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The Sketch Method: An Analysis Of Hand-Drawn Sketches’ Role In The Preliminary Production Stage Of Editorial Cover Design


The Sketch Method: An Analysis Of Hand-Drawn Sketches’ Role In The Preliminary Production Stage Of Editorial Cover Design

Minzhulina, Anna (2022) The Sketch Method: An Analysis Of Hand-Drawn Sketches’ Role In The Preliminary Production Stage Of Editorial Cover Design. Masters thesis, Concordia University.

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What is old is new again: sketch method’s impact on the cover and editorial designs within contemporary magazine publishing.

In today’s content-saturated, fast-paced technological era, something as traditional as freehand sketching during design production could feel both pointless and redundant. When it comes to sketching, art directors and designers often claim they do it. But how frequently do they really practice it in the post-Adobe Creative Suite era? Today, designers enjoy an abundance of software to accelerate and aid the design process. These time-saving techniques result in poorly identified design problems, incorrectly identified goals and subgoals, skipped steps, missed details, and eventually, low quality and repetitive outcomes.
In contrast, the freehand sketch method is open-ended, playful, and collaborative, and it offers a different approach to the design process. That is why, in the current environment of social media, global expansion, and remote work, the freehand sketch method is more relevant than ever as a visual communication tool for those designers who are driven by creativity and high-quality design production. Additionally, the key aspects of the sketch method are represented in technologically developed and developing applications like Figma, Miro, and Microsoft Teams, where the “torch” of the design is passed from one participant in the process to another.
What are the unique qualities of the sketches that ensure relevance in modern-day graphic design and magazine publishing? Moreover, what do the unique characteristics of the sketch method mean for the further development of long-distance online communication and collaboration? This paper will present research on this topic, as well as examining my personal practice and insightful findings from the practices of other noted Canadian creators. For this thesis, the researcher designed a questionnaire centred around participants’ professional practice and how that practice may include the sketch method. Next, they asked multiple participants to participate; out of which 15 agreed to answer the questionnaire and send it back and have their answers analyzed and presented here. There was no involvement of any incentive. The researcher distributed the questionnaire amongst a diverse group of creators representing both genders and multiple ages via email message. Foremost the researcher asked the creators with whom they collaborated previously as an art director or whose perspective on the subject they felt would be the most insightful. The answers were compared and analyzed for commonalities and differences. The result is mostly in our perception of what we consider the sketch method, yet similarities find their way in the practical approach and step-by-step use of the sketch during the design process. Many participants have the same sketchy approach when they start the design problem solving, but most all gradually, through digital manipulation, come to the desired result.
This professional design-related self-study research is based on Donald Schön’s concept of the reflective practitioner—the idea that a professional (in this case, a practicing art director) develops a unique set of skills and insights during active professional practice in response to the challenges that routinely arise during that practice. The sketch method is the subject of this study, as well as a form of narrative through which the study of oneself is accomplished, by which conversations are initiated, and from which knowledge is drawn.
This research does not come to any conclusion on which type of design process is right or wrong. Nor is it an attempt to derive an algorithm for design-related problem solving. Instead, it offers a glimpse primarily into my sketchbook and its journal-like characteristics (sketches, notes, memories, narratives, correspondence, and schematics). This is designed to prompt further theoretical and practical exploration on the subject of sketching and related topics. This research is a reflection-on-action, which makes it abstract and metacognitive.
During this self-exploratory journey, the process will be retraced and thoroughly analyzed, from the final layouts and cover designs and working backward to the early “study sketches” (Goldschmidt, 1991, p. 139). The qualities and characteristics of the freehand sketch method will be outlined. In my view, and as shown by the research, these qualities and characteristics raises the outcome of the design process to a higher creative level. Finally, thoughts and findings will be exchanged and compared with the impressions and practices of a peer group, including art directors, photographers, writers, editors, and illustrators.
This reflective study aims to produce theoretical and applied knowledge for educational and subsequently professional environments for better design practices by design practitioners at varying levels of competence (Gray & Siegel, 2014, p. 49). Of the six levels (updated from five) identified by Dreyfus, this research concerns novices, advanced beginners, and competent designers. This thesis also shares invaluable techniques and insights into the process of design practice and critical thinking, specifically cover design.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Fine Arts > Design and Computation Arts
Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Authors:Minzhulina, Anna
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:M.Des.
Thesis Supervisor(s):Moore, Christopher
Keywords:editorial design, publishing, magazine design, graphic design, cover design, creative thinking, ideation, sketching, sketch, hand-drawn sketch
ID Code:990539
Deposited On:27 Oct 2022 14:48
Last Modified:27 Oct 2022 14:48
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