Be more creative drawing “Ugly doodles” |TIP135

Hello Design Sketchers !

Some of you told me about facing these challenges when you start sketching:

  1. “My sketches doesn’t looks good”
  2. “It’s not easy to draw from imagination”
  3. “I loose my confidence and give up fast”

Wether you are beginner or senior, this situation is actually pretty common. That’s not your fault, and it can be solved.

Let me introduce you a 3 steps sketching process I often use to go throught these challenges – This process help me to be more creative and provide better sketches at the end. If you think that your first sketches are ugly, then good ! Because that’s actually our starting point. 😉


Coffee machine 3 steps

Coffee machine: From ugly to neat sketch.

Coffee machine: To illustrate that process, I was wondering what to sketch. I remembered the Nespresso coffee machine I have in my kitchen. So I draw it from memory for today demonstration.

Wether you are a beginner or senior it’s often overwhelming to start a project.
We tend to think at the same time of both the:

  • “WHAT”
    e.g. what do I want to draw, what inspiration, what function, what elements, what are the useres’ needs…
  • and “HOW”
    e.g. which proportion, from which viewpoint, analog or digital, which size, how many views, which composition…

An essential method that designers use to release the stress, is to split them in 2 distinct steps. Start your project dropping all the “WHAT” first on paper with fast doodles. Put your ego aside and draw as many “Ugly doodles” as you can.
Make a selection of the ideas you like the most and only then you can focus on the “HOW” to present much neater and attractive sketches.

To sum up the 3 steps:


Even though this technique give results, many young students may be tempted to skip the 2 first step and go directly to the last one – Some may succeed, but a good number may end with average sketches supporting average ideas. It’s a pity because it’s not about lacking of talent or creativity, but impatience (or sometime laziness).  So keep in mind that you don’t sketch for the sake of making beautiful sketches, but to defend beautiful ideas.

STEP1 Explore using “Ugly doodles” !

Step 1 Doodle

Ugly Doodle for the exploration phase



Start drawing “Ugly doodles” to drop as many ideas as you can without caring wether the sketches look good or not – wether the perspecitve is good or not. These sketches are personnal and won’t be shown to anybody except yourself. So relax ! Beautiful sketches are not the purpose here, but creativity. Your best friend here is your imagination.

It’s like taking notes, but with doodles. Imagine you are drawing many napkin doodles. List down ideas, function and various components thinking about the users needs, ergonomy, and how the product is gonna work, holded and so on… as long as your doodle is comprehensive, it’s fine. (If you have a bad writing, the minimum you can do is to make sure it’s readable.)

“Beautiful sketches are not the purpose here, but creativity.”

Target quantity instead of quality. By drawing many sketches fast, you let your creativity flow regarding the WHAT – this is how you will produce a lot of ideas in a short time.

STEP 2 Get proportion with a side view.Step 2 Side view
Side view proportion: I draw the side view to define the proportion.
(Depending of the product, you may consider the front view as well)

”Even though the side view sketch is in 2D,
Think your object in 3 dimensions.”

Let’s say we have now selected a proposal from the “Ugly doodles”, and we have decided of its components. At this step, the challenge is proportion. To make your life easier, draw it from the side or front view. You can adjust your dimensions easily and apply as many modification as you want.

STEP 3 Communicate in perspective.Step 3 Perspective
Step 3: I draw with a 3/4 view to better communicate the product.

Now the elements are pretty clear in your mind. You have memorized quite well the elements, the functions, the proportions. You have already get “rid of” most of the creative part. It will be SO MUCH MORE easier now to draw it in perspective. Basically, all you have to think about now is technical.

“Ugly doodles” are the foundation of greater sketches.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t say it’s gonna be easy at start. Practice these 3 steps and you will climb the ladder. 🙂

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About The Author


Hello! My name is Chou-Tac. I am a Product Designer from France. If the sketching methods I’ve acquired aid me in my life and in my industrial design career, I believe that they can also help you reach your design goal as a student or professional. My aim to help you all along with your design projects and journey. Anytime, feel free to leave a comment in the blog or send me an email at : )


  • Brian Hermelijn

    Reply Reply July 30, 2015

    I have a question, do you first visualize the item you’re going to draw, or you just lets say, imagine a word, see which image related to that word, and doodle it down? I ask, because imagination drawing is one of those skills that definitely takes time to cultivate.

    • Chou-Tac Chung

      Reply Reply July 30, 2015

      Hey best is to combine both.

      Most of the time, your ideas will come first from your understanding of the user : you want the product to have great function but also give emotion that FIT his needs. Keeping that in mind, you will create great experience to people.

      A good way to improve your imagination is being curious. You will see a lot of various things and feed your library of forms, colour combination, functions… It’s one thing to “see” them, but it’s an other to observe them. Be alert, and you will spot a lot of cool things everywhere, everyday. If you see a coffee machine in the shop, ask yourself who are the users and why they design it like that.
      One day, your imagination will combine few of the cool things and create something new !

      Hope it helps !

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