3 Quirky Ways to Turn Bad Sketches into Strokes of Genius

3 Quirky Ways to Turn Bad Sketches into Strokes of Genius

(Cover Photo © Kieran Solley)

When my first industrial design course began in 2013, I hadn’t had an art class in 9 years. I was leaving my world of essays and transferring into a program where I would be forced to use drawings instead. The best thing that my brother -- a.k.a our family’s Picasso -- could tell me was Good luck.

So I practiced and watched tutorials and drew cubes ad nauseam until I got them right. After a month of toiling, in July 2013 Dezeen published an interview with Nendo’s founder Oki Sato titled “My sketches are really awful”. (I’ve been a fan ever since.)

 

The main takeaway from this video is NOT to think if Sato could be successful drawing stick figures, so can I. The bigger pictures shows that Sato’s ‘awful’ sketches are mainly transformative because their simplicity allows for open communication and easy storytelling.

Everyone knows practice makes progress, but here are here are 3 underrated practices that will take your sketches to the next level.

1. Diversify your pen-folio

Try out the ball points, felt tips, graphites, and the gels. My favorite tools are colored pencils, and while it took me years to discover this preference, it makes me more excited (and relaxed) to sketch on a consistent basis. Test them out. The difference may surprise you. 

 

2.  Allow a child to roast your work

Step out of the incubator that is the design studio to ask an average person if they understand your sketch. Some of the biggest critiques I’ve experienced could have been avoided by a thicker line weight, another arrow, and/or a transparent surface. If a child can’t understand your sketch, it’s time to return to the drawing board.

 

3.   Create characters

Including people in your sketches will clarify the size, function, and form of your design. Whether they're as detailed as the ones sketched below or just blocky half-robot half-stick figures, people are necessary, though often neglected, touches that will bring your concept to life.

Every good story needs a character or two.

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