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Mike Rohde's Design Sketch Kit

Last week I was talking with Makalu design colleague Alex Bendiken about tools I use for my logo, icon, web and print design sketch work. Lately he's been using sketches to quickly put multiple design ideas on paper — before moving to the computer.

As I described my sketch kit to Alex, I thought it'd be great to share a photo and the details on Flickr and in a post on my weblog. Turns out that my Custom Moleskine Planner photo with added notes has been very popular, so I took several shots of my sketch kit and placed them on Flickr, and in this very post:


The tools include:

1. Miquelrius A5 squared notebook (300 pages)
2. HiG A4 squared notebook (96 pages)
3. Faber-Castell E-Motion 1.4mm mechanical pencil (a gift from Fazal Majid)
4. Y&C Grip 350 0.7mm mechanical pencil
5. Gray kneadable eraser
6. Artec 6" acrylic triangle
7. Pickett Inking circle template

The larger HiG A4 notebook is better for web and print design where the sketches may need more space, the Miquelrius A5 is smaller and more portable, and my preferred choice for logo and icon design. I especially love how flexible the Miquelrius is, allowing me to fold the covers over for sketching or scanning.

I mainly use the Faber-Castell E-Motion for most sketches because the thick lead lays down a nice, smooth line, can put rich grays down quickly and resists breaking even when I press quite hard. The Y&C 0.7mm pencil works well for finer lines and details (more often used on web and print design comps that require fine details or handwritten descriptions.)

Support Tools
The Artec 6" acrylic triangle works well for putting down a crisp edge, and lets me see through it to the sketch underneath — handy for laying in text. My kneadable eraser is indispensable for cleaning up loose edges and stray marks (and works well for stress relief when needed). The Pickett circle guide comes in handy for quick, perfect circles, most often used on web and print design projects.

It's a simple toolkit, which works quite well... and it never needs batteries! :-)

Reader Comments (4)

That's really impressive. You're very good at sketching. I can see why you would utilize sketching with your clients.
September 20, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterChris
Thanks for the kind words Chris!Coming from you that's quite an honor. :-)

It's funny that at the print design firm where I used to work before Makalu, we tended to hide the sketches from clients. Sometimes we would reveal them for certain clients, but generally they were for internal review only.

Now that I've made a conscious effort to reveal and made sketches an integated part of the design process at Makalu, clients really love seeing the process in these stages. In fact it's become something of a competitive advantage for us.
September 20, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterMike Rohde
I tested dozens of mechanical pencils when I was searching for the perfect writing instrument to practice kanji writing, and I settled on the GRIP500 .5mm pencil. You might like it better than the .7mm if you use it for finer lines.Japanese mechanical pencils are marvels of precision. Somewhere around here I have a Japanese .025mm mechanical pencil, but it's very difficult to use, the lead breaks so easily. You might like to check out some of the new Japanese ballpoints, I heard there is a competition between manufacturers to create the finest ballpoint, and they're down to .0125mm now. Apparently these tiny tip pens are popular with Japanese schoolkids who like to write little tiny notes to each other.
September 21, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterCharles
Charles, that's crazy � .0125!! :-)
September 28, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterMike Rohde

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