27: Sketch Poorly and Sketch Often

Drawing quick sketches is essential to being able to make informed engineering decisions.  Drawings help us determine which elements are relevant and which may be safely ignored.  These daily hand sketches are needed to help us make subtle discriminations about proportion, member orientation, constructibility, connectivity, etc. So we need to sketch and sketch often, but do we need to sketch well?  (For this debate, well = pretty).  Does the sketch need to be nice looking with straight lines and perfectly to scale?  No.  Or should they be those cool architect type with soft and purposeful squiggly lines?  No, don't be cool - that is a waste of time.   Also don't show hand drawings to anyone where you focused on making them pretty instead of making them clear and useful.  Should they be on fancy black paper?  No.  They can be on any paper and with any pen.

The sketch can and should look like a 6 year old's drawing.  If you are better at drawing, of course, don't degrade your sketch by following this advice - but if you are average, don't be intimidated by others who waste their time making pretty sketches.  You need to sketch anyway, and all the time, constantly.  This is the most important action we do.  Sketches should only meet one criteria - they are to be useful to you and your team to communicate a design and to help with decision making about the design.  Feel free to sketch well as a hobby - by all means - add water color even, but for daily engineering, sketch poorly and sketch often.

Here is a sketch I did today that is too pretty but serves as an example of what we should constantly be doing prior to, or along with, using the computer...

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