Everyone’s gotta start somewhere, and believe me, I have been there as a beginning sketcher . . . . not knowing how to draw an ellipse, misunderstanding perspective, under appreciating practice, and so the list goes on. Mind you, I’ve always been doodling or dra wing in one way or another, despite my early educational background in Mathematics for the purposes of being a high school math teacher. As an avid sketcher, and now presenter of sketching techniques, I thought it appropriate to point out some common mistakes, and suggest improvements for those of us just starting out, those of us getting a little rusty, and those of us who think we’re awesome because someone said so. Bottom line is, you’re never too good for a little reminder or advice every now and then.
If you find yourself sketching and your lines are simple frantic expressions of raw energy, changes are you’re tense. Sketching, like any other exercise or pursuit in precision requires you to be relaxed. Believe me, I’ve had my fair share of rush job sketch-fests, only to be sorely disappointed in myself at the outcome.
Despite deadlines, time limits, work conditions, or other stress factors, it’s important to remain calm. That’s why I love sketchbooks so much – they allow you to sketch in private (for the most part) without someone telling you what to sketch or how to sketch it. It helps you hone your skill without being too constrained.
With that said, always remember to relax. It can be challenging, but take a few deep breaths, pause mid process and start over if you have to. It will make a big difference.
Like any other language, for a statement in visual communication to have effect on the viewer, you need impact. I don’t care if you hate sketching as a whole and claim that it’s beneath your calling as a designer, marketing person, engineer, or otherwise, big visuals can have BIG impact in selling your cause. Take this principle and run with it. Not only does it apply to sketching, but it applies to really any presentation method. Go big or go home. It’s that simple.
With regards to the sketch, try practicing sketching in a larger space. Get some larger paper, fill it with sketches that are larger in size and scale than you are used to. Chances are it will be difficult, but remember, you are helping train your muscles.
I was recently reminded by John of an occasion in a transportation design class where I did the biggest sketch (in size) for the scheduled presentation. It wasn’t the best sketch in the room, but it definitely had impact and was memorable. The key here is to have the right impact as well, but regardless of that, go big or go home.
I know I’ve said it before several times, but how many of you out there keep a sketchbook and actually sketch in it? hmmm? That’s what I thought. Chances are you were gun ho at one point and have lost passion by now.
I took the advice from a professor of mine a LONG time ago, and to this day, still keep a sketchbook. I take it most places and practice. You may think doing assignments in school, or for work is practice enough, but it’s not. You’re really just doing the bare minimum and not extending yourself, which leads to my next bit of advice . . .
Being too comfortable with your skill-set will lead to a sense complacency and a non-chalant attitude toward your work. Just like any language, sketching and visual communication require constant practice, usage, and honing of your skill-set. For example, a knife that goes unsharpened for an extended period of time will eventually become dull and highly ineffective at its core function.
And so it is with you whether you are in the field of visual arts, design, marketing, or even engineering – it’s about communication. Don’t get comfortable, hone those skills, and keep visiting the site for tips and exercises
That’s my 2¢. By no means is this meant to be a complete or all encompassing list of things to watch out for, but rather a few things that should help you along your way to being more effective at visual communication.