TUTORIAL >>> A quick tutorial (verithin and Marker)

Since there are some questions asked about markers and smudging, here’s a quick tutorial. I used this little side project which I posted here some time ago:

So here are the steps to the sketch renderings.

  1. Underlay(composition and layout)
    medium: prisma color verithin black, tria letraset marker pad

Since I know I am going to use markers, I am using the verithin as light underlay first just to give me a good idea where to lay my marker strokes.
Here’s also where I construct my perspective lines.

Tips: For multiple sketches on the same page, try to put them on the same perspective space, so that viewers can make sense of them more easily as opposed to be guessing which view they are looking at.

Also, try to use the same light source direction for the same page.

Step2: Grey Scale ( form expression )
Material: Copic Cool Grey markers, C0 ~ C5

My objective is to convey the design and form. Since there are some mechanical actions that I need to explain, I choose not to include the material aspect of the expression and stick to simple and straight forward form expression. This is also not “gestural” sketches, therefore I focus solely on explaining the design as opposed to thinking about how to create more expressive lines.

Step3: Simple material differentiation
Material: Copic marker(whatever color of your choice), Prismacolor Pastel

I am basically differentiating materials by color coding. Since I don’t have a full color range for green, I used pastel powder for the really light parts. Pastel also helps to blend your marker strokes.

Step4: Adding a little fun
Materials: markers… same

Here, I am just adding something that will help the viewers relate to the design better.

The viewers have not seen this design before, but they know what a cup is. They certainly can relate to brown liquid in a cup(may it be coffee or coke or whatever), so it helps the viewers understand the context of the design better.

Step 5: Giving it line quality
There is no formula to how one should express his/her line quality. For me, I am using line quality to distinct the objects and create more sense of space between them. It’s also to help the viewers focus on the individual sketches.

Step 6: Arrows and pointers
Material: Pastel powder

Here, I used arrows to explain actions and mechanical movements.
Since arrows are not the design, I wanted to avoid the arrows from popping out too much and did not use markers. I used pastel instead. Pastel also gives you soft gradients that are pretty easy to control, and if you make a mistake, you can erase it easily.

Arrows also gives a lot of life to your presentation. It’s no longer just a sketch, but a story.

Step7: Pumping the contrast and giving it a softer texture
material: prismacolor verithin

Here, I simple went back to add contrast, darken the shadows by shading it with prismacolor verithin. It makes it look more like a sketch with a softer feel, and helps the forms read a little better.

Lastly, clean up with photoshop

I adjusted the balance with photoshop to achieve a cleaner background as well as more popping sketch. You can also play with the saturation a little according to your preference.


I applied a light layer of pencil to give me a good idea of what I should do later.

After marker and all the other steps are applied, I went back with lines to emphasize the sketch.

Therefore I can avoid having pencil lines being smudged by the markers.

…nice technique… :slight_smile:

We should add one Tutorial section on this forum…


WOW! thats awesome.

yeah. hope there will be more tutorials threads like these.

thanks for posting cow!

geez us
just rub it in my face why don’t you!?

I really liked seeing your thoughts behind each step, it seems like this is less of a sketching / rendering tutorial and more of a composition / theory tutorial as the emphasis seems to be less on the individual techniques employed, and more on the purpose of the techniques as they relate to theoverall communication of the end page. Why does that not surprise me.
Great Stuff!

very nice sketch, i like the style you work too.

Awesome thanks for posting this.

That’s a good morning wake-up call for ya!

All in all, the techniques involved here have only one purpose, that is to convey the design the clearest way I can. Everyone will have different techniques using different mediums and styles, so I think as long as if the sketch can clearly illustrate the designer’s intent, it’s a good sketch.

Thanks everyone!

I totally agree. I’ll discuss this with the other moderators.

How long did it take you for each step? That will also help people when trying to benchmark their results.

A page like that usually takes me under an hour. When I was quicker, with less attention on the “neatness”, I can manage one in 45min. We used to have to do 20 of these for each studio class back in college per week. 3 studios means 60 pages a week.

Also, smaller pages does not mean less time. It all depends on how much detail you want to include.

It seems like you have a very smooth transition in the grey area. You said you only used markers for the grey, is that right? So my question is, how do you get such a smooth transition in the grey?

Tria’s Letraset marker pads have a layer of plastic film behind them, which means you can “puddle” up the ink. I would say it’s practice and getting the feel of it. You may take a lot more ink to get a nice blend at first, but when you are familiar with the medium, you will know how to blend 2 shades with the fewest additional strokes.

I would also say that all of my marker nibs are pretty worn and soft, therefore they don’t create very distinct stroke edges unlike new,hard nibs. That’s the proof of experience! :stuck_out_tongue:

VERY NICE page MC. This is a design drawing. It accurately depicts the function, how the product looks, how it might work and how it may be built. You could show that to a room full of designers, marketers, and engineers and talk through how to make this thing. A great example.

Thanks for the tips Cow. I think I couldn’t get a good transition in my greys because half my markers were drying up. I replaced them and tried some experiments, it works well. I forgot the joy of markers, normally I just use a 1 or 2 grey for a bit of shading on a thumbnail.

Also, I forgot about verithins. I never really used them in school, but now I’m wondering why. Duh.

can we sticky this so it doesnt get lost?

great tutorial cow.

Wow, first time I saw this!!
Awesome drawings and explanation!


Another tip:

My professor used to say, include call-outs even at places where there really doesn’t need explanation, because call-outs make you sketch look more intelligent than it is, and it’s not like anyone’s really going to read them.

To me, everything on the sketch page is a graphic element, like arrows and call-outs. Therefore, I try to be strategic about where I place them to create a good composition flow. Of course, this will also mean you have to plan your sketches so that you leave the right spaces for your call outs.

by call outs do u mean annotations?


One of my professors used to say they “add visual texture”… not really sure what that means, but they do seem to focus the non design types on the important parts of an idea sketch.