importance of pretty sketches?

Hey, I’m a Junior in college and I’m assembling an online portfolio to hopefully get an ID internship this summer. I’ve learned that sketches are a critical component of any good portfolio-thing is, I use sketches as just the earliest stage of ideation for my work, and try to bang out a model in Solidworks as quickly as I can. I’m way more comfortable on the computer, and my sketches reflect this. They look like shit but communicate the function and roughly the look of the product I’m developing. Are these OK to include in a portfolio along with nice renderings and prototype photos? Or, should I try very hard to get better at making good looking sketches before putting my portfolio online? Thanks for any advice.

I think it really all depends on what you want to do, where you want to go. There are some ID jobs that work just like that. Some quick process thumbnails and then into 3d. There are other positions the require lots of sketching and rendering before a larger buy-off from the upper manangment allows the project to move to models.

I think one of the coolest things about our field is that there is room for many philosophies and skill sets. There are many ways to skin the cat.

What type of place do you want to work for and on what type of products? This might help make the discussion more relevant to you.

we have been interviewing where I work. we have looked at around 20 people so far. the most impressive candidates can sketch well…with a pencil or foam. to be honest the ability to sketch is as important as your cad skills. in fact sketching ability is magical. it is the one thing designers can do that others cannot…ie marketing, sales, etc. your ability to sketch well improves your ability to communicate quickly. in todays business world communication is a key factor and those that can do it quickly, with clarity, are sought after. likewise, someone who can draw will communicate their ideas much faster than you can build a cad model. cad is faster than it used to be but it is not as fast as sketching.
don’t let your sketches hold you back though. just focus more effort on drawing ability…the same effort you have put into quick CAD skills. you will be better for it in the long run I promise.
also don’t skip on punctuation and captilization like me …some will think you lazy.

Thanks for the quick responses! I’m most interested in designing computer cases, particularly passivly cooled cases, and kitchenware, although I have done a lot of work with consumer LED lights. I’m looking for an internship in the bay area this summer, and I would love the chance to intern at any firm there that develops kitchenware or consumer electronics, including lighting (I think that’s a lot of firms). I have a background in cognitive and behavioral psychology and ethnographic research, which directly informs my designs, as well as pretty good wood, metal, and electronic fabrication skills. I’m very comfortable with solidworks and alias, as well as with communicating though writing or conversation. I’d go so far to say that sketching is my weakest ID-related skill, and I would definitely try to de-emphasize it in my portfolio; I have to start sending out internship requests soon if I want to work this summer, and unfotrunately don’t have time to become a better sketcher before then. I’m basically wondering if I can leave sketches out of my portfolio altogether, or if I should include my ugly ideation scribbles.

Sketching power is important. We do sketches to visualize our idea in mind, a good sketch allows us to improve our design easily in the shortest time.
Solidwork allows you to do 3-D modeling , while sketches is something could do more than computer, for example adding in your emotion, your imagination …

I would suggest you to improve your sketching skill no matter what field
are you engaging. It is not the matter to show a bad or good sketch, but with a good sketch, you can save very much of your time in both designing and communicating.

Anyway, we are not artist nor painter, we do not need to draw and render it
like a real picture.

sketches demonstrate more than just your drawing ability…they also show your thought process, decision making and problem solving, which separates the designer from an artist/stylist…your book should have at least one project which is documented every step of the way, from thumb nail doodles (no matter how roughly drawn to prototype photo (and/or actual model if practicle to carry with you)…

I think the rule of thumb is that if you think it is not up to par, don’t put it in your portfolio. Prospective employer may just remember you by your weakest project. If you think it is bad, leave it out.

I just realized you are still in school. Let me take back what I said. I think the expectation is slightly difference for students and internship positions. If the sketches (even rough ones) can describe your thought process, I think it is worth it to have them in your portfolio.

I’m the OP, now registered.

Well, I finally put my portfolio online. Most of the “ideation” sections are yet to be completed, but I put some very rough sketches of “Ise”, the LED desk lamp, for you guys to see. The site is posted in the Portfolios section of core.

you draw better than paul klee.

you have a good thought process. Barsukov is awesome- shows prototyping and original thought. Thats the kind of project that can net you a good job. Offer something no one else does. A lot of seasoned IDers are not the best sketchers but have sharp minds. Often you can make up for lack of skill in one area with other areas. This works great especially in team environments

Sketching is a good tool to help you think better. I switch between CAD and sketching all the time. Sometimes I need quantity- sketching is best then. Sometimes I have to work within tight constraints. Here CAD helps.

Use your sketches and CAD and models to sharpen your mind and innovation will flow

Its not so much about sketching ability more about your ability to communicate. There are many ways to do this and every situation requires a different approach.

Work it : )

I totally agree with half full, pretty renderings are well and fine, but I get much more excited about simple ideaiton sketches that really communicate an idea. Those can be really powerful. The ability to draw is obviously important, but the ability to communicate your idea is esential. In my opinion this can be done without superb drawing skills.

Your ideation sections do clearly communicate your ideas, but I would rather see drawings. I guess it depends on your actual process though, is this how you work. The illustrations that we are seeing were those generated in ideation or were those based on drawings that you did that you wanted to clean up?

jarmon- the line drawings that you see in the ideation sections of my site are the very first translations of my ideas into lines that can be seen by others. I am most comfortable sketching in Illustrator with a tablet, because I can move and scale my lines at will, someting I can;t do with pencil and paper. I can use paper if there is no computer avaliable, but I prefer to sketch on the computer.

Thank you to everyone for your imput so far. Criticism is how we grow.


right on, it sounds like it is an accurate representation of your process so I can dig it.

Arg, forgot to log in. Yes, that was really me

Joey Roth

i dig the projects on your site! i would however go back and redo the the ideation even if you show some kind of loose pen sketch, overlay your model if you hafta, it would really help. there is a lack of emotion in your site.

i would like to see sketching in illustrator with a tablet that sounds intersting, maybe you should try photoshop or painter.

also if you are looking at an internship around pa or nj check out ingersoll-rand in annandale,nj and machine art in phillipsberg both are notorious for taking interns any time of the year.

best of luck.