Designers scribbles - a peek behind the scenes

Creativity can spark at the strangest moments – Thats why its good to always be prepared to jot ideas down in a handy dandy notebook. Take a peek at 24 designers sketchbooks and get a look behind the scenes of creative minds.

Chris Spooner

These particular sketches are from a year or two back while sitting in the airport. Using a mix of ball point pen and good old Sharpie marker a few fun characters were created ranging from Pirates to Bunnies!

Readers of Blog.SpoonGraphics may recognise Captain Blackspoon in there, who went on to become quite a popular tutorial on the site which covered his creation in Adobe Illustrator.

Jacob Gube

I have a standard hardcover Moleskine notebook (lined), which acts as my weekly planner, do-to list, and notes. I use the notes section a variety of ways, to wireframe a web design , for brainstorming , notes, doodles, and even my grocery list.

I carry it everywhere because inspiration can hit you anytime (and I can doodle when I’m bored).

Liz Andrade

CMD+Shift Design Blog

I hate to say it, but I never sketch anymore! I have a small sketchbook, but it’s mostly filled with “to-do” lists and rants. I had to scour through OLD sketchbooks – probably dating back 4 – 5 years to find actual hand drawings for design layouts/ideas. …This may be my resolution for ’09 – get to sketching more!

Tony Gigov

I usually use project sheets to draw between the lines or on the back side. The good ones I keep on a pile, the rest goes bye-bye … Here is a dog I did, to use as a background for my twitter account.

Tony Gigov

Paddy Donnelly

I use post it notes like they are going out of fashion! I try to sketch an idea down in its entirety on a post it note before I implement it. There is just enough room for the key points without waffling on about the idea. Simplicity is the key to design and if you can’t fit it on to a post it then its too complicated :)

Paddy Donnelly

Lilian Tula

I’m a design student with an incredibly chaotic mind so it’s imperative I write ideas, objectives and tasks straight away. This is the initial stage of my process, before I pick and mix what I reckon is worth developing further. My little notebook is A6 sized and has brown paper – my favourite feature since I’m a pen fetishist and love writing in all sorts of colours, some of which don’t show up on white paper. I tend to cross things out a lot. I’m a little compulsive like that.

Mark Poppen

I doodle some times, but I always have ideas when there’s no paper around (ie. in the shower), so I put myself in single-mind mode ’till I get to some paper, or Photoshop.


I lay down most of my sketches in my Moleskine notebook. Pen, pencil, graf, design sketches, words, notes, ideas… doesn’t matter. It all goes in there.

Currently putting down a lot of sketches for an art nouveau style poster series. as well as teaching my 7yr old niece how to draw perspective boxes. Too cute!

Christian Messer

I’m sketching in a book that was made out of the covers of a “Highlights for Children” cover – somehow they made it into a hardcover and spiral-bound it, kept the original pages through out, but the main bulk of pages are blank and white.

My process is always word driven most of the time – I do identity/Logo design and sketching is my brainstorming process, with shapes, things that come to mind. This one page is one out of six that involve a leaf – the client wants a stylized leaf.

Tony! Leo

Being left handed – I avoid using pencil if I can so I can avoid having pencil lead all over my palm and a smeary drawing. I sketch on whatever surface is around – usually scrap paper – and with a red Pilot Precise V7 pen. Once I have a basic form, I’ll go back over it with a black Pilot Precise V5. By far my favorite general purpose pens. Then I’ll make notes on what I like and what I want changed before tracing the good parts and start fixing the bad parts piece by piece.

Aaron Irizarry

1) I am setting up a rough layout for a marketing dashboard for clients.
I was asked to roughly draw (all my drawings are rough) the general layout once a user logged in.

2) Using a whiteboard to sketch out the site map and functionality of a local directory i am designing.

Tim Hedgefield

I carry a notebook around everywhere I go (an old-fashioned one with paper), so when I get an idea I can quickly jot it down. This was the first mockup of the design for my new portfolio site.

Suzie Kelly

This sketch is for a folder I created at my day job.

My work sketchbook is a hardcover notebook made by Blueline. I ordered it out of one of those office catalogs. It’s certainly no MOLESKIN ;)

Original sketch is in black ink – created while in a meeting to discuss the piece. The red doodles were added later while I was on the phone and the book just happened to be open in front me. heehee.

Kitty Florido

I was working on a new identity logo for a coffee shop – the first drafts. I needed to make a bunch of logo proposals, with the same name and with a new name suggestion. So first I was thinking about the names I was going to use, besides the one that they already use. After that, what I needed to work around the concept of the new names and things that are related to the words. Then just started working around the names and ended up with 4 pages of sketched logos ready to get to illustrator.

Shana Korby

I had to attend morning meetings at a job I had a while back. I could doodle while other people talked. It was a great time to come up with new sketch ideas for stock illustrations. This is the starter sketch for a poker series. The after pictures are the thumbnails from iStock.

Bill Biwer

I always start in my sketchbook, coming up with numerous amounts of ideas from simple to out of the ordinary. I then scan into Photoshop or Illustrator for the refining process.

I use numerous Sketchbooks and Moleskines depending on the project.

Paul Stanton

I carry my trusty Moleskine with me everywhere, well, almost everywhere and use it to scribble ideas in when inspiration strikes. I’ve scribbled everything from UI interactions, design elements and conference notes. The Moleskine’s are ideal due to their size and relative indestructability. I wouldn’t use anything else!

Steve Gibbs

I sketch in meetings, church, the train… just about anywhere. I use my sketches to work out ideas for projects or just to see what I can draw. I can usually go through my sketch books and remember what we were talking about or why I drew something. The page I show here I was working on a t-shirt design for a Corporate Run in a meeting. I know someone said something that I thought was a bad idea and I drew the skull with the candle.

Martin Kulakowski

Here’s some pages from my sketchbook. It’s a finalized initial sketch to define the navigation system and the overall layout of the website.

All sketches are based on the Information Architecture documents prepared by the team and approved by the client.

Upon some feedback from the team, I can refine these further and then go to town in Photoshop designing the official interface mock-ups before I move on to XHTML/CSS coding.

These specific ones were done for

Joven Orozco

Our process starts with what we are trying to accomplish then tend to gather everything from everywhere. we pull from materials, examples and sketches… it’s a combination of many things. we place all items on boards for internal or external use. we call this process boardstorming.

Lil Ova

i sketch to stay sane. not always before a project. most of the time just to relax myself.
i just make marks.

Curtis McHale

This sketch is in my Moleskin. I also have a large sketch pad and a variety of pencils in my office at home that I use. My Moleskin often gets sketches of user interfaces or lettering. Many of my designs start here next to the client information that I may take down on first meeting.

Jen Harris

I sketch on 8.5×11 paper most of the time. I do have a couple of notebook around that I often use as well. I like sketching on the brown paper with crayons at restaurants. I like the look on the wait staff’s face when I ask to take the tablecloth (aka Kraft paper) home with me.

Adriana Rodarte

Usually my sketch process is very disorganized, filling white space in my notebooks in no particular order so you might find several projects in a single pages. I draw small and make annotations including to-do’s and brainstorming (words).

I use an sketchbook 32. x 24.5 cm (mostly used in elementary schools here in Mexico) that includes tracing paper between each sheet.

Thanks to everyone that participated!!!

Do you sketch as part of your design process? Let me know your thoughts! Please leave a comment and let me see your scribbles.

*Due to the overwhelming number of people that submitted their scribbles I had to limit the length of the post.