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Improve Designer Fitness With 30-minute Sketches

April 12, 2010

Converse Weapon EVO. 40-minute sketch (13 sketch, 27 render)

Early in the design process, once you are armed with an understanding of the problem, the design team gathers at the whiteboard and yells out ‘all’ and ‘any’ ideas. This is part of the conceptual design phase where there should be no judgment, no boundaries and no focus on tiny details. This is when the creativity should be flowing. It’s wild, it’s free and it takes practice.

My Swingline. 30-minute sketch (10 sketch, 20 render)

To train my design brainstorming muscles, I create 30-minute illustrations. I pick an object on my desk or image I find on the web and give myself a half hour to sketch, scan and render it. The challenge is to avoid the tendency to want to slow down and focus on details. There is no time for perfection. The goal is to capture the minimum amount of info needed to successfully communicate the object or image. There may be mistakes in line work and proportions that turn out to be exciting and the reckless abandon required to come in under the time limit is invigorating. With each illustration, I have exercised my creativity and sharpened my sketching skills. Just 30 minutes three times a week and your design fitness will start to improve. It’s a great designer workout. Give it a try.

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