Blog ramblings of Gary Martin — Information, reviews and creative ideas

Hand Drawn Design - Taking a break from the computer screen

by Gary Martin Design Illustration

Hand Drawn Design - Taking a break from the computer screen

I’ve always loved drawing and with the strain many hours of screen work can put on the eyes it is a great way to still be creative. You can get your design work done while giving the computer monitor a break.

Recently, I have been working on improving my hand-drawn type skills with the help of two books:

I recommend both books, although calligraphy is difficult as a left handed artist—I still haven’t decided which hand is easiest to use!

So back to the reason for this blog post—I thought I would share some of the sketches and preliminary pieces for a poster I created for a Performing Art Schools Summer Show. This is the first design I have created for a long while where I spent more time with a pencil and paper than a mouse and keyboard.

Thumbnail sketches for speed

Thumbnail sketch ideas

I’m really pleased with how this worked out and feel sketching out ideas for the final composition really increased the efficiency of my workflow. Having the basic idea and knowing the composition works allowed me to focus on the details once I imported everything onto the computer. There was definitely a lot less tweaking needed to the finished design—saving my client and myself time and money. It also made the whole process more enjoyable.

The Design Process

Hand drawn Type sketch

After deciding on the composition, I sketched the individual parts—the three witches and the heading text. Tweaking a pencil drawing with an eraser is so much quicker than selecting path points and moving them around. Everything was then scanned and taken into Affinity Designer where I traced all the drawings with the pen tool, added colour and the rest of the text. Yes, there was still some altering to do on the computer but I knew where I was heading and it was fun rather than frustrating.

Final Witches Poster

Experiment with workflows

The success of this project has led to quite a change in how I approach my graphics and illustration work and I plan to continue experimenting, bringing more natural media into my designs when it’s suitable. I feel like I’ve found the fun again! If you are sitting, struggling at your computer tweaking things for hours on end then I recommend grabbing a pencil, some paper and a mug of tea. Get some thumbnail sketches worked out and develop the design on paper first—it may just save you time, inspire you and make design fun again! To view more of my designs and illustrations, have a look at my portfolio of work.