I’ve been working in design for 15 years and I’ve relied and honed one flexible thinking tool my whole career. One that is almost barrier-less and one that’s speed is so incredibly powerful.
That tool is sketching.
Recently I was asked whilst working at a client’s office to provide a sketching workshop and this time I accepted. So these were my top tips:
Use good pens
I consider a trip to a stationary shop a real treat and the array of pens on offer is immense, without meaning to you can easily spend a fortune. My favourite pen though is actually not one of the fancy ones it’s a trusty Paper-Mate Fineliners. I discovered it in an agency 3 jobs ago and it’s made the stationary cupboard of every agency I’ve been at ever since (and now Clearleft). A good pen, not too thin and not too thick, makes a massive difference when sketching.
Use colour strategically
Before you start a sketch consider how you are going to use colour and be consistent with it. Typically my main sketch is in black pen, I use a red pen for linking arrows and then a reserve a colour for the title and notes and then a different colour for questions.
Use highlighters to lift the edges
As well as good drawing pens consider buying a grey shadowing pen to lift the sketch. I typically use Tombow Dual Brush to add a sort of drop shadow to the edge of the sketch and key elements within it. You’ll be amazed what difference it makes.
Start messy and then draw a neat version
In the case that you want to use a sketch to communicate an idea. I’d just drawing a neat version after some messier doodles.
Practice readable writing - write in uppercase
My natural handwriting is very messy and I always wondered at school how on earth examiners would be able to read it. Over the years though I’ve developed a neat uppercase writing style that I use for more sketches.
Scan and tidy up in photoshop
If I am adding my sketches to a deck I always use photoshop to clean them up a bit. Sometimes scanning can add little marks that look messy and also occasionally I add colour to key buttons to lift them.
We find sketching can be an incredible ‘unblocker’ when it comes to designing a complicated system or service, as well as getting stakeholder buy-in. We’d love to hear how you use sketching on Twitter.