I have a series of paper sketches done as part of my design process. As I take the design to the next stage I am creating a better representation of my design that builds on my sketches and will eventually lead to my final design. Do you discard rough product sketches? Some of my sketches are very rough and I feel as if it might help me to discard those I didn't take forward in order to hone my final design. At the same time I would like to keep at least an example of my thought process in a coherent / well presented way.

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    At my college / uni it was part of our practice to retain all dev work in a journal including any roughs and notes, even if on a cig packet. Initially of course this was to track the thought process rather than relying on a final piece (only) submission. However, recording is viewed as a useful tool for memory and potentially an inspiration for future briefs. You wont necessarily show these to a client, but it is useful for mentoring/tutoring and presentation to students. At some stage you should look to do this also - gives you a personal review / pit stop opportunity for your practice. Oct 20, 2017 at 8:03

2 Answers 2


Never discard sketches. They may contain ideas and inspiration for other projects or even later versions of the same project. At the very least, you can reflect on them later and be inspired for new work.

They can also serve to illustrate a point when presenting your work. For example, if a certain shape or other decision seems a very obvious obvious choice that the client will probably expect you to make, it may serve you well to show your sketches of that idea and use them to show why you didn't go through with that line of thought.

I use a journal to sketch in, and even doodle and make small notes. I've gotten so used to having a repository of old ideas and doodles around, that I feel lost without it when starting a new project. When I've been doodling on a loose piece of paper, it even pains me to throw it into the bin!

  • Good answer, but I recommend keeping good order of all this stuff and some of it will be crap and not worth archiving. Oct 24, 2017 at 12:56
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    Yesterday's crap can be tomorrow's gold. I'd rather keep too much than too little.
    – Vincent
    Oct 24, 2017 at 13:05
  • Next question would be - how often do you revisit stuff and how much of it is visible in your workspace? Oct 25, 2017 at 8:33
  • @AndrewWelch You're asking pretty precise questions about a process that is at least part art. I'd love to discuss this with you in Graphic Design Chat at an opportune time, but I'm afraid I won't be able to give cold hard numbers.
    – Vincent
    Oct 25, 2017 at 10:46

I just bumped on this thread while i was working on a project and i thought it was worth answering to your question.

It's a real coincidence because in the contest i've just joined, the Contest Holder is specifically asking to show the work in progress from sketch to digital. I will not only keep the sketches, but add screenshots of my work in progress too.

IN my practice i do this not just to show that the work it's mine and original, but because i want to show the potential client the process my artwork creation.

1) The client get a better understanding of the work process and the amount of work i put in my job (sometimes underestimated from clients).

2) I think this part of the process can help both client / designer in case of changes are needed as the client has a better vision of the whole work so that the changes can be done quicker and more efficiently.

3) I agree with Vincent post. I myself get a lot of inspiration from old sketches i used for other projects. Sometimes i take 1 or more elements of a particular sketch or i redraw the same sketch again and in the process a new illustration come up.

4) I keep everything rough and better sketches. I leave my sketches close to my desk on top of a shelf and easy to access. This is important because it's quick to review them. If i don't use this system it would be too annoying and wasting time to look for all the doodles around the house and i'll end up never looking at my old works.

The only downside of this process is that my studio has paper flying every where! So once in a while you have to tide up because your work environment can become very messy... you'll drawn in paper!!!

This is my 2 cents. I hope it helps.

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    Sketches aren't for clients. And any 'contest' sponsor asking for them seems a little suspect. It's fine to show clients sketches, but, in general, you don't always want your clients seeing how the sausage is made. The sketches are also your own proprietary work. Strategically it may not always be something you want to expose to your clients.
    – DA01
    Oct 27, 2017 at 3:41
  • seems sensible to be but I agree with @DA01 that it isn't always a good idea as clients might not be bothered about seeing that stuff. And to be honest, that is most likely to be the case. Oct 27, 2017 at 9:41
  • I have been doing Contests for a long time and i never had a problem with any Contest Holder. They are Guaranteed so that the designers are safely paid. There's nothing suspicious if a Contest Holder / Client asks to see sketches. I disagree about not showing the process of "how i make my own artwork". i think that not showing is the "old concept" of doing design. Clients nowadays have much more knowledge then the past some of mine are graphic designers that employe me for an illustration job. Oct 27, 2017 at 22:26
  • Sometime they are interested to know the details and i don't have any problem to share with them my sketches. The more clients can learn the more "we" the designers community can benefits too in the future when we relate with a client. This is my opinion, but understand your concern of showing your work we are just different. Anyway i'm happy i triggered a little debate about this issue, difference help to grow the community, cheers! Oct 27, 2017 at 22:29

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