Train your 3D vision seeing anything in transparency |TIP50

This is an essential skill that a designer need to train. If you want to be able to draw things fast and create from your own imagination, think in 3D. Decompose what you see in basic shapes and volumes such as circle, ellipse, sphere, cube, cylinder, cone. Assemble them, then go into the details.


Train your 3D vision seeing anything in transparency


Let me illustrate that case first. If you ask a kid to draw an elephant, he will naturally look at the contour and try to reproduce what he see flat on paper.

blue-clayBut if you give him some clay, he will roll the clay to cylinder for the trunk, make some little cones for the fences and other simple shapes that he will bend, cut, trim, twist, flatten. He will then assemble all these to reproduce the whole thing. Note that even if you show the side view only of the elephant, the kid will naturally create both side with the clay. It shows that the elephant is not anymore just some 2D contours, but a volume.

The brain naturally tend to think in 2D when we want to draw on paper. To represent something in volume we switch our thinking to 3D. A-Matter-of-Loaf-and-Death-Wallace-and-Gromit

So here is the trick for a designer. It is to sketch on 2D, but thinking in 3D. If you ask a designer to reproduce something on paper, he will decompose it in multiple simple shapes in his mind and reassemble the elements on paper. To do that, he visualizes each shape as transparent volume. The next level is to be able to rotate them in his mind. Then he could reproduce that thing in different angles.

Magic right ? It is not that easy, but it is really worth to train toward this direction.
This tip deserve some tutorials. I will prepare some. However, if you are interested, you can still let me know. 🙂

Let me know your point of view.
See you tomorrow for the next Tip of the day !

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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 : )


  • Muhammed

    Reply Reply October 28, 2015

    Hey!! Iv been using copic and touch twin marker ..the touch twin is very similar to the touchlit , well at least it looks like it …on the marker on…it says

  • Catarina Matos

    Reply Reply March 12, 2015

    Hey! I was wondering if you know where to buy those touchliit markers online. Also, thank you so much for this whole website, it is so helpful 🙂

    • Chou-Tac Chung

      Reply Reply March 12, 2015

      Hello Catarina,

      On the marker, a website address is written on it: but that link goes nowhere. I guess the brand doesn’t produce them anymore. I saw these markers on Ebay from US sellers. It was more expensive than the price I bought (from Vietnam) but it’s still affordable.

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