Course  ·  Part 1  ·  Assignment 4


Start Sketching

 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.)

Small sketch of a chair

When you’re ready, get started!

  1. Flower
  2. Tree
  3. House
  4. Box
  5. Laptop
  6. Face
  7. Rubik’s Cube
  8. Cat
  9. Bottle
  10. Chair
  11. Car
  12. Telephone
  13. Clock
  14. Hills
  15. Desk lamp
  16. Boots
  17. Bicycle
  18. Aeroplane
  19. Postage stamp
  20. 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):

The poster for the film Jaws A sketch of the movie poster for Jaws

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)

Paul Rand’s IBM poster design

Image credit: IBM/Paul Rand

Poster 2: Grand Prix (1966)

Saul Bass’s Grand Prix poster design

Image credit: Saul Bass/John Frankenheimer

Poster 3: See America (1936)

Martin Weitzman’s See America poster design

Image credit: United States Travel Bureau/Martin Weitzman

Poster 4: Titanic (1997)

The poster for the film Titanic

Image credit: Paramount Pictures/21st Century Fox

Poster 5: Parasite (2019)

The poster for the film Parasite

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.

Example solution

Here are our icon-sized sketches — we struggled with cat, boots, and aeroplane! Which were your “worst” sketches?

Our icon-sized 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?

Sketch 1

Sketch 1

Sketch 1

Sketch 1

Sketch 1

In conclusion...

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

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