m teaching myself so can I get some suggestions on ways to improve? I’m not happy with my line quality and think there’s probably more I could be doing in Photoshop. I used Bic pen, copic/prismacolor markers, and white pitt pastel. On other drawings I’ve also used compressed charcoal but is that bad? I haven’t seen any other ID people use it.


Hi Peter, thanks for sharing. Just for context, when you say you are teaching yourself, are you in school? A professional?

Hey Yo, I am currently working and trying to teach myself skills before I go to grad school this winter.

Hi Peter,

It feels very heavy. It would help a lot if you left some white space for reflections and used the marker to indicate changes in form and materials. For example the radius of the seat and the centreline of the body. Needs heavier and more varied line weights to ground the object and show depth. The shadow isn’t great.

You could probably get away with using the perspective/warp tool in ps to make it feel like a larger object.

Use whatever you want to show an idea. In a professional environment it’s about speed to show and review ideas than being a master artist, in my opinion. If compressed charcoal achieves this then go for it.

Here is the drawing pre photoshop in case this helps with the critiquing process. For some reason my scanner cropped and rotated the drawing so the orientation in photoshop version is much more accurate to its proportion and orientation on the page. Thanks for the critique so far!

keep going, your sketch seems to have a good foundation of basic perspective; if you want to up the excitement you could push it by using an almost forced camera perspective. sketching is a skill so putting the reps in is required, if you’re having trouble with line quality redo the sketch with that in mind until you are satisfied or once you have loosely worked it out use that as an underlay to trace the design with the line quality you want…

when it comes to color/rendering/shading, it potentially can REALLY decrease/increase & influence the presentation and level of understanding, so you want to be fairly deliberate with their use and consider the audience, sketches can be looser amongst designers but it is still important that the these things are used to clearly communicate what you want…

as far as the tools go, as long as it communicates the design intent, there really isn’t a standard that is universal, rough sketches, photoshop, 3d modeling…all is permitted; but there are certainly inefficient methods and while compressed charcoal probably isn’t the worst way is you are really comfortable/skilled with it, it can be messy/smudgy which may decrease the crispness of the sketch & increase the likelihood of misinterpretation…nothing wrong with photoshop, but it has almost endless capabilities/opportunities to maybe over complicate what you are trying to do, which maybe why you feel like there is more you could be doing with it; photoshop can be quite overwhelming starting out, so the more focused you are with what it is you want to accomplish with it the easier it will be to find a resource to get a helpful paths for your sketches #forcedphotoshoppuns!?

One thing that helped when I started was tracing stuff on a light table so I could understand the perspective and how 3D shapes react in different perspectives. Some may consider this cheating but it builds your muscle memory and eye so you can recognize good shapes when you make/see them. If you are going to render something I would recommend concentrating on our construction and line work to begin with, then photo copy the original. Work on the photocopies with with color until you feel comfortable enough to go at the original. Scott Robertson’s How to Draw is one of the best books out there too if you are looking for good reference. You can go for all of the high tech tools and editing software but it will always go back to the fundamentals. A ream of paper and a box of Bics can be the best teacher in some cases. Keep at it!

Hi Peter,

It’s awesome to see that you took the initiative to teach yourself how to sketch. That type of self-discipline will serve you well in your id schooling and career.

You mentioned that you weren’t happy with your line quality and wondered if photoshop could help with that. I would say yes, you can clean up lines in digital programs using things like paths and bezier curves and ellipse/ line correction templates, but be careful about relying on them too heavily. When learning to draw, it’s important to build up the muscle memory and foundations of sketching before you start using shortcuts. It’s just like playing an instrument. You need to understand and master timing, tone, reading music, rhythm, etc. before you can master more efficient, advanced techniques. Starting with ballpoint pens and markers (and even charcoal) will serve you well to get comfortable with basic sketching technique. I’d recommend checking out Spencer Nugent on Youtube for some tips.

As far as tips for you on this sketch, the forms you’re working with are interesting and the perspective isn’t incredibly far off. I might try drawing a box in two-point perspective, then drawing the jet ski within that box just to nail that foreshortening. You could also divide the box into sections to help with proportions and lining things up. I would also suggest holding off on shading until the line work allows you to “read” the form with just line weight (again, Spencer Nugent has some nice videos about how to do this). Finally, it’s great that you’re challenging yourself with more complex forms, but it’s pretty difficult to draw any type of transportation when you’re just starting out. Something that might help is to start with simpler forms and products so that you can really practice nailing the perspective and line weight, then once you’ve mastered that you can apply what you’ve learned to some more complex transportation sketches.

Hope that helps; keep sketching!