Sketching 101 is the bread and butter of any ID education program. Learning how to create lifelike shading and proper call-outs are tips that any design student will remember, but what if you're a student struggling with something a bit more fundamental i.e. coming up with interesting forms that veer from the elementary? Core77 discussion board contributor Gazoo outlines their form-related concerns in a recent board post:
"This has always been my weak point in my portfolio and I know it's currently hurting my chances at finding a new gig. I've pretty much got everything else checked off the list from the feedback I get from employers: good research, diverse set of ideas, informed decision-making, CAD execution etc.... That's not to say my forms are bad, but there's just not the creative surfacing that some directors look for.
My sketch technique is good, whether it's digital or marker, but the forms just don't come to me easily. I draw shit for at least the first 2-3 hours and then my forms slowly become more 'mediocre'. I know practice makes perfect, but at some point, I feel like I'm just getting good at drawing bad forms. I reference Pinterest for inspiration but that only gets me so far. Has anyone else had success stories in improving this skill set? What are some specific strategies in exploring form that helps you?"
Luckily for Gazoo, a number of experienced designers with years of sketching and ideation experience were around to help steer our reader through this difficult dilemma.
For the sake of easy reading, we've compiled all the best tips in list form for those of you struggling with the same problem:
Look at what's around you
"One thing that can help better understand form is to practice a lot of just deconstructing existing things. Sketch cars, people, objects and spend time really understanding how the forms get created on paper...Looking at a car, breaking down a single panel and thinking "what is the surface, how would I draw it, how might I CAD it, and how would I manipulate it?" Sometimes just trying to reconstruct an existing object in sketch and 3D helps you appreciate what went into building a shape, and that shape now becomes part of your form vocabulary you can use." -Cyberdemon
"Start building a library of forms (pinterest boards). Maybe re-sketch or trace sketches or products you like and see how they treat the forms and how they come together. Most people with your problem think of primitive shapes first....how to tweak a square, rectangle, sphere. Maybe start with abstract shapes instead."- FH13
Learn with your hands
"I would also not give up on practicing with good old fashioned clay or foam. Building a form with your hands is the purest way of appreciating the sculptural qualities of something. - Cyberdemon
Open sketches up to new possibilities
"I think you are a bit fixed in your mind when doing explorations. A lot of form design starts with a free mental visualization and your ability to manipulate form in your mind. Picture a sphere or ellipsoid in your mind and start to sculpt it. Experienced designers do this in fractions of seconds and know how to get it to paper. On paper, you can simply start freely drawing lines. Colani always advised to start with freely drawing curves and then evolving them towards 3D forms, eventually making them realizable. I also advise to work with river clay if you are beginning at form development, it greatly stimulates the brain and your creative flow." - ralphzoontjens
Start loose, zero in later
"You may be thinking too linear if your forms are based on features and existing geometry...Instead of thinking of outlines think of main form characteristics. Maybe a character line or one main detail that drives the overall look. Maybe sketch out with markers very loosely so that you are not confined to the "outline" of the product." - FH13
Be open to criticism
"One thing that might be useful is to post a critique of your own work. Being self critical helps you look for opportunities on where to improve" - Cyberdemon
Or simply give in to the fact that nothing is original..
"I steal. I see a form I like, I take it. Always have, always will...What I don't do is copy." - iab