Sketching a lot?


How many sketches you put on paper every day?

Not enough…

probably as many as a length of string*

*twice as long as half the length

about 40 sketches on a3 on an average sketching day. i need to improve a lot. for that i know its less.

so …good enough is never good enough?..

For my first 4.5 year after school I sketched for about 12 hours a day, 5 days a week, and probably about another solid 7 hours on the weekend.

I would do a sketch or 2 before work. Then get to the studio and try to do 6 - 10 client ready concept sketches in the day. At the end of the day I would photocopy the best sketches from the other designers in the office, grab a quick dinner, go home and try to out do those concepts fo another 3-4 hours.

In school I was skething all the time.

I think this laid a good foundation to allow me to communicate my ideas very rapidly.

I stopped sketching for about 3-4 months sometime after school… and wow. You do lose it. It is similar to like riding a bicycle, it does come back, but much slower than picking right up perfectly and creating high quality deliverables for a job or client. It took me at least a solid month to recover from those 3-4 months.

Haha! - Thats a great line.

I was so burnt out after school, I was sick of sketching. And I started my job the week after graduation so there was no time to take a breather. But eventually I got back into sketching daily(besides work sketching). It’s amazing how much more fun sketching is when you are just doing it for fun rather than an assignment.

… and your arm is healthy at 100% ?.. i mean… have not been injured?..

strong like bull.

That is what it takes.

I stopped sketching for about 3-4 months sometime after school… and wow. You > do > lose it. It is similar to like riding a bicycle, it does come back, but much slower than picking right up perfectly and creating high quality deliverables for a job or client. It took me at least a solid month to recover from those 3-4 months.

I ran into this as well. The first year of my job at Mars I was a 3D guy and did not pick up a pen for a while. It took me quite sometime to get back into it. I would say that I try to sketch 4-6 hours a day. I have started to take on more design management roles and there are some weeks where it is more like 2 hours a day, but if I do not do it at work I do it at home. That becomes harder as you get older and are married and eventually kids.

You have to keep up with it. I was considered one of the somewhat “slick” sketchers in school but then where I worked after graduation, I did pretty much no hand sketching. Everything was straight into illustrator (which I became extremely fast in because of it). But the time just flew by and before I knew it, 4 years was gone, without one substantial sketch done in that time.
The longest I had ever gone before was a month or two but 4 years killed me. It took me a while to get it back and luckily now I’m at a level much higher than before since I was forced to reexamine my technique and pretty much start over from scratch. It helped me to get rid of bad habits I had before that I couldn’t get rid of. But don’t ever do that, pay attention to the calendar, years fly by in the blink of an eye working fulltime and getting comfortable.

I know a lot of people that go through a similar experience as you, but I actually had a rather different one myself. My situation was the same as yours. I had to pay the bills so I picked up a part time job a week after graduation. I was so burnt out from 5 yrs of non-stop design school that I didn’t do one single sketch for a 4-5 month time frame. I also missed doing the things that I used to do before starting design school and started to get back into those. I read a lot and got back into academics. It took a design competition to get me to start drawing again and I feared I’d be very rough and shaky.

To my surprise, I felt very comfortable. I even came up with fresh ideas fairly easily. I placed 9th out of 150 entries, so I didn’t do so bad. My guess is that since I drew so much in school, I had developed a bit of “muscle memory” as they say, as in drawing the same lines instinctively w/o thought. I think the physical break that I took from drawing actually helped me to come back with a fresh mindset. Even though I wasn’t sketching, I kept updated on the design world and let my mind absorb everything. If you watched Stefan Sagmeister’s (graphic designer) TED presentation, he talks about how he takes a year long sabbatical every 4 or 5 yrs (or something like that). I think his point was if you’re intensely focused on something for years at a time, it’s good to take a nice long break and come back with a fresh perspective. Interestingly enough, he noted that after every sabbatical, his studio’s financial situation improved along with it.

It might not be practical for everybody, but everyone’s different : )

I also saw the stefan sagmeisters’s Ted talk and yes it was very refreshing and inspiring…but he of course can afford a sabbatical of a year. I can’t dream about doing such a thing since bills need to be paid and my boy needs food :wink: Nonetheless it’s good advice to take a step back and come back with new ideas/perspectives.

I try to sketch everyday…but I don’t :wink:
It sure is necessarily because it is a skill that is hard to master but easily ‘unlearned’ as some of you have mentioned.

Sketching is uber-important for idea-exploration and development. If you are bad/slow at sketching you will not spit out as many ideas/variations as a fellow designer who does know how to sketch. Anyone who can’t sketch seeks refuge in CAD-environments. Be it illustrator or some other computer-aided-design-software. Sure you can do some nifty shit with those packages but it’ll take time and effort. And that is a luckury you normally don’t have (time). If you are good and fast sketcher you can explore many ideas in a short time. I sometimes explain it to my students with the following analogy: "imagine you and me dueling with pistols. you have the old-skool pistol. Just one bullet. But I on the other hand have a super-mega-automatic-2000round/minute-machine-gun. It doesn’t matter if I miss 90% of the time. I will shoot you about 200 times. So it’s really a question of quantity will deliver quality.
Summarizing: “If you don’t know how to sketch you’ll put way to much time in visualising just one idea while someone who does know how to sketch will have explored about 50ideas in the amount of time you have spent visualizing just one.”

So yes…you can never sketch enough…



I LOVED the analogy with the gun! You could also replace the old school pistol with say a nuclear weapon. Sure it’s gonna do a heck of a lot of damage, but it’s gonna take a lot more time to prep than someone who has a handgun and just has to walk up to you and blammo!

  • Hinting at how a lot of CAD lovers fall in love with those final CAD renders, forgetting of course the time it took to actually model and then even render in the CPU.

Just to clarify, I wasn’t promoting the idea that everyone should just stop sketching for months at a time. If I didn’t have that part time job I probably wouldn’t have had such a huge gap.

I know…didn’t try to imply that to :wink:

A great idea really is the only way to start. Or divine-interventions as I call them :wink: From thereon you can start sketching.
And those divine interventions don’t happen at your desk. They happen while you are at the train, walking, jogging, cycling, talking with other people, getting drunk, getting st*ned, going for a shit…anywhere but at your desk.
But once you saw it. You need to communicate your ideas (and its variations and implementations in real life) to other people. And sketching is still the best way to do this. Even if you can’t get your mental picture on paper.
I never seem to do :wink:



i don’t remember exactly some facts… but someone said that :

"enabling this attitude : i want to be e a compulsive doodler, not a rock star designer ,no matter if at the end i’m not a master on rendering,or making models, or money maker… is far for sure, an attitude that allows everyone to be a better designer.

As more as you think with hands, as more you do it with brain, as more you do things with brain is a sign that there’s a passion to dedicate a large period of time tackling some goals, indeed a natural predisposition to being concentrated in something … so being a compulsive doodler is a good sign for everyone that dreams one day to stay at the front of a mirror and shout out : yeahhhhhhh a designer in process"