I learned in school from some amazing professors, so I can’t point you towards any tutorials, but I’d probably start by looking at the Gnomon Workshop. http://www.thegnomonworkshop.com/

From my experience, the number-one offence is 2-point perspective. You must master this, or your drawings will look hopeless no matter what.

The number two offence is scribbles. As a designer, you need to “throw down” nice clean lines with a fast single stroke. This gives you nice long curves and takes out all the imperfections of a slowly drawn line. Often designers practice their stroke a few times before connecting the pencil to the paper. And designers frequently under-and-overshoot those lines, which gives you that signature designer look. Personally, I don’t use an eraser–maybe that’s because I learned how to sketch with prismacolor pencils. I think this is a great way to learn–the eraser is just a crutch that will limit you–focus on putting down good lines, not taking them back!

The number-three offence is line-quality–as in, all your lines are equally dark and fat. Practice light thin lines, and only lay down dark lines afterwards–ideally with the aid of a guides like a straightedge, ellipse templates, and french curve.

The number-four offence is shading–as in all fully-saturated, with primary colors, and a lack of gradation and lighting. I would avoid shading until you’ve mastered the offences above re; sketching.

Nice CG, my old college shop teacher tech would tell you what you were doing wrong by the number of “offenses”, I always loved that.

There are plenty of sources for tutorials, and if you looking for that in answer, you haven’t been looking very hard! As cg mentioned, the Gnomon Workshop stuff is great. Also check out my 5 minute sketch series: VIDEO>>>5 Minute sketch series

And other tutorials in our section: VIDEO>>>5 Minute sketch series

The brief DVD produced by our own ip_wirelessly is coming out and features several core77 regulars: http://thebriefdvd.com/

Design Studio press is never short on inspiration: http://designstudiopress.com/

I’m working on a book that covers some of the philosophical broad strokes. Have to love Blurb.com. I’ll let you all know when it is up: this list is a bit of the core of the book, expanded out of course: Is sketching important? - #47 by yo1
…As well as my thoughts on how we are wired for visual information and how visual language is almost universal, and how mastering that language takes considerable effort. It will have a little over 90 pages of sketches, most of them much lower fidelity than you see in many books, rougher initial exploration sketches, quick concept sketches with color blown on. I think it will be good, most books focus on the uber finished stuff, this focuses more on working level.

cg and yo, Thank you very much for your replies. Exactly what I was looking for.

I took a look at the Industrial design section at Gnomon Workshop cg, and it looks fantastic, pricey, but fantastic! And that “offense” list it great, it will definitely set me off in the right direction. Thanks again.

Yo, I actually have seen most of those tutorials, but I was hoping for some more bare-bones beginner advice. To be completely honest, your sketching skills are humbling and a bit hard to replicate with such confidence. I will definitely check out the The brief DVD, putting my pre-order in now. Never saw Design Studio press, but it certainly is impressive, and needless to say it is now bookmarked. I will also be sure to get your book when it comes out, I will have to follow it for updates.

I’m hoping that I can start some sort of log so that one day I can look back and see the progression from horrendous and misguided to proficient and nimble. But first, could I get some advice on utensils? Should I start off using prismacolors, or will the good ol’ #2 suffice? Along with anything else you would like to add.

While I know it sounds impossible and foolish, I am trying to conjure up a portfolio for schools. Normally, when I had an idea I would just write it down in text with rough, rough thumbnails, but I know I won’t get in on written ideas alone. Maybe that’s why I am so attracted to University of Cincinnati’s program.

Alas and alack, I know it will be a long journey until I am at least decent at sketching, but that’s what it takes.

I think keeping a digital journal to mark your progress is an excellent idea. It helps to keep you accountable.

The book I’m working on covers a bit of that transition from verbal to visual. More of a thought piece on sketching than a how too, but I think it helps to understand what is going on up in the ol’ noggin! Sorry the demos didn’t help much, more showboaty I suppose, the gnomon stuff really breaks it down though, play by play.

These are some books that are literally about 4 feet away from me everyday.

All of these are pure gold and will definitely serve as a source of inspiration!

If you really are as horrible as you’re putting out, I’d put you on what I put my intro to ID drawing students on, line drills.
You want to learn to put a nice clean line exactly where you want it. Those drills are covered briefly in the gnomon vids (Scott Robertson) but they are extremely important if you’re really green at this. Learning to connect the dots with a nice line seems very basic but it’s the core skill you need to be able to put a line right where you want it to be confidently. Practice that a lot even before you jump to perspective (but still understand perspective, learn how it works). But being able to hit the dot is key, if you can’t do that, your perspective will be off because you don’t have the hand control yet (even though you may understand it in theory, you won’t be able to do it without the control, only recognize that it’s off after the fact).
There are also lots of variations on the connecting line drills, then you move on to doing cubes in perspective and then ellipses. Really focus on those basic things until you become comfortable with your hand. Then you’ll see that it becomes easier to draw products when you can see the basic elements, they’ll be less intimidating.
Do not do the noob routine of trying to start out drawing cars, they’re very complex, a real quick way to just get frustrated early on, lol! After drilling seriously and then getting the basics down (cubes and cylinders anywhere in perspective and combos of them) with nice quality line work, you’ll be ready to tackle harder objects.

Thanks Yo, JBallard, and Skinny!

Yo, I agree that the digital journal would hold me accountable. Somewhat similar to a “365” for a fledgling photographer. As to your book, make sure you announce the release date!

JBallard, thanks so much for bringing up those books. I have been particularly looking at the first two you mentioned (i.e. Design Sketching and Sketching). I have seen them listed as sketching “reference books.” I find this tag somewhat confusing. Are these books beneficial when first starting or are they better for building upon pre-existing skills?

Skinny, thank you so much for the line drills. These exercises are my starting point and will certainly help in learning hand control. Trust me though, I know not to draw cars, direct observation gets me down! But thank you very much for your advice.

Ya know, everyone gets something different from resources (design books) like these. Some people use it purely for inspiration, some use it to study technique, others use it to hold up their other design books. The first two books I mentioned, the two that peaked your interest, do a really nice job in walking you through a lot of the basics. From perspective, to composition, to form development.

The suggestions above about line drills, basic perspective, etc are really where you need to start though. I remember a couple years ago when I was in my foundation sketching course when we would spend the first half of class just drawing lines and ellipses. However, by the end of class you could play dot-to-dot like no one’s business, which ultimately led to better line quality and better sketching.

One reason why I suggested the books in the first place is for inspiration. For me, I need to be inspired in order to sketch. If there’s no motivation, then my sketch dies. So if nothing else, the imagery will get you in gear to crank out some hot work.

One other thing you might want to check out is the list of sketch sites. It was started by Yo and is a sticky in the sketch boards here Good sketch sites

I found this pdf helpful. maybe you will too


or if you dont like pdf and prefer powerpoint presentation (posted by blck)


I forgot the most basic advice: learn to draw from still life.

When you’re starting out, this is FAR easier than trying to draw imaginary objects, because you have to use far less brainpower–the information that you need to put down on paper is right there in front of you. As an Industrial Designer, forget about drawing fruit bowls–pick objects you’re interested in, like consumer electronics you have laying around the house.

When I was kid, I learned to draw by copying photographs. That’s even easier because they’re already flattened and literally show you everything you need (the perspective, where the reflections and shadows fall, etc.)

good advice guys!

Agreed with CG.
If you want to be able to design sketch good, I would start with drawing still life, learn to draw what you see first then you can learn to use your imagination after you’ve mastered that.

Boxes,cylinders,and spheres are like the basic building blocks of most objects, you should try to simplify everything to these objects first then zoom in. Actually I would focus first on capturing the form of an object and getting the perspective right then later focusing on the small details, as they are time consuming.

Good luck dude!

I second those above in saying that observation is really important. You need to go back and forth between technique and re-observation as you improve.

Great Advice guys.

The drills are great for warming up and building your confidence.

My drawing skills got alot better when I literally started taking drawings/styles that I liked and imitating them in my own designs. I built an inspiration library that was just a stockpile of images. Try and do what you can see.

Also, be confident in your abilities. Chances are you are still better than 90% of people out there. You must have confidence in your ability to do it. I’ve seen people with no skills become great drawers. Learn the fundamentals, and trust you knowledge. Have confidence in every line you put down!

Along the same lines, slow down. There should be no pressure to have perfection yet.

You can also try drawing chairs from observation, place them up higher then normal (atop a table or something). Then draw what you see. This is a lot harder then it seems, you’ll find yourself drawing what you know is there and not what you see. If you are doing line drills the key for me is to just place your pen then keep your eye only on the point you want to hit. Then practice until you get fast at it.