In many ways drawing is losing ground to the digital age. Don’t let this happen, as hand drawing can be the gateway to better work, and a more balanced life.
With the relatively recent advancement in computer technology and accessibility, 3D rendering artists, designers, and architects are moving further and further away from the use of more - let’s say archaic methods of production. Drafting boards are out, and massive 4-screen desktop setups are emphatically in.
In many ways, this trend is producing artists and designers that are less connected to their work and skip much of the foundational elements that produce the best final results. There is an inherent freedom in drawing with your hands that can’t be replicated with a mouse and keyboard, or even a digital pen and drawing pad.
I’m going to examine what makes hand drawing so important to visualization, and why you shouldn’t be so quick to cast aside the old guard whose screams of “you can pry my t-square from my cold, dead hands!” are getting fainter and fainter. I still hear you, good sir. I still hear you.
Your Ideas Need Work
As designers, everytime a great new idea pops into our brains our immediate reaction is to claim the project done and move on to modeling, rendering, and final production. However, this isn’t at all how the real world works, and above anything else, your clients will want to know you spent their money on making that initial idea even better.
Hand sketching is the fastest, easiest, and most effective way to work an idea. And if you ever want to be great at your job, your ideas will almost never be good enough the first time around. We all create in different mindsets and protocols, but the underlying constant is the hours of brainstorming, critiquing, and tenderizing that is required to do consistently good work.
Simply put, there is no digital substitute or equivalent to good ol- fashion pencil and trace paper. Implement these practices into your workflow with steady rigor, and the final results will always be better for it.
Managing Your Clients
Ah yes, that moment when reality sinks in and you realize that no matter how good your ideas are, the client will want to make it their own. We all work for someone in this world, and being able to control and manage their expectations about a job is probably the most important thing about being a professional artist.
It’s an unfortunate realization to have to make, and one that can come with constant anxiety and internal struggle. But, it doesn’t have to be like that.
Because clients, like all people, can be managed in a way that is beneficial both to the success of the project and your own sanity. Be realistic with clients about scheduling and cost. Let them into your process, and be respectful and understanding when things don’t go as planned (hint: they never do).
In fact, hand drawing at the beginning stages of a product can go a long way towards showing the client you’ve been working hard, but also portraying an idea that isn’t finished. If you show up to your first progress meeting and show a client rendered work, they won’t feel like they’ve been an active role player in the creation of said product. Not good.
They are your clients, so do your best to understand what each one needs to feel satisfied with your work. Using hand drawing and sketching can be a valuable crutch, especially early on in the process.
Why deny yourself the meditative, rewarding, and unadulterated joy of simply hashing out your ideas the prehistoric way? Simply put, drawing is fun. It’s the thing that probably got you into art as a wee lad and something you shouldn't be neglecting just because you now have the ability to conjure photorealism from the confines of your digital fortress.
Drawing isn’t just good for your work and your business, it’s good for your mental health and well-being. Seriously! Why do you think so many adult coloring books have found their way to the market these days? There’s something inherently stress relieving about forgetting the world around you and losing yourself in some alternate, self-created fantasy land.
The best thing about these drawings is you don’t have to show them to anyone. They are your little secret and something that doesn’t have to be put on display to be judged and tore down. All great artists - no matter the medium - draw. They just do because it’s the aspect of art that makes the final product great. Do it for yourself and do it for the benefit of your future work.