what kind of sketch renderings do you show clients?

I am always actively browsing the coroflot portfolios. There are always very s3xy and beautiful images… sketches, rendering, CAD rendering, etc.

From my experience producing that level of sketch rendering and my experience working at consultancies where there is budget & timeline… how practical are they? Do you use them to show clients regularly? CAD renderings obviously seem more practical, but a sketch rendering that is obviously labored over for longer than the client may be willing to pay for?

This is what I’m talking about:

(sorry I meant to find more examples)

Don’t get me wrong- There is some serious talent here that will always be appreciated and admired by the design community, but when it comes to business, are images like this used frequently?

but a sketch rendering that is obviously labored over for longer than the client may be willing to pay for?

Sketches like the ones you showed can be done really economically compared to a CAD rendering. they can be done in a couple hours (the first sketch you showed with the purple car interior… probably 30 minutes) and are able to show the emotion/feeling of the product, while showing some of its materials, appearance, etc.

A CAD rendering would take much longer, and the functionality of the product would definitely be taken into consideration more with a CAD rendering. When you are coming up with a bunch of concepts through sketching, you aren’t limiting yourself to what CAD can do. In this way, you can quickly and economically show off a bunch of concepts to your client. So no, these sketches aren’t “obviously labored over for longer than the client may be willing to pay for”.

Considering the amount of sketches/renderings there are out there (not counting those under NDA), I believe it’s safe to assume that these images are used frequently.

Lots of sketches
5-6 sketch renderings
1-3 final renders
1-2 CAD models

All of the sketches and rendering will be cheaper than the 1-2 CAD models, so yes, lot of cool, engaging, dynamic sketches are shown to explore and explain ideas.

This has come up before. And I guess it’s all relative to your experience. The sketches you cited don’t look like more than a couple hours of work at most (the shoe may be a little longer). With all the student work and portfolios heavy on photoreal renderings these days, it’s hard to appreciate the true economy of a sketch. Sketches aren’t as costly and laborious as you say. How long would you expect to spend on those sketches?

Even if you argue that with CAD you are further ahead because unlike a sketch, it gives you information that can be re-used going forward (not always) Think about it this way: If I spend a week modeling a car interior and another 2 days producing renderings and the client doesn’t like it and I have to basically start over, I’ve wasted 56 hours of billable time. If I spend 40 hours producing 20 concept sketches and the client likes 3 of them. I’m further ahead than CAD guy.

Back to your question. It’s relative to the client. Some clients are very nuts and bolts and want clear, crisp concept sketches with everything explained and nothing fudged over. Some are more excited by emotional, loose sketches that would make an engineer’s head spin. I would never considering going into a first review with CAD renderings. The old saying, sketches start conversations, CAD renderings stop them.

I think that’s very true. Also, thinking about it some more, I’ve done a lot of packaging design which seems to have shorter timelines than product design. We seem to spend a lot of time concepting up front and not really “finishing” the sketches to a very refined look, depending on the client. Second phase of presentation, a lot of times we go into CAD and rendering, a lot of which will be used for focus groups. It’s really hard to show a consumer a sketch rendering and expect them to get it… clients and colleagues are a different story.

Real engaging and colorful images seem to get people excited and into the concepts. Good to hear a lot of peoples work is heavy on the sketches and loose renders.

It’s really hard to show a consumer a sketch rendering and expect them to get it… clients and colleagues are a different story.

I’ll agree with that for sure. You have to know your audience. I’ve had sketches not meant for consumer review “passed along” without my notice. I now make sure every sketch I share is clear and “finished” for that reason.

In packaging (I’ve worked in somewhat as well) things move quickly- which means sometimes it’s better(faster) to use a photoshop rendering. Look at Christopher’s packaging renderings. You could show these in a focus group: http://www.coroflot.com/public/individual_file.asp?individual_id=101927&portfolio_id=786079&


In general, sketches win out. There are some instances where cad wins out in the speed/client impact scenario but most of the time, sketches and renderings will be much faster (for someone competent with the basic 2d skills). If you were doing some stemware and the judgment is based on exact lines and proportions, you’d probably hop on to cad pretty quickly, more bang for the buck since they’d just be quick revolves. If the project is an ergonomic mouse, sketch/ai/psd will be much faster (for a semi-final “looks like” presentation)
The examples you’ve shown don’t take too long, the shoe probably took the longest. But that shoe render is definitely faster than making a model to come up with a slick rendering would be (also with the model strictly being used for visualization except for possibly the sole, that’s a complete waste of process and resources).

The other big thing is the client. Some just don’t see anything in sketches, it’s frustrating. They can only give feedback on finished looking work, that’s why it’s also good to have those 3d or actual prototyping skills also. With them, you do end up redoing a lot of time-consuming work, especially when they want you to “just rotate” that 8 hr photoshop render to show the other side and email it to them in 1 hr because they need it for their presentation.

Everything depends on the situation, start to develop clarity to choose whatever is most appropriate.
But you’d be pretty safe with this:
-Sketching for planning the look*
-Photoshop renders for defining the look
-3d for refining and finalizing the look*
*(and function is implied)

All, good points.

Another huge factor in terms of quality of deliverables to clients is who’s actually doing the sketches for that particular phase or presentation. There are people who crank out gorgeous stuff, chock full of valuable ideas, really fast. There are also people who are pretty poor sketchers that have to deliver stuff, sometimes even for the same client, and you get a discrepancy in the deliverables despite the fact that the projects are in the same phase. Ultimately, everyone wants the work that goes to be the best that it can, but sometimes it just needs to go out.

The client also plays a big part. Without getting too specific, I’ve worked with companies that aren’t really concerned with the sketch level, because the focus of the products is so clearly about usability and that driving the aesthetics. On the flip side, there are companies that expect a high quality presentation level at every stage.

In terms of actual process, I think the jump between 2D and 3D has gotten pretty small in the last few years. It’s no longer an “OK, now let’s model it.” kind of process anymore. I frequently find myself sketching over a very loose 3D model even in the first stages.

That’s very true, and I think the difference is between models for visualization and models for production. I don’t count process type models for viz as CAD because my entire process, even sketching, is technically CAD. I may create an underlay model of a complex shape, or for parts that move / reconfigure. But that doesn’t matter to the client. It’s all about creating the idea, communicating the idea and the follow through. It’s not art, its a means to an end, in the end afterall.

For clients that don’t “see” sketches I suppose you could make an analogy to a fortune teller. Your paper is the crystal ball showing their future product. If they don’t tell you anything, that’s what shows up on shelves.

I agree. I the Pkg world this is mostly due to the fact that a package is not complete with out graphics so we tend to through generic or concept graphics on sketch in PS to help get that more finished look. Although I have shown rough sketches before as well. I guess it really depends on the client. With me it is marketing. They see my work everyday and I always have what ever I am working on pinned up on a large board right next to my desk. When It comes to our customer (meaning Wal-Mart, CVS, Target, etc) we will shown the process from sketches, Renderings, Mock-ups and so on.


I’m a 2d (motion graphics) and 3d (c4d and maya) artist who recently worked at an industrial design firm. I provided some motion graphics and compositing to demonstrate how a particular product would be used.

It seems like most industrial/product design is shown as stills. I’m interested in this field and if and how my services could be further applicable.

-As a product/industrial designer does your company use animation to help communicate the product to your client? If so do you have a separate artist like myself on staff, or does the product designer animate it?

-Do you feel like an animation service would be useful to you? If so how would you use it?

-Would you prefer more high-end animation that takes awhile to make, or lower quality animation that communicates the product’s use, but isn’t as polished?

I’d really appreciate your opinions, comments, suggestions, thanks!

every project is different.

Right now, I’m working on a custom Jeep for a client and we’ve gone through 25-30 grill variations over the course of the last couple of months. These are all sketched and rendered in illustrator, then photoshop them onto the vehicle… a lot faster than going to 3d in this case. Once we select a final design, we will go to 3d and detail it out.

I like to start with generalities and move toward detail, and when I present a sketch, it is always a general feel, as in “if could be something like this… or something like this…”

I’ll post a few process boards.