I love sketching, but I always find sketching with pencils a little daunting; there’s this constant desire to go higher fidelity than I should when I’m starting a project. Maybe it’s because of art — I associate pencils and sketching with drawing, which I always approached as something polished. If I wanted to set myself free and do something gestural or sketchy, I always found conté or charcoal easier to let loose with. Pencils were a tool to create something I would eventually show off. (The fact that you can erase pencil probably plays a huge role reinforcing that belief.)
Lately I’ve been trying something different. Instead of sketching with pencils, I’ve been using sharpies. (For a while I was carrying around a miniature whiteboard and markers, but that started feeling a little ridiculous.)
Sharpies are great — they come in a variety of weights, they never look polished, and they are completely un-erasable. You can’t casually make sharpies look like anything other than sharpies. They are inelegant, imprecise, and easy to draw with. As long as you have a thick enough paper to draw on, sharpies are a great way to get ideas down without having to commit to anything. They eliminate that desire I have produce something polished. Sketching with sharpies has improved my design process.