With so many aspiring graphical artists eagerly purchasing Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator and artist tablets, it is easy to forget about one of the most useful and vital tools an artist can have: their sketchbook. Some people might even argue that physical media (such as drawing and sketching) is a dying art
While I do think that most art these days is constructed digitally, I also believe that many of the most prolific and refined artists still consult physical media often, even when creating a completely digital work.
While you certainly can create great designs and ideas initially in Photoshop, I benefit so much more with both time management and idea refinement with using a sketchbook that I actually consider starting a design from scratch on Photoshop might even be detrimental to a design.
Without a doubt, the number one reason that I love using my sketchbook is that it is the quickest, most free method of visual brainstorming. Even if you know the Adobe Suite inside and out with every shortcut memorized and custom macro commands in use, I’m still willing to wager it would take you longer to put together a prototype than a skilled artist on a sketchbook.
Because of the speed in which I can produce prototypes on a sketchbook, I am able to more quickly determine which design choices work for a project and which don’t simply through process of elimination. In the couple times that I have designed prototypes straight from Photoshop, I felt less inclined to scrap ideas I already had on screen because of the longer time it took to get the screen how I wanted it. The more design options you are able to visually consider for a project, the better your project will be.
Even if you are super speedy on Photoshop, I would argue that it is much more difficult to think outside of the box when working through a design program that is marketed toward thousands of artists. You are working with a similar set of tools and a similar interface to so many other artists, so naturally your vision will be skewed towards the convenience of the program. Perhaps you will rule out a visual idea because it would be too tedious to work out on the software.
When working with pencil and paper, you don’t have to construct your design through the tools and interface of a program. Sure, you may have to creatively problem solve as to how you can implement a sketched design into Photoshop or Illustrator at some point later down the road of the project, but simply having that openness of options and possibility can be a huge benefit to planning and creating a visual project.
One of the hugest benefits I receive from keeping a sketchbook is that I can take it anywhere with me; it is incredibly mobile. While this mobility is currently being contested by improving smartphone and tablet software, there is still the issue of battery charge and precision of tools on the touch screen. Perhaps one day there will be an electronic day that can legitimately replace a sketchbook, but at the moment they seem to fall short of my needs and process.