Sketching in Seattle's coffee shops

So I moved to the Seattle area in September, and whilst I’m settling in I’ve been exploring the local caffeine scene by sketching in various coffee shops.

I’ve been following the Core77 discussions for a while, and seen how valuable the comments are, but not really posted any sketches of my own. So I figured whilst I have a bit of downtime I’d upload a few sketches.

Sketching is one of my most valuable tools, I tend to generate a lot quick concepts with a Sharpie and a pile of paper. I find I can get what’s in my head out much faster this way than I can digitally, I also use this method to communicate ideas in conversations and meetings. So whilst I have a bit of downtime I thought I’d explore a few different sketch styles that I don’t usually use, and would really appreciate any feedback, any at all!

I’ll kick it off with a couple of quick Procreate sketches:

I’ve found that sketching while on-hold or in meetings or summer school circa 1995 often yielded the best sketches.

Fun stuff Sophie. I find drawing something totally different and in a different medium helps me break into new things. For example, you draw a lot of toys in sharpie… try drawing architecture in mechanical pencil. Or consumer electronics only using the point to point line tool in photoshop, or try drawing a retail experience. Those types of exercises help shake me up.

You’re sketches are great by the way!

@slippyfish I’ve also spent a lot of time on the phone setting things up, so definitely takes the sting out of hold music! It’s quite nice not to over-think what you’re drawing too.

@yo Thanks! Great idea, how about consumer electronics to start? An alarm clock in Procreate?! I struggled a little with the texturing here… need a bit more practice!! Might take a look in to some different material finishes.

I heard there’s a cider and drawing evening with charcoal in downtown Seattle, having never done studied art this could be a good exercise!! I love the idea of a something more architectural, or a retail experience. Maybe a new coffee experience?! Watch this space!!

I think the sketch style still feels rather toy like. Perhaps try changing the medium to a much finer point drawing tool? Scaling your notes down will help as well.

Maybe a design element that’s contributing to that perception are the foreshortened red numerals…I’ve never seen illuminated letters like that, and they might exist but most of the time they would be more…orthogonal. Nice glowing effect though. I need to try Procreate.

After a week and a half of friends visiting and moving out of temporary corporate accommodation I’ve found time to sketch again!!

Thanks Yo, I agree, it still looks really toyetic. Which I find quite funny, since I spent so much of my early career trying to develop a sketch style that suited me, it’s interesting trying to depart from that style and become more flexible. It’s great to get feedback as I think I tend to fall back to the styles I find easy to quickly communicate ideas. Not picking up a sharpie and a large piece of paper is like quitting a habit!

I still want to take a look at totally different topics of sketch too, I still love the idea of retail / architecture space with different tools, think I’ll try this one next. I’m tempted to download Astropad and sketch from the iPad in Photoshop (I watched Spencer Nugents review of this earlier today :slight_smile: )

You’re right, I think the numerals are more stylised than correct, I also wonder if I added more of a defined edge, as well as more of a hex shaped edge that it might help? I’m tempted to try the same sketch again with different line weight and perhaps a slightly more realistic style?

I’m quite enjoying Procreate, although there are a couple of digital home comforts it feels like it’s missing, I used to use Sketchbook Pro on a Wacom Cintiq, and whilst it felt like cheating, I still found the elipse sketch outline really useful, it feels like Procreate could benefit from a couple of the tools that transferred from sketch to digital like that and curves.

As I’m used to drawing smaller scale products, I had a really quick shot at a larger product… theme totally driven by the Seattle coffee scene!! More of an exercise in sketch style than concept (I’m quite aware that the product itself doesn’t make much functional sense! :wink: ) I tried using a darker background, and smaller notes… but I’m not sold… I’m not loving the effect or style here…! I’ll post it anyway! All in the hope of improvement right?!! All comments and criticism appreciated!!

Now where’s my Sharpie?!!

That is looking good Sophie. I love your style by the way. I didn’t mean to come off so critical.

Not at all! Criticism is exactly what I’m looking for! :slight_smile: it’s great to have time to experiment a bit. Please critique away!

I tried a more architectural style… I think it might work better with a ballpoint or pencil though? I love the idea of the drive-through ATM’s here… how about a walk through coffee stop? Or moving walkway?! With order point, contactless pay and pickup point?!! Limited menu, limited functions, simple coffee?!

These are a bit closer to my usual sketch style, but I had a play with the perspective tool in Procreate to doodle a rough exploded sketch of a DIY make your own tech toy, choose your function, choose how you play.

And I got fed up of searching through Amazon to replace all our electrical (that we couldn’t bring with us from the UK because of the voltage) so I doodled some happy toast instead!

Husky the cat also tried to get involved with the doodling…!

I’ve never sketched footwear before, and am not really sure where the best starting point would be… maybe drawing an actual trainer? Recommendations welcome!! I think footwear could be a really big challenge for me…!!

When I was learning to sketch footwear I studied a lot of foot anatomy drawings. It helps you understand the dynamics of the form you are building your design around and not fall into the immediate cliche’s of the industry.

Thanks for the recommendation Yo, I really had no idea where to start. I’ve not really drawn feet before… so no laughing! :wink: I’ll keep practicing, but in the meantime all comments are very welcome! Is it better to look more at the bone structure to start with? Or the shape and flex of the foot?

I also dug out this old anatomy book from the bookshelf, unfortunately it doesn’t include any feet though.

I think what you are doing is great. Feet are not that pretty, but shoes are. I think it is important to understand the form beneath the form. From here you can start adding material thicknesses and pattern lines.

Just as a basis knowing what is bone, what is tendon, fascia, muscle, skin, where the subcutaneous land marks are…all of those elements help relate a form to the anatomy beneath it. Don’t need to know every toe bone :smiley:

Ok, so they feel pretty clumsy, but here’s a first shot at sketching trainers! I also wonder whether I should have gone all or nothing with the colour, maybe concentrate on the sketch first? It just felt super flat in black and white.

All feedback very welcome!!


A couple of points on footwear. Proportion and silhouette count for a lot. I took your red and white sketch and re-proprtioned it as an example. Also watch your negative space. The shoes that are iconic control this really well. Every line is carefully shaped.



I find your style very graffiti inspired and fun. The fit would be great for a toy/juvenile products company. However, it can also be a bit distracting within certain concepts. I think your sketches would be better without the call out bubbles completely and your lettering 50% smaller.

Thanks so much for the feedback.

Michael, that overlay is great, thank you, really useful, and makes it really obvious where I’ve gone wrong. It’s great to have something to work off. I’ll sketch out some more and post them up here when I do. I find it funny with trainers; being able to see that they’re not right, but not knowing quite how to fix them, so the overlay is brilliant!

@Jboogie941, thanks for the tip. I’m finding it quite difficult to move away from my standard style, so your tips are really helpful. I’ll go back to a ballpoint for a bit to strip it back, and remove the call outs and lettering. Thanks!

Couldn’t help but do a very quick sketch in Procreate, but will hit the Bic / Sharpie again ASAP!!