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Guest dZignTank

The Importance Of Sketching

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Guest dZignTank

Hello all,

 

quick background:

 

left my electrical engineering profession 2 months ago to go for a path in design. (furniture / commercial interior / product )

 

while i work part time and assisting gigs during the day, im out to gain some basic skills.

 

i've been designing and building my own furniture for some time now. i see the end result pretty easily and i work very well off a doodle.

 

i applied to art center turning in doodles for sketches and thought i could gain access through my finished products. they called me on the merit of my furniture and told me i really do need to develop my sketches and renders.

 

so with that in mind, i have a few questions about sketching, and please forgive any ignorance. i really do want to learn.

 

1. is sketching purely for the immediate communicaiton of an idea that will dictate if the idea is worthy enough to move into rendering?

 

2. considering that i know how to draw (which i know is different), is it possible to learn product design sketching on my own? are there any books that can help? i was considering taking one of art center's night classes INTRO TO COMMUNICATION SKETCH. but the description says you practice fundamentals like squares, circles and lines..... is there any way i can get these kinds of basics on my own from a book....

 

any information would be GREATLY appreciated.

 

thanks!

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The Design Sketching book (www.designsketching.com) is the best direct reference right know for learning how to sketch.

 

Taking a class though will certainly help. You can learn sketching on your own (most of what I know about sketching has been gained through looking at other peoples techniques on this forum) but you still need to have a good understanding of the basics, most importantly perspective.

 

When they say you practice fundamentals like cubes/ellipses it's because drawing isn't just about your ability, it's exercise which is all about the actual muscle memory of the act. You get better at drawing ellipses by drawing a million ellipses on a million sheets of paper. Even the best designers will warm up by drawing cubes, because every drawing that you make is going to be based off of some simpler shape.

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Guest Bucyrus

dZignTank,

 

I think Cyberdemon has touched upon some important points, particularly the need to master perspective. When you watch other competent sketchers at work, it may appear as though the lines just pour forth in the proper location, and when you try to replicate this apparent ease and perfection, it may seem impossible to control where the lines actually land.

 

I find sketching to be a development process. I like to sketch in pencil. I can draw an ellipse in one fast swoop, but it is hardly ever the ellipse I need. But I have to start somewhere, and once I draw the first ellipse as well as possible, I can see how to adjust it to make it better. It may take several adjustments to get it perfect. The same trial and error process applies to drawing straight lines or drawing lines at the proper angle for a perspective. So with the pencil, I also use an eraser. Throughout this adjustment and development process, I keep the lines light enough to easily erase and dark enough to easily see.

 

I used to prefer harder lead because I hated the smudging of soft lead, but I found that hard lead makes the line hard to control. It takes more pressure to make a line of any given darkness with hard lead than it does with soft lead, and that pressure tends to create excessive friction, which then interferes with the tracking as the line is drawn. So another reason to draw the lines light the first time is to minimize that friction so the line is easier to control. Once you draw a line lightly and get it adjusted to where you want it, it can be darkened.

 

Making additional passes over the line to darken it is not nearly as hard to control as the first line pass that began the process. This is because graphite is a lubricant, and the first line becomes a lubricated path or guide way for the subsequent passes over it. This allows you to darken the line with a higher pressure. Using that much pressure to draw the first un-lubricated line on the paper would have made that line impossible to control.

 

Furthermore, hard lead is limited in its ability to draw a dark line; and if you draw a line with hard lead, and try to darken it with soft lead, the soft lead does not want to stick to the hard lead that you have already laid down. I like to use the 2mm lead sticks in the mechanical drafting pencils that are sharpened in a mechanical pointer. I use grades generally between HB and 4B. For the first pass on lines, I sharpen the lead to a sharp point and it barely has to touch the paper to make a line. Of course, a sharp point on such soft lead breaks real easily, so you have to re-point it a lot.

 

Once you begin to darken the line with more pressure, you can prevent the increased tendency to break by letting the lead point wear down to a blunt chisel and control the sharp edge of the chisel to keep the edges of the line sharp even though it is wider and darker that when you started it. In drafting, you rotate the lead while making the pass along a straightedge, but with this kind of freehand sketching, I only rotate the lead to a new position after each successive pass.

 

For an eraser, I use the big, soft, crumbly, gum blocks. They are too big for erasing small detail in confined areas, once they lose their sharp edges, but they can be cut to form new edges. Because they are soft, they erase clean, as opposed to harder vinyl erasers, which can stump the graphite into the paper and make a permanent stain.

 

When you are first learning sketching, you are usually concerned only with lines, but for an image to be convincing, it needs a sense of mass that comes from tone or shading to create fields of light and dark. But for simplicity’s sake, with some sketching, I like to darken the lines on the bottom of objects and also on one side, typically the right side. This implies a light source from the upper left that is casting shadows to the lower right. This abbreviated technique of differing line density creates the illusion of shadows and mass. With this simple technique, you can also add little shadows in holes and pockets, and darken the sides of cylinders a little more than the darkest lines of the square corners of objects. Whether you use this or revert to full shading, the shadows have to be placed consistent with a light source in a particular location or more than one location.

 

The best paper I have found is 140-pound or 300-pound watercolor paper in either the hot press or cold press grade. With this kind of paper, once you have lines established, you can clean up smudges and even take out lines to clean them up and redo them. They are easy to redo because the paper tends to emboss by the lines, so you can take them out and yet not visually lose their routes. This kind of paper takes pencil graphite very well and facilitates terrific tone build up in both lines and fields. For shading fields, you can lay down the graphite and then use a paper stump or similar tool to even it out into a perfectly even tone. You can drag the whole side or edge of the big eraser over a field of tone if you need to back it up to a lighter value. If the tone is really dark, it might smear too much if you just want to reduce its value slightly. In that case you can just press the eraser down hard and lift it away. By adding and subtracting graphite, you can develop the tone and build up an eye-popping image if you want to take it that far.

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Guest nathbonn

The importance of thickness of line/darkness is a major factor also, like really thick/dark lines around the outer sketch or wherever there is space behind the object a thick/dark line is the way to go. Medium thick/medium dark line between two objects that are close even if they are the same product and thin/light lines to simply define the inner structure of the shape, this is kinda confusing to explain in words but this technique can bring a drawing out of a page.

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Best and fastest way to learn sketching is from expert. Enroll in a course, borrow books or training videos. My drawings skills improved heaps through studying a class specificly about sketching and from a professional tutor.

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Guest mish-e

dZign-tank

I have been teaching how to draw like an Industrial Designer in various ID schools for 6 years around Melbourne, Australia. The hardest thing I have found is to teach students about the importance of being able to draw well. Unfortunately drawing is an underrated skill and only later on, when you cannot communicate your more sophisticated adn creatuve ideas, do designers want to relearn how to draw.

So well done on your desire to improve your sketching skills.

As other sin this forum have said, it is just about practising... DRAWING , DRAWING.....

 

The design skecthing book is one thing, but you need to see someone else actually do the work, try to imitate and then develop your own style once the basics are second nature to you.

 

There are also the 4 P's when it comes to drawign well:

PERSPECTIVE

PROPORTION

PRACTISE

+

PATIENCE

 

If you do not have or do these 4 things, your drawings will not appear to be a real product on the page.

Good luck

 

Mish-e

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Guest dZignTank

wow...

 

some GREAT feedback and responses guys. THANKS.

 

yup, i can see how many ppl gloss over the importance of it. i still find it hard to imagine its that important, but enough experienced people like you guys have stressed it enough.

 

i have the design sketch book on the way, and im about to register for a night course at art center. maybe you guys can help me choose between 2:

 

1. INTRO TO COMMUNICATION SKETCH:

 

Learn how to put ideas to paper quickly and convincingly. Drawing techniques covered in this course will enable you to handle a variety of subjects and everyday objects, including products, appliances, office equipment, furniture and materials such as wood, metals, plastics and glass. Emphasis is on mastering basic forms151such as cubes, spheres and cylinders151to produce attractive drawings. Media will include pencil, pen, felt marker and pastel. Acquired skills are appropriate for all major areas of study at Art Center.

 

2. INTRO TO PRODUCT AND TRANSPORTATION DESIGN

 

This course is strongly recommended for beginning design students who want to enter the product and transportation design fields. Design projects involve fundamental design principles and procedures, drawing techniques and presentation methods as they relate to product and transportation design. Sketching demonstrations and exercises utilize pencil, marker, chalk, Prismacolor and gouache. Career information and opportunities are discussed.

 

 

now im thinking #2 is the better choice? i don't really want to draw cars though. #1 sounds super basic but im thinking #2 will also cover those and then some.

 

what do you guys think?

 

thanks!

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I think starting off basic is probably actually a better route. A lot of people try to skip the fundamentals but I think you can still learn a lot through that.

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Guest Sliq

You'd be surprised at how much knowledge of the fundamentals you don't have. My first year, just learning the basics, was a ride. I came in thinking I knew what I was doing, but I was wrong. Even if you learn only a little, talking with someone experienced and practicing will help out a great deal.

 

You don't start putting up wallpaper when the houses frame isn't even built yet.

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Guest patywagon

Correct me if i'm wrong cause i have the book design sketching. To me it's more a collection of designers work then a tool to use to learn to sketch. Other than the photoshop tutorial at the end it just shows peoples styles.

For me I tihnk you'll learn more from Rapid Viz or Dick Powell's book design presentations.

Which his book shows coloured pencils and markers. Which some may say is a vanishing art. (i.e. tablets and alias=new medium)

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Guest ishimaru

If your willing to make the trip... on Friday nights we have one of the best rapid viz teachers in Socal doing a portfolio development class at my school Golden West College. The man has taught me a ton. The one thing he did teach me was drawing 100 sketches a week. Thumbnails. 1x1 or 2x2. I got pretty decent real fast. I still have a ton to work on but I'm getting there. Hopefully I get into Art Center so I further develop my skill.

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Guest ishimaru
Can you show any thumbnails that you did so we can have and idea?

 

I'll take a picture this friday and post it up. :D

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