Improving sketch skills

Im new around here but have seen the talent on these boards! im currently on placement and am not enjoying it. I really want to push down the concept sketch route. I need to improve big time on my sketch skills though so thought i would start this thread an update it reguraly with comments and criticism from you guys.

Below are the first crop of very quick loose sketches just to get an idea of form. no more than 3-4 mins spent on them. I wanted to try and do a camera for you children that wasnt patronising to them but also encouraged photography amongst children.

Please be harsh on me i desperatly want to learn and improve.

One of the most important skills you can have as a student and as a designer is the ability to critique your own work. My suggestion to you is start looking around on sites like this and find people who you think sketch really well. Print out their drawings and pin them up in your studio, your room, or wherever you spend most of your time doing design work. Spend time really looking at what other people are doing and WHAT makes their work so good. Take what you learn from other people and use it as inspiration towards your own work.

If you don’t already have it - purchase the book Design Sketching. Theres a new version of it out but I forgot the name off the top of my head, maybe someone else can chime in.

In general theres a lot of things that make great sketches. Good line weight, line quality, perspective, shading, material definition, composition on the page, etc.

Looking quickly at your page - your lines are very scratchy and lack confidence. They’re all the same line weight when you really want to learn to use heavier line weights to make your sketches pop off the page.

In the end, it’s all about practicing your ass off. Draw quickly, but be concious of your lines. You can draw fast and still have very nice lines, but it will only come with lots of practice. If you dedicate a few hours a day to sketching you’ll be amazed at how fast you can improve. Practice drawing everything you see and challenge yourself to understand what makes good form and a good sketch.

Ta for the come back, the above images were supposed to be more doodles than anything but yes i now see the scracthyness.

As you mention need to be your own harshest critque i understand that,
and yes at the moment most of my stuff is dog turd but i have no idea on how to imorove upon it. I understand the the basics constcuting perspect, elipses etc… yet night after night im churning out crap.

I know i can copy, i have a knack for replicating what i see infront of me, but endless amounts of copying what other people are doing dont seem to be helping.

Do i spend more time on constructing true perspective? or sketch really fast etc… And how you guys master with verithen i have no idea i cant get much of line weight without having to contiously sharpen my pencil.

Are you using pencil for sketching? I used to sketch with a pencil and I was always rubbing stuff out and thinking it was rubbish etc etc then I switched to just a normal biro, I’m not claming to be hot at sketching but I found it really helped me improve. I think when I couldnt erase the lines, made me alot more confident and definate about the lines I was putting down. Also you can still vary line-weight by sketching very lightly which is a good thing.

Id try sketching with any pens you’ve got lying around on any old scrap of paper, I saw on another post someone recommended sketching on newspaper cos it bleeds a bit and you have to be fast and definate with your lines

The key is you can learn to draw fast but still keep decent line quality. It doesn’t take any more time to make one clean stroke as it does to make a bunch of small scratchy ones. Drawing is about muscle memory, and as you practice and develop your skills your hand will naturally gain more control.

Spend a lot of time drawing with ball point pen. Ball point pen allows you to start really light and build up color and weight. It also never needs to be sharpened and if you make a mistake, you’re forced to learn to draw around it.

It’s not about saying “my stuff is crap” it’s about being able to look at a drawing and say “hmm, the degree of these ellipses is off” and draw it over and over again till you can look at it and say “there we go, that looks right”. If you get a pile of good sketches and can effectively copy them you’re guaranteed to learn the techniques of how they do things. There are lots of great materials out there like the Scott Robertson drawing DVD’s that are great for beginners. Even if you don’t use his style, theres tons of useful material and techniques for understanding lines and shading. Once you learn how to construct the perspective you can practice moving away from it and just sketching things freehand. Without understanding that perspective though you won’t be able to know if your freehand perspective is correct.

I STILL draw through the majority of my drawings, even if it’s just a faint contour line to know if things are lining up.

Practice drawing really large as well, drawing bigger is always better. Shrinking down a giant sketch thats OK usually makes an awesome sketch when viewed on the computer at small size (especially if you put it in a field of 50 other good sketches).

I don’t believe that you’ve spent “endless” amounts of time on trying other peoples tutorials and techniques. Try setting a goal of something like 3 11x17 sheets of drawings before bed. Then when you wake up in the morning look at them in the mirror- (which is great for pointing out bad perspective) and make little notes of where you think each one could be improved. Spend the next night drawing it over correcting that mistake. Practice throwing in hands, arrows, callouts, background boxes, shadows, etc.

I guarantee if you keep that up for a semester by the end of it you’ll really say “wow, the stuff I drew 4 months ago was terrible”. I look back on the stuff I drew all the way up till the end of my 3rd year in college and it was just awful. Every day over the summer I’d come home from work, cook dinner, and draw till I went to bed. By the time I came back to classes in the fall my professors and classmates thought I was a different person. I’m still not nearly as good as tons of people from art schools, but it was enough to land me a job - and really thats what counts. Unless you’re going to school to design cars you don’t need to worry about being amazing at flashy photoshop renderings - you just need to be able to very quickly get your point across and make it clear.

Oh yeah - and the secret to keeping a verithin pencil sharp is to both draw on very fine paper (the harsher the tooth on the paper, the faster it will wear down) and to learn to rotate the pencil while you draw, so it wears evenly on all sides.