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January 17 2014


Is it still important to sketch as a designer?

That was this week’s Voxpop question on Design Week.

You can use only a computer and create something workable. But too much time at a computer can be limiting, restrictive, unhealthy.

I relax more when sketching than when looking at a monitor, perhaps because I loved drawing when I was a kid, so there’s nostalgia of the time when we’re more prepared to be wrong, and more likely to be creative. I don’t know. But because I’m more relaxed I can think of ideas I wouldn’t necessarily come up with when I’m pushing and pulling a mouse around my desk, obsessing over the proportions of a rectangle or the roundness of a curve.

ADB logo sketches

I still enjoy drawing, and I do better work when it’s enjoyable. So there’s that, too.

Mark Hopkins said in one of the Voxpop answers, “[Sketching is] also a great tool for communicating with clients. It allows us to share an idea and talk it through at a purer, more conceptual level without getting bogged down in the detail or specifics inherent with a computer generated image.”


I used to share a ton of sketches with clients. Terrible idea. But I’ve found it helps to show four or five solid ideas in sketch form along with a descriptive rationale, for exactly the reasons Mark mentioned. The client and I can then narrow the focus to two or three ideas and create more sketches or take those onto the computer.

Read answers from other designers over on Design Week.

June 07 2013


Tayasui Sketches – Creative iPad App for the Paper Lover


It's been quite a while since we last published an article in our series of iPad apps for the creative professional. As we all know there is no shortage of apps for the Apple tablet in general. Hundreds of thousands can be downloaded. All in all more than 50 billion apps have been downloaded from the App Store since its inception, which allows us to roughly estimate, that each human being walking this earth must own 8 apps on average. Hey, the numbers never lie. The app we want to introduce to you today is called Tayasui Sketches and at first sight it will remind you of Paper by FiftyThree, closely. At second, too...

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September 29 2010


Showing sketches to clients

“Can I see sketches?” It’s a perfectly valid client-request. After all, the expectation is simply to see a greater variety of ideas before choosing one to run with. So that’s good, right? Well, no.

Nancy Wu Offsetters sketches

If you’re like me, you’ll sketch anything that comes to mind, from obvious to abstract, ludicrous to excellent. Anything.

Only after you sketch do you start ruling-out ideas, because the whole point of the sketching stage is to record as many potential directions as possible — the benefit of which is to further reinforce the strength and appropriateness of the final choice — i.e., “Tried all those, but found they didn’t work.”

So if you’re sat with 100 very rough sketches, 10 of them worth further exploration, and three containing ideas good enough to digitize, what do think happens when your client, with little-to-no design experience, is brought on board to choose from the 100? You can practically guarantee that most, if not all, of the 10 ideas worth further exploration end-up being neglected, leaving the chance of choosing those three good options no better than finding that old needle in the haystack.

It’s your job as a graphic designer to separate the good from the bad, and to show your clients only those ideas that are strong enough to work for their businesses.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t ever show the notepad.

In fact, with certain projects, showing sketches can actually save you time.

Imagine you’ve selected three different designs to digitize and present. You’ve spent hours tweaking anchor points, agonizing over the most appropriate fonts and colours. Now, if the presentation is the first time your client learns about these three ideas, and if he/she is the “average” client with no design strategy background, trust me when I say that your underlying idea will fly out the window at the first sight of a colour your client doesn’t like.

Now picture the same three ideas being initially shown as sketches. You start by telling your client not to worry about fonts, colours, or even specific shapes, lines, curves. Tell him/her to focus solely on the ideas, and how they’ll be received by onlookers.

It’s faster for you, faster for your client, and keeps the emphasis of the conversation where it belongs — on the idea.

If you’re going to show sketches, don’t throw-in the kitchen sink.

Sketches from Nancy Wu’s Offsetters identity design

Published on David Airey, graphic designer

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August 19 2010


Drawing the Line

There is a rush of anticipation one feels upon cracking open a fresh sketchbook. The blank page is a small area yet also an expansive laboratory for the creative process. Over time and around the world, artists have developed many ingenious techniques to advance their creative reach.

Despite this, one of the most powerful means we have to develop concepts is deceptively simple: ink on paper. Far from fading in popularity, the fascination with sketching is exploding. Flickr groups like MoleskinerieLine Drawing and The Drawing Club are growing as international professionals and hobbyists inspire each other.

In the following excerpts from Flickr, we see how these artists utilize simple lines — clean or grungy; thick and thin; controlled or spastic — not only to recreate reality, but to create their own realities.

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Drawing the Line

May 28 2010


How To Draw Simple Sketches In Opera

If you are an Opera user who has not familiarized himself with its widgets, you are missing the best Opera has to offer.

Opera has gone with a completely different direction with its widgets. Unlike Chrome’s extensions or Firefox’s addons that need the browser to function, Opera’s widgets are standalone applications that can be executed without even opening the browser. They can sit neatly on your desktop and can serve a multitude of functions.

One the more fun Opera widgets I recently discovered is Artist’s Sketchbook. It lets you easily draw simple pieces with some great sketching tools.


This is what Artist’s Sketchbook looks like when first opened:


Color choosers are on the bottom of the widget. If you want to choose a custom color, you can click on the circular icon top pop up something like this:


This color mixer helps you get any color you want. The right pane lets you choose a sketching tool.


You can choose from an H or 2B pencil or a paintbrush, pen, sprayer, or marker. Options for an eraser, paint bucket, and image pasting are also available in this pane. The last four buttons in the right pane let you save your work.

Options of the widget let you choose the default language and canvas type, along with modifying other options.


With these basic tools, users can create quite impressive works, depending on their artistic ability.


Installation note for Artist’s Sketchbook : After you click on the “Launch” button on Artist’s Sketchbook’s webpage and install it, you can launch it from Opera’s widgets sidebar. Alternatively you can access it from the new shortcut placed either on your desktop or in your Start menu (depending on where your Opera shortcut is).

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January 18 2010

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