Tools & Materials

Welcome to Design Sketching Class! If you want to come up with a new idea, design something that's floating around in your head, or figure out how to make something, sketching is the simplest and fastest tool at your disposal. Even if you think you’re no good at drawing by hand, it’s a skill that helps communicate your ideas to others, and even clarify your ideas for yourself!

Digital design tools (both 2D and 3D) are powerful, but they have a lot of constraints by nature. But, if you can flesh out an idea with a pen and paper -even badly- you'll free yourself up to explore options and make decisions before you get into the computer or the workshop. Simply put, design drawing is a skill you need to take your designs to the next level.

This class focuses on the skill of sketching as a tool to help you think. We'll start with some basic hand drawing techniques to help you draw straight lines and other useful forms. Next, you'll learn about multi-view drawings- studying an object as a series of 2D drawings of the sides. Finally, you'll learn how to draw in 3D with isometric drawings. We'll also talk about light and shade to help you think about shape.

This class isn't about presentation drawings that require a high level of skill. In this class, you'll get used to design sketching as a tool to help you think and explore possibilities.

The Invention Class by Paige Russel is a companion class to this one. If you take them both at the same time, you'll be well on your way to designing your own awesome creations.

Tools & Materials

There's an endless variety of professional drawing tools and materials on the market, but to get into design drawings, you'll only need a few basic supplies. There are felt tipped pens, ballpoint pens, fountain pens, and letraset pens. There are automatic pencils, clutch pencils, wooden pencils, and lead holders. There are acid free markers, chisel tip makers, brush markers, pointed nib markers, and blender pens. There are also dozens of choices when it comes to drawing paper. Most of these tools are for fine artists and are not worth your time or attention.

For this class, all you'll need is a ballpoint pen, a mechanical pencil, a gum eraser, some gray Copic markers, and copy paper.

Mechanical Pencil

You'll use mechanical pencils to draw construction lines, meaning lines you'll use to control your drawings and to roughly measure features. You can also use a pencil for quick shading if you don't want to bother with markers. You'll want a light line weight (0.5 or 0.3) so that the lines are easy to erase. I like the pencil listed below, but you can get a 20-pack of cheap mechanical pencils at the corner drug store for $5 and get the same results.

Ballpoint Pens

Ballpoint pens are what you'll be using to draw hard lines, meaning the lines you'll stick with to communicate your ideas. The pens listed below are my favorites, but you can take this class with any cheap ballpoint pen and still get good results.

  • Light Weight (0.38) Ballpoint Pen
    • We'll get into line weight later, but the general idea is that the thickness of the line communicates particular features and ideas. A light weight pen will be good for surface features, contour lines, and roughing out shapes.
    • Muji Hexagonal Gel Ink Ballpoint Pen: $8 / 2-pack on Amazon
  • Medium Weight (0.5) Ballpoint Pen
    • Medium weight pens are good for drawing features with more depth (like holes on surfaces) and interior edges.
    • Muji Hexagonal Gel Ink Ballpoint Pen: $8 / 2-pack on Amazon
  • Heavy Weight (0.7) Ballpoint Pen
    • Heavy weight pens are good for drawing the outside edges of objects and cut lines in cross sections.
    • Moma Muji Gel Ink Ballpoint Pen: $9 / 3-pack on Amazon

Gray Markers

Markers come in every color of the rainbow, but for this class we'll only use gray ones for shading and drawing shadows. There are lots of different marker brands, but I like Copic markers the best because they're easy to draw with, they look great on paper, and they don't emit nasty fumes. They're expensive, but they're worth it.

You can take this class without using markers at all, you'll just be using a pencil or pen to of the shading and shadows.

  • Copic Sketch Set of 6 Sketching Grey Markers - $33 on Amazon
  • Tombow Markers (cheaper alternative) Set of 10 Grey Markers - $19 on Amazon

Copy Paper

Copy paper is great to draw with because it's smooth, manageable, and cheap. To draw straight lines and have good control over line work, you'll be spinning the paper around as you draw constantly (a skill we'll cover in Lesson 2), and copy paper makes this very easy. US Letter (8.5X11 IN) or A4 are ideal.

You can get this paper at any drug store or office supply store, but here's an Amazon link for your convenience:

  • AmazonBasics 92 Bright Multipurpose Copy Paper - 8.5 x 11 Inches, 1 Ream (500 Sheets): $8 on Amazon

Next Up

In the next lesson we'll go over some basic drawing technique. We'll learn how to draw the straightest lines possible without a ruler, how to draw circles without a template or compass, and how to make rectangles and squares that aren't too wonky.


Share a photo of your finished project with the class!

Nice work! You've completed the class project