What To Do If You Can’t Draw

You’ve tried everything to create a visual representation of your invention to no avail. Any attempts at sketching even the roughest draft have failed miserably. Or perhaps you have a disability preventing you from being able to draw. Regardless of the reasoning, what can you do? You simply can’t draw.

If you or anyone you know has ever been in this situation, don’t fret. While sketching is an important part of both the brainstorming and prototyping phases, it’s not strictly necessary. There are also workarounds to get something like a sketch finished, without the need for artistic talent.

Man Sketching
Man sketching ideas in a sketchbook.


The most obvious solution is also the most difficult. Art takes time, and as the saying goes, time is money. Unless you have a very close friend or family member willing to be your sketch artist, you’re going to be shelling out for a commission. Even then, what you envision in your head might be difficult to communicate with others. Only attempt this step if the invention is simple design-wise and only if you have the funds.


If you have the time, a few art courses might help you improve. This is still a desperate option and should only be tried if you have deep pockets. However, most art classes teach a great number of skills beyond being able to sketch, which could prove useful as an inventor. If you’re a student, see if it’s offered as an elective. Also, many community centers offer art classes.


Clipart and premade assets might not convey professionalism, but they’ll do in a pinch. Combined with the above methods, it may be possible to create something far closer to your interior visualization. Don’t be afraid to be creative, especially with any recolor or cropping tools. Need a wheel? Crop one off a car. Use a jump rope as a cord. You’re an inventor and therefore naturally creative. The options are endless.


As we covered in a previous article, graphing and art programs may assist you if you struggle to draw. Being able to connect lines through points, both straight and curved, should give you the same freedom you’d expect with a pen or pencil. The drawback is that some programs are finicky to use or cost money, but plenty of free alternatives exist.

A team working on problem-solving an idea.
A team working on problem-solving an idea.


Why not? Skipping to the prototyping is a viable option in some cases. It may be a bit more difficult without a sketch, especially if you’re using a 3D printing program. But it’s still possible! If you can modify previously-existing products, that’s a great way to start. And if you have to start from scratch, using a 3D printer is still feasible. In fact…


Using a 3D modeling program has the added bonus of making a multi-dimensional version of your product. There is one downside: many 3D modeling programs are difficult to use and can be costly. Again, if you can find a friend who owns the program and have them assist you, it should make your project all the easier. From there, you can go straight to printing and have a basic prototype for your pitch meeting.


Unless it is physically impossible, try sketching anyway. It may not be the most beautiful or recognizable creation, but the only way to improve is through practice. Furthermore, drawing your invention yourself is the only way to ensure it looks like it does in your head. Just remember to use fresh paper and your eraser.

A woman stressed at her desk with crumpled paper.
Take a breath!There is no wrong way to sketch.

Remember: there is no wrong way to sketch. If you can hold a pencil, you can do it. Believe in your own talent.

While sketching is important to help get your idea across, don’t feel stressed if sketching isn’t your strong point. As long as you have inspiration for your idea and you can describe it we can help you! Check out what type of inventor you are by taking our inventor persona quiz!