Guest Teaching?

Hey people,
I have been asked by my old school to come in for two weeks and teach 15 year olds some sketching and presentation skills.
I am currently a Industrial Design student and although i am still devolping my skill set, the school staff would like some advice on sketching techniques.

So i would like to ask if anyone has any ideas for drawing and presentation exercises that i can make the pupils do? Focusing on speed and line quality? The sessions will range from 30mins to an hour, and i would like to have some specific exercises for them to do, instead of ‘go sketch a chair’ kind of thing.

Any advice would be gratefully appreciated.

Cubes in different angles, Ellipses, and then ellipses in confined areas?
Or maybe just drawing random geometric shapes in perspective, with the basics of 2/3 point perspective explained.
Allllthough, i think i would have found this pretty boring if i was 15 and wanted to draw cars. Are you there to ignite the passion or teach kids who are already on their way to the design profession?

If you have the oppurtunity, have a look at scott robertsons DVD. Guess the hard part is to make it fun all the way and not just make them draw 30 pages of ellipses each class.

I’ve done this in the past with that age group this is how i attack it.

Firstly give explanation of IDT most wont know what it is. Then i show them daniel simon, carl liu, scott robertsons stuff and explain this is a sketching at its best, then show them my work and explain the lessons taught will give you great foundations to become like or better than the three super stars. As i said most will not know about IDT let alone what IDT sketching is so explain how it takes years of practice and dedication to get to the top level so they are not put off because they can’t do it instantly. I would add it is extremely important not to pull the wool over their eyes, be honest, if your sketch levels are average dont pretend your the next syd mead, explain you are teaching them theory and your still practicing yourself, if your the next carl liu great!

Explain the different types of sketch and how they are used and the sole purpose is communication not a work of art.

Ban rules and erasers. Dish out aload of bic biros and OHP fine point pens and make sure they draw big.

It will be highly dependent on their existing skill levels, suss out the class. Remember at this age they won’t all be budding IDer’s some just won’t get it, when I first did I struggled a bit trying to explain to some of the students who just couldn’t imagine a shape in 3D (to solve this I used 3D foam core models). Also some really wont care as amazing as it sounds. In which case do not get frustrated remain cool.

It is always best to work to a goal, by the end of the two weeks we will have drawn car\hovercraft\drill in different views with maybe some explanation drawings.

Remeber your doing this as well you have to keep the enthusiasm up for it to.


5 minutes

Drawing straight vertical lines across the page. Explain you use the arm to draw and not the wrist .

15 minutes

Do a quick explanation of 1, 2, 3 point perspective, the class will let you know if they have done it before or if their bored. Break out the cubes, rectangles focusing on proportions and perspectice views, what are they trying to communicate stuff on the top side etc… ensure their not doing the classic vertical line in the middle and hugeley extreme pespective square that seems to be in all the 2point perspective books.

15 minutes

Elipses, Explain the theory minor and major axis. Key is to get their eyes to see when an elipse is wrong do the whole page of elipses breaking down where the minor and major is, slap on some perspective guidlies fill them with elipses , do some boxes slap on some elipses. (Re visit elipses every session)

----------------- Break


Drawing through an object, get the students drawing through any shape, projecting lines Depending on how quickly they pick it up end the session with a 1 point perspective cool looking hover craft there easy enough to do it will keep their enthusiasm till the end.

------------ End session

I would build up their skills week 1, then end of week 2 get them doing their OWN stuff allow them to experiment.

Im pretty much just regurgitating Scott Robertson’s DVD’s. How did you learn you must of learn’t somehow. Also lastly do it with them! Hook up a camera and projector and let them watch you yeah nothing more exhilrating.

Sounds like an interesting opportunity.

I’d approach it a little differently than suggested though, given you are a student and still learning (also not sure about your own skills so don’t want to assume anything one way or the other).

Instead of “teaching” which can be very difficult for someone with no experience doing it and someone who is in a learning position themselves, I would tackle it more like a sharing session and loose, open session to expose the kids to sketching and ID and some of the fun things about it.

Developing a real lesson, even in something that seems as obvious as sketching is very difficult and there is a lot of things to consider (ie. how they need to learn to see before sketching, how to progress and build up skills from basics to more complex, differing skills of different students and how to accomodate them, etc.). I’d avoid going anywhere near something that is that structured. Even a simple exercise like perspective is actually a very complex issue and if not taught correctly will just confuse or possibly even teach wrong things to the students.

Here’s what I’d do if I were you-

  1. Show them some of your work. Best if you can even show a progress of stuff, say some stuff you did in high school, some stuff from first year, recent stuff, etc. This shows that practice is important and makes yourself appear more relateable and humble (not coming off like you are the god of sketching).

  2. Show some other peoples work to show what is possible. There is a lot of awesome sketching out there and I’m sure you could pull up a bunch of examples. Say everything from Frank Gehry doodles to ID drawings by some designer from the 50’s some 60’s Syd Mead stuff, some good stuff from recent designers. Just shows the breadth and depth of sketching and how it works with the design process. Be sure to show everything from concept sketches (real ones, not redone fancy render sketches) to renders and tech drawings and explain the different types and how sketching is a means to an end and only a tool (like CAD).

  3. Do some fun things to get them exposed to sketching. Sketching on large newsprint with a sharpie is a good one, because it loosens them up. Have them do some blind lifedrawing. Have them do some explanatory sketches showing how something folds, works, etc. Have them play a game of Pictionary (the fun of the game and the speed loosens them up and gets people used to drawing even if they aren’t - plus it’s a great skill leveller. I’ve played even with awesome sketchers and in the end everyone is making silly doodles).

  4. Seond week could be a bit more focused. Have them do some concept thing pumping out 100 sketches in 1 hour. Have them refine one. Work one on one if you can to try to point out things to watch for (also helps in dealing with students at a different level). Final project could be a lifedrawing thing. Send them out around the school to draw one thing/area. Drawing from life is a lot easier than from the mind so is a good introductory thing.

  5. Bottom line, let them know that sketching is a skill that can be learned like anything else (reading, math, playing piano, etc.). This is important as some people believe it’s an inate thing people are born with. If students understand that anyone can learn to sketch, it makes it a lot more accessible.


R, this might be a bot far out, but how about some rapid mental visualization… ie:

assign a short SF story to be read and then have them sketch 5 objects in the story as they imagined it?

Or have each student list out 5 objects, mix the lists up and then assign them?

Have each student sketch out some quick orthos, then mix them up, hand them back out and have them sketch a perspective view of the ortho they got?

I like those ideas. Might have to steal them for something :wink:

I did a similar kind of thing to your last suggestion, but it was more focused on the importance of a design brief and “how to see”. Could still apply to a drawing class though. I had a bunch of groups each look at an object and describe it, then write down the description. There was no limit other than it had to be all words but they could also include measurements if they like. Then I switched the written papers to another group and they had to draw it from the description. The result was kinda funny.

Another variation on this I’ve done is to show an object to people for a set time (say 1 minute), THEN have them draw it from memory. Again it teaches you better perception, looking at detail vs. the whole, etc. which is important when drawing from the mind.


The pictionary game would be a fantastic ice breaker and really get the class going, great idea R!

I think another important thing maybe the thing of idenfity drawing and designing as two different elements. Haven’t actually done this before but I bet if you were to ask a class to design something like a birdhouse they would all look the same and do the same thing in exactly the same way. Tie in to what R suggested about sketching is simply a method for communicating an idea, fundamentally the idea has to be different and based on solid user insight.