Start your sketch with a light pen pressure |TIP 182

TIP 182 Draw with light pen pressure - The Design Sketchbook - Product design

It’s late at night, it’s quiet and I suddenly saw a small booklet I handmade with watercolour paper and a golden pliers I bought at Tokyu Hands shop. I grab the closest ballpoint pen I see and sketch.

Sketching is like practicing sport. Start with a warm up!

My first lines are a bit rigid. So I relax my wrist and start sketching with a light pen pressure. Slowly, my lines get more confident meanwhile my hand muscles are warming up. It’s like starting any sport session, with a good warm up. You can feel free to sketch a series of ellipses, circles and straight lines for 5 minutes for example.

Adidas sneaker ball point pen design sketching the design sketchbook Chou-Tac Chung

Can you spot the different line weight?

There is an other reason why you should start sketching with a light pen pressure. Whenever you draw with a ball point pen. Start your first construction lines very lightly. So you can slowly bold your lines along the way. This is how you will make your sketch of product much more comprehensive.

If like many beginner, you start straight away with bold lines, your sketch will easily get overwhealming.

Remember that I don’t want you to erase, but keep iterating on top of your sketch. We are human, not machine. So whenever our lines get approximative, improve it. Drawing is somehow like sculpting. We start with a main shape, that we refine along the way.

This is why in Product design sketching, it’s always great to learn with NO pencil neither eraser. Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying we should bannish it forever. But as a beginner, you will take good habits with a pen.

Make sure to choose a pen with good pressure sensitivity.

Choose any ball point pen that gives good pressure sensitivity, or a felt pen such as a the Stabilo Stylist for example. Try avoidind Gel pen that are “mono pressure”.

Adidas sneaker ball point pen design sketching the design sketchbook Chou-Tac Chung c

Nothing beat the feel of a ballpoint pen drawing on paper =P

Iterating is the fastest way to gain your confidence while you draw and not being afraid of making mistakes anymore.

Be proud of your mistakes! They help you improve.

At school, we learned that making mistakes was “bad” and they deserved to be erased to be replaced. This is why you neeed to twist your mindset. In sketching, it’s recommended to keep the mistakes you do and correct on top of your lines. Why? Because every single sketch you do wil help you get the next one even better! Keep track of them, don’t be ashame of them. Learn from them and you will keep progressing.

Hope it helps! Let me know if you have any question in the comments. See you!


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About The Author


If the sketching methods I’ve acquired aid me in my life and in my career, I believe that they can also help you to learn, and help you with your projects. Whether Design is a job or a hobby it doesn’t matter, so long as you do what is important to you.


  • John Lai

    Reply Reply July 28, 2016


    Veteran industrial designer learning new tricks on the Cintiq. I really like your pencil strokes in the Sketchbook pro tutorials. Would you mind sharing the pencil settings you use.


    • Chou-Tac

      Reply Reply July 28, 2016

      Hello John,

      These days when I am using the Pencil, I don’t really look at the exact parameter, but the feel I have when I sketch with it.

      Maybe try the one I have now.
      For the image size: w 2560px x h 1396px
      Resolution 100
      Pen size is 5.
      Zoom 100%
      Stylus Responsiveness Maximum to the right

      That’s it! Then it’s all about the pressure you apply with your pen along your lines.

      It’s not the ultimate parameter, because the pen size depends of the canvas size you want.

      I have written an article about how you can set up the pressure sensitivity at this article.

      Hope it helps. Let me know how it goes! 🙂

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