Food for thought: Common oversights when starting out

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.

relax

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.

gobogorgohome

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.

keepasketchbook

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 . . .

dontgetcomfortable

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.

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    • http://www.idsketching.com John Muhlenkamp

      oye Gracias por visitarnos aqui en idsketching. Lamento q hoy en dia solamente tenemos servicios en ingles :) Si en cualquier momento mis hermanos hispanos necesitan ayuda me pueden escribir un email! (john@idsketching.com).

  • http://www.idsketching.com John Muhlenkamp

    oye Gracias por visitarnos aqui en idsketching. Lamento q hoy en dia solamente tenemos servicios en ingles :) Si en cualquier momento mis hermanos hispanos necesitan ayuda me pueden escribir un email! (john@idsketching.com).

  • headplow

    Great tips/reminders Spencer. No matter how long one may have been doing this you can never hear these pointers enough. They are sound principles and often times what makes the differences between being a pro and being an amateur. There is no substitute for mileage.

    BTW your shirt designs look great! I’ll have to pick one up.

  • headplow

    Great tips/reminders Spencer. No matter how long one may have been doing this you can never hear these pointers enough. They are sound principles and often times what makes the differences between being a pro and being an amateur. There is no substitute for mileage.

    BTW your shirt designs look great! I’ll have to pick one up.

  • http://www.coroflot.com/maccarthy Joe MacCarthy

    These main 4 tips are essential. Great article. Even the best sketchers have bad days when the flow is not on. I will typically switch sketching styles if I am not running smooth. If I am tense I will use that energy to do scribble sketching thumbnails that I can use when I am more relaxed and the Mr Smooth is in da house.

    Keeping a sketchbook around is also key. I just really started honing my sketching about 2 years ago and I have been drawing for a LONG time. I just want to be able to throw down my ideas fast and you can only get really fast and good with a lot of practice. Pump in the 2 hours a day drawing and you will thank yourself when time goes by.

    I would have to add that you need to remember that you have inpiration all around you. From the texture on the toilet paper roll to the frame around your monitor that youare looking at you never know what can inspire you!!

    Thanks for the article!!

    Joe

  • http://www.coroflot.com/maccarthy Joe MacCarthy

    These main 4 tips are essential. Great article. Even the best sketchers have bad days when the flow is not on. I will typically switch sketching styles if I am not running smooth. If I am tense I will use that energy to do scribble sketching thumbnails that I can use when I am more relaxed and the Mr Smooth is in da house.

    Keeping a sketchbook around is also key. I just really started honing my sketching about 2 years ago and I have been drawing for a LONG time. I just want to be able to throw down my ideas fast and you can only get really fast and good with a lot of practice. Pump in the 2 hours a day drawing and you will thank yourself when time goes by.

    I would have to add that you need to remember that you have inpiration all around you. From the texture on the toilet paper roll to the frame around your monitor that youare looking at you never know what can inspire you!!

    Thanks for the article!!

    Joe

  • http://www.idsketching.com Spencer Nugent

    Thanks for the comments, and suggestions. Joe, I was actually prepping an article on inspiration and translating that into sketch with an accompanying video. Look for that in the future.

  • http://www.idsketching.com Spencer Nugent

    Thanks for the comments, and suggestions. Joe, I was actually prepping an article on inspiration and translating that into sketch with an accompanying video. Look for that in the future.

  • http://www.davison.com/creators/ joseph warren

    Great article Spencer. The use of a sketchbook has been preached to me since I was a freshman in high school. I do not believe people are born with talent, but I do believe that people who are praised for their effort and encouraged to try harder succeed more commonly than others. Your advise is very encouraging to fellow sketchers.

  • http://www.davison.com/creators/ joseph warren

    Great article Spencer. The use of a sketchbook has been preached to me since I was a freshman in high school. I do not believe people are born with talent, but I do believe that people who are praised for their effort and encouraged to try harder succeed more commonly than others. Your advise is very encouraging to fellow sketchers.

  • Julius

    hi spencer,

    how do you know you are good enough to studdy design? i am 17 so would like to do something with design but i do not know if this is a good idea…

    i appreciate a response

    a big fan

  • Julius

    hi spencer,

    how do you know you are good enough to studdy design? i am 17 so would like to do something with design but i do not know if this is a good idea…

    i appreciate a response

    a big fan

  • http://www.jhsmobilier.blogspot.com jakob hartel schwarz

    how do you remove the understanding of stress mechanics and construction techniques from your scetching? How to open up the creative process beyond those fundementals in order to find new forms?

    • Buttercup Dew

      alcohol

      • http://www.idsketching.com snugja

        I think understanding fundamentals – form, perspective etc will help with your idea flow. The less cumbersome our hands are, the easier it is to create.

  • http://www.jhsmobilier.blogspot.com jakob hartel schwarz

    how do you remove the understanding of stress mechanics and construction techniques from your scetching? How to open up the creative process beyond those fundementals in order to find new forms?

  • http://sleep.shadowpuppet.net Adam Eivy

    Man, I can’t imagine ever getting ‘comfortable’ with knowing enough about sketching. Too many tools/techniques/styles–and different subjects…

  • http://sleep.shadowpuppet.net Adam Eivy

    Man, I can’t imagine ever getting ‘comfortable’ with knowing enough about sketching. Too many tools/techniques/styles–and different subjects…

  • Phnguyen60

    you might want to fix “Go bog or go home.”… 5th paragraph. very inspirational words!

    • nfinlay

      Thanks for the tip off to the spelling. Done and dun ;)

  • RaM

    thnks ..i needed this…..do you more advice for begginer…..maybe we can post ur not so inspiring drawing for comments and feed back…

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  • N Adnan

    I’ve been a graphic designer by profession for 7 years and it has been rather embarrassing to admit that I can’t sketch very well. It brings to mind how I managed to stay in this line for so long! So for this new year, my resolution is to sketch more and be better at communicating my ideas without the need for supplementary words. Stumbling upon your site has been an answer to my woes. I have gotten a handy sketchpad, ballpoint pen and some pencils to help me along the way, and aspiring to be better at sketching/drawing, I will try to keep to my promise of drawing at least an hour a day.

    Thank you for this.

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