Drawing for web and graphic design

Why do I need to know how to draw? The computer will do everything for me. First of all, the computer will NOT do everything for you. It’s only a machine and a tool at your disposal. It can’t create a logo, draw a human face, or layout a page without your input. I tell my graphic design students all the time YOU are the artist, YOU get to decide what to create and how it will look. Think back to the last time you drew a landscape or a scene with people in it. You as the artist got to choose what went into the picture and what to leave out. Otherwise it’s not art. Don’t like the branch on a tree? Don’t like the pose one person is taking? Leave it out. Change a color. Move an object to another location. You as the artist get to change things to suit your vision.

My second point is accessibility. If you’re creating a webpage or graphic design for a client, submit a pencil or two for approval. It doesn’t have to be elaborate or extremely detailed, just enough to show what the page might look like. Clients like to have some involvement in their projects. Show them a pencil and they feel comfortable giving input and making suggestions, a pencil is a work in progress and they can put in their two-cents
worth. If you submit computer generated images they tend to look finished and clients may be weary of making changes. Or maybe they just don’t like it at all and want another direction. You’ve just invested a lot of time on the computer that is wasted. A pencil layout is quicker to create and easier to change from all points of view.

Time is money. How quickly can you draw a simple shape with a pencil as opposed to creating it on the computer. Now multiply that by twenty. Working through concepts for a logo you should be able to crank out a dozen or two quick sketches, exploring possibilities of shape, proportion, and alignment. Try doing the same thing on the computer and you’ll get caught up with the technology and lose the spontaneity of the design. Working with a pencil gives you the ability to erase and redraw quickly as your eye sees things developing that you might not have seen on the computer screen. Designing a larger document like a multiple page website or a magazine? Pencil out a grid first and copy it as many times as needed. Sketch in the items for each page, looking for things that might conflict with your layout, resolve issues before you get backed into a corner. See the whole thing come together as a unit, develop continuity (a Principle of design). Minutes spent penciling
out your pages will save you hours of redesigning something that just didn’t work on the computer.

My last point is ownership. Chances are, you are working for someone else. If you are just “messing around” and the artwork is just for you, go ahead and use pictures from websites or stock photo companies. Just don’t try to sell it or market it. But if you are creating something for a client or employer, be careful. Copyright laws cover a lot of images found on the internet. A few years ago an artist used an image of candidate Barack Obama as the basis for a poster. Although he made a graphic design the image he worked from was a copyrighted Associated Press photo and the artist ended up in big trouble in court. The safest thing is get a good camera and take your own photos. Before the advent of digital cameras, I went through a lot of Polaroid pictures to get the image I wanted for an illustration. When you are taking your own photos YOU are in control of the image, the lighting, the design. When you use images from stock photo sites and “Google Images” you are limiting your creativity and compromising the design that is in your head and heart.

So grab a sketchbook and draw. Anytime you’re getting bored with TV, draw. Sitting and waiting for a ride? Draw. The more you draw the easier it will get. You will never look back on your life and say, Gee, I wished I hadn’t drawn so much.