Sketching can take your designs to another level

Technology is ruling the world, that’s been evident for a long time now (if it doesn’t already). Which leave the good old pen and paper forgotten in the attic.

In this article I will address why you should turn off your computer, put away your tablet, and go back to the basics during your design process, at the same time you will be provided with some tips on how to get started in effective sketching.

Why should you sketch?

When you start a project, there’s a tendency to automatically start coming up with various ideas. These ideas may seem great, but there’s a big chance that your first ideas are pretty obvious.
Sketching lets you get all the obvious ideas out of the way, so you can start coming up with interesting, more innovative designs. Plus, you never know what will inspire you – it could be one of those obvious sketches that spark a great idea.

You can sketch where ever you are

Taking a sketchbook and a pen is even more convenient than carrying your laptop. You might end up finding yourself in more interesting areas like the beach or a  park, as well as museums and subways.  You will also be exposing yourself to different environments, which will inspire your designs and bring you new ideas.

Find the artist in you

There’s something about holding a pencil in your hand that activates your creativity in a much different way than holding a mouse. When you get used, the movements of your hand become much more fluid and it becomes really easy and natural. You may also start seeing some ‘artistic’ influences in your design work.
The more you practice, the better you will become at sketching.

Get in touch with your designs

For me, one of the most important benefits of sketching is that it gets you in touch with your design work on a whole new level. By spending so much time developing a solid concept, you have a stronger understanding of the elements that go into your design.

Let’s sketch!

Word lists
These come very handy when you’re starting a new project, or completely stuck with one you’ve been working on for a while. With word lists you basically list every possible word that’s related to the subject of your project. When I use these for my projects, I first come up with all the words I can think of, then circle the best ones and create sketches of them to get things going.

Draw, it doesn’t matter what, just draw something
Often, facing a blank page can be a bit intimidating. It’s hard to know where to start and what you’re supposed to sketch.

Just sketch something!

It doesn’t matter. Just let your mind and your hand wander together.  As long as you’re sketching something, you’re on the right track to coming up with your next great design. Don’t forget that your sketches don’t have to be the a piece of art. You don’t need to fall into the perfection trap…every ‘mistake’ you make is really an opportunity to get better and learn.

Remember this: no one has to see your sketches, so don’t be shy!

Sketch out of the box
I try to designate specific sketchbooks for specific things. “This will be the sketchbook for these designs and that one for these other sketches” Unfortunately (well, maybe it’s not unfortunate), it doesn’t always happen that way.

Sketch anywhere and everywhere. Ideas come to us at unpredictable times, and in unpredictable places. It’s hard to keep track of which sketchbook is for what, and which one you’re supposed to be carrying around. That’s why you should use whatever’s available, even napkins.

Free time
To start falling in love with it try sketching in your free time, too. Sketch things for fun, big things, tall things, buildings, clocks, fluffy animals.

Be creative
Find what works best for you. Try using different tools like pens, pencils, watercolors, charcoal, and chalk as well as different surfaces. Use ones with which you feel you can express yourself in the best possible way and you enjoy most. The more fun you make this for yourself, the easier it will be to stick to it.

In times of where a pencil sounds like an obsolete tool, do you still make time for sketching before your designs?  If so, what are your techniques?  If not, would you try it?

Designing a logo? Steps for a brilliant, lasting design

Steps for a brilliant logo design







A logo, unlike any other design element; is the face of a company.  Whether it is your business card, letterhead or a brochure, the first thing that gets noticed is your logo design. That’s why I will attempt to share ideas from my experiences with branding-focused logo design for the real world.

Ask questions, and create your Design Questionnaire 

Conduct a questionnaire or interview with the client to get the design brief.  Ask, ask, ask!  this is the key to know what your client wants.  Ask about the business history, how the company differ from its competitor, specific images or icons they will like to include on the logo, color preferences, etc.

Search, research and search again

Problem-solve first, design later.  Conduct research on the industry itself, its history and competitors.  Research on logo designs that have been successful and on current styles and trends that may relate to the design brief. Follow trends not for their own sake but rather to be aware of them: longevity in logo design is key.

Conceptualizing, sketching…CREATING

Who sketch anymore? Actually sketching is a great way to transfer the ideas in your head into paper. Develop the logo design concept(s) around the questionnaire and your research. This is the single most important part of the design process. Get creative and be inspired.  After that, it’s always easier to actually design it on the computer. Sketching helps to evolve your imagination: once you understand it, you will always start from just white paper.

Coffee break or Reflection time

Take breaks throughout the design process. This helps your ideas mature, renews your enthusiasm and allows you to solicit feedback. It also gives you a fresh perspective on your work.

Revise and improve

Every design have space for improvement, small modifications can result in a great design.

Show time or logo presentation

Present only your best logo designs to your client.  You may also wish to show the logo in context, which will help the client more clearly visualize the brand identity. Preparing a high-quality presentation is the single most effective way to get your clients to approve your designs.

“Canned presentations have the ring of emptiness. The meaningful presentation is custom designed—for a particular purpose, for a particular person. How to present a new idea is, perhaps, one of the designer’s most difficult tasks. This how is not only a design problem, it also pleads for something novel.

Everything a designer does involves a presentation of some kind—not only how to explain (present) a particular design to an interested listener (client, reader, spectator), but how the design may explain itself in the marketplace… A presentation is the musical accompaniment of design. A presentation that lacks an idea cannot hide behind glamorous photos, pizzazz, or ballyhoo. If it is full of gibberish, it may fall on deaf ears; if too laid back, it may land a prospect in the arms of Morpheus.” (Paul Rand)

Delivery and support

Deliver the appropriate files to the client and give all support that is needed. Remember to under-promise and over-deliver. After you’ve finished, have a beer, eat some chocolate and then start your next project.

A logo doesn’t need to say what a company does. Restaurant logos don’t need to show food, dentist logos don’t need to show teeth, furniture store logos don’t need to show furniture. Just because it’s relevant, doesn’t mean you can’t do better. The Mercedes logo isn’t a car. The Virgin Atlantic logo isn’t an airplane. The Apple logo isn’t a computer. Etc. David Airey

These are some of the basic steps I follow when creating a logo, what are yours?