My Sketching Journey

Finding my love ❤️ for sketching:

Sketching is one of the main reasons I fell in love with UX. During my undergrad years as an Industrial Designer, I always felt intimidated by my peer’s sketches — they always looked refined and “fancy”. I felt like I could never achieve that level of high-fidelity or detail, and it would hinder my opportunities to find a job (yes, I know, a case of “impostor syndrome”). Being honest with myself, this was the part of the job I disliked the most. Drawing and sketching with this level of detail often felt like I was wasting too much time on one area rather than actually building it.

Example of a detailed industrial design sketch of a mouse
Example of a baby carrier sketches
Some of my sketches for my industrial design projects

I spent some time reflecting 🤔 — What exactly was the problem? Why did I dislike this so much? I essentially narrowed it down to:

I don’t dislike sketching — I didn’t enjoy the high-fidelity aspect of it. I was spending too much time making sure my proportions were correct, choosing the right colors and markers, and perfecting a skill I didn’t care too much for. What I did love was coming up with a bunch of ideas and being able to quickly communicate them in order to get the process moving.

I then discovered the UX field and realized the quick & dirty sketching I enjoyed was part of the process — a match made in heaven. Over the years I’ve proudly collected a couple of sketchbooks and process books where I’ve kept lots of my sketches.

My current sketching journey:

After stumbling upon Krisztina Szerovay UX Sketching, I felt inspired to take on a different flavor or sketching, or as she puts it “…develop your sketching skills in a fun and easy way.” She originally started the UX Sketching Challenge, where one sketches 3 UX-related concepts every day for 100 days. I also liked her newest challenge: a monthly theme-based Sketching Exercise.

It was the perfect exercise during my lunch hour or whenever I needed to take a break. Sketching usually takes between 10–15 minutes and I would often switch up which marker or pen I’d use. It was interesting to see how my sketches reflected my mood or sketching set up. Once I laid out all of my sketches, I could tell which ones were rushed, and my good days vs. bad days.

Ok cool, but what did you learn?

1. Building your visual library

Prompts gave me pause and helped me think through how I would represent a certain word. There were many times I had to Google examples and go from there. I took that as a learning opportunity to familiarize myself with the prompts and how they’re commonly represented. Additionally, this was a good reminder that users will not always be familiar with icons, and we should use labels within our UI.

2. Seriously, just do it!

I knew my sketches were never meant to be perfect, and I had days where a prompt would just sit in my inbox for days. However, sketching always allowed me to break away from using my screen and get my hands dirty. The important lesson was following-through and completing an exercise — it’s about doing the work, much like my day-to-day.

3. Enjoy finding your style

It was interesting to see how my sketches varied so much. I experimented with various tools (pen, sharpie, highlighter) and times during the day (quick 5-minute break during the day vs. after work). I still don’t think I’ve mastered or even found “my style”, but I’ve learned to recognize personal tendencies and patterns. This will help me continue and enjoy my sketching journey.

It was nice to look back at my journey and reflect on everything. I hope my post inspires others to continue (or start) their own personal sketching journey, especially if you’re in UX. Take time to reflect and admire how much you’ve accomplished — and never stop creating ❤.

UX Designer