When we refer to “scamps” in our studio, we dont mean the naughty little rascals that hide our tablet pens or run around in the back of our machines, infuriatingly crashing our InDesign documents. When our design team talks “scamps” we are actually referring to a process that aides us with creating designs for our work. Scamps are a sketch of a design that shows the rough idea for a concept, whether it be for print, web or storyboarding for an animation. They help designers quickly demonstrate their thoughts on paper to a client, their colleagues or even to themselves(!) by focussing only on the basic, top level information rather than getting bogged down with details such as colour and font styles.

As designers we’ve all been there, when you’re in a meeting trying desperately to explain the idea that is in your head and, after a few failed attempts and exasperated looks you end up reaching for a pen and drawing something out on your notepad that loosely resembles what you mean. If you’re put on the spot in a meeting with a client and have had zero time for preparation then it’s never going to be a beautiful work of art. But when you’re trying to describe to someone that you envisage turning their “abstract journey” brief into a grid-like vortex with a vanishing point, 9 times out of 10, they (and probably any other sane person!) are probably not going to have a clue what you mean. In that very scenario, my process went a little something like:


By drawing the rough sketch in front of the client along with a little verbal explanation, I could much more easily convey the idea in my head and the client immediately understood how what my “vortex” could be visualised. It saved time and confusion and ensured that everyone was on the same page for the next development stage.

Aside from effectively putting across an idea to someone who isn’t inside your head, there are many other benefits to using scamps prior to designing on screen. By showing a client the rough idea for a design, it means that you can obtain instant feedback on whether they are happy with your direction or not before you commit hours and hours to perfecting it. And scamps benefit the client too. The quick turnaround of an idea and instant amends means that it may save them from paying for many unneccessary, expensive rounds of amends that have to be laboriously processed in design software. Scamps also gives the designer a base to work from which clears the mind for thinking about additional design elements that can be added to what already exists, rather than simultaniously trying to create the structure of a design at the same time as developing the detail. So, what’s not to like? – more creative ideas, more cost effective for clients, more stress free process for designers! So next time you’re struggling with getting an idea pinned down, reach for the pen and paper and, as our boss says, “Scamp it up right nice!”