The Jumpstart to Better Sketches

I noticed a topic earlier concerning the development to good sketching-

I have 2 quick side notes before I give my “two cents” on a fast way to have the sketching “skills that pay the bills,” as my favorite b-boys from Zoo York would put it.

  1. I graduated last spring from a respected school and my sketches now compared to when I was a sophmore in the program would make you fall on the floor. My stuff back then was horrendous, and I’ll guarantee no matter how bad you think you may be, these were worse. I’ve had internship and work experience with two separate firms so far that are both internationally influential. The first was landed through innovative user research, the second on CAD ability and mainly perseverence with a pretty gruff boss.

  2. If you were able to make it into a design program, whether you’ve graduated and doubt your ability or if you’re still in school, remember that if you can pick up a pencil and move your hand and your brain is in good working order, it may take years, but if you stick to it, your stuff will be razor sharp. Remember, Mike Jordan failed high school basketball tryouts.
    But he had desire, dedication, and determination. Keep practicing and draw that cylinder or cube 300 times if you have to. Your brain will force you to make it look more perfect, 'cause it will get sick of drawing the same one for you. After that, you’ll jump to the next level of combining the cylinder and cube into something that resembles a product, and start the process again.


  1. Use a blue lead in your pencil. Draw as many inacurate lines of the product’s shape as you want, then pick out the different individual lines that make the shape correct, and highlight them with a dark pencil or a pen. This is a good mental excercise, just trust me.

  2. NOW the big one: Use a CAD program like Solidworks or IronCad that allows you to do a full 3D rotation of a shape- a full rotation along all axis planes. Just do this for as many hours a day as possible for as many days as possible. The reason for this: The brain/hand/eye interaction that takes place when you form multiple types of shapes and rotate them through an isometric view many times helps your brain to understand the way a product moves in space and perspective so that then, the next time you try to DRAW a similar shape by hand, your brain already understands the way it should look, and your hand is just moving a pencil instead or a mouse. Again, trust me. It’ll blow your mind, and you’ll want to thank me forever.
    As a side note to any hot girls reading this, I’m all about gratitude, if you want to reach me at (614) 579-6281. (real number, so no pranks, please)-

That’s what I have for you, and although I’ve thrown some humor in a couple places, the advice should seriously be put into practice, because chances are it will help you (if don’t give up too soon after not seeing same-day results, though you very well may!)

Good Luck, and Never Ever Give Up. Live Your Dream, Hit Your Goal!

p.s. I’m serious, ladies- Single, Successful, Good lookin’ Dude looking for friendship, maybe more…

p.p.s. Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy hits theaters next friday, but read the book before you see the movie-it’s really good.

The part that said “you’ll be using a pencil instead or a mouse” was mis-
typed and should have read, “instead OF a mouse”. (Crucially different message, and the letters “r” and “f” are right next to each other on a keyboard. Ah, that bad design legacy they teach you about in design theory, and they always use the keyboard as the example…

Online dating reference aside, this was really useful info - thanks. A big part of drawing well is just training the mind to SEE things when you stare at a blank piece of paper. 3D rotating of objects, drawing blue lines incorrectly until a form comes into play - good stuff. Almost anyone can get the dexterity to draw, but the ability to see is what it’s all about imho.


its a pain sometimes to see it and not be able to get it on the paper. that has happened to me a couple times its very frustrating–I agree seeing what you draw or seing things on a white peice of paper is something… its a vision, but it is no good unless you can get it on paper or communicate it…

AWwww…that’s cute. If i wasn’t so shy and living in Canada, I’d definately give u a call Edwards. That was valuable advice.

your admirer

I definately need more practice, what’s the best sketchbook size is ideal? sketchbook or sketchpads? I find sketchbook a little awkward because of the binding… any advice or suggestions? I interested in knowing what reals designers use. I’m a student u see. Thx a bunch!

I definately need more practice, what’s the best sketchbook size is ideal? sketchbook or sketchpads? I find sketchbook a little awkward because of the binding… any advice or suggestions? I interested in knowing what reals designers use. I’m a student u see. Thx a bunch!

I understand where you are coming from with the binding comment, I tend to draw on loose printer paper for the most part, there’s less commitment that way. I use sketchbooks more for collecting ideas then for anything even approaching detailed drawings.

There are some sketchbooks out there that you can take the binding on and off to add or subtract pages. (komtrak?)

I usually sketch on 8.5 x 11 because it fits in my scanner, but I reccomend spending some time with larger paper sizes especially while you are learning.

I just go with loose typing paper with holes punched in. Put them in a 3-ring as you finish each page. Very modular and customizable with no drawing and having your hand hit bindings, loops, and folded paper bulge from more permanent bindings.

I normally use bienfang graphics 360 for all my stuff.
then if I get something I like and want to ink it up I dont have to worry about transferring the lines to a marker paper, because its all ready on marker paper.

or for thumbnails and such I stick to the 8-1/2 X 11 computer paper.

thanks for the advice!

useful information
but doing the solidworks thing isn’t this bad?
it’s default is isometric! (engineers world)
perspective (designers world)
from my experience
you’re all training yoru brain to draw incorrectly

i grew up on cad and it shows
worst thing about my sketches is perspective!
now the newer version of solidworks has a perspective button to turn on!
this may help… with your method

my two cents
also should this not be in the sketching forum instead of design employment?

Blue pencil lines - great trick. When you scan in the sketch though, keep the contrast/brightness on normal to ensure the blue lines staying light.

CAD - yes, do the shape exercises in perspective. In SWX - View/Display/Perspective. I would also recommend changing the perspective settings to zoom in closer and farther for more spatial control - View/Modify/Perspective. Try Observer Position <1 for “fish eye” effects.

Yeah, this thread should be in sketching - maybe a Mod will move it. But it will get more hits in here :wink: