The Importance of Sketching in the Creative Process

If sketching and storyboarding is a significant part of the creative process of any project, why is it that we are always tempted to forgo it? Starting with sketching can speed up the design process, build credibility with clients, and even help get the “creative juices” flowing. Let’s take a quick look at the benefits of putting pencil before pixel.


As many designers know, the planning stage of a project is quite possibly the most important. In this stage, all of the ideas that you’ve harbored about a project can be sketched out on paper. This allows you, as the designer, to lay out all of your creative thoughts and begin to process them visually. The planning process becomes easier when it’s begun in a visual stage with a clear starting point.

Quick Execution

For most designers, sketching is substantially more time-effective than beginning the process immediately on the computer. The beauty of sketching is that it’s quick and doesn’t have to be perfect.

No judgement

Similar to the way that everyone has their own handwriting, every designer has their own style of sketching. Many designers are extremely talented with just a pencil and paper, but equally as many can show their creativity in simple, basic, “chicken scratch” sketches. It’s important to remember that everyone has their own way of sketching or storyboarding, so as long as you understand your sketches and can benefit from them, you’re doing it right!

No Commitment

Sketching allows you to express numerous ideas that may be floating around in your head without having the seeming commitment of creating and deleting vectors before you reach a satisfactory design.

David Azurdia (2014), Creative Director of Magpie Studio, says, “The language of sketches is in suggestion and possibilities rather than definitives and closed doors. There’s romance in a pencil that you just don’t find in a mouse.”

Proof of Development

I have very often found inspiration in sketches that didn’t get used. Sometimes, those ideas can lead to others in a new project. The same can happen if a client wants to extend a project and have additional components. That being said, don’t toss your unused sketches. They’re a great way to look back and learn more.

Sketches are a great way to communicate with clients in the early stages of a project. There are few things worse than making a lot of progress on a project only to find that the client wants to go a completely different direction. Personally, I have found a significant benefit in showing clients well-developed sketches before moving on to the next stage of the project. More often than not, a client will want to change something about the design before it moves forward, so having an approved sketch is extremely helpful.

Problem Solving

Quick changes can be made to sketches, making them more manipulable than vector images. If you sketch something and it isn’t quite right, you can sketch it over and over again with small changes until you find the perfect piece to take forward.

You can sketch anywhere!

The beauty of sketching is that you can do it anywhere! You don’t need a charger, SD card, scanner, mouse, or tablet. All you need is a trusty pencil, blank pages, and an open mind.

What are some of the reasons that you sketch your process out before you begin? We’d love you hear your tips, so let us know in the comments!

Is it still important to be able to draw and sketch as a designer? (2014, January 1). Retrieved February 6, 2015, from

Savannah is a Graphic Design Professor at Gila Community College, and is passionate about using design to better the world around her. She believes in researched design, and is a major proponent of paper before pixel. In her spare time, she enjoys painting, designing for small businesses and non-profits, and attempting any DIY she finds on Pinterest.

Check Also


Top 10 Design Trends of 2016 and What to Look for in 2017

As 2016 is coming to a close, and 2017 is right around the corner it’s …

The Invisible World of Typography Pt.2

Look around you. At your coffee cup, at your phone, at that sticky note you …