Background Image

Online learning

support for design sketching

Online tutorials

City car

Digital sketching in side view

This tutorial video will show a quick digital ideation design sketch of a vehicle. It will show the built-up of the sketch and digital sketching tools used in Corel Painter. Sketching in PS will be similar, but some of its basic tools need to be adjusted for the same effect


One layer challenge // Digital sketching in worms perspective

Quick digital design sketch of a Zeppelin concept. This sketch exercise is built up sketching all in 1 layer > challenge yourself!

Kitchen mixer

Sketching in side view // underlay

This video shows a step-by-step side view concept sketch on paper; explaining about the built-up of a sketch and the sequence of sketching tools.

Notify me

Follow Us to be notified of tutorial updates

Tips for sketching


By that we mean a sketching tool that cannot be erased, such as a fineliner or pen. Although it may not seem to be the most beautiful sketches you dreamt of, sketching with fineliner instead of graphite pencil encourages you to ‘decide’ instead of lingering and re-doing parts of the line drawing. In the long run, it will make your sketch more decisive and confident.

LONG LINES - look better

Try not to focus on a line ‘from point to point”, but instead elongate it and focus on it direction. This will result in lines more decisive and straight (sleek). A good quality that will work through to the ideas you cmmunicate as well! (Lines that are 'sketched' in pieces (hairy lines), will look indecisive.) Draw with a “locked” whist. By doing so you have more control of straight lines, as well as curves lines with a tension.

ZOOM IN? - not too much

We sometimes see people sketching with their faces very close to the paper… Remember that the persons viewing them will probably keep more distance! Take regular views at your work from a greater distance, you may even want to pin some on the wall. This way you will get a feel of which actions will have best effect, and which were somewhat futile.

WACOM Intuos- how to start

If you intend to do digital sketching with a Wacom IntuosPRO in the near future, just buy your Wacom tablet already. Throw out the computer mouse, and do all with your new tablet. This way you start getting used to the new eye-hand coordination : sketch ‘here’ and look ‘over there’.

CONTRAST - use enough of it

Its all about perception. Sketches with too low contrast, will be perceived as ‘weak’. Sketches with more contrast look stronger. You may have experienced this, when you fellow students pinned your work to the wall to discuss it. Some sketches immediately catch the eye, whereas others seem not to be noticed.
The answer is in most cases the use of contrast. Both black/white, as well as colour contrast. As a rule of thumb you will always need some white, grey, as well as black in a sketch. We usually use the black for casted shadow for this reason.

UNDERLAY - to speed up

Do not redo the same work over and over. Use your previous sketch as an underlay to work upon, so you do not reinvent the wheel all the time. Proportions and perspective are set. So you can focus more on content or on improvements or variations.

PORTFOLIO - professionals

View here for tips from design professionals on how to make your design portfolio.

Digital Sketching tools


your digital freehand sketching tools

We often get the question “what should I buy to start digital sketching?” Well, there’s no 1 answer. You either want to add something to the hardware you already have, or want to start from scratch; what OS you choose also matters, as do your workflow wishes and of course your budget, to name a few. Keeping that in mind, we drafted out several options.

In our view, it boils down to 4 core questions :

- preferred sketching location(s)
- which OS
- pen-on-screen/or pen-on-tablet
- your budget

Pen tablets/ computers

fixed location or be mobile // pen tablet or pen on screen

When you only need to sketch in one fixed spot, and have budget, its simple: get yourself a computer with a good screen, and add a WACOM Cintiq to it (16 to 27 inch, €1620-3000). This is a pen-to-screen tablet, or pen display.
I use a Cintiq 22inch. It is my favourite tool, as it enables very sensitive and comfortable on-screen sketching. A good desktop computer monitor, next to the Cintiq, is advisable if you regularly print your work.

On a tight budget, a pen-tablet is an option, a WACOM Intuos PRO M or L (€390-540). A lot of students use it, in addition to a powerbook or laptop (which, by the way, enables you to sketch where you want ;-). It is a very nice and pressure sensitive tool for sketching, but you need to get used to the weird eye-hand coordination. Size it at M or L.


If you want to sketch “mobile”, you can either attach a tool to a latptop/powerbook, or choose a computer set up for sketching pen-on-screen. When you’re comfortable working with windows, a WACOM MobileStudio (13/16inch,€1625 to €3250, follow-up of WACOM Companion) is such a tool.
There are others, such as Surface (studio) or Samsung notebook 9 PRO but to me WACOM has proven to be superior in its’ ‘touch’ for pen-to-screen sketching.

Adding a 13” Cintiq (€1120) to a powerbook would be an OSX alternative; without having to buy extra windows software, that is.


For sketching and more

The iPad pro + pencil (€1020) did the trick for me. Software interfaces of apps are adapted to the smaller screen size, and their (limited) functionality works fine for me. I think apps will improve even further in the future. No need to say the iPad offers a good (icloud) extension to the iMac. I regularly have to set up a sketch at a client’s, but I do not need to finish it there. So I can start on my iPad, and finish the drawing on an iMac in the Studio.

The iPad is a very flexible tool, that does more than being a pen-on-screen sketching device. You can mirror your iPad screen with your computer/ powerbook, and actually use desktop software on your iPad, Photoshop for example. Astropad, or Reflector 2 or Air Display are apps to do that. Your iPad and desktop need to be connected to the same network to make this happen. It works efficient in workshop demo’s: you can walk around and demo-sketch on iPad, and have this projected in the room. In that same range, the app Duet Display, for example, can also turn your iPad into a second screen to a computer. Very handy.



For freehand sketching

Adobe PhotoShop, is also a good sketching tool, after you customise your brushes. As it is a program which is available or known to a lot of people, it is easy to get started with. I use it preferably at the final stages of my sketches, as the photo editing capabilities are almost limitless, which makes it a good tool for after-enhancing sketches, adding context images, textures or graphics to a drawing. It does not work optimal with on screen sketching, as your hand gets in the way with the pulldown menus. On a 13inch pen-to-screen device the interface appears very small. Other downsides are its high price, and its app versions are very limited.

Last but not least, ProCreate is worth mentioning, it offers a very elaborate sketching program for the iPad, that combines good options in both line drawing and in photo-editing. A bit like having PS on your iPad. This program is also suitable for high-end rendering completely done on the iPad.

Sketchbook PRO is by far the most intuitive program that feels most like sketching on paper. It has a great variety of line and brush tools. Furthermore, it has some really nice gimmicks to make sleek line drawings, such as the ellipse tool that you can easy scale or rotate, rulers, steady stroke and predictive stroke. I use it mostly to brainstorm sketch and set up my precise line drawing. It offers an interface that is suitable for pen-on-screen interfaces such as the Cintiq or iPad. You can do almost anything without a pulldown menu, where your hand would get in the way. AND, it has a very good pricing. My favourite.


Sketching tools - markers


line sketching // speed, bleed and feel

We use a fineliner; not a pencil … a pencil will encourage continuous adapting or pondering. A fineliner stroke cannot be erased, and will ‘force’ you into a decisive way of drawing. It may result in ‘dirty’ sketches at first, but it will surely pay off after some time.
Some fineliners we can recommend the starting artist are: HEMA (in a pack of 24) (NL, B), Stabilo Stylist (FR), Schneider TOPliner 967 for example.


TIPs for choosing a fineliner :
- make sure you test it on the paper you use for sketching
- see if it combines well with the markers you use (some smudge or change colour when covered with marker)
- check how fast it dries, or actually, how much it smudges when you sketch very fast
- (optionally) see if you can make both thin and thick lines with the same fineliner, so you can apply line thickness variation without having to grab different fineliners

A3 marker paper

Marker paper has a plastic coating on the back, preventing it from bleeding. Although the price may seem a bit high compared to regular paper, sketching on this paper will require less ink, and will in the end be a good investment. We buy it by the pack (150 pages).


gray : Neutral, cool or warm // shading

With a basic set of 3 markers you can already make impressive ’grayscale’ sketches. If you wish to give colour to your sketches, the combination between gray & colour is crucial, as the colour marker is used on top of the gray marker for the shaded parts of an object. The N4 and N5 are pretty ’safe’ grays that can be combined with a large range of colours.
In specific situations you may need a specific gray. A COPIC marker with the letter W is of a warm gray., that will combine great with warm colours, and the C range consists of cool grays, good for shading cool colours.

A basic set can be COPIC N3, N5 and BLACK (100), or C3+C5+BLACK for example.
N stands for neutral, C stands for cool.


Color markers

When combining colour and gray. marker, you need to find the right combination first. If you have an N5, it is best to stick to colour markers that have an average brightness. Meaning not too bright, but not too dark either. If you prefer to buy a specific colour, say an orange, you may want to buy a warm gray. marker to combine with it. Make gray./color doodles, to see what gray. matches what colour. Preferably at the store!
Make gray. doodles, using enough ink to really fill the paper. Wait till they’re dry, and then partially cover them with a colour. When dried, you will see which combination is best. The gray. marker should always be applied underneath the colour marker.
All alcohol based markers, such as COPIC, Pantone, Letraset, PROMarker, Winston, can be combined. Having said all this, do not forget your colour preference… sketching is way more fun with colours that you like!

Pastel chalk

Gradients // airbrush

This tool is used in a way that it resembles airbrush. You can make glossy material (use of gradients), but also surrounding or apply slight colour shifts.
It is important to use DRY powdery pastel chalk. We always use Talens Rembrandt Soft pastels, in a box of 16 halves is most economic.

We also like to sketch ‘grayscale’ with pastel, combining COPIC C-markers with pastel 727,5.

In general you want to apply a pastel that looks way darker than the result your looking for. You scrape some of with a small knife, and apply it with a large piece of cloth or soft paper. You can buy separate ones, for example your favorite colour marker.

Screenshot Screenshot Screenshot