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Sketching for user interfaces (micrypt.com)
20 points by ziyadb on April 5, 2013 | hide | past | favorite | 11 comments

I find that I tend to fall into the trap of spending way too much time worrying about having the best and right tools. I've opted to use printer paper and a simple ruler now. I don't compromise on the pencil, though (to be a bit hypocritical) and that pencil is seriously the best you will ever find.

> I don't compromise on the pencil, though (to be a bit hypocritical) and that pencil is seriously the best you will ever find.

Do you treat your pencil to hand sharpening, or just use a commodity sharpening tool? [1]

[1] http://www.artisanalpencilsharpening.com

It's mechanical, so neither.

I agree, those dotted grid books can be quite costly, especially if you tend to burn through a lot of paper fast.

I recently came across this site that let you print your own dotted paper which is a nice compromise.


Completely disagree with this example of sketching.

Sketches should be visceral, messy, and fast. The entire purpose of sketching is to get the ideas out as quickly as possible.

I don't understand the purpose of creating preliminary sketches that you then redraw on nice paper. Are you trying to design a UI or make a pretty picture?

Also, throw sketches away? Are you crazy? Keep them. Later when you are adding a feature or changing the UI, you'll be glad to have those ideas to return to.

I use whatever pen is sitting around (usually the cheapest money can buy), and whatever paper is handy (usually scrap printer paper with stuff on the other side). My sketches are ugly and I take no pride in them.

The widget shown in the post isn't that great of an example. I'd have no idea how to use a UI like that in a real context. Also, it seems like you just chose to build the very first thing you sketched. You say design is iterative, so where are all the other concepts?

Sorry to be so brutal. I appreciate the spirit of your post. I agree with your rationale for sketching, but your examples/practices don't seem to match it.

Considering that I mentioned on multiple occasions that it's an iterative process, there's not much else I can say.

Throwaway sketches and thumbnailing are a hack for dealing with creative block. It's a pretty well-known technique.

It's definitely not meant to be prescriptive, and I hope not presented as such. What works for me might not work for you. Bonne chance.

I use pen/pencil and paper a lot these days, even for note taking and stuff.

Its just much more fluid for me to spill out my mind onto paper than diagrams or UI layouts on the computer.

I'm sure one day when you can draw onto a tablet just like putting pencil to paper I will switch, but that day is a long way off.

A Cintiq is 5% the way there. And digital pens for tablets are as far away as a mouse.

Any lag, any lack or precision and also the back light are all issues. I am confident they will one day be solved and I will carry a true digital notebook where the contact of pen to paper is indistinguishable from the real thing.

Why do I long for this future? Because I love digital and I wouldn't all my work on paper being stored as a digital notepad. (Scanning is not a solution because I want to pull up notebooks from the past and work on them using my "digital notebook")

This was a bit a pointless post actually, Instead of deleting it I'll leave it here in-case anyone has anything to add or disagree with.

It's not at all pointless. I for one am always glad to hear what works for others.

Before settling on a tablet, I considered the Wacom Inkling and even tried using the iPad and a few apps, but could never quite get the same level of precision as I can manage with a pencil. The tablet's just a stop gap, and keeps me from going crazy and loading up a boatload of sketching gear (psst… Copic pens). My Intuos 5 + Autodesk Sketchbook Pro combination gives me some degree of freedom without the clutter of gear I'd unavoidably end up with if I went shopping for stationery.

Ok, maybe it's just me, but I read and re-read what the UI control in question should do: "entering a time or date in the future, a range of some sort". And I can't understand how the resulting sketched UI control works :-) And since I've spent more than e few moments to think about this, now I've grown very curious about it. IMO, a range has 2 parts: from_datetime, to_datetime. I can only see one in there... Am I missing something?

I used to worry about having all the right tools: different pens/pencils, grid notebooks, rulers, stencils, etc when sketching UI's. Now I really just use one nice mechanical pencil and regular white printer paper. My focus is really just getting things down, seeing how it looks, and changing it as many as possible before going to digital creation. Whiteboard replaces paper when working in a team.

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