Sketch – Concept, characteristics, function and how to do it

We explain what a sketch is, its characteristics, function, how to do it and various examples. Also, differences with a sketch.

Sketches usually consist of quick representations of real or projected objects.

What is a sketch?

In architecture and the visual arts, a sketch (a term inherited from French onomatopoeia croquer, “do croc”) it is a simplified, small and fast image, which is produced without striving for large margins of precision and without using instruments. It is not exactly a synonymous term for sketch, but it has numerous coincidences with it.

The sketches usually consist of quick representations of real objects observed, or of notions that are kept in mind, but have the value of a more or less coarse approximation. In its making, more lines than the definitive ones are usually used, with loose and fast strokes, since its purpose is to find the main shapes of the drawing or plan.

The sketch technique is very common in the world of architecture, graphic design or the visual arts. In some cases it may even have artistic value in itself, as in the case of studies or sketches by great artists and designers.

Characteristics of a sketch

Broadly speaking, every sketch is characterized by the following:

  • This is a draft, an advance or a previous version, never final.
  • It is done freehand, that is, without tools, generally with rapid and irregular strokes.
  • Pencil is usually used (graphite) and eraser, although the use of inks is not so unusual.
  • Along with the lines amendments, annotations, details are added and all kinds of necessary indications, which will not be in the final version.

What is a sketch for?

The sketch is, fundamentally, a preview of the work to come, an essay or a practice, which allows a broad overview of what the project will consist of already finished. That is why it is common for general sketches to be made with specific details, as a form of preparation or previous step to the design of an architectural plan, an artistic project, or the design of an industrial piece.

At the same time, certain sketches can be used for educational purposes, as is the case with the world map sketches that are provided to students at school to recognize countries, continents and learn geography. In that case, the sketch works as a previous step to the school exercise carried out, and it is a question of massive reproductions but lacking in detail, on a white sheet.

How to make a sketch?

To make a sketch, the main thing is observe the object to be represented in as much detail as possible, or the mental image that we want to capture out of nowhere.

It is valid to take notes and annotations, so as not to depend entirely on memory, but it is essential to set the perspective and the level of detail that is pursued from the beginning, moving away and approaching the object, for example. Obviously, the sketch of an architectural plan is not the same as the sketch of a minimal piece of machinery.

Later the outer lines of the object must be drawn, keeping a proportionate relationship to each other, looking at its essential elements and leaving the details for later. To preserve the proportion, it is valid to take into account surrounding objects or your own point of view.

If more information is required, then it is time to choose and represent the specific details, either on the same sheet, or on separate sheets, as in a gallery of elements. The important thing is not the amount of drawings made, but the grasp of reality that is achieved.

During all the process annotations, suggestions, warnings and measurements should be incorporated that will then allow us to make the final version with more confidence. It is not convenient to leave it until last, since we tend to forget and focus on other details, and ultimately the sketch should serve as a guide or base plane to produce an original.

Sketch examples

Some examples of sketches are as follows:

sketch examples facade
Sketch of the facade of a house.
sketch examples architecture
Sketch of a topographic plan.
chair-sketch examples
Sketch of a chair.

Sketch and sketch

A sketch and a sketch, more technically speaking, are not the same, although in both cases it is a step prior to the final work.

The difference is that the sketch is a freer representation, informal, often crude, of what is desired; while the sketch usually includes annotations, measurements and details that can only be read by a person skilled in the art. That is, a sketch would be something like a professional sketch.