An integral artist must know the different types of sketches that exist, and master the techniques needed to make them to perfection. Maybe you didn’t know that there are several types of sketches and that each of them fits a certain phase of a drawing project, but it’s never too late to learn.
In addition, sketch types can also be classified according to their usefulness for drawing, design or architecture. No matter what your profession is, it is important that you know how to identify the different types of sketches, and that you can use them in the right way for each of your projects.
In this article we will explain each type of sketch, and we will tell you a little about the main techniques for sketching. We will also share with you afree resource that will be very useful to improve your drawing and sketching techniques.
Types of sketches for illustrations and graphic design
The types of sketches that exist can be organized according to the practical utility they have for a certain type of professions. And, without a doubt, the sketches used for illustration and graphic design are some of the most popular.
Here we will explain three types of sketches: the rough sketch, the comprehensive sketch, and the dummy sketch.
1. Rough sketch
According to the book Little Designer’s Dictionary, the rough sketch, or raff sketch, as it is also known, is: “…the first idea we visualize in our mind and draw it by hand on any paper and without any technical content. Its purpose is to capture the ideas we have about the work to be developed”.
That is to say, it is one of the types of sketches used as a basis for the projects we are going to work on later. The rough sketch establishes the guidelines that we must take into account when we move on to the next stages of design and use some more elaborate types of sketches.
If you want to find some examples of rough sketches, we recommend you to take the following image as a reference.
2. Comprehensive sketch
The comprehensive sketch is a quick drawing in which the artist strives to make more understandable what he is capturing on paper. We could say that it is a type of sketch in which more attention is paid to the details and the quality of what is being drawn.
In addition, in the comprehensive sketch some drawing tools are also used, with the purpose of having more precision and delimit each of the spaces of the sketch.
Some people would even classify the comprehensive sketch as an intermediate type of sketch, in which what was done in the rough sketch is developed a little more, but without finishing defining each of the details that will be part of the work.
That is to say, with the comprehensive sketch the idea stops being understandable only to its author, and starts to make more sense to other people who may be part of the project.
If you want to find some examples of comprehensive sketches, we recommend you to take the following image as a reference.
3. Dummy sketch
The dummy sketch is a type of drawing in which the main idea has been developed to a point where it is practically ready to be brought to reality. That is, it is a type of sketch in which, in addition to having improved the details mentioned in the previous types of sketches, the type of materials to be used and some other data of value for the development of the project are specified.
To make a dummy sketch, you must master the techniques to draw in pencil and you must be clear about what you want to achieve with the project to be developed. For example, at the time of making this type of sketch, a fashion designer must be clear about the fabrics to be used, the color palette of the pieces to be manufactured, and have planned in detail and with precision all the measurements.
From this point on, the types of sketches we will mention are not organized according to their difficulty or level of detail, but by the type of usefulness they have.
If you want to find some examples of dummy sketches, we recommend you to take the following image as a reference.
Types of sketches for industrial design and architecture
These types of sketches are less known, because their audience is more specific. An industrial design or architecture sketch is only developed by people who are in engineering, industrial design or architecture.
If you are interested in these professions, you may be interested in our explanation of these types of sketches.
4. Theoretical sketch
The theoretical sketch is known in English by the name of conceptual drawings. This type of sketch is used by industrial designers, and is one of the first sketches made in the creative process of industrial design.
According to Designing Buildings, the theoretical sketch is mainly used in automotive design and architecture, and is part of the knowledge that architects, engineers, and interior designers must have.
Likewise, this is one of the types of sketches in which technical details are essential. They can define the solutions to some problems of the product to be manufactured, and establish some guidelines on the methods of manufacture or construction.
If you want to find some examples of theoretical sketches, we recommend you to take the following image as a reference.
Source: Designing Buildings
5. Structural sketch
With this type of sketch the differences between technical drawing and artistic drawing become clearer, particularly because it is one of the most technical types of sketches that exist. What is essential in the structural sketch is precision and detail.
The structural sketch is mainly used in architecture, and it not only draws in great detail the project to be built, but also includes data on the components to be used in the architectural construction, or in the manufacture of some products.
If you want to find some examples of structural sketches, we recommend you to take the following image as a reference.
Source: Designing Buildings
6. Formal sketch
When an engineer or architect has already defined everything that is needed for his project to be carried out, he uses one of the most well-known types of sketches in the design world: the formal sketch.
This type of sketch is very specific, and it details how the construction or fabrication of what the architect, engineer, or industrial designer designed should be carried out.
In a way, we could say that the characteristics of a formal sketch constitute the final drawing of a project. It usually includes details about dimensions, materials, finishes, and assembly methods whenever applicable.
If you want to find some examples of formal sketches, we recommend you to take the following image as a reference.
Source: Designing Buildings
Types of sketches for other projects
With this point we already come to the last types of sketches we will talk about today, the mini sketch and the outline sketch. These types of sketches are used both for graphic and editorial design, as well as for the development of film projects.
As the professions for which these types of sketches are used cannot be categorized into a specific category, they may not be as well known as the rough sketch or the dummy sketch, however, they are just as important.
7. Mini sketch
This is one of the types of sketches mentioned in the article Functionality of the sketch in the conceptual projection of design, from the magazine “Mundo, Arquitectura, Diseño Gráfico y Urbanismo”. And according to its author, the mini sketch is defined as follows:
“…it is the conception of drawings in a very reduced scale, the process requires refraining from adding details. By being reduced, several alternatives can be addressed quickly and a sequence of the emergence of ideas can be achieved. Experts suggest doing it with pen or pencil to avoid erasing and adding details”.
This type of sketch is used in editorial layout and some other graphic design projects.
If you want to find some examples of mini sketches, we recommend you to take the following image as a reference.
8. Outline sketch
The contour sketch is often used for advertising or audiovisual productions, mainly, because it allows you to project very quickly an idea about what you hope to achieve in a shot.
That is, in the same way that happens with the storyboard, a scriptwriter or director can make a drawing that allows him to communicate how he expects the framing of each of the scenes to be recorded to be seen. This type of sketch is ideal for quickly projecting an idea onto paper, so with it you don’t develop much detail.
If you want to find some examples of outline sketches, we recommend you to take the following image as a reference.
If you want to learn more about the types of sketches you can work with, we recommend you to explore our catalog of drawing and painting courses. With them you will learn the best drawing techniques and discover how to take advantage of the characteristics of a sketch in any type of project.
what is the usefulness of the different types of sketches?
All sketches have a practical and particular utility, this you could see in each of the types of sketches that we discussed, however, in general, we can also say that they are an indispensable tool to explain concepts and abstract ideas.
With sketches we can quickly explain some ideas that we cannot always express in a few words. Also, knowing that they are part of a creative process, we can say that with the different types of sketches that exist, we can develop and polish an idea until we take it to its fullness.