Toy Tech: Roughing It!




From conceptual ideation sketches to final presentation art, working within the exacting parameters of multiple professional projects can eventually lead to creative tunnel vision.

When a designer gets in this cycle, they tend to repeat the same styles, techniques and even ideas without even realizing it. This leads to stagnation and closes the door to innovative technologies and streamlining processes.

That’s why I like working with a team of designers who all have different backgrounds and personalities to draw from. Bouncing off ideas and exchanging tips and tricks really helps you stay fresh and fully engaged.

Back in the day working with Disney design teams, many would go out during lunch to sketch in pencil or even oil paint. It didn’t matter what they sketched, just as long as they cleared their minds and let loose with free-flowing creativity.

They taught me the value in taking time to creatively break free by doing really fast, ugly, no good, down and dirty sketch experiments that no one else would ever see.

My rough pencil doodle included in this post is an example of this process—it has no real details and plenty of mistakes, it’s just an exercise in allowing random ideas out of my head with no reference material to trigger the analytical side of my brain.

This doodle is a mess of cross-hatching and rough scribbles using an old discarded nub of a pencil. For you design students who always ask, this happens to be black Prismacolor on a Moleskin notebook, but keep in mind the actual tool could be anything—a marker, pen, or even crayon.

The point is to clear your mind from the clutter of exacting details—to be free from your perfectionism that can make your style stiff and keep your work too safe. This is the time you allow your sub-conscience mind to let loose and explore.

No thoughts of technique or cleaning anything up—just let it out! You’ll be surprised how many ideas pop into your head doing this, and how new styles and techniques effortlessly emerge.

Also, since these doodles are done in just a few minutes, over time, your muscle memory will adapt to the new pace and when you return to your professional work, you’ll notice a natural speed progression without even trying.

Clearing your analytical mind will allow creativity to flow from one idea to another. Even if you just have a fragment of a thought, your sub-conscious will build upon it, eventually developing a bonafide concept—yes, a big, beautiful, never been done before, jewel of an idea.

Short, really fast, multiple sketches work best to progressively build your thoughts and ideas until they start to take shape. So, roughing it isn’t so bad—let loose and just have fun.


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