#33: Design Process: Sketching

Sketching? Who does that anymore right? We all have smart phones and tablets and smart pens and touchscreen laptops, why would I want to sketch? Well, for one, it is a crucial part of a creative’s process. It is an irrefutable benefit to finding a design solution. When done in conjunction with the creative brief, research, and brainstorming, sketching can be an extremely powerful tool. There’s a few important things you should know about this step in the design process.
It ignites your creativity 

Sketching allows you to become better at translating words into visuals. This process actually helps you remember your ideas and store them in your mind for future reference. Much like using a pen and paper to take notes versus typing them, sketching actually helps you compute and internalize conceptual information better.

The simple use of a pen and paper, helps you clarify your thoughts, and in turn, reach your goal more quickly.

Sketching also allows you to concentrate more deeply and engage with the work you are doing which will bring you to better, more insightful concepts.

It allows for more ideas to come out

Your first few ideas are almost never your best ideas or the greatest solutions. When you sketch, you have a built in idea of impermanence. You aren’t “married” to any of the ideas because they are erasable, small, and very rough.

When you go to the thumbnail/sketch stage of your ideating, you should be allowing every single idea to come out on that paper, and I do mean every idea.

Sketch the one’s you think are awesome, the one’s that might be terrible, and everything in between. Only when you sketch out all the thoughts you have about that idea will you come up with the very best one.

You aren’t confined by software

When your hands are the hardware, instead of your mouse, you don’t have to worry about if you are good at it or not. If you can communicate your ideas and concepts with simple, quick sketches, you will come up with many more ideas than if you are attempting to work with tools that you may only be moderately good at using (illustrator, etc.). Going straight to your Creative Suite at this stage will only be a detriment to the final quality of your ideas.

You have more freedom and flexibility

When you sketch on actual paper, you will be able to more easily transform and rethink your ideas. Your brain will make connections between two ideas and combine them or fix something in a previous idea and build on it to make something even better. I have found that I am less likely to alter or improve upon ideas when they go from my brain directly to the computer. All of my best ideas started as sketches, and some of my worst, came when I skipped this step.

It actually saves you time

Even though you think it might be adding a step, sketching actually does save you time. The primary way it saves you is it cuts down on all the going back to the “drawing board”, or more likely, the new artboard because what you’re doing isn’t working. When you have lots of sketches to look at and decide between, even if you need to start over, you can go back to your sketches and find a better direction, because chances are, you already thought of it and sketched it out. When all you’re working at is the ideas you are able to make on the computer, your work time will be significantly more because you’re trying to have concepts just magically come to you in the moment.

It helps you zero in on a direction

When you have sketched out lots of ideas (25 up to 50 at least), you will be able to correctly gauge which is the strongest direction The other benefit to this is that you will undoubtedly know that you went the right way. You won’t question if maybe you could have come up with something better, because your mind is officially emptied of it’s ideas. This is also a good thing for showing an idea or direction to your client without having to show them what might look [to them] like a finished piece.

You end up being “married” or at least engaged to a design that you have digitized or vectorized because of it’s seeming permanence and finished quality. A sketch is innately meant to be changed and improved upon.

Sketching is one of the most important steps to fleshing out the ideas that will otherwise only ever exist in your mind. Putting pen to paper is one of the earliest and best methods for coming up with amazing concepts. I hope if you don’t already incorporate this step into your design process, that you will give it a try. Design is a wonderful world, I hope you’ll join me here. Because design matters.



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