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How to Sketch for UX Designers

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Want to sketch with confidence? Begin with your tools.

First, consider the pen you sketch with. It should be a pen that takes a little effort to sketch out lines with precision. Your ideas are much faster than your hand. You do not want to weigh down your hand with a crappy pen. A dull, thick pen is too slow and clunky. Go to an art store like Artist & Craftsman Supply or Flax.

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I use ONYX micro pens. I've gone through cases of them over the years. I use only black and blue. You don't need any other colors. The ink is smooth and fluid. You want to feel the connection of the pen on paper.

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I use ONYX micro pens. I've gone through cases of them over the years. I use only black and blue. You don't need any other colors. The ink in these pens is smooth and fluid. You want to feel the connection of the pen on paper.

Second, think about the paper. It's key. These are your accoutrements like a sharp knife is to a sushi chef. I use loose white paper or graph paper of fine quality. I happily dole out a few extra dollars for the good paper. Because with quality tools, you are compelled to sketch something with intention.

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Second, think about the paper. It's key. These are your accouterments like a sharp knife is to a sushi chef. I use loose white paper or graph paper of fine quality. I happily dole out a few extra dollars for the good paper. Because with quality tools, you are compelled to sketch something with intention.

When you sketch, you have the authority to sketch the shittiest stuff in the world. It's OK. Loose paper lets you feel like you can fill as many sheets as possible, quickly. Sketch one screen per sheet. I crumple up and throw away the unresolved sketches. I keep the sketches that help me find clarity. Because everything is on loose paper, you can shuffle, sort, order and group the sketches on a wall with tape. Before you know it, you have a flow that can be moved around like Tetris pieces until every piece fits just right.

Writing as you sketch is important too. Sketching and writing, together are physical. They are affected by the equipment you use. I can solve complex problems by typing it out. But, I can solve hard problems even better by writing and scribbling directly on the paper to untangle my thoughts. I sort, I parse and analyze as I draw and let them all flow onto paper. Handwriting is connected to the movement of the brain and heart. With pen and paper, I can tame my crazy pinball-machine mind.

Choose your tools meticulously. But not so painstakingly that you get attached and defensive it's hard to let go.