Sketching in the Visual Arts

Sketching often marks the first stages of work in the visual arts, it can be a way to record early ideas for further development, demonstrate key principles, explore design options, or even work through problems. It is typically carried out by drawing; whether by traditional means like pen, pencil, water colour, or by digital tools; but it can also involve working with 3D models to perfect a plan or concept. Discover how sketching forms a fundamental part of various visual arts disciplines, underpinning many different design stories.

Fashion sketches with tape measure

What makes an outstanding fashion sketchbook?

The sketchbook forms a very personal but also public part of the creative process within fashion design. It is a place for playing, reworking and risk-taking. For those seeking a career in the fast-paced fashion industry, the sketchbook can be a quick way to display your creativity and originality. Discover what sets the best fashion sketchbooks apart, from organization and presentation, to visual examples, and interviews with fashion design professionals.

Someone sketches a person on the subway

Live and sketch: the tools of the trade for reportage artists

In the field of visual journalism and reportage illustration the methods and materials employed for sketching are crucial. These tools support the artist’s ability to ‘draw on the spot’ as a situation unfolds, so they can capture and report a subject in an engaging and accurate way. But has technology and digital media helped or hindered this process? The nature of a reportage artist’s equipment list depends on their personal preference and the unique situations in which they’re working, so explore practical exercises and a case study to begin developing your own style.

A person draws on a tablet with a stylus

Presenting ideas in graphic design

When it comes to meeting a design brief and presenting ideas to a client, a simple drawing may be as effective as a grand presentation if you cover the right points and are clear about what you are saying. How do you go about presenting ideas successfully? Use of digital technologies such as augmented reality can immerse clients in your vision, but a sketch is much quicker and more flexible than a digital rendering and goes a long way to explaining the thinking behind an idea at later stages.

Someone paints a colourful character

Drawing for animation

The art of capturing movement is pivotal to all drawing and in particular to drawing for animation. Animators often need to use memory in tandem with direct observation to draw a dynamic action, such as dancing or playing sport, rendering a continuous action in single pictures. Discover how sketchbooks can help capture everyday observations, and build up a bank of sketches for reference, adaptation, and inspiration for future work.

A sketch of a table

The art of ‘Thinking Drawings’

‘Thinking drawings’ and ‘visual thinking’ are terms taken from the field of psychology that can usefully be applied to interior architecture. Thinking drawings in interiors are early design drawings where disparate ideas are arranged on a page so that they can then be worked out, thought about, drawn, tested, rethought, redrawn, retested, until they slowly take form. Take a look at examples of both analytical sketches as well as sketches to remember and observe, in the context of interior architecture drawing.

A sketch of a series of smartphone screens for user experience design

Getting sketchy with user experience design

Pencil sketching is a really effective way to quickly externalize ideas when developing user experience design. Sketches on paper can be captured using a digital camera or scanner, edited, stored and shared online, alternatively a number of tablet devices offer a similar experience to sketching on paper using a stylus or finger drawing. Read about the advantages to these approaches and the wider context of their use in UX design.

Images above and on the homepage are courtesy of Getty Images.

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