Digital design sketching: In your workflow?

digital design sketching

Digital Design Sketching

Develop3D Magazine posted an article online about the evolution of digital design sketching, and how digital methods are fitting into the workflow of designers. I decided to voice my thoughts on the matter, and Stephen Holmes over at Develop3D decided to include it in their printed mag. You can see the snippet below.


digital design sketching
digital design sketching


This is the way I see it…

Until you can plug a cable straight into the cerebrum and project the findings straight onto the wall of a design studio, pen and paper will never be replaced.

It’s quick. It’s instant. Assuming you can draw, it’s powerful and informative. As Dominic Wilcox said at Develop3D LIVE, it’s the quickest route from your imagination to somebody else’s.

Nonetheless, I love digital sketching. It has a place. When the rigidity or over-refinement of CAD deems itself inappropriate but you still need a decent rendered concept sketch (that is likely to receive modifications down the line) – this is where digital sketching comes into it’s own. I don’t see it for brainstorming ideas or even initial explorations of form. That’s pen and paper. The speed, layering, accuracy and editability (and use of Ctrl-Z) make programs like Photoshop, Sketchbook Pro and Procreate perfect for more refined concept sketches that are sent to clients. Sketching on different layers and using symmetry tools are perfect examples where digital has added massive value compared to analogue methods.

That’s my opinion. Digital sketching being used only when appropriate as a tool sitting somewhere on a scale between a quick doodle on a notepad and a fully blown CAD render. Each individual project will determine this scale and what method is most effective though. It has to be completely led by the project, and not forcing a certain process.

If you have any thoughts on this feel free to comment below!

A few of my own digital design sketches can be seen below, and you can see more sketches in my sketchbook or on Instagram:

digital design sketching
digital design sketching
digital design sketching
digital design sketching

5 thoughts on “Digital design sketching: In your workflow?”

  1. Brian Gulassa
     ·  Reply

    I love my Ipad pro, i take it every where, the pencil is way better than a cintique. I teach drawing and industrial design and use it to take pix of student art, mark up or fix perspective issues and send them a copy, I sometimes even do drawings in class in procreate, and output a movie, they can all watch on the big monitor and review at home.
    you can see some of the results at professorgulassa on you tube.

  2. Stephen Chininis
     ·  Reply

    I developed an ID course at Georgia Tech just to wrestle with this same issue. I was watching in horror as I saw students trying to do concept sketches in CAD programs! I agree, sketching on paper is the fastest way to record ideas. I sketch on paper as the start of enhanced presentation drawings. With a great sketch you can use several quick tricks in photoshop to make them presentation quality. With a little more time you can add shading and a background that makes them really amazing. I’m always trying out the latest tools, and I also think the 12″ iPad Pro is really great. I’m still waiting for the perfect software though, I need a smooth airbrush, layers, and a magic wand to render in the style I like. Art Studio, Pixelmator, and Sketchbook all have promise.

  3. Bob Johnson
     ·  Reply

    I am an “old time” designer and actually really like Solidoworks, but, I still sketch with pencil and paper.. please suggest best digital sketching programs for someone new to it..

  4. Dyson Prahn
     ·  Reply

    I love Rhino for sketching and for final workup. I also love low poly modelling in other programmes.
    Ideas for me start on paper and in cad. I feel equally at home in either.
    Transferring the immediacy or spontaneity from pencil sketch to cad can be a challenge, but never too great.

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