Design Tools: Become a Sketcher, And I’m Not Talking About Shoes
Entrepreneurs, when it comes to design, you can’t simply ‘blend in.’ Your website, your product, business cards, and even your logo needs that unmistakable spark that will get people talking. As part of our mission to contribute to the community of entrepreneurs and innovators in the Northeast, our very own design wizard, Klayton Wald, will be on hand every other Wednesday to share with you some of his favorite sources for inspiration, reference, and design insight. You can check out Klayton’s work in our section titled The Grab Bag – something funny, every Friday, and follow him on Twitter at @Brutal_Design.
The first charcoal etching onto a cave wall was much more than one primitive caveman using a simple tool to communicate. That picture marked the beginning of design as we know it. This most fundamental art, in current times, is often channeled through technology.
From the days of the hairy, grunting, Cro-Magnon drawing the great hunt, the design process has remained largely the same. A design starts an idea. But how does that idea get generated into a cave painting, or, in modern man’s case, an algorithm of lines, color and space? BEHOLD! THE SKETCH! As the quickest and most versatile way to get and idea from the imagination, into a physical medium, sketching is the most powerful and indispensable weapon that a designer has in their arsenal.
When an idea forms in my head, my first reaction is to grab anything that can make lines and pair it with anything that I can make lines on: pens on printer paper; pencil on napkins; Sharpie on the inside of a carton. It doesn’t matter which I pick. As long as I can get the idea into a solid form, I can work on developing it into something better. That is the main point of sketching: to pluck that fuzzy ball of light from the iridescent fog known as the creative conscious of my brain. Getting an idea into a sketch is undeniably faster than trying to convert all of the rushing ideas of colors, lines, and space into a complete, finished product on the first try.
Sketching is a limitless way of idea-making. With pencil and paper, it’s the flow of idea to form; there are no file size restrictions. There is no color theory to be concerned with. There are no fonts to consider working with. Nothing that restricts the mind from its ability to create. It’s easy to sketch with preconceived thoughts of color and type, but that limits the creativity to boundaries, whereas sketching gives the designer the opportunity to run rampant and free. Every possibility can, and should, flow onto the page. For example, sketching for web development can allow the designer to easily create any screen that a user might see, or action that they might perform, and display this without ever writing a line of code.
It may seem that sketching is a Romantic art; it’s high-brow, and thought-provoking. In some cases, it can be. But not everyone is a Rembrandt. Many of my best ideas, whether they be Grab Bags, band logos, or type posters, are all mashed up between the lines of a note-book. The quality of a sketch is not the use of form, nor line and contrast, but rather how well it translates the idea that the sketch is built on. A good sketch of a potential iPhone application doesn’t need to reflect a 1:1 pixel ratio, rather it needs to reflect the intent of the application. Clear and resolved U.I. work with the placement of all of the potential elements and assets on the screen. Good sketching is the result of dictating an idea from thought to form, and being able to show it and have your audience say “I gotcha!”
Because of the lack of limitations and the sheer speed related to drawing an idea out, sketching should be the first step in any project. When faced with something new, be it an application, a website or a logo, the first step to reaching the end result is always the same: it starts with a pencil in hand, and clean slate in front.