One thing my college professors constantly harped on was the importance sketching. A project wasn't complete unless we turned in thumbnail sketches for it too. I hated doing them. I naively thought my first idea was always the winner and I wanted to get it started on the computer right away. But over the years, I realized the necessity of those little thumbnails and sketching is now a crucial part of my process.
I sketch when I'm gathering reference material for inspiration. I like to draw the specific details that really speak to me so I can get a better understanding of how they're created. (This part of my process is strictly for inspiration. I never copy other people's work directly and use it in my own work.)
After I let those ideas swirl together in my head overnight, I'll flip to a new page in my sketchbook. Without looking at my inspiration, I'll try to draw what's going on in my brain. This method allows me to be inspired by others yet still come up with my own original ideas.
It's easiest for me to doodle at a smaller size. I'm able to iterate a ton of ideas at a pretty fast pace. I try not to get stuck on whether something looks silly or doesn't make any sense. It's my sketchbook — nobody ever has to see what's inside. When you're in a creative groove, you need to let those thoughts flow and not get hung up on anything. And, unlike my college thought process, the more ideas you get out, the more original and creative they'll be.
Drawing at a smaller size also seems to bring out the best in my sketches. If I were to try and draw the same idea at the final size, let's say 8.5 by 11 inches, it wouldn't look nearly as nice as my smaller thumbnail sketch. For some reason my lines and shapes are much smoother at a smaller size. I actually scan my thumbnail sketches and enlarge them on the computer to use as templates for most projects.
Sketching is an important part of the process that all creatives should keep in mind. Even if your work ends up in pixels, it's not always best to go straight to the computer. Often times your hand can do things more quickly and easily than a computer can. And when the ideas are flowing while you're brainstorming, you need to get them down quickly so they don't disappear.
Don't you just love my new sketchbook (pictured above)?! I put out a call on Instagram for a locally-made sketchbook, and ended up connecting with Della Sigrest. She can make any kind of journal you can imagine. Choose from an infinite number of cover options, different spine colors and materials, even various papers on the inside. You should definitely check out her shop if you're in the market for a custom, unique journal!