Design Basics: Sketching for Design | Ben Nielsen | Skillshare
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9 Lessons (23m) View My Notes
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Project

    • 3. Materials

    • 4. Purpose of Sketching

    • 5. Anyone Can Sketch

    • 6. Visual Alphabet

    • 7. Sketching

    • 8. Evaluating

    • 9. Final Thoughts

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About This Class

Sketching is a critical part of the design process. But many people skip sketching because they are intimidated by it or they think it will be faster not to do it. The truth is that you design better and faster when you sketch. Even if you are uncomfortable sketching you should still do it to improve your designs.

In this course we break down what the purpose of sketching is, why you should do it, and how you (yes even you!) can do it. We will learn an important tool, the visual alphabet, to help you get comfortable sketching. 


1. Introduction: Hello and welcome to this design basis Course on sketching. My name is Ben Nelson, and I'll be your instructor for this course. Now if you've taken any of my other courses, you know that I talked about sketching a lot, and each of my design courses includes a video about sketching for the particular project that we're working on in that course. But I know that many people are not comfortable sketching, especially new designers, and so they skipped that part. It skip it when they take my courses, and they skip it when they're doing their design work, and that really has a negative impact on their design. So I've decided to create this design basics course toe help. We'll get comfortable with sketching for design, and that's really important. Understand, this isn't about sketching for art. It's not about filling up a sketchbook. This is that sketchy when you are designing in order to improve the designs that you make. So if that sounds interesting to you, let's go ahead. Let's dive in and let's start learning about sketching for design. In the next video, we'll talk about Project 2. Project: the product for this course is for you to sketch ideas for a design that you're working on or a design that you want to be working on. If you have a real project, that's great. But if you don't have a real project from a client or something else, just come up with something that you've always wanted to design and start sketching it now for the project, I want to see at least five sketches. These should be five different sketches, five different ideas for the design that you're making. So I don't want to see you just sketch one thing and then just refined that four times. I want to see five different ideas. We'll talk about this more throughout the course, but I really want you to use sketching as a way to push forward your creativity, to try out new ideas in a very safe and cheap way. That's what sketching is all about, getting ideas I've ever had on paper, and we'll talk more about that as we go. So once you've done your five sketches as we go through this course and after you finished the course, then I want you to take pictures of those sketches and then upload them to the project section. It's great when we can all see what each other are working on, and we can learn together and we can give each other feedback. So please take the time to actually take the pictures of your sketches and then upload it to the project section for this course. It doesn't take a long time to do that, and it's very helpful to your learning in the next field. We'll talk about the materials that we owe. 3. Materials: some courses on sketching will give you very specific and sometimes expensive materials that you need to complete the course. But this course is not like that. This is not a course about sketching for artistic expression or filling up a sketchbook every day. This course is just about sketching when you need to design, and for that reason you don't need any particular or specific materials to do this. But I do recommend that you use physical sketching material rather than trying to do your sketching digitally. There's something about physically engaging with the pencil and the paper that helps you be more creative in your sketching. Now for me, what I normally use for sketching are just these little pencils for Mike. Yet they should just like the Gulf pencils that you get when you go into a Nike A store and then some index cards or sticky notes, or I have, like this little notebook of blank papers that I used to sketch, and it's just to get the ideas out. Remember that sketching is not permanent. It's not supposed to be a finished product in any way. You should be able to get rid of those ideas that you sketched out and these really rudimentary tools. They help me to remember that that these sketches are not the design. They're just a way of getting out ideas about the design. So it's fine to use whatever you have laying around, then just use some kind of paper. It doesn't matter what weight it is, what size it is, anything like that. There aren't any specifics here. Just get something that you can use and then start sketching. That's a really important thing is to just get started sketching and not to be worried about what the tools are. Anything like that in the next meal will go more depth into the purpose of catching the oh . 4. Purpose of Sketching: Since we're talking about sketching in the context of design, it's important that you understand the purpose of sketching in the design process. Sketching has one purpose and one purpose only. In the design process. It's not to be impressive. It's not to be beautiful. The purpose of sketching in design is only to get ideas out of your head in a limited physical form so that they can be evaluated. That's it. Nothing else about the sketch matters, except that the idea gets out of your head. Then you can evaluate that idea and decide which I guess you're going to move forward with . Designers often get an idea in their head, and that idea can seem almost so real that they feel like they can actually see it. And they know what that design is going to look like. And when this happens, especially to new designers, but even to experience designers, it happens to me quite frequently. You get this idea that you you know what the design should look like already, and that's when you think you should sit down at a computer and open up a program like a fiend designer and start to make that design a reality. But in actuality, that idea in your head is not fully formed, even though you think you can see it. You haven't seen it yet, and you need to see it. You need to evaluate it and you need to work with the idea. And that's what sketching does for you, the last to work with the idea and engages your hand in the design process, which allows your mind to be engaged in different ways in the creative process the last year to think about things differently. It allows you to actually see what your ideas look like, even in your drawing. Skills are rudimentary, and that thing doesn't actually look like what it would look like when you designed it. It gives you enough of an idea so that you can make that evaluative judgment. Remember, when I talk about evaluation when you're working with a sketch not trying to evaluate the artistic performance of that sketch, you're trying to evaluate the idea that that sketch is conveying, so it's really not about how it looks. It's just about the idea that's there, and that's the purpose of sketching in design. There's no other purpose, and that's why we do it. And it's something that needs to be done in every single design, because no matter how well we think we know the thing that we want to do, like we don't know it until we've actually sketched it out. That's why schedule is so important. Now. I know that some of you right now are feeling like, Oh, man, I still don't feel like I can sketch. So in the next video, we'll talk about how anyone can sketch, how it doesn't take any special talent or a gift or any special training at all. We're going to this course, but this course is not going give you really any special training. It's really just going to help you to get comfortable with the idea that you can sketch and that you should sketch. The other thing to remember is that sketching is a very quick and cheap way to get through ideas. If every idea you have, you try and take onto the computer and try and make it a reality there, that's going to take way more time and because it takes up time, it's way more expensive, and it takes way more effort, then just Johnny things down on paper, which happened super quick. You can sketch out a number of different ideas and a number of different iterations on those ideas in just a couple minutes. Whereas if you tried to do that inside of the design program, it could take you hours to do that. Even if you're very fast, you can tweak too many things within the design program. You get too involved in the process and too invested in that idea to throw it away. So this is a cheap way to get through the creative process quickly. Let's move on to the next video, where we're talking about how anyone can sketch. 5. Anyone Can Sketch: many people believe they cannot sketch on. The reason they believe that cannot sketch is that they believe that cannot drop. And the reason they believe that cannot draw is because they believe they're not an artist . Now let's be really clear that those are three very different things. Do you not need to be an artist to be able to draw and you don't need to be able to draw in order to be able to sketch while the truth is that anyone can draw? That is a lesson for another day. The important thing to understand is that if you have ever doodled, you can sketch. If you've ever written a letter, you can sketch. If all you can do is grab a pencil across paper to make some markings congratulations, you too can sketch. So I want you to set aside any inhibition you have about putting pencil to paper. Set aside anything that a well meaning teacher or parent or friend or enemy maybe told you in elementary school about your artistic skill. Set that aside and just sketch. Just put the pencil on the paper and start drying sketches that freak you there for you to evaluate your idea's they're not or anyone else, although there can be a lot of value in showing them to others to get feedback on the ideas , not to get feedback on the art. I do hope that you will share your sketches with me so that we can talk about the ideas but will probably help you most. Just understand that sketches don't need to look good. In fact, sketches really shouldn't look good when I see new designer present me with sketches and those sketches look too good. I know that that designer has spent too much time and effort on those sketches because it's just something that's going to get thrown away. Sketching doesn't need to have a lot of racing. It doesn't need to have a lot of changes. It doesn't need to have a lot of generations. It's not drawing. It's just sketching. Remember that at this stage, Messi is a really good thing. Design is messy, and getting your ideas out is a messy process. Now I know that at this point many of you are still feeling kind of nervous about putting pencil to paper and started to sketch That's totally normal That's how most people feel, and I congratulate you on Make it this far into the course, and in the next video, we're going to learn a tool set that will help you to be able to sketch, and you'll find out that you always have that ability inside you all along. It's a very simple tool set. It's called Visual Alphabet, that's what. 6. Visual Alphabet: that way. You know the alphabet, right? You know, a be see and so on. And I bet you would feel pretty confident telling me you could write all the letters in the alphabet and that you could use those letters to make words lots of different words. The wonderful thing about an alphabet is that it gives us these building blocks that can be combined in nearly infinite ways to build new words and sounds. Now what is crazy is that all the skill you need for sketching is contained within your ability to write the alphabet. There's actually a fantastic YouTube channel called Buffalo Potato that is dedicated to teaching Children to draw, using only the numbers and letters that they already know how to write. But we're not here to learn how to draw. We're here to learn to sketch, so we're going to take one step back to even a simpler tool set. This tool said it's called the visual alphabet. I actually first learned about the visual alphabet here on sculpture, in a class on sketch noting by Catherine Madden and I highly recommend that class to you as well. If you can use the visual alphabet, then you can for sure sketch. So go ahead, pull out a note card just like I have here. We're a sticky note or any other paper. And do this with me. The first part of the visual alphabet is a point simple, right? You could do that. Next. We have a life. Yeah, you know how to do that, too. Then we have two lines together to make an angle. Aligned with an arc makes a curve. A curve off of a curve makes a spiral and a curve intersecting and curve makes a loop. Wow, we're already halfway down with the visual off a bit, and I bet you are doing even better than I am here. Next we have the shapes that are part of the visual off a bit. Let's start with a circle. Of course, it's not a perfect circle, but it does what we need it to dio. Then we have a square in a triangle, and I shape how shape and a blob shape. This is just kind of a free form, and that's it. That's the entire visual alphabet that we're working with right here. This is all you really need to be able to do in order to sketch. He's a really just things that you've done a 1,000,000 times when you've been doodling. So now we're going to go ahead, and in the next video, we'll start sketching out ideas. 7. Sketching: way. Know why we should sketch when we design? We know that we individually can sketch, and we have the tool kit of the visual off a bit to make sketching possible. So let's do it. You can start by sketching whatever project you are working on, and I'll start sketching ideas for a new vehicle for a sticker pack that I've been working on. I have already created a truck camper, a camper van and a teardrop camper. So I want to come up with a new idea for another vehicle camping sticker that I can put in this pack. So my first idea is to create a pop top fan phoners thinking through this, and I know that it's basic shape is going to be that of a square. You can come in here you can around those out of little with curves. Then it's front is gonna be a curve coming down to meet this, and that is going to have two circles for wheels and on top, it's gonna have a pop top, so this will be an angle, you know, and then a curve for the canvas there, and we can add in little details like the windows, the lights, whatever. We need to give us a good idea. The logo. But it's not going like perfect. It's going look messy, and that's the whole idea. And we can try different ideas on this different ways of doing things. So maybe I want to. You try it from the front. No. Try and draw the van from the front here. Little half circles for wheels. Try the split E windscreens that squares will circle here, curve and a curve, and for the top popped up will have a wine and then some angled lines coming down. It's popped out there. Okay, I also I'm interested in trying this from the back, trying to get the different angles that could be there. You can see this is super fast. It's giving a little license plate and then that line coming down. Okay, so we just got these little ideas were here. I'd like to try one that's a little bit different. That's more of the wedge van shape. And for the pop job, I'll try a popped up that goes across rather than an angled one. It's kind of that we can try to for ideas and you don't always have to try all of the idea . Say, I wanted to try out their pop top with a surfboard on top. It's go here, and I can just draw that part. Right. You can just draw, observe, board. See how that might look. Do you? Just sketching out part of that idea. These sketches look perfect. None of these actually look like what the crisp final design would be. But we're just trying different things out. Different ways of looking at it, OK, The other thing that I might want to do is actually an Airstream camper you know is gonna be two lines connected by curves at the end. And then with square windows out, a line on a line on a curved between them can make a door curve, can make another window, the front, give it some wheels, maybe a hitch. So that's just an idea. Comes to my mind that sketch it out. Another one is one of these rooftop tents on a Subaru. Just you. A rough approximation that's really rough. Looks like a squashed Subaru. We're just going to see you know what that's going to look like. So then it needs two of these points. Make the roof rack, then we have the tent. It's OK if your sketches run into each other, doesn't matter. So then we've got a little tent there, all right, we could refine that sketch if that was one that we thought that we liked. There's another one. We wanted you 1/5 wheel. See if that's and so we'll try dry in much larger vehicle here. Two circles for two wheels at the back come down like this there, two wheels at the front, sketching out a bunch of different ideas here for different things that you might want to dio. And that's really all sketching is. It's just using these pieces of the visual alphabet in rough ways to get your ideas out there. And so in the next video, we'll go ahead and we'll talk about evaluating these designs to determine which one we owe 8. Evaluating: Let's talk a little bit about evaluating our sketches. You can see I've put a little star here next to this van with the full pop up on it, and that's because that's the one I like best. So I always like to start the sketches I like best so that I can remember that when I come back to it later to try and design it. But legends talk about how we go through this evaluation process. Process of evaluating your sketches as we talked about before is not deciding which thing is the best sketch, but a sign. Which idea is the best idea? Because thes all represent ideas that I could design if I want you and I might end up designing several of them. But it's important once we're done sketching to think about what is the purpose of this particular design. And in this case, the purpose is to go with my sticker pack so I can pull out the other ones that I've designed. So here's some of the stickers that I've made for this pack, and I can see right away that these ones with the front on our back on they're just not going to go with this sticker pack that doesn't make them bad ideas. They're just not the right idea for this time. So then we just go and we look at the others and I just want to decide. In my case, I'm the client for this. So it's my opinion that counts, and it just is. Which one do I want to dio? And in this case, I really think I want do this pop top camper van. Maybe I'll add a surfboard to it. I don't know about that yet, but that's the one that's intriguing me the most. Maybe I'll make these other some other time. Maybe I'll do it. Orations of sketches on them I decided I didn't want to go with this one on top with the more curved look here just because I'm already done a van like that. And so I want to go more with this wedge shape, which is kind of the look of the Volkswagen's. From later on, they weren't quite as rounded. Later, they went with more of a wedge. And so I think I'm going to school and go with that for a kind of a different look across the different stickers that will be in this pack. That's how you go about evaluating it. And, of course, this has just been for, like, this kind of iconic design that would go on a sticker that you would do this if you were designing a Web page. If you were designing a magazine layout, you make different sketches, and then you would look at them. You try out different ideas for whatever thing it is that you are designed. When we do business card, we try out different layouts. When we do something that can animate title, we try out different ways of looking at the animation, so there's always something that you should be sketching, as you were preparing to design. So go ahead and evaluate your sketches. Decide which one you like best, but share all of your sketches with us in the project section for this course and then highlight the one that you think is the best idea for the design that you're trying to create in the next video. We'll just take care of a few things to round 9. Final Thoughts: thanks for coming along with me on this journey. Learning how to sketch for design. I really hope that you've enjoyed this course of that. You've discovered something about yourself as you've done this and that you've discovered something about your creative process and the way that you designed. And of course, don't forget to take your photos of at least five of your sketches and upload those into the class project section for this course. I think that sketching every time you design will make your designs 100 times better. But of course, sketching, as we said before, is just the beginning. It's just for you and that you have to take those sketches that you've evaluated and that you've chosen and you have to bring them into real form. And that's where my other courses coming. I have courses on a lot of different types of design, from business card design, infographic design logo design to video animations. There are so many different types of design out there, and I have courses on just a few of them, but that's a great place for you. Just start. So go ahead and looked through my course catalog and choose a type of design that you want to learn. Go ahead and die main and start learning that I teach low cost software so that anybody can learn how to design. If you haven't already taking the other course in the design basic, Siri's the four core principles of design. Be sure to start with that one, because that will give you a great idea off the principles that you need to follow as you making all kinds of designs again. Thanks so much for taking this course. Be sure to check me out. I've been designs on YouTube as well for new videos every week on different design topics. Thanks so much for watching, and I'll see you in the next course.