Self-Education Project

Hi Everyone.
I intend for this thread to be an on-going project that I will execute with your help. I am new to ID and have never been formally trained, but I hope to get somewhere without relying on the academic system. Now, I know that some of you will say that it’s nearly impossible to get anywhere without having a degree in ID, and you’re probably right, but I want to try anyway.
What I need from you guys is help with projects and exercises, since most of you study or have studied ID in the past, and some of you even teach it. If you all pitch ideas for projects I will try to get them done and post the results up for critique. At this point I think what I need to learn is the material covered in the first year of an ID program, and to start us off I will say that I have gone to school for art, and can draw decently from life, but by far not as well from my imagination. I have spent the last two months learning to shade with markers and copying some drawings from the Koos Eissen and Roselien Steur’s Sketching book. I will post some drawings tomorrow when I am more awake. However aside from drawing I think I need to learn about the thinking process a designer employs, and I have no idea how to go about that.
So please help with ideas for exercises and constructive criticism, and I will try my best to not fall off the wagon.

Thanks in advance, I look forward to taking on the challenges you present.

First off, the promised pictures.

The first 5 are copies from the book.

2 more

pardon the yellow

these are all me, although sometimes when I can’t figure out shading I create a tiny clay model of a form and put it under light to see what kind of a shadow it creates.

last but not least, these are drawings for a handle prototype I’ve been trying to create for about a year. Up to this point I’ve been just making clay models without any drawings, but this last one started with drawings, and by the time the actual clay modeling started the form has changed. I’ll post pictures of all three versions in silicone next time. they are poi handles Poi (performance art) - Wikipedia

mappdaniel thanks for the feedback. CAD package sounds like a great idea, I’ve been using sketchup for some time now and get along with it pretty well, however it seems to get very tricky once you try moving past boxy objects. I think it was a good intro to cad, but it’s time to move on. Recommendations? The trickiest part of this whole things for me is that I’m using an old mac that still has Tiger on it. Can’t figure out if I should upgrade to snow leopard or get a PC… I feel like option 2 might actually be easier.

also, any tips, links or explanations on mood boards? key points on making one? these are exactly the kinds of things i need to learn!

thanks for all your help

Pictures of silicone poi handle prototypes in this post.
THE IDEA: Poi are length of rope or chain with a weight on one end, it’s a manipulation toy in the same category as juggling clubs or hula hoops … or i don’t know … astrojax. Most traditional poi have loop handles, which are great, but don’t allow for tosses. A lot of the modern poi have counterweighted handles which allow for tosses but are generally very uncomfortable. I want to make a universal handle that will allow different types of gripping, will be comfortable, strong, will have a swivel, won’t easily burn and provide a counterweight.
THE STRUCTURE: The last photo of the last post explains the structure somewhat, it consists of a lead egg sinker, which has some then steel rope running through it and connecting it to the swivel. In the first two versions the swivel was partially embedded in the handle, which restricted some movement of the swivel and made it rub against the silicone. New version only embeds a loop that is connected to the swivel which fixed the problem. Also the new version (brown) was cast out of heat-resistant silicone which can go as high as 560 degrees but as you can see doesn’t stretch enough before the breaking point.

I’ve been working on this on and off for close to a year now. I would love to get some feedback on the process I have been employing - i started the first two versions with clay models without doing a single drawing. Both had to be cast in real material before I could tell how they would act/feel. When doing the third version I did a 180 and tried a different approach, I evaluated my previous designs and though about what I can sacrifice, I even decided on making two different handles , but eventually they merged into one and started to look a lot like the previous two versions. I think I may have found what I was looking for on this last one, but I won’t know for sure until I make a pair out of proper silicone and put them to work.
What steps do you usually follow when designing something? In what order? What can I do to make this process faster and how do I know if I’ve actually achieved what I was looking for or simply ran out of ideas? (last one is a silly question, sorry)

Thanks for the feedback, I hope I don’t scare too many people away by my lengthy posts. I really can use some words of advice, also I’m up for adoption if you want to take me under your wing and provide support in this long journey of self-educating myself to become a designer :smiley: I want you to know that I feel sort of naked - it’s very intimidating to show stuff that I know sucks to people that really know their stuff… I’m much more used to being good at what i do :slight_smile:

You have a definite ‘art’ style of sketching. The biggest difference that I learned in school was that in ID, you draw from the elbow. Make quick lines and strokes, while concentrating on line weight. Dont be afraid to draw past the object, letting the line dither out. Check out all the tutorials on Also check out Yo’s “the brief” dvd. Those should give you a great starting point into sketching. Also, if you find a sketch/image that you like somewhere online, save it and try to replicate it. Analyze it to see what they did (line weights, use of marker, center lines, text placement, ect.)

That makes a lot of sense, I’ll keep my elbow in check :slight_smile: thank you.
the brief looks great, I’ll be sure to give it a look once i am employed again, and i haven’t been to idsketching in a while, so thank you fore reminding me