Design insights & tutorials.

The Importance of Sketching: Oliver Barrett’s Moleskine

When I start on a project, I like to brainstorm ideas and write down whatever comes to mind. From there I from there I start sketching until I develop something that can translate well onto the computer, and of course I also have to be happy with it. I try to flesh out as much as I can on paper before moving to the computer, but sometimes I get too excited and get straight to the computer right when the sketch is starting to materialize.   The sketches below are drawings that have been developed and used in recent projects.

Trivium
Trivium Sketch
trivium sketch 2
Trivium Final
trivium final 2

Amores Perros Poster
amores perros sketch
amores perros one
amores perros two

Junk Culture
junk sketch
junk kulture logo

Killer’s Tee
killers sketch
killernaut final

Minus the Bear Poster
minus the bear sketch
minus the bear final

About the Author, Adam Wagner

I'm a marketer, designer, armchair singer/songwriter, wannabe theoretical physicist/philosopher and recent college grad trying to pack as much living as possible into each day. Working at Go Media makes this pretty easy. Catch me on Twitter!!
Discover More by Adam Wagner

Discussion

We want to hear what you have to say. Do you agree? Do you have a better way to approach the topic? Let the community know by joining the discussion.

  • http://www.chrisobriendesign.com Chris OB

    AWESOME!!!! I love seeing the work that happens BEFORE the final project. I also think Moleskines are the greatest thing ever. You guys must buy them by the case.

  • http://www.chrisobriendesign.com Chris OB

    AWESOME!!!! I love seeing the work that happens BEFORE the final project. I also think Moleskines are the greatest thing ever. You guys must buy them by the case.

  • Curtis

    I think Im gonna go pick up a sketch book.

  • Curtis

    I think Im gonna go pick up a sketch book.

  • JoeG

    You never cease to inspire. Awesome stuff! I would give anything to train with you guys.

  • JoeG

    You never cease to inspire. Awesome stuff! I would give anything to train with you guys.

  • Rob

    Hey if you don’t mind me asking how do you create the effect which is present in each one of these pieces, where the focus is made up of what appears to be randomly drawn 1px pen shapes? Is that all it is? Or is their some other way you achieve that effect, it seems to random to be just done by hand with the pen tool.

  • Rob

    Hey if you don’t mind me asking how do you create the effect which is present in each one of these pieces, where the focus is made up of what appears to be randomly drawn 1px pen shapes? Is that all it is? Or is their some other way you achieve that effect, it seems to random to be just done by hand with the pen tool.

  • http://www.avangelistphotography.com avangelist

    Sketching is definatley an important process.

    Sadly not all of us designers believe it or not can actually draw.

    shock horror. oh the shame of it, the shame.

  • http://www.avangelistphotography.com avangelist

    Sketching is definatley an important process.

    Sadly not all of us designers believe it or not can actually draw.

    shock horror. oh the shame of it, the shame.

  • http://www.battlemedialab.com Joe

    Nice post. It’s nice to see where the ideas originally start. I like the style of the final artwork too.

  • http://www.battlemedialab.com Joe

    Nice post. It’s nice to see where the ideas originally start. I like the style of the final artwork too.

  • http://www.williambiwer.com Bill Biwer

    Awesome sketches -> Final products. Is that the large or X-large moleskine?

  • http://www.williambiwer.com Bill Biwer

    Awesome sketches -> Final products. Is that the large or X-large moleskine?

  • http://www.craigspatterson.com Craig

    My moleskines are right up there with eyes and kidneys as tools go.

    I love cracking open other people’s sketchbooks/journals. You never think your own is all that interesting, though. Probably great ideas would come from other people looking through your moleskine and using it as a brainstorming jumping-off point.

    Your book is beautiful as a stand-alone and impressive as a peek into your process.

  • http://www.craigspatterson.com Craig

    My moleskines are right up there with eyes and kidneys as tools go.

    I love cracking open other people’s sketchbooks/journals. You never think your own is all that interesting, though. Probably great ideas would come from other people looking through your moleskine and using it as a brainstorming jumping-off point.

    Your book is beautiful as a stand-alone and impressive as a peek into your process.

  • http://sabasdesign.com msabas

    Wowo great post here, and love the Minus The Bear Poster

  • http://sabasdesign.com msabas

    Wowo great post here, and love the Minus The Bear Poster

  • ChequeredManiac

    I love those movie posters. Keep on posting your sketches and finished pieces like this , its great.

  • exigent

    Although I prefer to sketch on run-of-the-mill printer paper, sketching is a necessity as it is far easier to work out design issues this way. Starting off on a computer with pretty colors and clean lines can have a way of clouding your vision into believing something is good, when it may not be.

  • exigent

    Although I prefer to sketch on run-of-the-mill printer paper, sketching is a necessity as it is far easier to work out design issues this way. Starting off on a computer with pretty colors and clean lines can have a way of clouding your vision into believing something is good, when it may not be.

  • http://nephilistic.com Kristof

    Wow, very cool. Actually, I can’t agree more – every idea starts on paper, that’s teh closest thing to your head and the fastest medium available.
    I carry my moleskine with me all the time, and recently I started publishing those sketches on a blog – http://nephilistic.com have a look ;)

  • http://nephilistic.com Kristof

    Wow, very cool. Actually, I can’t agree more – every idea starts on paper, that’s teh closest thing to your head and the fastest medium available.
    I carry my moleskine with me all the time, and recently I started publishing those sketches on a blog – http://nephilistic.com have a look ;)

  • jaime.radar

    nice. i just picked up a handful of moleskins super cheap on ebay. they came in handy for a couple of long trips to minneapolis i had to make last weekend

  • http://www.behance.net/hotpixel hotpixel

    cool post, the sketches and final arts are awesome!

  • http://www.behance.net/hotpixel hotpixel

    cool post, the sketches and final arts are awesome!

  • ChequeredManiac

    @Kristof, thats really work. You’ve got a great style.

  • ChequeredManiac

    I should really check my posts before I press submit, that last one’s supposed to read, “thats really excellent work.”

  • http://www.grafikkid.com Chris Stauffer

    Awesome reminder! I need to do this more often. Thanks for the great post!

  • http://www.grafikkid.com Chris Stauffer

    Awesome reminder! I need to do this more often. Thanks for the great post!

  • http://www.gomedia.us Adam Wagner

    @ Kristof your sketches look awesome. nice.

  • youssef sarhan

    thats deadly to see the process! thanks! :D

  • http://www.gomedia.us Adam Wagner

    @ Kristof your sketches look awesome. nice.

  • http://www.scottnash.net Scott

    What’s the difference with using “moleskins” as opposed to standard sketchbooks? Is there a different tooth – smoother, rougher – paper has parchment paper characteristics??

  • http://www.scottnash.net Scott

    What’s the difference with using “moleskins” as opposed to standard sketchbooks? Is there a different tooth – smoother, rougher – paper has parchment paper characteristics??

  • http://colorburned.com Grant Friedman

    Awesome stuff!

  • http://www.gomedia.us Oliver

    thanks for the comments. much appreciated. I’ll try to make this type of post a regular thing.

  • http://colorburned.com Grant Friedman

    Awesome stuff!

  • http://www.gomedia.us Oliver

    thanks for the comments. much appreciated. I’ll try to make this type of post a regular thing.

  • http://www.dunlapstudios.com Drew

    Great post Oliver, The minus the bear poster is incredible! Can’t wait to see more of these in the future.

  • http://www.dunlapstudios.com Drew

    Great post Oliver, The minus the bear poster is incredible! Can’t wait to see more of these in the future.

  • Joey

    I really love the illustration tutorials man. I am in the same industry and I always love hearing your techniques. Much appreciated!

  • Joey

    I really love the illustration tutorials man. I am in the same industry and I always love hearing your techniques. Much appreciated!

  • Tom

    You couldn’t be more right, this is what I’m trying to get true with my fellow students on school. Every project they start scanning deviantart to steal ideas/concepts and start working digitally immediately. This is what I have to go true every single day at school, I can tell you its horrible.

    But yeah, many people forget the power of a sketchbook. I carry my Moleskine everywhere I go, I can recommend it to everyone.

    Oliver, if you don’t mind me asking you a question; What do you use to transfer your sketches so astonishingly as you do? I bet it’s by hand with a wacom, but is it Illustrator or … maybe even Flash? (sometimes Flash’s vector drawing brush is quite handy) Or just Photoshop? Please, I’d love to know.

    Btw, this is the first time I’m posting a comment so I would like to say I really really love this blog. It seems like an unlimited source of usefull information. Keep up the good work!

    Cheers

  • ChequeredManiac

    I love those movie posters. Keep on posting your sketches and finished pieces like this , its great.

  • jaime.radar

    nice. i just picked up a handful of moleskins super cheap on ebay. they came in handy for a couple of long trips to minneapolis i had to make last weekend

  • http://www.geoffmay.com Geoff May

    That Trivium skull is the happiest skull I’ve ever seen.

  • http://www.geoffmay.com Geoff May

    That Trivium skull is the happiest skull I’ve ever seen.

  • http://www.geoffmay.com Geoff May

    Oh yeah, I’m totally digging that Minus The Bear poster. Great work!!

  • http://www.geoffmay.com Geoff May

    Oh yeah, I’m totally digging that Minus The Bear poster. Great work!!

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/enamonio Manuel Minino

    Absolutely agree!! what i can achieve in just minutes with pencil and paper, would never come out if i am in front of my dear mac book!!

    btw.. di u know that moleskine is a trademark? i thought it was just a stupid and weird nickname for sketchbook

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/enamonio Manuel Minino

    Absolutely agree!! what i can achieve in just minutes with pencil and paper, would never come out if i am in front of my dear mac book!!

    btw.. di u know that moleskine is a trademark? i thought it was just a stupid and weird nickname for sketchbook

  • ChequeredManiac

    @Kristof, thats really work. You’ve got a great style.

  • ChequeredManiac

    I should really check my posts before I press submit, that last one’s supposed to read, “thats really excellent work.”

  • youssef sarhan

    thats deadly to see the process! thanks! :D

  • http://www.ebenoit.com Eric-from-Boston

    thats some rad shit man – nice work!

    sketchings huge – getting your ideas out quickly is a big deal, especially when you got a bunch going thru your head and to be able to quickly get them out on paper is perfect… you just dont get that type of speed with a computer…

    arm yourself with a sketchbook and make it a routine – you won’t regret it!

  • http://www.ebenoit.com Eric-from-Boston

    thats some rad shit man – nice work!

    sketchings huge – getting your ideas out quickly is a big deal, especially when you got a bunch going thru your head and to be able to quickly get them out on paper is perfect… you just dont get that type of speed with a computer…

    arm yourself with a sketchbook and make it a routine – you won’t regret it!

  • brian

    im really surprised at all the people on this wall who dont sketch out ideas before starting projects

  • brian

    im really surprised at all the people on this wall who dont sketch out ideas before starting projects

  • Tom

    You couldn’t be more right, this is what I’m trying to get true with my fellow students on school. Every project they start scanning deviantart to steal ideas/concepts and start working digitally immediately. This is what I have to go true every single day at school, I can tell you its horrible.

    But yeah, many people forget the power of a sketchbook. I carry my Moleskine everywhere I go, I can recommend it to everyone.

    Oliver, if you don’t mind me asking you a question; What do you use to transfer your sketches so astonishingly as you do? I bet it’s by hand with a wacom, but is it Illustrator or … maybe even Flash? (sometimes Flash’s vector drawing brush is quite handy) Or just Photoshop? Please, I’d love to know.

    Btw, this is the first time I’m posting a comment so I would like to say I really really love this blog. It seems like an unlimited source of usefull information. Keep up the good work!

    Cheers

  • http://wizkidmedia.com WizKid

    Very nice work!
    As far as the sketching, it’s something I used to do a lot, go tired of it mainly because I think to fast to sketch all my ideas out, so I tend to write/type up most of my ideas. Now of course, if it’s a huge project or one I hold close to myself, I’ll sketch it out, but mostly it’s just wrote down or typed up ideas for designs.

  • http://wizkidmedia.com WizKid

    Very nice work!
    As far as the sketching, it’s something I used to do a lot, go tired of it mainly because I think to fast to sketch all my ideas out, so I tend to write/type up most of my ideas. Now of course, if it’s a huge project or one I hold close to myself, I’ll sketch it out, but mostly it’s just wrote down or typed up ideas for designs.

  • http://www.gomedia.us Oliver

    @Tom: I usually have the sketchbook scanned at 300 dpi, nothing crazy. I never use anything directly from the sketchbook so I don’t scan anything super high-res. Once it’s scanned, I boost the levels in Photoshop because there’s usually not enough contrast directly from the scan. The next step depends on the project. It will either go into Illustrator where I use the pen tool or into Photoshop where I use a Wacom.

  • http://www.gomedia.us Oliver

    @Tom: I usually have the sketchbook scanned at 300 dpi, nothing crazy. I never use anything directly from the sketchbook so I don’t scan anything super high-res. Once it’s scanned, I boost the levels in Photoshop because there’s usually not enough contrast directly from the scan. The next step depends on the project. It will either go into Illustrator where I use the pen tool or into Photoshop where I use a Wacom.

  • k

    oliver, this is fab. many thanks (yet again) for sharing your passion with the designkind. could you do a tutorial on converting your sketches to digital masterpieces? in fact, do 2 of them, one each on illustrator and photoshop/ wacom. it’ll do a world of good to amateurs like me. minus the bear and the amores poster (the 2nd one) are something i would love to learn about.

    thanks

  • k

    oliver, this is fab. many thanks (yet again) for sharing your passion with the designkind. could you do a tutorial on converting your sketches to digital masterpieces? in fact, do 2 of them, one each on illustrator and photoshop/ wacom. it’ll do a world of good to amateurs like me. minus the bear and the amores poster (the 2nd one) are something i would love to learn about.

    thanks

  • http://www.geoffmay.com Geoff May

    @ Manuel Minino

    Yeah, some people just call sketchbooks Moleskines, which is wrong. It’s like calling all tissues Kleenex or all cotton swabs Q-Tips. A lot of companies go to great lengths to make sure their brand doesn’t become a common use term. Xerox launched ad campaigns against it in the 80s.

  • http://www.geoffmay.com Geoff May

    @ Manuel Minino

    Yeah, some people just call sketchbooks Moleskines, which is wrong. It’s like calling all tissues Kleenex or all cotton swabs Q-Tips. A lot of companies go to great lengths to make sure their brand doesn’t become a common use term. Xerox launched ad campaigns against it in the 80s.

  • Tom

    Thanks for your reply Oliver, I really appreciate it.

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  • http://www.instantshift.com DKumar M.

    that reminds me that i was also in sketching long time back… i cant able to remember why i quit.

    Anyway… Nice memories. Thanks.

  • http://www.instantshift.com DKumar M.

    that reminds me that i was also in sketching long time back… i cant able to remember why i quit.

    Anyway… Nice memories. Thanks.

  • Tom

    Thanks for your reply Oliver, I really appreciate it.

  • http://www.jadgraphics.net Jad Graphics in Long Beach

    This really great! I need to get a moleskine so I can start sketching as well.

  • http://www.jadgraphics.net Jad Graphics in Long Beach

    This really great! I need to get a moleskine so I can start sketching as well.

  • Jack

    Thats pretty awesome to see the creative process from sketch to completed deliverable. very cool.

  • Jack

    Thats pretty awesome to see the creative process from sketch to completed deliverable. very cool.

  • http://svensworld.de sven

    The Dragon Bear just made my day :) Is there a shirt with that available somewhere?

  • http://svensworld.de sven

    The Dragon Bear just made my day :) Is there a shirt with that available somewhere?

  • skoolbus

    Damn this blog is great… just found it. Keep it up. =)

  • skoolbus

    Damn this blog is great… just found it. Keep it up. =)

  • http://www.jameskurtz.com me@jameskurtz.com

    Thank you for the insight into Oliver’s sketchbook and how it translates to the final work. Very interesting. I agree that it’s best to flesh everything out as much as possible on old fashioned paper before moving to the computer.

  • http://www.jameskurtz.com me@jameskurtz.com

    Thank you for the insight into Oliver’s sketchbook and how it translates to the final work. Very interesting. I agree that it’s best to flesh everything out as much as possible on old fashioned paper before moving to the computer.

  • Tom

    GoMedia guys, could you please give us some insights on the proces from sketch to final artwork? There are so many possibilities on that subject, it’s a bit overwhelming. Tracing sketches by hand (photoshop / illustrator / maybe even flash’s freehand vector brush), live tracing, using scanned linedrawings in final works… etc etc! I think you would make a lot of your regular readers really happy with in depth advice on that subject. :)

  • Tom

    GoMedia guys, could you please give us some insights on the proces from sketch to final artwork? There are so many possibilities on that subject, it’s a bit overwhelming. Tracing sketches by hand (photoshop / illustrator / maybe even flash’s freehand vector brush), live tracing, using scanned linedrawings in final works… etc etc! I think you would make a lot of your regular readers really happy with in depth advice on that subject. :)

  • http://www.jontoney.com jon

    very cool work, oliver. is the minus the bear poster available anywhere for purchase?

  • http://www.jontoney.com jon

    very cool work, oliver. is the minus the bear poster available anywhere for purchase?

  • Andy

    Ha, I felt like a sketch after this so I broke out my pad but the image ended up being to big to scan!!! AH!!! But anyway, I think it is always important to start off on paper, oven if you’re not the best drawer in the world, I find it helps you maintain concept without going on a tangent (as I often do). Also drawing reminds me of where I started. Haha, just a little bit of sentimentality there.

  • Andy

    Ha, I felt like a sketch after this so I broke out my pad but the image ended up being to big to scan!!! AH!!! But anyway, I think it is always important to start off on paper, oven if you’re not the best drawer in the world, I find it helps you maintain concept without going on a tangent (as I often do). Also drawing reminds me of where I started. Haha, just a little bit of sentimentality there.

  • http://www.panthersweat.com Panther

    Great sketches and end results!

  • http://www.panthersweat.com Panther

    Great sketches and end results!

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  • FreelanceDesigner

    This stuff is absolutely inspirational!
    Ive always wondered how can entertain my want to be a penciler.
    I pretty much decided that that would not be practical and would not keep me entertained for long enough, but this is a great way… and I've experienced that it works!

  • peterajtai

    I definitely agree. Sketching is a really good way to capture as many ideas as you can and quickly focus in on the one that's gonna work.

    Also, the tactile sensation of working with pencil / pen and paper is so different from a tablet and glowing screen… I think the ideas you get looking at a piece of paper are really different from the ones you get looking at a computer screen.

  • sblgraphics

    Really awesome work!!

  • Kyle Cacciatore

    i have that Tattoo of minus the bear!!!

  • Matt

    Thanks for this nice work!
    dizi izle

  • John

    Great post!
    dizi izle

  • Jay

    This is absolutely inspirational!!!

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  • http://twitter.com/Chris_Krammer Christian Krammer

    Wow, some great designs. And you couldn’t be more right. Sketching is the basis of all graphic design.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ankana.joshi.7 Ankana Joshi

    great design ….loved them ..