sketchIt may have been a reaction to the slickness of Web 2.0 glossy icons and reflections that kicked off a big trend for the sketchy, hand-drawn style web design. Done well, this style creates a tactile, artistic and somewhat home-made feel on web sites.

In many cases, the design elements are drawn on paper and scanned in, keeping a certain amount of roughness and texture in the process. Pencils, markers, pen and ink provide a unique and artistic touch.

I think this style works best when the designer throws themselves fully into it. What I mean by that is that the designer uses many hand-drawn elements: lines, doodles, sketchy fonts for headings, and not just use one element in isolation. This style certainly lends itself to a more personal feeling, that you won’t find on many of the big corporate sites.

So here’s a collection of ten websites which make excellent use of the hand-drawn style. Many, but not all are portfolio sites.

Sibling Rivalry uses images with a slightly retro look, handwritten fonts and little sketches around the site, on a textured paper background.

sibling-rivalry

Dawghouse Design Studio is a mixture of doodles, textured papers and headings set using a sketchy typeface.

Dawghouse

Mr A T-Shirts is a flash-based site and gives the appearance of back-to-basics pen drawing on a copy book.

MrA

From The Dude himself, Jeff Bridges’ web site is minimalist and looks like it has been hand-written almost in its entirety.

jeffbridges

Grady McFerrin illustration style spills out onto the typography used on his website.

Grady

Frank PR looks like a large sheet of paper filled with information. Each section is clickable.

frankPR

Web Designer Wall is well recognized as both a site filled with great information for designers, but also for its sketchbook style.

web-designer-wall

Tyler Gaw a New York based web-designer, has a colorful site with large hand-drawn lettering.

TylerGaw

Red Nose Day combines handwritten text, hand-drawn lines, boxes and icons.

red-nose-day

Legwork Studio’s site is black and white and doodled all over.

legwork-studio

And that’s a wrap. This style is clearly not suitable for all kinds of web sites, but it brings a tangible, personal feel.

What do you think of this style?  Do you think it’s time to move on, or is it something you’d like to see sticking around?

Jennifer Farley is a designer, illustrator and design instructor based in Ireland. She writes about design and illustration on her blog at Laughing Lion Design.

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  • commandnotapple

    I love sketchy, grunge, or hand drawn stuff. Even though there’s it’s quite common now, I think it makes a site very personal feeling through it’s casual or even sometimes sarcastic nature. Plus, it’s waaaaay fun for the designer to make stuff like this ;)

  • commandnotapple

    Sorry, bad grammar

    *Even though it’s quite common now…

  • Anonymous

    He he … what’s “black and white and doodled all over” … sounds like a bad newspaper joke :)

  • Ben Weeks

    I did the drawings for this one, the line is
    continuous across each section,

    http://www.krups-canfar.com/

  • atsa

    As a Designer, I really like these kind of stuffs in web design…It’s a real fun to design site with sketches, illustrations, grunge & hand drawn stuffs. I also agree that it’s common these days but the real challenge is to use these stuff in balance with your informative content.

    One of my friend designed a site with heavy grunge and hand drawn stuffs for his portfolio but sadly the bounce rate of visitors was about to 50% (resulting in redesign process)

    Hopefully this artistic trend will continue this year also

    Thanks,
    Atul Thanvi
    Web Designer

  • http://www.crearedesign.co.uk TomBradshaw

    I really like the sketched style, I’ve never done it in my work – but I hope to do it for my personal website. I like the red nose day site mixing the sketch style with a more corporate traditional layout.

  • Annie

    I love this style!
    The German telecommunication company o2 (http://www.o2online.de) started a campaign using sketchy style… “what’s in your mind when you are on the phone…”

    See the commercial (in German):
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=syEb0DDjUgo

  • http://gilcreque.com gilcreque

    I personally love the style. Carsonified has always done a good job with it. I also found a local agency using the style very nicely (squarefactor).

  • http://leisureforte.com leisureforte

    Love all of it so cool!!

  • http://www.anistock.com anistock

    really like the style displayed, very nice, cool

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