Importance of Freehand Sketching: Connection between the Mind, the Hand and the Paper

With digitization taking over raw skills and paperwork, there has been a rise in software produced artwork over simply hand drawn ones. This has led to a rapid increase in students depending on digital resources for basic idea developments and a considerable decrease in use of soft skills like sketching to express themselves. Thus, it becomes all the more important to understand the importance of soft skills in the design field.

According to the Cambridge Dictionary, Sketching is a natural way for people to explain and understand complex ideas and to perform visual and spatial reasoning. It’s in human nature to try to explain ideas using visuals. The medium of producing these visuals is our hand, because it is the closest receptor of the brain after the eyes. There is always a thought related to any sketch done. The thought, naturally gets converted into a visual expression through sketching as per the medium used. A sketch is a simple quickly made drawing with not much detail. While the meaning of sketching has evolved with time, the meaning of a sketch too has gained many different expressions through varied talents around the world.

Freehand sketching is not only a skill or tool; it is a way of expression.

It is not necessary to sketch only while working or while brainstorming on ideas. The bonding of the hands with the mind could also be connected to the eyes. Whatever a designer perceives in the daily life could be an inspiration for translation as well. One of the examples, to explain this is sketching while travelling. Many designers love to record their experiences and travel stories in form of sketches. These could be in any medium, like pen, pencil, watercolour, pencil colours, painting and just be part of little pocket sketchbooks. As seen in Fig 1, Rutujahas used colourful mediums to express her perception of a villa, while in Fig 2; Mrunmayee has used only basic pencil and pen with a touch or colours to sketch out the elevation of a heritage site.

Every designer has a unique expression of the same place or scene. The connection of the mind and hand with the paper is a strong relationship. If the mind is restricted to a certain type of thoughts or gets distracted with limited resources, this relationship gets disturbed. Thus, practise becomes necessary for sketching. As the initial forms of sketching, one’s often taught to draw lines, circles and shapes. This is to make the hand more used to the paper, pencil and expressions. Pencil as a tool is more responsive on paper in variable shades. The pressure exerted by the hand as it moves across the paper creates lines of varying thickness and tones, thus helping in the perception of light, shade and depth. It’s truly interesting how just the pressure of the hand helps to create different types of lines with a simple pencil.

With regular practise, and using mediums like pencil and paper, the mind becomes comfortable to common ways of expressions. This helps to resolve complex ideas as the mind is now routinely trained to resolve ideas through the medium of sketching. This helps to increase the speed and results in a variety of expressions. Sometimes it becomes all the more important to let go of certain thoughts in form of random scribbling as well. Scribbling and doodling are parts of sketching. These are important forms of self expression and help the mind focus on more important stuff.

It is important as a designer, to be able to put down the ideas and concepts for exploration. It’s important to document and analyse the ideas. Design cannot be done without an idea or concept. Design is an approach to find a solution to a given problem and the problem needs to be questioned. Everything has reasoning. The power of reasoning that humans possess is beautiful in its own way. And expressing this reason is another step forward which can be achieved through sketching. As seen in Fig 3a, one of the students, Garima Muthiyan, has tried to put all her ideas in bold as well as raw forms. It’s to help clear her thoughts while putting them down on paper and refine the ideation process. Similarly in Fig 3b, the pencil sketches of different furniture come as an expression of her ideas of a pouffe which eventually leads to the final design.

A designer’s mind is full of stories and ideas. Skilfully translating those stories into unique forms, results in unique designs. Freehand sketching is an integral part of the expression in design allowing you to begin with an idea, explore it thoroughly and translate it into workable design solutions. So, just pick up any paper, a simple pencil and ‘Sketch to Express!’

Kriti Malkani, Assistant Professor, School of Interior Design, Unitedworld Institute of Design (UID)

Disclaimer: The opinions / views expressed in this article are solely of the author in his / her individual capacity. They do not purport to reflect the opinions and/or views of the College and/or University or its members.

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