"hairy" sketching

i’ve always had these hairy lines when i sketch. i have been sketching for about 3 years now after a long break during high school.

but i still cant get rid of these hairy lines in my sketching. it makes them look terrible. i try to use quick confident strokes but when i go over them to darken it up i get those hairy lines. i keep practicing but i cant seem to get better. any tips?

using a light pencil helps but when i switch to pen it looks like crap

try using just a biro very slightly at first then darken up the key lines when your happy with the form. In the end just keep practicing and don’t get to precious over your drawings.

try phat marker on newsprint. you cant linger or get too into “hairy lines” or it will bleed all over the place. will help you get the flare, speed and control you need to go back to a bic, ballpoint or pencil.


Great suggestions!

Also don’t forget to use drawing tools like ellipse templates and french curves!

or lay of the espresso. :wink:


I also had the hairy sketching with pen, try mastering the prisma pencil or verithin. Or switch from a ballpoint to a different pen, I do much better with roller ball bens for some reason.

I think it’s about confidence of the medium and your skills. However, since you mentioned that you have been sketching for sometime now, I think it’s the mentality that is hindering you.

So my theory is, you are sketching the lines instead of your concept.

Perhaps you are too obsessed with creating a good looking, stylized sketch that it becomes all that you are concern with. Therefore, you become too careful with each line and become less confident. The original intent of the sketch may have also been shifted.

You should just think about your concept and how you can express it efficiently. After all, it’s the idea that impresses more than the sketch.

You totally hit the nail on the head for me. I’ll take your suggestions and try working at it.

I believe its practice, practice, practice… and practice some more! It has worked in other aspects of my life.

Try this its calles french curves. It helps you to draw different kinds of curves.

Try make sketch like you normally do and then put it one a light table and use these to take the sketch over on an other paper. This why you dont need to draw the line out of your hand and get better lines.


I understand what you’re saying by using these French curves to sharpen up your lines. But I think to many members on here aren’t really showing true “sketches”. They are showing refined or finished drawings. Sketches are meant to be loose in look and feel. Some of these drawings are way too cleaned up in my opinion.

At industrial design should you get hours to learn how to draw perfect straight lines or perfect circles or ovals. But in real live its hard to draw each line perfect in one time and get the porpotion of the object correct. I just dont like the way to draw things that way.

I rather draw very ruff with a normal hb pencil then use a lighttable to get it on another paper with markers. Also cheaper cause if you mess up with your marker you loose allot of ink and also allot of markerpaper.

Not to be rude, but that really sounds like not enough practice.

My “failure” rate of putting the wrong stroke on paper is perhaps 1 in 20. Usually, the mistake is made when laying down the basic layout for the sketch on the paper, which can be corrected by erasing the verithin off easily.

You can also simulate what you are going to do with your markers on a another piece of paper, in doodle form with pencil. When you get a good dry run, you should be fine.

Mistakes are extremely valuable especially when you afford to make them.

Sorry cow- Im with Chungdha on this- Im all about the hairy. I embrace the hirsute sketch. The more your focus is on the sketch the less it is on the idea and the product.

i dunno exactly what we are talking about (hard to see without a sketch reference), but i think the “hairy” lines you are talking about are hesitation in sketching. this is different from just having lots of lines all over the place.

hesitation comes from lack of confidence. i’ve seen it before in some of my jr. designers who were to afraid from making mistakes (as noted, mistakes are what the sketching process is all about - finding the “right line” while exploring through various lines).

to avoid this, i’d just suggest to keep practicing! also switching mediums (pens, papers, etc.) until you find something you are comfortable with. as i mentioned earlier, sketching with pen can help as you will get lots of “hair” which you cant erase which will force you to be more fluid and deliberate in your sketch.


I’m with Cow. I think it’s a confidence issue. I think everyone has this problem at on point. I had this for the longest time. I then had an old professor tell me that my sketches would look great if I would stop thinking. This meant that I was critiquing
what I was drawing and not what I as thinking.

Its a matter of doing and not thinking about what you are doing. The more you just put down what you are thinking and not think about the sketch, the better it is going to look and even if you do not think it looks good it will come off as your thought process which is ID. I love seeing process sketches which is “sketching with no thought”. (I should copyright that)

Hope this helps!!!

Hmm, so which part of my opinion are you agreeing/disagreeing with?

There are different styles, just use the one your the most comfortable with.

Some guys directly use black marker to set the shapes and do it good or just give the idea but proportions are all not correct.

There are also some who use a light gray marker to draw the overal shape first. I do it too but tend too need to buy allot of fillers for the light gray marker if you do this. This way you can get correct proportions and cause your going to use black to set the final lines the light gray fade away or act as a sort of shadow. I use Copic c0 or c1 depends on the lighting of the inviorment i am working, cause c0 is very hard too see if you dont have good white lights when its is dry.

Cause pencils are way cheaper than fillers for makers i like to do this. Draw with a hard pencil cause it wil appear very light on the paper. Rest just take over the line with ur black marker and dont need to erase the pencil , you could if you made really dark mess.

These sketch were made with light pencil and colored in with markers and finelinerset.

You can also draw with no blackline, just use light gray to set the shape and color it in. Fineliners in various colors are really helpfull making small details.

Why dont color the sketch and color it on an other paper. Cause you can make various versions in different colors. Cause if you made a total black shoe or somethings and you want to take it over on a other sheet it will be harder to see what are the correct lines. And your client sometimes want to know how it looks in various color and they can also costumize the colors when you show the sketch. Cause some of them want a serie made and not just one version.

These are just what I learned myself after various school from graphics and multimedia design to Industrial design to Packaging design.