When it’s time to prototype your new idea, you may want to hold off on firing up Photoshop right away. Over at Smashing Magazine, author Laura Busche highlights the benefits of hand sketching as opposed to digital sketching:

Extends memory: “The better you become at translating imagery from your mind to paper, the more visual resources you will have to draw on and the easier it will be to retrieve them in the future.”

Aids concentration: “Sketching stimulates us to a comfortable level — enough to keep us awake, concentrated and engaged… Some believe that we reach deeper levels of concentration and develop richer concepts when our own hands are the hardware.”

Allows for flexibility: “Because of our brain’s limited processing capacity, externalizing our ideas on paper makes it easier to restructure them, transforming the initial structure into a new one.”

As technology advances, it will become easier to directly translate our ideas from our mind to the computer. However, approaching a problem hands on will always provide advantages. Remember to work with all the tools at your disposal – including your own two hands.


  • david

    People who grew up using a mouse seem to equate sketching with “non-digital,” and “digital” with software enhanced construction. That’s unfortunate. I hand sketch with a wacom tablet and it allows everything that “hand-sketching” does. Probably because it’s the same thing. I started using a computer about 20 years ago, drawing with a wacom pen. The drawings look like pencil on paper. They’re sketchy, with errors, with an obvious tactile search for the correct mark. It takes complete immersion: put your mouse in a drawer.

    • Brent Brown

      I agree. I use my pressure-sensitive tablet and emulated pencils software a lot as well as a pressure-sensitive stylus and iPad app, and a real sketch pad with real pencils (when I feel like it or the power goes out) and I don’t notice any difference in the process.

      • Yay

        The hardware suggested is not the pen and paper, it’s the hands, so regardless if the medium is digital or traditional, the practice is the same and shares the same benefits. Professionally I use mostly digital mediums and I paint a lot in my illustrations with a Wacom tablet, but there’s just something special about zoning off with pen and paper. It’s a different approach to the material, a more personal contact with something real that adds to the experience and thus, a broader way of thinking

  • G. |

    I’m a believer of doodle and hand-sketching. 🙂 Sometimes, it’s good to write and draw like the old times – pen/pencil and paper.

  • Paul Ricken

    Handsketching, great idea. I will add it to my toolbox. Productivity can also be boosted by exercising, taking a power nap during the day, drink lemon water in the morning and evening (water should be lukewarm), sleep at least 8 to 9 hours a night, take a walk each day for half an hour or just dance and sing a while. This will enlighten your mind as well. And every morning I use my Productivity sheet. I write down projects, priorities and people (waiting for and reach out to). Works great as well.

    • Patti Ace

      All of this this. totally.

    • brainsicle

      couldn’t agree more with this list

  • Andreas Lorenz

    Interesting article. Thanks. We just developed for this a simple app called eskiis. Easy to use, just scribble some ideas and save or share them on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. You get the app for free:

  • LulamaeBroadway

    I actually started keeping a Sketch based daily log per Austin Kleon’s suggestion and I love it EXCEPT – I have no drawing ability whatsoever. I’m trying to learn basics to improve my sketches, – I believe it can be learned – but I have found precious few resources.

    Any suggestions out there for “How To Sketch” for adults? I want to do cartoony little simple illustrations.

    • loup407

      Try reading “drawing from the right side of your brain” also “Every Day Matters” by Danny Gregory

      • LulamaeBroadway

        Thank you.

      • Caroline Brewer

        Drawing is like handwriting – learn the basics of making shapes, tones etc and rest assured the results always ends up yours and yours alone. Good book? Best to observe from life and have a go – look at the (animal/vegetable/mineral) you are drawing not the paper. See what happens, critique and practice.

  • Airwave

    I am so happy to read this! As a Jewelry Designer, in my experience, getting lost in detail while working in Photoshop can lead eventually to wonderful, diverse and unexpected results, but that hand sketching especially when having a ‘good drawing day’ is light years ahead in the feeling department of creative purging! Thank you for validating this again, I hate feeling like a dinosaur 😉

  • loup407

    That IS the book I meant! It’s been a while…(and it IS an amazing book!)

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