Pick me, pick one

I know the answer would be both, but if you have to pick one btw 3D computer modeling skill and sketching skill, what’s more critical to have?

Sketching, without a doubt.

Yup, sketching. 3D programs, and pretty much all design software is a tool, sketching is an ability, a skill, many times purely a talent. Sketching is also the quickest method to represent your ideas visually.

I’ve found that good quick sketching is where the ideas happen, and design programs are where the polished illustration/rendering of the ideas happen.

You can pay someone to do your modeling for you and correct their work along the way, it’s much harder to pay someone to do your sketching while still retaining creative control.

interesting question…i’m currently a product design graduate student, and in the last year the majority of employers that i’ve spoken with have said that the first thing they look for when hiring someone are 3D modelling skills.

i agree that sketching is important, and something i’m constantly trying to improve at, but as far as it being an ability vs a tool, i’m not sure i agree. isn’t it just another means of communicating an idea?



okay so let’s say you can model, but can’t sketch… this probably means either you’re
a: modeling from someone else’s sketches, or
b: you are waisting a lot of time investigating in 3D things that should have already have begun to be hashed out on paper.

even after you have sketches to go off, it usually still helps to do further sketches to figure out your modelling strategy to make your modeling time more efficient.


exactly, as somone above stated, modelling is just another form of communication, a form that takeas like 100 hours, vs a form that takes like 1 hour. The employers that are looking for heavy modelling skills are most likely looking for junior designers that will do mostly modelling work for seniors, and maybe design a few details here and there.

They are BOTH very, very important skills in today’s world, but the question was to pick ONE. Personally I’d rather be designing more and clicking less.

strange because, i met a 70 year old architect today and this’s what he told me:

“after 50 years being an architect i’ve realized i never learned anything in school, i don’t like to sketch anything, and i don’t need the computer. f l wright once said you just have to learn about the material you work with. the rest is up to you” [his teacher was dr. houshang sayhoon a well known student of frank l. wright]

so i asked him how do you design your buildings?

he said:

“i just go to the area and do everything 1:1”


If you want to be a CAD jockey, then you can probably get a job doing just that. The point is that most people can be trained to be CAD jockeys.

To sketch, however, requires a huge investment in time and is a skill that emplyers find difficult to teach (not to mention even finding time to teach). You are much better off knowing how to sketch then you can pick up whatever CAD package the company uses later on. That way, you will have the best of both worlds.

Yet Another misleading post by UFO…Get your F1 car built yet?

Neither is more important but to an employer time is money, meaning the faster you can crank out and refine the ideas the more work/money you make for them. In the last year I have spent far less than 20% of my time on cad. The majority is on sketching/rendering and rough foam models. Then CAD just to communicate the surface typology to the clients engineers.

When I hire it is based on sketching speed and creative/new ideas or ways of approaching a project. CAD skills are very low on my prioraty list, however I do want to know that you took the time to learn atleast one solid modelinf software such as SDX or Pro and Rhino for surfaces. But only to the point of conveying the surfaces. In my coming on 4 yrs I have only done 3 project were clients needed CAD Renderings.

Basically if you are good at CAD, but lack the sketching and creative skill set you will become a CAD Designer (AKA CAD Monkey). And if you have been following the trends, there are an abundancy of 2 yr Industrial Design degree (previously known as CAD Drafting) who are taking these possitions for 6.50 to 8.00 and hour.

Especially considering the legal hupla, building code approvals, blue print, and structual reviews that would be required; say for the last 30 yrs or so!

why are you confused. it’s pretty much straight forward.

in architectural construction skeletal and framework including calculating the loads, firescapes, the floor heights, etc which are required for the building code could be done seperately from the actual design. but normally architects don’t do it that way because the clients want to have an idea of how it will look before they build it.

other inspections are made at different stages of connstruction, like electrical, hvac, sewer,etc.

NEVER SAID I WAS CONFUSED! What I said is once again this sketching question comes up, and you have some have brained reasoning why sketching is unimportant to the design profession.

Yes, some designers never draw out there designs, however the students asking this question need to understand that these are few and far between. With most coming from backgrounds other than ID, and working on mainly artistic peices…limited production furniture, tableware, silverware, etc.

To get a foot in the door you must be able to comunicate effectivly through visual means. For the intern or entry level designer this means sketching, unless you are being hired as a CAD Designer or CAD Drafter or Design Engineer. In these limited cases you will be simply modeling others designs.


absolutely not.

i think students should have the freedom to experiment with anything they desire, specially new technology.

there’s no such obligation that they have to communicate their design concept through a certain medium.