Level of refinement for Concept presentaion

Having worked in a few ID settings, I was curious to hear about other peoples experiences as to how concepts were presented and what level of refinement. I usually present quick ballpoint/pencil sketches with a quick run through photoshop for shading. What are others doing for concept presentation to clients?


It all depends on the audience.

Other designers: just sketches. (5-10 concepts)
Savvier engineers and business types: sketches with some digital shading. (3-5 concepts)
More literal engineers and sales: CAD renders and 3d prints (1-3 concepts)

I have been leaning towards more sketches with digital shadings for my clients ( CEOs to engineers) for the initial conceptual stages of development. Thanks for sharing Michael

This also depends on who you refer to as a client - if you’re consulting, the best thing to do is up front set the expectation for your deliverables with the client.

Usually if you include a “sample” brochure of how you work explaining the difference to these things (Because to some people a CAD rendering is just as good as a hand sketch if they don’t understand what they’re looking at) you can say “this price will get you 5 concept sketches” and then that starts the dialog of whether or not it’s correct and you can go from there.

You want to avoid the mistake of assuming your client knows what a “Rendering” is and showing up with a bunch of fancy digital sketches when that wasn’t what they were intending on looking at or wanted to see.

I’m in the corporate world, so your internal audience is much closer to what Yo said - simple sketches are good enough to communicate some design details and intent, fancy sketches are nicer but not always needed when you’re just trying to get a concept across, especially to engineering or marketing, and lots of times sketches aren’t good enough at all, you really want a quick prototype to show how something feels in the hand, get a real idea of the size, etc - especially when dealing with handheld products.

HI Mike,

Thats a great point you make and never thought of having a simple process brochure of expected deliverables. Thanks for the awesome tip!

I think Yo has defined the 3 levels quite nice, what i would add is to make sure you set expectations. Each level would come at a different cost point, due to the time involved and the amount of detail worked out. I usually have up front conversations with the client and find out what will work best for them while at the same time i will provide them a sample (sometimes i even include a image in the quote along with the concept phases to show the end out put.)

Chevis W

In addition to audience, it also depends on timing.

Not hard and fast rules but,

Concept generation - sketches
Concept refinement - shading
Concept finalization - renders

It also depends on how long you have had a client. Long-term ones tend to know the renderings are spendy and would rather see the lower cost sketches.

If the sketches are for the customer (end user, not client), it depends on the objective of the research. A rendering is real, a sketch is only an idea. The level of refinement can control expectations.

Thanks so much for the input, its good to hear what others are doing.