Archive for August, 2009

Live Creation Process, Step 2: Sketches

Monday, August 3rd, 2009

Don’t even go near that computer! After getting inspired by other websites, books, art, nature or whatever, why would you go and ruin it all by diving in and opening Photoshop? What you need to do is buy yourself a Moleskine and doodle on the bus tomorrow. You need to be scribbling on napkins, sketchbooks, jotters, walls and in sand so you can get really down and dirty with the idea for your site.

moleskine paddy donnelly

Sure you can make it look so much prettier in Photoshop with your drop shadows and gradients but it will suffer from a lack of foundation.  Websites (and I’m talking about those special ones we all wish we had made) have to have a bit of soul, a bit of madness, a bit of Zig A Zig Ah as a certain quintette of ladies once sang about.

This can only come from spending the time pre-computer and getting your HB out. So without further ado, here’s a small sample of what I’ve been sketching for the past wee while.

The Moleskine

I try to always carry a Moleskine about with me so I can jot down ideas for blog posts, layouts, logos or try my best at sketching the variety of colourful characters on Belgium’s buses. Seriously getting the bus is like a free ticket to the zoo some days. Anyway, here’s the kinda thing I get up to.

paddy donnelly animals

The idea to use a few different animals as ‘mascots’ came from some doodles.  I kept drawing penguins and sheep attached to a rocket ship.  Don’t ask me why but there is something cool about attaching rockets to things. I have since found out that Pepsi also appreciates the attractiveness of rockets and small flightless animals.

paddy donnelly redesign

One thing that frustrates me about my current site and many others is that it’s so hard to find anything.  I could just see in my head these four animals representing the categories of my site – Blog, Projects, Interviews and Things I See (photos, twitter, delicious etc). I knew the penguin on the rocket had to be one of them, but I’m still working on another 3 which will tickle my creativity and quirkyness.  I’m think the Narwhal has to be in there too. How many people don’t know about Narwhals?! They are like unicorn whales!

paddy donnelly narwhal

You see what I’m talking about with the bit of madness? I just have this obsession with these little characters, which all stemmed from sketching in my Moleskine and they are a driving force behind this new site.

Proper sketches

After you have a collection of these fuzzy ideas roaming about on scraps of paper here and there, collect them all together and start making the beginnings of your proper sketches.

Here’s the way it’s in my head, or as close as I can represent on paper. It’s not easy to project what’s in your mind’s eye onto a piece of paper although it gets easier the more you do it.

paddy donnelly new website animals

The Homepage

I forsee a tabbed structure but not like the usual, overused, tired method.  I’m talking about big ass tabs, with these four charismatic animals standing guard on the homepage

paddy donnelly redesign

Quirky add ons

There’s a lot of quirky little things I’ve tinkered with and want to include on the site.  I don’t have enough hidden things on this current site and it annoys me.

paddy donnelly contact redesign

Little things like the contact page, which is a usually an afterthought, I want to dedicate some serious time to developing, including the language used, method of contact available, images, everything. I can see a photo of myself sitting at my laptop pointing at the message field of the contact form saying that I’m ready to reply.  Little touches like that will encourage people to get in contact faster.

textures paddy donnelly


Wanting to move further away from ‘web 2.0’ but still retain the principles, I want to use more textures in my sites.  This is something I haven’t done much with in the past but I have some ideas on using them to create some sort of depth. We’ll see if it works out.

In the end one of the prime goals of this new site is to make it so so so much easier to find my stuff, including a better search, featured posts, better categories and many other little tricks. I have a plethora of other sketches and ideas but I’ll save some surprises for next time.

Next stage

So I want to see you back here checking out the next stage: ‘Wireframing’. Follow me on Twitter and you’ll know when I know!