Sketching has become a chore?

Hi all,

I’m in an odd situation right now. I’ve always loved to draw, drawing has always been my go to thing. But lately, I cant find myself to go to it. I’ve always had slumps here or there, but those slumps were nothing bigger than small speed bump in the road which I quickly overcame. But this time, it feels different. Every time I pick up a pen, the last thing I want to do is draw, it gets worse. When I see someone else’s amazing sketch on forums or on sites, i don’t feel motivated anymore, nor do I feel like wow, that’s cool. Instead it’s like meh.

I don’t know what to do or how to feel about this.
Any suggestions?

Should I just take long break from it and do other things or what?

Thanks, any and all feedback appreciated.

I think most can relate to what you feel, but imo, putting down the pencil for a while might seem like a good/rational idea to get the spark back usually never work for me. As soon as i put down the pen, I take a step backwards in skill, and that makes it even more demotivating to get back in to it.

The things I do instead is to draw something totally different that what I usually do. In my case, I mostly try to draw cars, even though im complete rubbish at it. Progress has been made, but not near the pace i’d like to.

First time i can remember trying to get the spark back, i for some reason started drawing shoes after seeing a quick tip tutorial on it, and it was a blast. There were two small tricks to get better proportion and perspective, and it totally motivated me.
Second time, I started sketching dump-trucks because proportions were not as obvious, and i could concentrate on the sketch technique instead.

Right now, i want to get in to figure drawing, but that wont happen until my master project is over, and God knows I’m looking forward to that.

Maybe a switch of Medium would do you good?

But, in the end, as the pro’s in here will attest to is to just grind it. And it does motivate to see progress, no doubt about that.

I feel you completely.

Right now, whenever I approach a blank piece of paper I just get this jaded burnt-out feeling that it there will be some slicked out pseudo-robotic something-or-other that’s going to populate it eventually. It’s this idea in my head that I can’t just make ID sketches purely about the process of getting to an idea, but that there’s always this added pressure to make it look “cool” that turns me off. I’m also just tired of seeing swooshy luxury car and sneaker drawings.

So to counteract this, I’m trying to draw more unconventional things I’m interested in (biology, user interfaces, etc.) and focusing less on achieving that universal “ID” style way of drawing things.

or start something photographic.
just express yourself in a different way.

or surf the internets/record stores for new music.
go to the movies, meet friends, listen to music, read, go to an exhibition, go to the museum to look at other art.
dont try to get hands on inspiration at all costs - just do what you like to do.

thats what i do when i’m not in the mood for [insert activity].

thats the point - if you’re not in the mood for doing something, why should you do it?

We all go through this and it only gets worse the further along you get in your career as you become a design manager and have less time to sketch. This has happened to me more than once much like Bngi mentioned. The first time was believe it or not right after school. I was so burnt out on design after college that I put a pen down until I got my first job (7 months). I did not realize that those 7 months would hurt me to where it took at least that long to gain it back. The second time ironically was when I first started blogging on Core. I started to see all these great sketches and thought "Damn I must suck!” but blogging on Core and snooping in others portfolios only made me stronger as I picked up other’s techniques and it made me work harder.

We all doubt our skills, it is the nature of being a creative person, but my suggestion is to find what you are interested in and just start sketching. Don’t worry about making it look like that hot flashy sketch. Just put lines on paper, make sure you perspective in is right and go to town. If you like drawing cars, draw cars. If furniture is you thing do that, the bottom line is you just have to do it. I used to say that I would sketch at least 2-3 hours a day. Now I used to do at least that at work, but if my workday was spent doing renderings, I would sit in front of the TV and sketch (it would drive my wife crazy, but now she gets it). Also start posting your work in the forums. These forums will only make you stronger. We will give you an honest critique and help you get better.

It does happen, but sometimes the best way to figure out a problem is to run toward it, not from it.

Linda, no robot is coming, you are going to have figure it out and embrace it, and that pressure to make it beautiful, that is the same as the pressure to make it functional… necessities. Don’t try to do it all in one sketch. Try figuring it out on several pages, then making it beautiful, then combining. No one is saying it has to be in a certain style, but it does have to be rapid, efficient, and effective. If you can figure out a new way to do that, and you think that is a valuable use of your time, then go for it, but it isn’t about the sketch, it is about the idea.

In my experience, most people that run into this are just not sketching regularly enough. When I stop working out, I hate working out, but when I’m working out regularly I always think I’ll never stop working out regularly again… until something urgent comes along and I get out of my groove, I convince myself I don’t have time, and then it takes effort to get back into it.

Maybe think of it like a relationship, sometimes you don’t feel like working on it, but for the relationship to work, you need to put in the effort in the good times and the bad.

Remember, that idea in your head is worthless unless you can get it into out into the world for others to see, collaborate on, and build onto.

Yep, this happens to everyone.

  1. Trying to draw something different can work well, I do this all the time.

  2. Switching media works too. I’ve switched to sketching in sketchup to get inspired.

  3. If you just aren’t excited about what you are drawing, I find that using different colors can help. For example, if I’m drawing boring grey objects, I’ll switch to purple or green. I can always change the color in PS later if I need to.

  4. When I sit down and really don’t feel like drawing, sometimes I set aside 10,15,20 minutes and take the pressure off to ID sketch. I’ll just doodle, start moving the pen/pencil or write words. Sometimes I’ll put on music and write the lyrics or try to expressively draw the music. It sounds lame, but usually in less than the time I said I’d doodle for, I automatically transition into ID sketching what I’m supposed to be drawing and I’m off there!

I get the feeling a lot too. But the difference for me is that once I put my pen to paper, I immediately get into it.

Linda: We’ll discuss that in the class a bit. One thing I learned this summer is that a lot of the thinking sketches are really not that visually awesome. It’s just the glamour of sketching publicized by sites like IDSketching has made people think that process sketches need to be awesome like that. Truth is, if you’re spending time worrying about line quality and perspective, it hampers your thought process a bit. I know it does for me, but maybe an industry veteran like Yo can speak on this. I know napkin sketches are where the real sh*t happens. Is it because I haven’t drawn enough that I feel like I limit my thoughts when I try to make process sketches look good?

The key is to get so familiar with line quality and perspective that you never think about it, and that only happens by practicing every day. Think of it like training a muscle, if you lift 150lbs every day just to train, the day a client asks you to lift 100lbs for a project is going to seem pretty easy. My book pretty much covers my full range of sketches, I doodle a lot on post it notes and the backs of old print outs from meetings. The less precious the medium the better. I think the key is remember there is not “sketch” mode to go into, it should be fluid. If you have to “start” sketching you are already making it an issue, and that is when you put the pressure on yourself to make it perfect and you tend to shank it. Don’t make it precious, just make it something you do. Before you fully form a thought in your head, grab some scrap paper and start sketching it out. If you let the idea form fully in your mind first, you will never get it just “right”, but if you let your thoughts work back and forth with the page, like a conversation, you’ll take it much further than you would have in your mind alone.

As a creative director, I do not formerly sketch mush, but I am constantly doodling in the margins of my notebook to visualize everything from how two parts come together, to how we want to organize the team structure, and everything in between. At this point it is just how I think, and I can use those doodles to help explain my thoughts to others.

The other thing I often think about is that it is one of our more tangible and unique skill sets. Think of all the other functions in the product development process, no one else can rapidly visualize their thoughts. To walk away from it is to walk away from something special in my opinion.

[quote=“yo”] Think of all the other functions in the product development process, no one else can rapidly visualize their thoughts. To walk away from it is to walk away from something special in my opinion."

awesome yo ! well said !

What i usually do when i run to a drawing block is to switch the tool that use to draw, for example, regularly i would use pencil to sketch out an idea then pen in the details, but at times when i feel i absolutely hate sketching i would just take a black marker and start marking things on the paper and then just add to it until it looks like something, sometimes i would use a black paper and white pencil for some reason it makes it easier to conceptualize sometimes

Well said skinny -

I think idleness is a killer, and if you put the pencil down, that idle time will eat away at whatever skill set for sketching you have left.

Mixing it up is a great idea. When I lose the desire to sketch, usually it’s because I’m bored with sketching with the same tool or sketching the same thing.

In any case, good luck and hopefully picking up a different tool will help some.

Thanks everyone for all your great and personal feedbacks.
I actually am gonna save all your responses into a word doc for something to look at when I hit a slump like this again in the future.

But, I just wanted to give you guys an update as to where I am right now in terms of sketching and what I did.

So here goes, I got permission to sit in on an intro to product design class at my local CC. I felt that by being around passionate students who are working hard to transfer or apply to their dream design schools would motivate me as well. And it did more than just motivate me. After the first week or so, I initiated an idea for the class. I noticed that although all of us in the classroom are here with similar interests, similar skills, and similar needs and wants, we fail to interact with each other, talk, share, and help each other out. Because as we all know, we can learn alot from each other. So I initiated the idea of weekly field trips, immediately after class ended. I felt that sketching with others, not in a classroom setting but outdoors where we can freely sketch and share with one another would help both me and the people who came to the field trips to learn to enjoy sketching outside of school.

The first day, including myself, there was 4 of us. It was a small group, but it was great. We immediately got to know each other, talk about who we are, where we come from, what we want, and more. We went to IKEA on our first field trip and it was a great experience, and very comfortable too. We did short 20-30minute sessions where we picked a theme, like living room, then chose a spot to sketch the things around us. After the time was up, we gathered together, each of us giving a short presentation of what we sketches, how we tackled it, what was difficult, and what went well. We shared our thoughts, gave out comments, and then did a few more sessions. Afterwards we all grabbed dinner at the IKEA food court and just enjoyed ourselves.

It’s been almost a month now, and we just started taking photographs of our field trips and documenting the sketches we did. Our sketch group has grown to 9 people including myself, and sketching is now becoming something enjoyable for all of us, as we share and learn from each other. The most amazing thing though is the improvement rate I see in everyone. In just one session, we have all been able to see sketches that would make you think it was drawn by a completely different person.

That is fantastic. My language analogy stands. Learning Spanish in total isolation would be difficult, ass the group dynamic and social factor of a bunch of people learning at the same time for similar reasons, and it becomes fun.