The sketches above are a few of many pulled from two recent projects of mine. Just over a year ago, sketching concepts was one of my least favorite things to do. It seemed less time consuming to go straight to the computer to try and bring my concept to life. The truth was though, that it took two or three times longer to come up with my concepts than it would have taken to sketch by hand.
The reason it’s faster to sketch is because we can think faster from our brain to pencil than from our brain to computer. In a sense we can compare it to talking. An example would be that we use our voice to communicate; it’s far more effective than communicating digitally and there is little room for misunderstanding. This is my point exactly. Talking is natural and sketching is close to natural (the cavemen did it). When trying to use the computer to hash out our ideas, there seems to be a physical communication barrier that, no matter how good you are with computers, stunts your creative drive.
Being able to provide two or three-minute sketches to clients or the design firm you work for is a valuable asset, but only if you understand the principles of proportion, spacing (type), and ingenuity. In the sketches above, you can tell which ones were the 2-3 minute, 10 second, and 45-minute sketches. The 2-3 minute sketches are the ones you should focus on. The 10 second sketches don’t have the direction they need and the longer, 45-minute sketches are too timely (unless you’re creating an art piece). The 2-3 minute sketches help myself or my client envision the evolution of the project in the design phase. If I were to immediately show my client refined sketch, it may give them the impression that this is the final product. It’s also a safeguard to make sure you don’t spend too much time on an idea that may not be the best solution.
It’s funny sometimes what areas of a project get sketched the most. For example, the HH Annual Report project had more sketches about binding the book, than the design itself. Some of my other projects–a project for the Bicycle Alliance of Washington–started with word lists instead of sketches and eventually moved on to sketches of the photo-driven concepts.
Sketching has helped me spend less time staring endlessly at my monitor so I can spend more time making progress on my personal projects. Since I feel pretty strongly about the power of sketching, I’m curious to know what your thoughts on it. What is the balance between pencil and pixel in your work? Share with us.