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Sketching is an excellent way for you to quickly explore design concepts. In this video I share why sketching first matters, and how it’s impacted my design process.

I work with a lot of aggressive deadlines, and the only way I’m able to work through a ton of variations is by sketching.

I start every project on paper. For me, the pencil is freer and much faster than using the cursor on the computer.

By simply starting on paper, you’re not limiting yourself to fonts or effects. You’re able to think out loud and instantly record the ideas that come to mind.

Also, it’s crazy how much sketching can help you find your own style. By using your hands to sketch and hand letter – others can’t mimic that.

Some of my favorite designs were done entirely by hand, with a sharpie or simply with a pencil or pen.

A look inside my sketching process

I sketch nearly all my designs on cheap computer paper. It’s freer to deal with, I can rotate when lettering, trace without hassle – and being a lefty – my hand doesn’t run over a binding of a book.

My sketches aren’t good. They’re chicken scratch, but it’s just a way for me to think out loud and get all of my ideas onto one place.

To give you an example, here’s a sketch I did for Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness. It’s a very rough sketch, which I inked, and finalized on the computer. By leaving everything outlined, I could go into Illustrator, fill in the gaps, and play with color options. The result was this killer lyric t-shirt!

Sketching doesn’t have to be perfect. It’s simply a way to flush out all of your ideas, and when you have such tight deadlines, that’s the best way to help find the right direction for a project. Because, once you have an idea you’re excited about on paper, you’ll be even more excited to bring it to life on the computer.

On your next project, consider starting on paper!

You can still look at your computer for inspiration. But rather than mimicking ideas there, translate what you like and put it on paper, so when you take those ideas from paper and execute them they’ll be your own.

Now get out there and start sketching your ideas!