Skecthly Challenged, HELP ASAP. . .

In Industrial Design profession but have only 1 major waekness despite practice after practice after practice. . .this whole sketching thing is killing me!!

Any advice on who can help, techniques, any more books than the 100+ I already own?

Been getting vy on using CAD to show thought process and have had several jobs as a result, but I know the foundation is sketching and it has no substitute.


Take classes in schools with ID majors. That’s the quickest and the most direct way to learn, from people who know how to do it well.


Attitude is a big part - if you anticipate failure before your attempt - you’re going to fail. Maybe take some drawing classes at an art school. Try drawing from life - and develop your abilitiy to visualize your concepts. It’s a process that takes time - no one can just tell you how to draw - and you’ll get it. You need to invest yourself in it to get anything out of it.

Hope this helps

i’ve got a ton of those books too.

my advice would be to analyze what you are seeing in the real world and start comparing what you’re actually seeing with the information presented in the books. then they will bopth start to make more sense.

i.e. when does a circle become an ellipse? as you rotate it 90 degrees… at 90 degrees it is a straight line

perspective … do those railroad tracks converge at the horizon? see for yourself…

most of all DRAW … for hours. doodle while you’re on the phone, sketch at home after dinner instead of watching that documentary program. spend hours spinning out freehand ellipses … cubes, rectangles, cylinders … cylinders intersecting cubes, clyinders intersecting cylinders …

the books are helpful but you’ve got to put pen to paper and see, draw, see, draw, see …

and don’t try and cram it all onto an 8x11 piece of paper… get a big sketch book and open up your hand and arm motion. you can get a lot more detail not a big sketch than a small one.

…try keeping it as simple as you can…a thin basic outline with just a bit of color pastel or shading on the shadow side of things can be enough to define a form…then a heavier outine where it sits on the ground or opposite your imaginary light source…maybe darken you backgound a bit on the highlight side to make it pop…if it is a shinny object add a few dots of white paint along the highlight edge for hot spots…but don’t over work it…shoot for 10-15 minutes max…then try to do the same sketch over and over until you get it down to 3-5 minutes…

I think a lot of times all the books can be a little crippling

check out:
but promise me you will draw while/after you watch, otherwise it doesn’t work

most of them do little to teach anything, those that do often require a certain degree of skill/understanding before they are of any real benefit

every time you think about looking at one of the books, draw instead

find some sketches that you think are particularly good and try to copy them, do it again, use the style to draw new objects

get a catalog like B&H photo and trace every product in the damn thing
(this sounds silly, but actually helped me a lot)

draw from life

take a perspective view from Rhino (any other CAD where the perspective views are in perspective not isometric views, them generate 2d line drawings of it, trace them, use them as underlays)

practice practice practice

I think I might have used these tried and true analogies before, bu here it goes.

Learning how to sketch is like learning a new language in that you must start with the fundementsla and go through all of the verb conjugation, or in this case pages and pages of cubes and ellipses, before you can start speaking sentences. It takes years of practice to be able to talk fluently with slang so donn’t let it get you down. It takes time to learn and it helps if you are around people that are better than you to learn from. I’m 8 years out of school and a sketcholic, and I still learn new stuff almost everyday. And just like with a language, if you don’t speak it enough, you will start to forget it.

Throwing down a hot sketch is alsso a lot like running a marathon (I think, though I’ve never run one). You don’t just wake up one day and decide you will run a marathon that afternoon, just like you don’t just wake up one day and decide you will throw down a hot sketch. You train every day. You run mile after mile, and on the day of that big race, when the presure is on and people are counting on you, it is no big deal, just another run.

So here is a list of materials you will need to get better at sketching:


It doesn’t matter what pencils or paper that you use, someone above wrote it is about attitude.

Also a lot of sketching is seeing. To speak a language you must be able to understand it. Really see theings don’t just look at them. Study the perspective all around you. Look at your cell phone. Study it’s proportions, details, materials, textures. How would all of that look in pencil? Study small objects with one eye closed, then the other. You will notice different things. Sketch things in your mind.

Those where all some things that helped me.

If all else fails be the pen. :laughing:

, Thanks to everyone who has replied and to anyone who may in the future. Believe it or not, i’ve been listening, practicing even more, and actually improving little by little.

I tend to be a perfectionist at everything I do, much like most people in design I assume. So not throwing down a “HOT” skectch right-off-the-bat is frustrating. . .patience has alot to do with success.

Anyways, thanks once again to each and every

One afternoon in sketch class I had a particularly good rendering going. When you first start out you tend to be frustrated a lot and when something actually looks good you want to kind of covet it. You know, maybe keep it as a triumph.

Well, the instructor happened to mosy by as I was beholding my triumph. “That’s starting to look good,” he commented. In the next breath he reached over my shoulder and peeled it off of my sketch pad, wadded it up, and tossed it over his shoulder.

“Don’t fall in love with your work, and sketch faster,” was all he said…

Brutal, but it worked. Also sitting in the corner from then on helped.

I used to be not very good.
then one of this teacher told me:" just make yourself sit down and draw half hour per day… every single day…"
well… actually he force the entire class to do so…
after two sketch books has filled with sketches ( I actually do a few sketches a day… took me one full semester.), I was amazed with the improvment I made.
I know this will help and you will build a good habit on sketching all the time.

My sketch is still sucky. Art school is no use for Industrial Design sketch

I disagree Fun. Art school is good for industrial designers…

Line, form, light, shadow, composition, are all the same whether you are sketching the human form or a cellphone.

The instructors in art school are a different story…

sketching well isnt necessary to be a good and successful designer.

sketching well is necessary to be a good and poor artist.

Check out the topic posted, The Jumpstart to Good Sketches


I have one simple excersise that i developed for myself. Ancor you hand in one spot on the paper. Begin drawing lines from a common center point out away from that center. Do this in all directions, so you are creating what might look like a big “*” or star pattern. Do this without moving your hand, only use your fingers. Make sure that part of your palm is ancored for the whole excersise. You will see that some directions are easy and natural, but some are difficult to get the line straight. The crappy lines whill show you which muscles need to be excersised more, and your coordination needs improvment there.

This is just a basic excersise, but you get the idea. Practice on the lines you find hardest make. You can expand on this and do elipses in the same manner, and so on.

Maybe they teach this in some book somewhere, i don’t know, i just started doing it for myself and it helps, if you realy practice.


i think that is somewhat poor advice. you never want to sketch with your fingers…even if it is just to “show you which muscles need to be excersised more”

quick sketching is done with the entire arm without an anchor at any point. move your entire arm in the direction you want your line. spin your paper to avoid moving your arm in awkward ways that will give you an awkward line.

Yes, i know but thats why i said it was a basic excersise. I know there is a lot more to sketching than just with the fingers.

I’d recommend practicing in all directions. You won’t always get to draw on a single sheet of paper. Sometimes you will be drawing on walls or on big drawing sheets with others where you won’t have the option of moving your canvas. Best to practice the directions you’re weak in. I do the “star” exercises but full arm. Parallels, hitting dots, duplicating curves, etc. Anything that doesn’t work right, you’ll know what to work on. Good luck.