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24 ways to impress your friends

Sketching to Communicate


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Great article Paul,

I recently bought a grey brush pen from an art shop which gives a very similar highlight to the pens you were talking about. It really does help to make things stand out.

I’ve also started using gridded paper too which helps get proportions right with layouts etc. Also developing a few standard ways to show things like headings, pictures, copy and lists also helps with getting ideas down quickly.

For example, a list item could be a dot then a line, a picture a rectangle with a line to each opposite corner.

Thanks again,


Chris Thompson

Thanks for the advice! This has really helped me out a lot. If I may add some advice for People drawing. Some good points here, however to improve upon this method, one could offset the pointer finger as not to appear in the center of the hand. This may portray more of a pointing gesture.


A brilliant way to start sketching! Thanks for all the tips. I’ve been muddling along for so long, it’s nice to have some good tips that work for me.


Nice and timely for me – I want to sketch more and rely less on wireframing tools, but lack confidence in my squiggles, so thanks for the tips!

I haven’t found any sketching classes near me to boost my skills, but what about “teach yourself to sketch” books, like The Back of the Napkin ? Any other recommendations?

Luke Jones

Love. It.

Up until a few weeks back, I’ve always felt very precious about sketches but I think I need to calm down a bit.

This article by Jason Santa Maria pretty much outlines the way one should treat sketching:

Sketchbooks are NOT about being a good artist. They’re about being a good thinker.

Thanks for the great article on the lead-up to Christmas. Hope you have a good one with your family, Paul.

Sonali Agrawal

Awesome tips! Since my last two projects, I have started sketching the UI for almost every project now. My latest sketch work is going to be for my own website, for which, these tips are definitely going to be real helpful!

Thank you!

Drawing is important but any professional should be able to fully explain their intentions without the need of visual aid.
Some people will, and have felt insulted when shown a drawing to describe a process and we simply can’t tell them to change the mentality.

Sketching is important but like Luke Jones quoted in his comment, sketchbooks are about thinking through processes. Unless it’s a really big or complex project I would never show clients my wireframing. Always go with a solid design.

Adam Onishi

Cheers Paul, great article!

I’m terrible at drawing/sketching and don’t really do anything to improve it but I may have to start now I have some time off over xmas and the straight forward tips you give are spot on…

Nice writing style too, kept me engaged throughout :)

Nice one

Bill Lord

This great, I consider myself a fine artist but when I started in the web/graphic design industry I remember having to re-teach myself how to sketch.

I have no problem detailing someones face, a landscape, or building etc., but stripping it all down to a simple sketch to communicate an idea is a whole different skill. And harder than I thought!

Great tips, thanks for sharing.

Ryan Swarts

Nice post. I appreciate the specifics. You motivated me to go home tonight and buy some nice pens. Cheers!

P.S. I wrote a short post on the importance of sketching on my own blog recently. If you’re bored, you can read it here:


Thx for this article and all the tips!
Pencil, felt pen, marker and Paper, post-its and from time to time a napkin are powerful “tools” to communicate small and big ideas.
People naturally process visual information better than written, so using pictures (even simple line drawings and stick figures) is a great way problem solve and communicate at work.
I usually use various diagram tools ( ) but there hadn’t been not a single day I haven’t drawn a sketch, use case or wireframe by pencil and paper – Tools you should never forget or is not to be underestimated.

Bevan Stephens

Really great practical article! I’ve been putting off learning this for a while but now it’s my main new years resolution.

Do you think a graphics tablet would help at all?

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