Industrial designers use a lot of different tools to envision how prototypes will look and function. Some tools like CAD software helps them figure out the most exact specifications of every part, but some tools are better for brainstorming, envisioning, or simulating what a product will look like. SketchBook, with it’s symmetry and perspective tools, is an excellent choice for designing mock-ups and prototypes in the early stages of design. We asked someone who is very good at making unique and eye-catching mock-ups, Tolga Tuncer, to show us how he uses SketchBook in this process, and he decided on a futuristic, state-of-the-art oven. He has some great tips on sizing, lighting, and shading for anyone who’s ready to make a cool, professional-looking prototype.
SketchBook is a great tool for product designers to express design ideas quickly, in realistic and effective ways. I use SketchBook for different purposes in my design process. In this tutorial, I will aim for realistic sketching in developing a new oven design.
Big Canvas Size
A big canvas size means more detail and more space to move. Of course, not too much as it may affect your computer’s performance. Let’s start with 2,400 x 2,400 pixels.
Why Use a Dark Background
I highly recommend that beginners practice on dark backgrounds before going into white. It is easier, and you can achieve good results more quickly because it simplifies the shading process. I click the default white circle on the background layer and choose full black.
Determining Correct Proportions
To design this oven, I will follow standard dimensions. I made a simple model with dimensions in CAD software and took a screenshot from the front as a reference to build my sketch on. This will allow me to achieve more accurate results in later design stages like constructing 3D models.
Lower the opacity of your proportional reference image.
Choose the pencil and white color. One thing to note: Using the space bar to pan and to zoom is very important in SketchBook. Try to get used to it if you do not currently use it.
Let’s define the areas with thin pencil lines. It is not important to make perfect edges. Press Shift while drawing for straight lines. You will see the feedback when you start using it.
The Symmetry tool is also a good thing to use here. After drawing the lines, hide the “proportions” layer by clicking on the eye icon to better see our cool lines.
Our oven will consist of two parts: a control panel part and the body. After hiding your proportions layer, select these areas with the rectangle selection tool (M) by clicking and dragging in the area to give these areas a solid color on a new layer.
On a new layer, while the selection is active, fill the parts with grey color using flood fill. This gives a chance to change colors anytime we want by locking transparency. Then, lower the opacity of this layer to see our layout lines behind.
In this stage, I will roughly sketch some ideas on new layers. Add a new layer for each design concept. I will use a white “ballpoint pen” brush. This is where I make design decisions about parts and details regarding color, materials, and finishing.
The Light Source
I will use a single light that comes from left-top in this tutorial. Let me share some shading tricks using this simple light source. The left and top edges will get a highlight, the bottom and right edges will get shadows. Inner edges work the opposite way. Examine this below and try it out yourself; use an airbrush on a solid colored shape. Think about 3D forms while trying this out.
I will start with defining the overall shape. Reduce the opacity of my design concept idea layer. Add new layer. Choose airbrush and white color. I’ll smoothly give a color for our oven. Do not try to be precise while using this brush. Choose black color and paint below the diagonal of the oven.
Now I will use a hard eraser tool like a brush to define the parts. I’ll use it the with Shift button and also with the Symmetry tool.
Shaping Parts: Door Glass
Add a new layer and name it. Select the doorglass area with rectangle selection tool. It will help to paint the area without overflows. I’ll make the door glass contrast to be better understood in proportions.
Shaping Parts: Sheet Metal
Using textures dramatically alters the reality perception of sketches. Now I will use textures and edit them to get my desired brushed steel effect.
I delete details using the hard eraser. I use the eraser with the ellipse ruler to create circles.
Making Metal Shine
Increase the opacity of the texture and lock transparency to paint only over the texture. Use white and black airbrush to make the material shine.
Shaping Parts: Knobs
Now, I will apply a radial brushed metal texture for knobs. One way to do this is to use Google Image search to find a texture and add it to the artboard. Then, I duplicate the layer, since I have the same two knobs.
Shaping Parts: Chrome Add-On
I’m going to build a chrome add-on:
- Add a new layer.
- With rectangle selection tool, fill the area with grey.
- Clear the area where it intersects with knobs.
- Lock transparency, use white and black airbrush to make it look like chrome.
- I have four buttons on it, so I divide it into parts with a small-sized eraser.
Shaping Parts: Display Area and Graphics
I will create depth for the display area since it is behind the glass:
- Add a new layer, choose an airbrush with low size and flow.
- Select the area with selection tool, shade edges.
- Then, with a bigger brush, make the entire area a little bit darker.
- Erase unwanted shadows over the knob with a hard eraser.
Icons: Using Type Tool and Brushes
Rasterize the type layer so you can edit it. I’ll start with my temperature gauge.
I add a new layer and draw the function icon of the oven with a pen using the Shift key to draw straight lines. Then, I re-touch it with airbrush. For the timer icon, I use the text tool again with the same steps I used in making the temperature icon.
Adding Additional Elements as PNG
You can also add elements that you’d never want to draw by hand. I created the rest of my graphics like standard icons as a PNG image. I designed the icons on top of a screenshot to easily align everything. Then, I simply added the image, scaled it, and moved it into position.
Don’t Forget the Handle
Since we have learned how to put the texture and manipulate them, apply the brushed steel again on the handle and make it shine.
Industrially produced items have strong and clean separations between parts. I’ll use a black pencil to separate the parts from each other.
I use a black airbrush over material break lines to make edges look more 3D. Remember the light source section earlier in this tutorial with my shading tricks. The bottom and right edges take shadows here.
Add new layer. Since knobs have distance from the surface, I will use a bigger brush for smooth shadows for the height they have.
Shadows: Big Parts
We have already made the shadows, which are shown in yellow lines below. Now, we will continue to make other shadows that need to be added, which are shown in red.
Shadows: Bigger Parts
Apply a black airbrush to the handle and outer edges.
In fact, highlights will be the same as we have done with our shadows. The only difference is that I will use a white brush on the rest of the edges. To highlight, you can use different white brushes according to the size of the edge. I will also use ballpoint pen for small size edges.
A quick set of examples to show you how I do the outer edges.
Pay attention to the littlest details. I use a ballpoint pen to do the highlights on the top edges of the knobs, and I use an airbrush to create the shadows on the bottom of the knobs.
Cleaning Up the Workspace
At this point, I’m almost finished, and I like to do a little clean-up. I merge or group layers into folders if I haven’t already. You never know if you may want to come back to this drawing later or even send it to someone else, so it’s always a good idea to organize your work if you aren’t an obsessive organizer earlier in the process.
As a tutorial, this one has been pretty long. Thanks for sticking with me! The final steps I take when making this kind of industrial drawing is to add some polish:
- Use a hard eraser to make highlights more clear at the outer edges.
- Use an airbrush to make some of the edges pop more.
- Use a gradient tool with multiply layer option for the reflection.
- I decided to add an image for the interior of the door glass.
The Final Product
More from Tolga Tuncer
Tolga hails from Turkey and is always making and sharing interesting design concepts for innovative products on his Instagram feed. If you’d like a copy of his tutorial, you can download the PDF and keep it handy for your own product design ideas.