Sketching it Out

9 02 2011

Image credit- Scott A Savage via

Sketching ideas can be an excellent way to communicate concepts to others, as Mark Baskinger outlines in his article, “Pencils Before Pixels”. But sketching our ideas doesn’t come easily to everyone. Many of us are self-concious of our drawing skills and this limits our ability to express our ideas. How many times have you heard someone say they can’t draw? In the end, it’s this type of thinking that prevents us from being able to put our thoughts onto paper. The truth of it is, skill has very little to do with it. We all have the ability to draw to an extent, and the only way to get better is throug practice. One suggestion I’ve read in many places is to sketch with a black marker as opposed to a pencil. A marker is a lot more permanent than a pencil, which means you need to have committed to the idea before you’ve even begun to draw it. This may sound a bit scary, as you can’t erase any mistakes you make with a marker. However, that’s kind of the point, isn’t it? As Joshua Brewer of states, “The sketch is not the end goal. The end goal of the drawing process is what you learn while sketching.” One could even argue the more mistakes you make, the better. In order to fully explore an idea, it must be drawn from many perspectives and the more you sketch the idea, the more refined it will become.

While all of these suggestions are great, I personally struggle with knowing exactly what to draw. I often find it easier to express my ideas in words first before I start sketching. Baskinger’s solution for this is to ease into it. He’s even provided worksheets to help with the transistion. Of course, practice makes perfect, and the more often you sketch your ideas the better you’ll get. For people who are still a bit hesitant, there are places like that sell helpful tools like browser template sketchpads and stencils. Sitting down and sketching out your ideas before touching the computer is an essential step in the evolution of a design, so what are you waiting for? Pick up a marker and start sketching today!

Additional resources:

Jason Robb has an exellent article on sketching at uxbooth.

A flickr group has been created for the sharing of ux sketches.

Some of the original concept sketches for well-known websites.