I am a newbie designer, I am often confused about moving through the design process, specifically when should I start using design software. Should I implement my ideas initially with software or should I do some sketches on paper first?

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    I always sketch before going into a program but it's completely opinion based. As such, I'm voting to close it for that reason Aug 29, 2015 at 18:46
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    Why do you ask? Do you find it hard to do the design directly on software or do you forget things (e.g. low res., rgb pictures) or make mistakes? Do you do web design or print design? I think these 2 require a very different approach. You should add more details in your question about all this!
    – go-junta
    Aug 29, 2015 at 19:03
  • most older and notable designers would in all likelihood tell you to fully form your idea, not necessarily the design, with sketches on paper first. as a member of the newer generation of designers i tend not to do this but i still find it very helpful to do. it allows me to see with my eyes what i want and find several problems with the design before i spend lots of time trying to create it digitally. however, the sketching does not need to be done on paper, but it is impossible to replace that tactile feel of working with paper for sketches. Aug 30, 2015 at 0:31
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    It's a personal preference (so I'm adding this as a comment), but I don't know any designers who don't start on paper first. It's a quick and easy way to brain dump any ideas that come to you. It's too easy in software to get stuck noodling on your very first design idea, but on paper it works more like brainstorming, getting lots of things down on the page and allowing for more exploration. This blog post goes into it a little more: designshack.net/articles/inspiration/… Good luck!
    – Vicki
    Aug 30, 2015 at 3:38

2 Answers 2


It's no so much about digital vs. analog, or paper vs. screen, but rather about getting ideas out of your head into a visual medium as fast as you can to maximize your brainstorming output.

The reason a lot of designers use paper and pencil first is because it's quick, easy to iterate with, and doesn't allow you to easily get bogged down in the tiny details.

This can be a great help with the initial design stage where you're trying to get as many ideas out of your head as you can to get an idea of what's working and what's not and to find connections between ideas.

So if paper and pencil is faster for you, I'd strongly suggest that. If you can do all that just fine in front of a keyboard, then that's fine too.

As an aside, I think this video by Aaron Draplin is a nice example of the "traditional" sketching-to-digital process that many logo designers go through.


  • all of this is great advice. I just wanted to add that if you start designing on computer, sometimes you end up self-editing too much (it's all depending on who you are I guess - this is just my experience). I definitely like the pencil and paper approach for a more organic idea process.
    – binky
    Sep 3, 2015 at 19:31

I would say that it depends on situation, what kind of project, how much time you have etc. There can be a situation when you need to do something very fast and there is no need to play on paper before, because of the task being simple. But, mostly I do prefer to use paper before going to computer, because then you can sketch like about ten ideas and already see fast what works or not. Then you can focus on computer when you already know the road where you want to go, the target to achieve - polish the idea.

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