The Basics: Sketching

June 29th, 2011 by Larry


Georgios and I constantly harp on the importance of sketching. It’s an essential step in the creative process, yet we encounter situations on a daily basis where people decide to skip the sketching step and jump right into the computer. What results from that horrible decision is usually garbage. I have no qualms about telling you to your face that you wasted everyone’s time by trying to save your own time by NOT SKETCHING IN THE FIRST PLACE. Ya dig?

Lots of “designers” just hack together novelty fonts and other crappy low-resolution images they find on Google for flyers and mixtapes. I can’t name many people I know that actually take the time to draw custom typefaces, illustrate, and take their own photos for their projects. The sad part is, I know even less people that recognize the power of hand done type!

For our recent work on Speakerfoxxx‘s Dope Boy Anthems mixtape, I was tasked with coming up with a unique script to be knocked out of a photo of a dub cruiser. As you can see, I took pencil to paper first!

I’ve put together some before and after juxtapositions of some recent work after the jump. Fun stuff!


Here’s a look at my original sketch for the Dirty South Cowgirl from the We Are the Process Spring ’11 collection. As you can see, sketching really helped me transition my thoughts to the computer.

Notice the differences:
1) The angle of her gun-holding hand was yet to be decided, so I drew it slightly detached. I knew that once I traced her hand and gun in the computer, I could play with a few options, but I didn’t want to commit to an angle yet. Ultimately, I decided against having the gun tilt her hat back.

2) The sketch has her wearing a “plaid” shirt, whereas the final image has her wearing a We Are the Process brand mega scarf tied up as a shirt. That was a branding decision that came to me last minute.

3) Finally, the “13″ detail on her right boot came out exactly as I had wished, but I was never totally happy with the “13″ on her left boot, as it read as a “31″ instead. The number 13 is significant to our brand and we often use it as a representation of Georgia, the 13th state in the United States, and the capital of our version of the Dirty South landscape. I decided to change the left boot detail into a seven-pointed star; an important symbol to me personally that I knew would be subtle enough. It was my way of “signing” the illustration without writing LARRY LUK all over it.


The Southern Series graphic was obviously derived from many of the famous World Series logos from 1987 to 1997. However, many of the letters didn’t exist in the World Series script. I had to decide how the letters “u”, “t”, “h”, and “n” in the word “Southern” were going to look. As you can see, I struggled a little bit with the “h”. Had I not had this struggle on paper, my time in the computer would’ve been amplified ten-fold trying to negotiate those curves.

Seeing as how this fictitious baseball series between We Are the Process and Nice Kicks was to take place in Austin, TX, I originally wanted to use the clock tower from the University of Texas’ campus as the centerpiece for this design. You can see where penciled it in before deciding it would ultimately over-complicate the composition. Often times, good design should involve a fair amount of editing, restraint, and simplicity.


Finally, when Matt Halfhill from Nice Kicks approached me about wanting a “baseball-esque” logo for his brand, I promptly hit the sketchbook. I came up with a number of results that just didn’t feel right, but we both decided that this “NK” lock-up sketch I had created was something to expand on. The final result features slightly thicker letterforms, barbs, and a drop-shadow line going in a completely different direction. We would have never arrived at a result like this if I had jumped into the computer immediately!

Moral of the story: Don’t be a slave to your computer!

Category: Design, The Basics Comment: 4 Comments »

4 Responses

  1. Bart Says:

    great post larry. really enjoyed that. so much so that i created one to compliment it on our website in solidarity against sucker designers.

  2. Bart Says:

    oops, here’s the link:

  3. William Roth Says:

    For southern series and dopeboy, did you first look at different scripts and mimic them, or draw while looking at a similar script on a screen or paper? Or are these sketches directly form the minds of EC?

  4. Radar Says:

    Like these posts shoping the process & really digging the monogram for Nice Kicks!

    Keep up the good work fellas…

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