Pencil before pixel: The importance of sketching

The creative briefing has taken place. Full of information the ideas are starting to bubble away.

So how do you get from this initial stage to producing a final logo that’s ready to be unleashed into the world? For me there’s only one place to start – pen and paper. Well technical pencil and paper if we’re nit-picking.

Identifying keywords relating to the client’s company, product or service gets the ball rolling. Writing these down, as a list or scribbling a spider diagram, is common practice. It helps to inspire possible visual connections. Once these have been analysed, it’s time for sketching.


As a tool, sketching ideas definitely has a role in the design process. To me personally, it’s essential, possibly the most important part.

The exploratory nature of sketching makes it a perfect way to rapidly explore concepts. A pencil in your hand gives creative freedom. The opportunity to materialise the ideas in your head. It is possible to build ideas on a computer, but it’s not as time effective as getting them down on paper. Sketches can be quickly adapted and evolved, making them more flexible than vector graphics. You can push things around on screen forever and sometimes it’s still not right.

This rough, but invaluable stage, is the best way to spark creativity that the client is looking for. Letting your imagination take over, and the ideas rain down is what you want. Nothing should be held back at this stage.

Starting with a sketch allows you to express numerous ideas and not limit yourself with a single route, or variation of. It’s a fast process. Multiple options can be explored, all from initial thoughts and ideas.

Having lots of ideas down on paper is a great way to assess them. See if they are worth developing further, without getting hung-up on details. Remembering advice drummed into me as a student, “if it works in black and white, it’ll work in colour”.

So now with pages full of ideas, it’s time to evaluate. By reviewing the creative brief again, we can decide which ideas meet the project goals, and which should be ditched. No matter how great the logo could look, if it doesn’t answer the brief, well chocolate teapot springs to mind.

Once we are happy with the ideas in our sketches, then it’s time to develop them. On the computer ideas are brought to life but none of this would be possible without the mighty pen(cil).

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