First Semester Sketching (Woes) w/ pics, Need help.

This first semester has been…good. I’m learning a lot, but it’s at a very fast 5 week pace and that’s the only thing I don’t like about it. That and that fact that I’m finding myself slipping sketch-wise. I haven’t had a formal drawing class since 4th grade, and I hardly remember it. Everyone in my class have more experience and have taken drafting classes and the like. I expected that, of course, but I’m not sure how I feel about my own capabilities. I work hard. Like five hour sleep hard, but I’d just like some pointers from someone who knows how things are supposed to look. I feel like all of my sketching looks basic and scratchy, instead of ID-ish. My design drawing class is very rigid and precise, where we have to draw forms using cubes and is heavy on perspective. I had a midterm recently where we were supposed to draw a truck, and I was so embarrassed that I tucked mine under another student’s when I turned it in. I feel like the class isn’t giving me enough time to understand the skills. It’s literally an assignment every night and I’m thankful that the class is ending next week. My prof’s been behind on grading, and I have a low B that I wouldn’t mind keeping till the end. It’s just been so crazy. I know that sketching is a skill like everything else that gets better in time, but I’m just hoping that my pictures show some sign of hope for me. I’ll be sure to add daily.

I think I draw “better” with a pen because my lines are quicker and less smudgy. Nevertheless, I’m at a loss.

Please tear into me. I have thick skin and need to improve. It’s non-negotiable. Thank you!

Here are my pics:

Hi Esaress,

Welcome to the boards. I wouldn’t get to distressed, you’re really early in the game and as long as you don’t grow disheartened and keep working at it, you’ll start making huge progress in the next years. Keep looking at your peers’ work, ask them questions about how they did certain things, feed off of what they are doing. Don’t take being around more advanced students for granted.

Couple of suggestions:

  1. Buy a scanner! I’m guilty of doing the instragram-ish photos of sketches as well, but this shouldn’t be your main way of presenting work, and is a bad trend I’m seeing more and more.

No one likes to look at a bunch of sideways camera phone pictures of work. This is the one I use
It’s under $50 and small enough to carry in a backpack.

Once you get it get comfortable with color correcting so that the paper is white and the lines are black.
It’s hard to evaluate a lot of your work because it’s presented too informally and I’m thinking about the grainy picture with bad lighting instead of the work

  1. Start collecting a library of sketches that you like, were you can start analyzing the sketches and emulating different styles. Part of getting better is picking up on the little things other designers are doing and adopting it into how you work. Immerse your self in inspiration daily.

  2. I would take down your Pre-ID work. Sorry if that sounds harsh but I don’t think it’s doing any help and doesn’t have much value from an ID perspective. Try to only present your strongest work that you would want a potential employer to see. So if that means doing 100 sketches and presenting the best 20, do that. You’re a student so there is an assumption that you are improving weekly, but at the same time if you think the work is “bad” don’t show it. Every designer has reams of crap sketches that never see the light of day, that’s part of the process.

  3. Keep working on perspective even if it’s literally drawing boxes, it’s the foundation of a solid sketch. It’s boring and tedious but a critical process to go through.

  4. Sketch, sketch, sketch. Sometimes is feels like a chore, sometimes it feels fun but keep doing it!

Good luck

Thank you so much Choto!!! I really appreciate it. It gets disheartening at times, but I am definitely working hard at improving. I’ll take your advice and change my portfolio. It was just set up to give the scope to my level of design. Basically, my background. I made it this morning. Nevertheless, I believe you are right.

Right now, I am in the process of printing designs from this site and others and literally trace over them so that I can get a feel for how they put down their lines. When my professor sketches and other IDers I watch on Youtube render, they seem to “pull” at their lines, and it comes out much smoother. I feel like if my lines aren’t put down right, the whole thing looks off.

Again, thank you thank you thank you.

I think I’ll jump in and say that five weeks isn’t nearly enough time to judge yourself and your progress… It took me five weeks to draw somewhat straight lines.

It’s hard to see how you’re sketching right now, but I definitely suggest pages and pages of straight lines, ellipses, and circles.
One thing I see that you’re doing is stopping your lines as soon as they meet.

What I did in my perspective class is extend every line to imaginary vanishing points in construction (barely visible) and then went back over my object in the correct line weight and with full draw through. By extending my lines it was really easy to lean back and see diverging lines or lines that are vanishing too quickly. Also, by extending your lines through your object and making them longer it should force you to draw with your shoulder. Scott Robertson posts a ton of technical drawings like this.

Good luck!

Ah, thanks for chiming in! I was looking at your work earlier and was like :open_mouth: . Your progress is so good! I actually watched a two hour Scott Robertson video earlier about perspective and learned a ton. I only wish I’d seen it before this semester. It’s amazing what technique can do. I just need to work on setting vanishing points in my mind so I know where to draw them. I’ve seen that kind of drawing before-- lightly extending the lines like that-- and I think it’s great. I really appreciate your imput!

No problem, and thank you!

Here’s a thread where myself and others mentioned setting up real vanishing points to draw at rather than imagining them:

Awesome, thanks! I was scrolling through this exact thread earlier, but I guess I was too busy laughing at the Stone Age/Iron Age jokes going around and reading about paper sizes to pick up the technique about perspectives. That tape method seems like a good idea. I’ve got plenty of drafting tape.

Everybody sucks when they start. Some people might have started in high school so you may not have seen those rough years, but no one is born sketching like DaVinci. You have to work at. If you really and seriously want to get good. Do 5 sketches when you wake up everyday, do 5 more before bed. Post sketches into this topic everyday and listen to the feedback. You will get better.

The hardest thing about getting better is actually doing the work required. Alot of people have the heart and drive to get better but in terms of actually doing it and keeping it up is rare. But as yo mentioned, do those sketches in the morning and before you go to bed, keep it up and you will improve in no time!

(Sorry for the delay)

Thanks for the great advice Yo! I’ve been doing nothing but straight lines, ellipses, and cubes into a sketchbook and I can already see improvement. Will find time to scan and post between class and sketching.

Keywords: Keeping it up.

You’re so right.
Thanks Sketchroll!

My first two classes this summer semester are finally over (!). Since I first posted, I was slammed with projects and assignments, but I found time to work on my cubes, ellipses, and lines on the bus and before class. Last night, I put down a few sketches on paper before bed, and I’ve committed my entire day to sketching through a ton of pages today. More sketches, less shapes.

I won’t put down all of my cubes/ellipses/lines pages, but I’ll put down my first day and my last day recorded in my sketchbook when it comes to those shapes, as well as my sketch. Here is what I have so far… (Thanks apowers for pointing out my stopping lines. I’ve found it easier, now, to extend those lines to make sure my cubes are parallel and in perspective.)

A few more…

Last ones…

My apologies for the not-so-amazing scanner quality. My sketchbook is thick and I’ve got an HP 3-in-1. :confused:

Some nice improvement between your first and last page

Have you taken a perspective drafting class yet?

I would suggest grabbing a 500 sheet ream of paper (11x17) and use the sketchbook only when you’re out and about. Sketchbooks are expensive, and you’re going to be ‘wasting’ a lot of paper.

As far as the straight lines, ellipses and circles go:

For straight lines try orientating your paper in landscape, and draw your lines from one end to the other. Try to space the lines about 3 mm apart from each other. Focus on sketching with your shoulder, and notice that the natural tendency is to create an arc from your elbow. Drawing a straight line is a very unnatural movement, so experiment and see what works for you, try doing them fast and slow, you’re just trying to build muscle memory. (I did over 500 pages of straight lines before they were OKAY, so don’t set your expectations too high too soon). Also, try rotating the page and drawing a straight line from different angles to see what is most comfortable for you, and lastly, try referencing the edge of the paper as a visual for what you’re trying to draw parallel.

Ellipses: Set up your page in landscape again, and draw 3 (8.5x11) or 5 (11x17) vertical columns depending on what size paper you decide to go with with. Sketch your ellipses in the columns with the minor axis (google if you don’t know what it looks like) parallel to your vertical columns. Experiment with different sizes.

And for circles just fill the page, maybe 2-3 inches in diameter.
Don’t be afraid to overlap the ellipses and circles.

Cubes: I suggest drawing 2-3 cubes per page, so that means they have to be pretty large. You are going to want to sketch these as if they are transparent, so you should be able to see all the lines in the back that connect to each other.

When you approach sketching a cube, I recommend drawing everything lightly first and then going over it in a darker line-weight once it’s finished.

Here’s an example I did a year ago which shows the light construction first and the extended lines, and then went over my object in a darker line-weight. You can also see the the back edges of the object, and the inside of the handle.

These are all just my personal suggestions! Good luck!

Wow, awesome advice. Thanks for breaking everything down like that for me. I haven’t taken a perspective drafting class yet (and I don’t think one will be a part of my course sequence) but I’ll look into online lessons/videos/etc… I’m going to practice everything you’ve said and get bigger paper when I can. We used 11 x 17 in class, but I don’t have any on me at the moment. I still fear that my sketches are too “drawy” and not how I see others sketch, but I think that’ll change as I keep practicing. After all, my first cubes looked horrendous and now they’re somewhat accurate – recognizable at the very least. Thanks again!!

A few more uploads…

I’ve also been doing lines and more lines for practice.

Nice! Keep going!

In the last earbuds sketch, try to be more confident with the lines, i.e. more in the way that you drew the ellipses (fast) and not hairy/sketchy. In the sketch by Spencer Nugent below you can see how he drew quick ellipses and that it is completely fine that some of them were done in more than one pass (like he didn’t pick up the pen and just drew two in the same place).

I would also encourage you to keep trying different drawing tools. Ballpoint is great in that it’s cheap and common but IMO it is deceptively hard to use (it can get hairy-looking very quickly). If you try drawing with a regular Sharpie and bigger, it will be tough at first but it will force you to commit to the lines that you put down. But really, just keep forcing yourself to explore.

Good luck!

Awesome! Thanks. I’ll definitely try some sharpie sketches.

Not so much ID sketchy, but it was a good late night practice and I’m really starting to see my style and attention to detail change.

My brother and I are doing our very own drawing chain, hence the title. Rendered in pencil.