I find it ironic that many multimedia students,given the importance of visual communication in our profession, graduate without the ability to sketch-out or illustrate the most simple of ideas. I would argue that everyone is able to draw and with practice achieve a satisfactory level of confidence in visually communicating his/her ideas.

We've all learned to manipulate a pen or pencil to print or write our name. Many of us doodle daydreams in our class notebooks. Both of these examples illustrate the ability to visually express oneself through the manipulation of line. Learning to draw effectively just takes study, time, and practice.


I regret that drawing is not one of the primary skills taught in schools. Visually exploring an idea with pencil in hand facilitates our imagination and encourages original thinking, flexibility, adaptability, and the ability to generate solutions to complex problems.

Problem solving through drawing is encountered in many situations. The doctor who draws a simple illustration visualizing a patient's need for orthopedic surgery becomes more effective as a communicator and healer. An engineer exploring a design problem envisions a solution through sketching multiple options. A teacher makes the water cycle concept more easily understood by her students when she visualizes the process on the chalkboard.

We often find in our daily life the need to make visual our ideas. It may be sketching out the floor plan of a remodeling project or drawing a wiring diagram for a component stereo system. Drawing a simple map for someone to reach one's home saves extensive verbal instructions.

Visuals are a much richer format than words alone and can show relationships and complex interconnections more "concisely". This is one reason that children's books are often more effective at explaining theories and processes than pages of explanatory text. Words alone do not communicate as well as words and pictures together.

Just as the construction of a bridge or building requires detailed drawings so does a multimedia product. One of the basic values of drawing is the visual conceptualization of a project for use in a team setting. The illustrated storyboard provides a graphical document upon which the team bases all tasks assignments and production efforts.

Media projects often require the preparation of diagrams, charts, graphs, and maps to present data and complex information. Drawing facilitates the initial conceptualizing of the content and look of these visual resources. The ability to sketch provides a document that graphic specialist can take and refine.

Interface design determines how a user is to interact with a media product. Good design requires the ability to pre-conceptualize possible options that can be mocked-up and tested with a target user group.

The ability to draw is especially valuable in the area of game design. Games are complex non-linear digital visual and audio stories. The pre-conceptualization of all the required scenes and actions is a task that needs solid drawing and visual thinking skills.

Not being able to draw leaves one who has mastered an animation software program like Flash with few options for being an animator. There is only so much one can do with circles and squares as a career.

Why draw? Drawing provides you with a tool to move ideas from your mind to paper or computer. At the most basic of levels it provides you with the ability to create solutions to problems that words alone may not.

Drawing provides a way of seeing and understanding the world. It facilitates your focusing attention on what you see before you.

Learning to draw begins in many ways. A course during one's academic training or later through community education provides a structure that many like. Purchasing a book on basic drawing techniques and practicing skills is yet another for the highly disciplined amongst us.

Learning to draw has been something I've felt the need to learn given my own work in multimedia. So, last fall, I took a Drawing for Media course at the University. I entered with little confidence in my drawing and left knowing that I could, at the most basic level, create a visual storyboard through which I would be able to represent my visual ideas with others. I am sharing my first drawing efforts with readers in hopes of encouraging others to take pen or pencil in hand and make drawing a part of life. If I can do it so can you.

Resources:

Learning How To Draw. These lessons are designed using basic skills were design for teens but they work well for those of us needing to start with the basics of drawing.

Drawing and Sketching. This site with Helen South facilitates one's observation skills. South provides basic drawing lessons, including simple still life, drawing structure and tips on getting started with drawing people including all aspects of drawing faces and figures.

One-Point Perspective by Harold Olejarz. Step-by-step instructions for basic one-point perspective are presented on this site. The first section presents key concepts in one-point perspective.

Drawing for Animation with Tom Franks includes topics such as stretching muscles, proportions, hands and faces.

Index of Drawing Sites lists many other sites with online instruction on how to master the basics of drawing.