Drawing Skills

Drawing is still important for designers and is one of the most important skills that employers will look for in your portfolio. Good drawing skills are at the heart of good design, so start your journey to greatness here.

Don’t worry about trying to attain a great development sheet of drawings like the one above. This may well have been assembled from many other sketches – all traced, and rendered (we don’t “colour-in”, we “render” colour and shade!), onto the same sheet. The arrows show the flow of development and the hand written text (annotations) shows spontaneity and explain your thought processes.

All great designs start with an idea – whether that’s scribbled onto the back of a beer mat or an envelope – mastering the ability to draw your ideas, freehand, will allow you to quickly and efficiently communicate your ideas to your friends, your team or even to your clients.

First Steps

You do not need to be a great artist to be a great designer – however learning the basics of technical (ie: using tools such as sharp pencils, rulers, 30/60 triangles etc) drawing will be very beneficial. Technical drawing refers to the FORMAL drawing of objects in: 2 Point Perspective, Isometric Projection and 3rd Angle Orthographic Projection. FORMAL vs FREEHAND.

Freehand sketching curved shapes

Learn the formal, technical, way first: use a ruler, a sharp pencil and the correct angles (30 degrees is the standard for Isometric) for ALL production drawings. Use the freehand style (ie: without using rulers etc) for DESIGN SKETCHING whilst completing the IDEATION and DEVELOPMENT stages.

TECHNICAL – Isometric Drawing

Download and print this paper to help you. Print it in B&W and then put behind thin paper (such as layout paper) to guide your freehand drawings).

Your images cannot just float on a white page – they’ve got to be anchored by a horizon line and given an appearance of solidity through the use of shadows.

TECHNICAL – Isometric shadows

Once you can draw in pencil, move onto drawing in pen and add some flourish with a couple of markers. I learnt with Magic Markers, however you may not be able to get these any more so ask for Letraset, Copic or similar pens. I’ve often find arb packs of markers in TK MAXX so always check out the stationary section if you ever get dragged there by your parent or spouse! These newer pens have both a broad and a fine tip for detailed work.

TECHNICAL – Isometric ellipse:

You can also use templates and drawing tools for this.

TECHNICAL – 2 Point Perspective:

TECHNICAL – 3rd Angle Orthographic Projection

The difference between 1st Angle and 3rd Angle Projection (Simplified)

Drawings are great for communicating your ideas to clients etc, however, they are not great for production purposes. For this you’ll need an Orthographic Drawing – ie: a drawing that shows at least 3 views (elevations) of an object. The UK standard is called a 3rd Angle projection and is outlined in the exercise below. This is a standard production drawing however a “real” production drawing would include scale, dimensions, a title and a date (this is for version control).

If you use CAD to draw your designs in 3D then there is usually the option to output (print) your design as a orthographic projection automatically.


Tech Drawing in Fusion 360

Basic Marker Rendering


FREEHAND – Lesson ONE: Two Point Perspective

FREEHAND Lesson TWO: Circles and Ellipses

Do NOT be afraid of CONSTRUCTION lines!

FREEHAND Crating – the benefits of using BOXES

FREEHAND Building 3D Sketches – Ortho to 2PP

FREEHAND Sketch to Presentation with markers

FREEHAND – How to COMMUNICATE – Making our thoughts and ideas clear using ANNOTATION

FREEHAND – How to work QUICKLY and EFFICIENTLY – using photocopies

FREEHAND – Sketching Hands

FREEHAND – Using SHADING to add information to your design

FREEHAND – Making your work POP off the page!

These sheets, from the DESIGN AND TECHNOLOGY ASSOCIATION, will help you produce great perspective drawings.

The white lines show you 3D space on the sheet. Sketch freely within this.

When you’ve finished your drawing, photocopy the sheet and the white lines and faint background will disappear. You can then add colour or continue drawing on the copy, safe in the knowledge that if you mess up you can copy it again and have another go.

The sheets have been designed to cover a range of different design activities:

  1. For 3D objects – products, craft items, furniture – a 3 point perspective grid
  2. For interiors and architecture – a 1 point perspective grid
  3. For planning animations, films, product use stories–a story board grid
  4. For cars, trains, boats, interiors, furniture – a 2 point perspective grid
  5. For space planning, interiors, architecture and large products – a 3 point perspective grid

There are also sheets on ellipse construction and 3 point perspective construction.

Further info:

If you want to develop your drawing skills – download and work through this simple booklet:

To improve you need to sketch, sketch and sketch some more: