Be a Better Designer 8: Avoid Ctrl + Z

What I mean is when you are working on a design in particularly in sketch form, avoid using the eraser, liquid paper (White-out), or if you are sketching on a table pc or drawing tablet try if possible not to use the undo function (Ctrl+Z). Why?

What I find a very common trait with design students or budding designers is they tend to sketch in pencil and use an eraser to rub out their mistakes. However if you want to improve one’s drawing or sketching ability, my advice is to stop using such a tool. Along the same lines I wrote an article, a few months back, on the importance of the ability to sketch as a designer as well as tips on how to improve your sketching ability . The articles touch on this tip and make good background reading; however this little trick also helps make you into a better designer.
The reason is because it forces you to draw with a measured stroke. It encourages you to think your concept through before you draw. It makes you consider your line or point before you commit to it when you put it on paper. I have found that by working with pen or even markers, it reduces the chances of random doodling and “chicken scratches”.
Unfortunately when you do start it will not be easy. You will often get disproportioned distorted shapes and might have to redraw a sketch over a few times. Practice is the key. However do persevere, as in time to come, it will become almost second nature to you, and you will find that you can move that idea from your mind onto sketch perfectly almost every time.
Please do let me know how it turns out for you?

6 Comments
  • Zampik

    April 30, 2007 at 2:43 am Reply

    For me I’m using almost every time A3 blank sheet and ball pens mainly black ones and red for the notes or vice versa. But still have a problem to come out with good looking one exact line sketch. Normally I have many lines over and on the end doesn’t look bad, maybe I would say that it has more live it it. But as you said DT practice is the key. I have improved my sketching abilities since I started in design studio after graduation quite much. It is always good to look at your sketches (sure not just a sketches) to the past and compare them.

  • Donnie Lam

    April 30, 2007 at 10:17 am Reply

    DT,
    You make a very good point here not just from a design perspective but something I think can apply in a professional perspective no matter what field.
    It’s kind of funny you should post about this now because we have an in-joke here at accure that imagines life at work without the undo function. We decided to have some fun and turn it into a comic log. Conveniently enough, it’s titled “Work without Undo”. As it turns out though, it probably has nothing to do with what you’re posting but I guess it all started with the same line of thinking. Check it out here if you have time, just some fun:

  • Donnie Lam

    April 30, 2007 at 10:18 am Reply
  • Jasper

    April 30, 2007 at 1:59 pm Reply

    When i bought my Intuos A3 i thought it would be easy to uses it, but in the end i was hitting apple+z all the time.. it is abstract for me to look at screen when drawing. I can’t get the coordination right and the whole feeling of drawing is so different…you have no friction on tablets like on paper, its like drawing with a ball pen on glass. I tried out different tips but it’s still not right. I really tried for a month, but now i still preferring paper.
    I agree with Zampik that sketchy lines give more life to a drawing. I also use no pencil, but i do a kind of mini loose sketch, very chicken style in thumb nail size before i draw big
    So i have a rough visual of what i want, and usually have a good line work after… yes-precise makes perfect!

  • drew kora

    April 30, 2007 at 8:28 pm Reply

    Sketching sans-eraser is the best. When I sketch I’m less concerned with creating a finished piece of artwork and more concerned with getting the idea on paper as quickly as I can and working it out different ways.
    …in the end, I love looking at artists’ sketches. They are so much more interesting than ‘finished work.’

  • Design Translator

    April 30, 2007 at 9:38 pm Reply

    Hi Zampik,
    I like to explore with different instruments depending on my mood and getting that energy sketch is what I try to get!
    Hi Donnie,
    You comic is great and I’ll be following it as much as i can!
    Jasper,
    Same here, i have an intuos A4 as well and cant seem to get it right. But often its an issue with your screen size vs your tablet size. A good guage is the two should be the same or the tablet should be smaller than your screen.
    Drew,
    I agree, often that initial sketch gives you so much character as the idea is very instant and direct from the mind. Often when i do redraw a sketch it does not look right. I have to refer back to the original sketch just to get it right.

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