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support for design sketching

Online tutorials

City car

Digital sketching in side view

This tutorial video will show a quick digital ideation design sketch of a vehicle. It will show the built-up of the sketch and digital sketching tools used in Corel Painter. Sketching in PS will be similar, but some of its basic tools need to be adjusted for the same effect


One layer challenge // Digital sketching in worms perspective

Quick digital design sketch of a Zeppelin concept. This sketch exercise is built up sketching all in 1 layer > challenge yourself!

Kitchen mixer

Sketching in side view // underlay

This video shows a step-by-step side view concept sketch on paper; explaining about the built-up of a sketch and the sequence of sketching tools.

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Sketching tools


line sketching // speed, bleed and feel

We use a fineliner; not a pencil … a pencil will encourage continuous adapting or pondering. A fineliner stroke cannot be erased, and will ‘force’ you into a decisive way of drawing. It may result in ‘dirty’ sketches at first, but it will surely pay off after some time.
Some fineliners we can recommend the starting artist are: HEMA (in a pack of 24) (NL, B), Stabilo Stylist (FR), Schneider TOPliner 967 for example.


TIPs for choosing a fineliner :
- make sure you test it on the paper you use for sketching
- see if it combines well with the markers you use (some smudge or change colour when covered with marker)
- check how fast it dries, or actually, how much it smudges when you sketch very fast
- (optionally) see if you can make both thin and thick lines with the same fineliner, so you can apply line thickness variation without having to grab different fineliners

A3 marker paper

Marker paper has a plastic coating on the back, preventing it from bleeding. Although the price may seem a bit high compared to regular paper, sketching on this paper will require less ink, and will in the end be a good investment. We buy it by the pack (150 pages).


gray : Neutral, cool or warm // shading

With a basic set of 3 markers you can already make impressive ’grayscale’ sketches. If you wish to give colour to your sketches, the combination between gray & colour is crucial, as the colour marker is used on top of the gray marker for the shaded parts of an object. The N4 and N5 are pretty ’safe’ grays that can be combined with a large range of colours.
In specific situations you may need a specific gray. A COPIC marker with the letter W is of a warm gray., that will combine great with warm colours, and the C range consists of cool grays, good for shading cool colours.

A basic set can be COPIC N3, N5 and BLACK (100), or C3+C5+BLACK for example.
N stands for neutral, C stands for cool.


Color markers

When combining colour and gray. marker, you need to find the right combination first. If you have an N5, it is best to stick to colour markers that have an average brightness. Meaning not too bright, but not too dark either. If you prefer to buy a specific colour, say an orange, you may want to buy a warm gray. marker to combine with it. Make gray./color doodles, to see what gray. matches what colour. Preferably at the store!
Make gray. doodles, using enough ink to really fill the paper. Wait till they’re dry, and then partially cover them with a colour. When dried, you will see which combination is best. The gray. marker should always be applied underneath the colour marker.
All alcohol based markers, such as COPIC, Pantone, Letraset, PROMarker, Winston, can be combined. Having said all this, do not forget your colour preference… sketching is way more fun with colours that you like!

Pastel chalk

Gradients // airbrush

This tool is used in a way that it resembles airbrush. You can make glossy material (use of gradients), but also surrounding or apply slight colour shifts.
It is important to use DRY powdery pastel chalk. We always use Talens Rembrandt Soft pastels, in a box of 16 halves is most economic.

We also like to sketch ‘grayscale’ with pastel, combining COPIC C-markers with pastel 727,5.

In general you want to apply a pastel that looks way darker than the result your looking for. You scrape some of with a small knife, and apply it with a large piece of cloth or soft paper. You can buy separate ones, for example your favorite colour marker.

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Tips for sketching


By that we mean a sketching tool that cannot be erased, such as a fineliner or pen. Although it may not seem to be the most beautiful sketches you dreamt of, sketching with fineliner instead of graphite pencil encourages you to ‘decide’ instead of lingering and re-doing parts of the line drawing. In the long run, it will make your sketch more decisive and confident.

LONG LINES - look better

Try not to focus on a line ‘from point to point”, but instead elongate it and focus on it direction. This will result in lines more decisive and straight (sleek). A good quality that will work through to the ideas you communicate as well! (Lines that are 'sketched' in pieces (hairy lines), will look indecisive.) Draw with a “locked” whist. By doing so you have more control of straight lines, as well as curves lines with a tension.

CONTRAST - use enough of it

Its all about perception. Sketches with too low contrast, will be perceived as ‘weak’. Sketches with more contrast look stronger. You may have experienced this, when you fellow students pinned your work to the wall to discuss it. Some sketches immediately catch the eye, whereas others seem not to be noticed.
The answer is in most cases the use of contrast. Both black/white, as well as colour contrast. As a rule of thumb you will always need some white, gray., as well as black in a sketch. We usually use the black for casted shadow for this reason.

WACOM Intuos- how to start

If you intend to do digital sketching with a Wacom IntuosPRO in the near future, just buy your Wacom tablet already. Throw out the computer mouse, and do all with your new tablet. This way you start getting used to the new eye-hand coordination : sketch ‘here’ and look ‘over there’.

ZOOM IN? - not too much

We sometimes see people sketching with their faces very close to the paper… Remember that the persons viewing them will probably keep more distance! Take regular views at your work from a greater distance, you may even want to pin some on the wall. This way you will get a feel of which actions will have best effect, and which were somewhat futile.

UNDERLAY - to speed up

Do not redo the same work over and over. Use your previous sketch as an underlay to work upon, so you do not reinvent the wheel all the time. Proportions and perspective are set. So you can focus more on content or on improvements or variations.

PORTFOLIO - professionals

View here for tips from design professionals on how to make your design portfolio.