Love sketching...would love advice

Hey guys just wanted to get better, i seem to have hit a plateau. I have been sketching for 2yrs now without any previous training except for my sketch class here at VT. if you wanna know a little bit more about my story you can go here: From Biology >> Design

Any advice, critique, encouragement would be very appreciated.


I think thats all for now, would like to start getting some advice before i post to much up.


bio, you have some nice sketches. Keep at it. Try varying your line weights a bit more. A little heavier at the edges of things, or where their is space behind or under will help it to pop. Your marker work is ver Spencer Nugent. He makes the style work, but I always think the sketches could use a little more ink on the page. I use more of a fill technique where I fill the area completely, then come back with some white pastel and a shade darker market to get highlight and shadow. Try different techniques to see what suites you best. I’d also try prisma pencil.

The sketch style is nice, the shapes you have posted are variations on basic volumes. To get some inspiration, you might want to sketch and consider some other kinds of shapes. Maybe something like various power tools can give more intersections of shapes that will be challenging.

@ yo
thanks for the advice! I tried thinking about what you told me on these trains but im not sure its quite there yet, gonna have to think about line weights more consciously. I also tried using black and white prisma pencils for shading but i don’t think i got the result that im looking for. Let me know what you think.

@ nxakt

I tried attempting some new shapes in these sketches for little kids cameras. With a second look it doesn’t seem like i varied the shapes much either but i like your suggestion for power tools and will post some sketches for that tomorrow.


I think I am responding to the same thing as nxakt, these all seem like a variation on a similar design language that is reminiscent to me of 10 or more years ago. I would start finding products that you like and sketching them, translating them from real life onto your paper should help you understand the forms and add to your form vocabulary to draw from later when creating your own forms.


Looks like you have a good foundation of sketching skills.

As Yo pointed out, line work is the key. To me, good sketching requires a general set of rules.

1- Bold outside lines.
Your heaviest lines need to frame or boarder the product. This sets it apart from the negative space on the page. From there, you need a mid-weight line that highlights edges that are in front of other parts of the product. Lastly, you need a light weight line that shows other details. You need to treat these three (or more) sets of lines as a “language”. You need to be fluent in it and you need to apply it very consistently to you work. That way, your style becomes very easy to read and follow. Your control and application of this language “becomes” a strong part of your style.

2- Quality Perspective Control.
Right now, it looks like you a good perspective understanding. I would say that here and there you have a small issue. Dial in your perspective and make it a little more dramatic. Also, your ellipse work is very close, but now and again it is off. Drawing circles in perspective correctly is a great addition to a quality sketch.

3- Composition
Filling the page completely is a strong advantage. You have done this on the last camera sketch. In addition, being able to fill the page without “extra” back fills (like a few of the first sketches) is also a quality skill. I would say try to fill pages like the camera sketch more. Apply points on line work to more pages like this.

4- Trace over your work
Draw free-hand as much as possible. Make sure you get the perspective right, then trace over the work to dial in the line work. This is a great practice method. The more you do it, the less you will need to trace. It also helps to dial in all three of the above points.

Keep up the good work.

Hey guys,

i tried to take all of your advice into account on the drill sketches, the other two are ones that i did a little while ago that show the same principles. As you can tell i have kind of adapted the Jeff Smith style of marking each sketch with numbers. Im hoping it will evolve into my own style later on. I think i may start making the outer lines even bolder with a sharpie fineliner as opposed to just using a pen throughout. Tell me what you think, i always look forward to the wicked advice im getting.



Do you have a coroflot site?

I think the drill sketches are better. The compositions looks full and detailed. A few notes. Let your numbers “float” away a little from your sketches. They feel a little cramped. Ease back on the cross hatching shading for now. It is very challenging to get it right. I would say add a few simple contour lines instead (to perspective sketches). Lastly, continue to dial in the balance between line weight. To develop “your” style, you need to find the right balance of line work. The goal it to get your style/line balance to come across in any media type.

Good improvement…keep going.


One thing I’d like to mention as you develop your skills is to not be afraid to fill up pages and pages of drawings of nothing but simple shapes (cubes, cylinders, pyramids, etc). Get your linework developed, practice your lighting and shadows, then start in on parting lines and playing around with textures. It’s definitely cool to see your ambition with tackling products (drills, trains, etc), but it’s also good to just jam out on simple shapes - a lot of my development as a sketcher happened there.

Good work though and keep it up!

hey Bio, some good stuff. I still think your headphones and water bottle tops are the strongest yet.

next time you sit down to draw, try to think about telling a form story and making sure your sketch is describing a 3 Dimensional design as opposed to being a collection of thick-thin lines, crosshatching, call outs etc. All the really great sketchers I know can describe a 3D shape or form with really minimal mark making. In the end we want to show a 3D idea…in 2D. Scott Robertson, amongst others, is really masterful at the high end software tricks and tools, but also uses basic things like cross contour lines and cast shadows to tell the story really efficiently. It’ll probably slow you down for a little while, but you’ll avoid the pitfalls of doing great sketches that don’t really make sense in 3D. (See much of the auto industry for reference :slight_smile:)