Most younger designers today don’t know how to draw. Personally, I find this hard to believe, but unfortunately it seems to be true. So at the beginning of each new project, they find themselves staring at a blank page on their computer screens, hoping for some kind of design intervention from Saul Bass or David Carson. Good luck with that.
I call this process “throwing shit at the screen, and hoping something sticks.” And, as the hours quickly slip by, the young designer eventually falls into a non-creative coma and looses track of what they were trying to accomplish in the first place. Then he/she checks Facebook.
Older designers, on the other hand, draw first. It’s called a “thumbnail drawing.” Which, by my definition, is a small, loose sketch or sketches that depict possible design solutions to the problem at hand. Composition, grid systems, imagery, type placement, all of it, can be quickly put down on paper or a napkin, and evaluated before climbing onto the digital saddle. It saves time, frustration and typically creates better and quicker results. And, if you’re in a client meeting or working in a team environment, you can share your thumbnails with your clients or your colleagues and get instant feedback.
There’s only one drawback to the thumbnail drawing, and that is, you have to know how to draw.