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Daily Sketch Prompts

Make it Mobile

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Each day this week, pick a product that sits in one place for most of its life. Imagine how that product would change if it could move around, and sketch the new product. Here are some examples:

  • A refrigerator that could wander around your house
  • An alarm clock that could fly out of reach when you won’t get up
  • A desk chair that could take you underwater

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Light and Shadow

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Each day this week, choose a product you can comfortably sketch in 10-15 minutes. Place that product under a strong light source, and position it so you can clearly see areas that are in the light and areas that are in shadow. Then sketch the product, paying close attention to the lighting. Since these products should be relatively easy to sketch, you’ll have plenty of time to focus on the lighting.

If you have trouble with light and shadows, focus on the major forms. Ignore the surface details and make sure the overall form looks correct. When your form is mostly a cylinder, then shade it as a simple cylinder first. After that, you can go back and add-in the details. The same goes for boxy forms, spherical forms, and just about anything else. Read More

Products in a Space

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Choose a space that includes several different, but related, products. It could be a small space, like a kitchen cabinet full of dishes, or a large one, like a parking lot full of cars.

For each of the first four days this week, draw a different product from this space. Depending on your product, you may need to adjust its complexity so it fills a 30-minute sketching session. If you’re drawing simple objects, like plates or drinking glasses, you may want to stack them up, or put a few of them into a group. If you’re drawing complex objects, like cars and trucks, you may want to ignore most of the surface details and focus on the major shapes. Read More

Sets of Identical Products

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Each day this week, sketch a set of identical (or nearly identical) products. Choose simple products, like a group of pushpins on a desk, a set of wrenches on a workbench, or a set of kitchen knives in a knife rack.

Arrange your products in an interesting way. For me, the easiest way to do this is to have most of the products doing the same thing, with 1 or 2 products doing something different. This will draw viewers’ attention to the differently-positioned products, so you might want to add a little extra detail there. Read More

Movie, TV, & Game Props

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Each day this week, sketch a prop (or some other manufactured object) from a movie, TV show or video game. You can do multiple views of the same object, or sketch a new one each day.

Each sketch should only take 20-30 minutes, so keep your sketches simple. Make sure the overall shapes are clear before you zoom in on the details. If you’re doing multiple views of the same product, try zooming in or out for some views, instead of just rotating around the product. Some views could even bleed off the page. Read More

Text in Perspective, Part 2

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Last week, you made observational sketches of text in perspective. You looked at products and packaging with text on the surface, you put them in 2-point or 3-point perspective views, and you sketched them. This week, you’re going to do something similar. But instead of drawing what you see, you’re going to put your own text onto the products.

Each day this week, sketch a simple product in 2-point or 3-point perspective. Then sketch some text onto the surface. This could be a brand name, instructive text (like the “Left” and “Right” text you see on some headphones), or ad copy. It should also be new text that you’re adding to the surface, rather than text that’s already there. Read More

Text in Perspective, Part 1

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Each day this week, pick a simple product with large, easy-to-see text on its surface. Sketch the product quickly in 2-point or 3-point perspective. Then add the surface text.

As you sketch, observe how the surface changes the text. Edges that are straight and parallel when you view them straight-on will look different in perspective. They may bend around a curved surface, or converge to a vanishing point (just like any other group of straight, parallel lines). Some parts of the text may also get narrower, while other parts stay the same. Read More

Round Products & Parts

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Each day this week, sketch a round product: something that’s clearly based on a cylinder, a sphere, or a cone. The whole product doesn’t need to be round, but a large part of it should be.

As you sketch, pay special attention to how the round parts affect the rest of the product. Start with these questions: Read More

Hi-tech/Lo-tech

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For the first three days this week, choose a mass-produced, hi-tech product. Sketch it, but make it look like the product was made by hand out of lo-tech materials, like wood, or stone or riveted steel. If your product requires power, you might think about turning it into a clockwork-powered, steam-powered, or creature-powered device.

For the next three days, choose a hand-made, lo-tech product, and make it look like it was mass produced from hi-tech materials, like injection-molded plastic, carbon fiber, or advanced ceramics. You may also want to add modern features, like power-sources or displays. Read More