When I am working on an idea, a layout, a logo or a sermon series there’s one tool that I reach for every time… A pencil. My preference is a simple yellow No.2 plus a piece of copy paper folded in half (this avoids the full blank page staring back at you). A pencil will save you a ton of time and energy, and take your design to the next level.
With a pencil you can:
- Work fast. Work small, work fast. Work on layouts no more than 2” high, and you can get through 20 bad ideas to find the one diamond. Spend more time thinking, mining for diamonds.
- Work Hands On. Feel the paper and touch the design. Move around a little bit and get the blood flowing. More interaction leads to more ideas.
- Work loose. As soon as you type something, it’s a font, and a color, and a size. It’s the shape of that “a” or the spacing of the “&” symbol. Working on a computer makes everything set. Suddenly you are focusing on the fonts for idea number one instead of ever getting to the great idea.
- Work messy. Even better than erasing, a pencil lets you redraw, trace, and refine. It lets you see an overview on one page of your design process, the journey that got you there.
- Work on the idea, not the execution. A good idea will shine through a rough pencil sketch with stick figures. A weak concept will not be saved by the cool font, the trendy color or even the “just right” Instagram filter. Don’t spend your time trying to polish a lump of coal.
The good news is designers are getting new tools to take the pencil farther than ever before. Some of the new writing and drawing tools for the iPad, such as Adobe’s new Ink and Slide or the 53 pencil promise keep the best of the pencil, and add all the advantages technology has to offer.