As most designers, I started drawing stuff on all sorts of paper: squared, lined, blank… basically anything I could get my hands on. Over time however, my experience grew and I started to see the different needs I had in terms of support material depending on what type of project I was working on. For instance if I was creating a drawing, I would most likely do it on acid-free A4 white paper whereas for a website wireframe layout a squared math paper might have proven to be of more use. But what about a logo? Obviously white paper would have provided a cleaner working space, but then again getting the proportions and ratios right would definitely become more difficult.
Obviously in time I figured that what I need most of all is a subtle hint to tell me where a unit repeats itself. In other words, for a square math paper I’m only interested in how many small squares I have from “here” to “there”, without needing the actual outline of the squares. In fact, losing that outline altogether would be preferable. Here is where the dot-grid comes into play.
Now a simple Google search will reveal that there are obviously plenty of dot grid templates out there (such as www.printablepaper.net or www.dottedpaper.com) but none of them were quite the way I imaged them to be. So, inspired by Behance’s Dot Grid Book, I made it my goal to create my very own custom branded dot grid book to help me throughout all of my projects from now on.
Towards this approach I adjusted the distance between individual dots to 3mm, which for me is the optimum distance to suit both logo sketching and wireframing (while for wireframing 2mm might have been better perhaps, but it’s a compromise). After having printed out the 80 sheets of paper on my personal printer, I bought a thicker black paper, some pressed cardboard and went to a copy-shop to put everything together with a white-painted metal binding. Here’s the final result:
As I’ve said, creating the dot-grid book on my own allowed me to also brand it accordingly, so it’s needless to say that I played with it as much as I could, like: creating a cut-out of my logo on the cover, printing a logotype on the first page along with my website, as well as pre-signing every sheet on the back with my logotype/website:
All in all, a great “arts & crafts” kind of side project that turned out better than I had expected. Extremely useful, very easy on the eyes and actually quite cheap to put together ($1.50 for the binding and $2.00 for the cardboard and thick paper, the printing of the dotted-grid pages themselves was done at home).
Here’s a hint: Another thing that helped me a lot was getting to the projects I wanted fast and without having to browse through all of the book’s pages. This was fairly easy to do by color coding projects with the help of some trusty coloured note stickers. Just tape a short piece of wide scotch tape to the back cover (the cardboard one) and stick all of your coloured notes there. After this, you should easily get to any project quickly and with no hassle:
If anyone’s interested in creating their own dotted-grid books with pages the same as mine, I have attached the PDF file for the pages (without the signature, of course). You can download the file using the link found in the right-side menu, as for the cover and other parts… well, possibilities are endless, just use your imagination. The important part in the end is that we can adapt and create the tools we need on our own, whether it’s because we couldn’t find the right ones elsewhere or simply because we just like a good challenge every now and then.