Background Image

Online learning

support for design sketching

Online tutorials

City car

Digital sketch 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.



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



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.

Tips for sketching


Use a sketching tool that cannot be erased, such as a fineliner or pen. Although it may initially not produce 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 elongate it and focus on its direction instead. 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

"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 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 computer + sketching tool in one.
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.

You can also add a sketching tool to a laptop. Adding a 13” Cintiq (€1120) to a powerbook would be an OSX alternative. Ok, drag along a lot of wires and you need a power scource, but without having to buy extra windows software. A WACOM Intuos PRO, however, is much more mobile, but that is a pen tablet, not a pen-on-screen device.


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. 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; too small to my taste. Other downsides are its high price, and it not being available on iPad.

Last but not least, some Apps worth looking into :
ProCreate offers a very elaborate sketching program for the iPad, that combines good options in both line drawing and in photo-editing, suitable for high-end rendering completely done on the iPad.
Artstudio Pro which is available on both MacOS and iOS.
Affinity Photo; available on both MacOS and iOS.
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 - on paper


line drawing // speed (stains) and handling

Use a fineliner; and no pencil... a pencil invites endless adjustment, erasing and pondering. A fineliner 'forces' you to make decisions and causes a more resolute way of drawing. Ok, it also causes 'sloppy' sketches at first, but it certainly pays off after a while.
Recommended fineliners for when you just started sktching: HEMA (per 24) (NL, B), Stabilo Stylist (FR), en Schneider TOPliner 967.

TIPs for choosing a fineliner :
- Test it on the paper you ultimately want to draw on
- Test if it blends with the markers you use (and doesn't smudge or change color)
- Test how quickly it dries, or rather, how likely you are to stain if you sketch very quickly
- See if you can create both thin and thicker lines with the same fineliner, this gives you a lot of freedom in line thickness variation.

A3 marker paper

Marker paper has a plastic coating on the back which prevents the ink from bleeding through. Although it is quite expensive compared to regular paper, it also ensures that you use less ink, and is ultimately a good investment. We buy it per pack of 150 sheets.


Grey : Neutral, Cool or Warm // shading

With a basic set of 3 markers you can make impressive 'grayscale' sketches. For example, COPIC N3, N5 and BLACK (100), or C3+C5+BLACK. N means neutral, C means cool.
If you want to use color in your sketches, the combination of gray & color is used. The color marker is then used over the gray marker, and each color 'matches' to a certain gray. N4 and N5 are useful, which can be combined with a large group of colors.
In specific situations, using a very warm or very cool color, a cool or warm gray is used to mix with the colour. A COPIC marker with the letter W is a warm gray, for warm colors. The C grays, cool grays, are good to combine with cool colors.

A minimum base set can consist of: COPIC N3, N5, and BLACK(100).
A general base set can consist of: COPIC N3, N4, N5, and BLACK(100).
A complete gray set can consist of: COPIC N3, N4, N5, N6, N8 and BLACK(100).

Color markers

When combining gray markers with color markers, you will first have to find the right combination. If you already have an N5 marker, buy color markers with medium brightness. That means not too bright or very dark color. If you prefer for example an orange marker, buy a warm gray one to go with it. Make samples in the store to see which gray you need.
You first make a well-covered gray area (not just stripes), let it dry, and then go over it partly with a color. Do not use too little ink. When it is dry you will see which gray/color combination is the best. Always use the gray first, then the color.
All alcohol-based markers, such as COPIC, Pantone, Letraset, PROMarker, Winston, can be combined. After all this, one more thing: don't forget your own color preference, sketching is so much nicer with your favorite colors!

Pastel chalk

Gradients // airbrush

Pastel chalk looks a bit like airbrush, the way we use it. You can use it to make material shine (gradients), but also to suggest an environment or make a small color change.
It is important to use DRY pastels, for example Talens Rembrandt Soft pastels, in a box of 16 half ones.

In general, the crayon itself looks much darker than how it ends up on paper. You scrape some off with a knife and polish it with a soft cloth or soft paper. You can also buy pastel crayons separately, for example in your favorite marker color.

Screenshot Screenshot Screenshot