Time limit: 1 hour
Remember to use your visual timer! We recommend the inventor’s iOS and Android apps — just search for “Time Timer” in the app store.
You don’t need to be a great artist to be a great designer — but basic sketching is a very important skill, because it allows us to explore ideas quickly and communicate them effectively to other people.
In this assignment, you’ll practise making “thumbnail” sketches. These are small, low-detail drawings of objects and layouts. We’ll use this technique throughout the course.
Sketch these objects
Set your timer: 25 minutes
For each of the objects listed below, create a small, icon-sized drawing in your notebook (about 2 cm by 2 cm). Aim to spend a maximum of one minute on each sketch, and get through as many as you can in the 25 minutes available.
In design, sketching isn’t about creating something beautiful — your only task is to sketch a representation of the object or layout.
Here’s an example of the level of detail to aim for. (Hopefully you can tell that this is a chair.)
When you’re ready, get started!
- Rubik’s Cube
- Desk lamp
- Postage stamp
- Fruit bowl
Sketch these posters
Set your timer: 25 minutes
Thumbnail sketching is especially useful for quickly exploring different layout options. For this next exercise, we’re going to do the process backwards — take some finished posters, and then create low-detail sketches of them.
The purpose of this activity is to help you understand the level of detail required in a thumbnail sketch, as compared to the finished design.
As an example of what to aim for, here’s a sketch of the poster for the film “Jaws” (1975):
Once you’re ready, set your timer to 25 minutes, and create similar sketches for each of the posters pictured below. Aim to spend a maximum of five minutes on each one, and get through as many as you can in the time available.
Poster 1: Eye Bee M (1981)
Image credit: IBM/Paul Rand
Poster 2: Grand Prix (1966)
Image credit: Saul Bass/John Frankenheimer
Poster 3: See America (1936)
Image credit: United States Travel Bureau/Martin Weitzman
Poster 4: Titanic (1997)
Image credit: Paramount Pictures/21st Century Fox
Poster 5: Parasite (2019)
Image credit: Kim Sang-man
Review our example solution
In the last ten minutes available for this assignment, take a look at our example below. To maximise your learning in this course, make sure to finish your work on each assignment before looking at the solution.
Here are our icon-sized sketches — we struggled with cat, boots, and aeroplane! Which were your “worst” sketches?
We got on better with our poster sketches. You might have noticed that they got more difficult as you moved through the five designs.
What did you find most challenging about creating sketches of these layouts?
Congratulations on completing your first hands-on assignment! Next, let’s talk about how you can succeed with the rest of this course.
Assignment version 1.0
Last updated 7 June 2021