Welcome to Daily Sketch Prompts! This is a weekly series of posts for the industrial designers of Arizona State University (ASU), to help us develop our sketching skills. Not an industrial designer? Not from ASU? That’s OK! Everyone is welcome.

Each Monday, I’ll post 6 new sketch prompts. They’ll be simple descriptions of industrial design sketches with a common theme, like “Draw 6 different telephones from 6 different points in history.” Your job is to turn those descriptions into sketches, one 20-30 minute sketch each day.

The Goal

Our goal is to practice sketching every day. This is called “distributed practice” and it is a powerful tool for learning and skill development.

If you’ve ever looked at a calendar, you may notice that there are more than 6 days in a week. That’s because I want you to take a short break every week. Doesn’t matter when, just pick a day to recharge yourself.

Materials

You’ll need something to draw with, and something to draw on. Everything else is optional.

I’m going to start with a mechanical pencil and a battered sketchbook I found in an old backpack that was on its way to Goodwill. Don’t worry about finding the perfect tools. For this kind of practice, a Bic pen and a stack of printer paper would be perfect. If you’re worried about making the perfect sketch with your perfect $400 set of design markers, then you’re adding an extra layer of stress that you don’t need.

You also don’t need to use the same tools for every sketch, but I find that daily sketching goes better for me when I use the same tools for at least a week at a time. It always takes me a little while to get familiar with a new medium, and I’d rather spend my time and energy on my sketching.

Things you should do

These strategies will help you get the most out of your daily sketching.

Challenge yourself

You’re doing this to build your skills, so ask yourself, “Where do I want to get better?” If you wish you could draw better ellipses (I know I do!) then draw sketches that contain ellipses. Same goes for specific tools, like markers, technical pens.

Give yourself time to learn

When you choose a challenge, stick with it for at least a week. That gives you time to explore and develop your skills. If you switch around too quickly, you won’t get a chance to build your skills.

Be nice to yourself (and your tools)

If you have a frustrating sketching session, remember these things:

  • You are not a bad designer just because you made a bad sketch (or even a whole bunch of bad sketches in a row). If you are practicing your skills every day, you are in fact a good designer, and you’re getting better.
  • Unless your sketchbook fell apart or your technical pen exploded, it’s not your tools’ fault. Don’t destroy them.
  • Drawing pencils, technical pens and markers are expensive. They’re also pointy, and surprisingly bouncy. You may try to throw them at the wall and end up hitting yourself, or the TV, or the cat. You don’t want to explain to your roommates why there’s a .7mm hole in the middle of the TV screen, so set the projectile down and take a break.

On a related topic, if you’re determined to practice every day, you may get angry or discouraged when you miss a session. Don’t get angry or discouraged. Just start again tomorrow—or even today, if there’s still time.