Sample boards: What is the Best Option?

A sample board is a presentation tool used to visually represent your design to a potential client. Putting together a great board will depend on how well you depict the design and capture the interest of your client. For a sample board you can either complete it by hand or generate it using a computer, but what option should you select?

Hand or computer generated sample board?

Presentation is the key element to completing any successful sample board and it should never be underestimated, regardless of whether you prefer to compile a board by hand or digitally. The main distinction between them is the tactility and quality of a board with a small physical sample and/or swatch of each item. Even though a computer generated sample board can appear extremely well finished, it can often appear somewhat flat in comparison.

However, the decision between which one to select for your design presentation is often not an easy choice to make and you must carefully consider what is the right option before starting your sample board.

When you are working to a tight deadline and your client is waiting anxiously for their sample board, the importance can shift from completing a time consuming board by hand to simply getting a sample board finished. Even waiting for a wallpaper sample or a fabric swatch to be sourced, or get delivered, can seem increasingly unnecessary.

Moreover, a sample board that is completed by hand will need a higher level of accuracy because you are not aided by a computer. Everything must get cut and glued down with a greater level of detail and, as I know from experience, even the smallest error will get noticed much faster on a sample board finished by hand.

In comparison, a digital sample board can be generated on anything from Microsoft Word to Adobe Photoshop. Even though you need a different skill set in order to compile a digital board, it will often require a much shorter time frame and without the added anxiety. Moreover, it will often appear a lot crisper and cleaner with no smudged glue or any unraveling fabric swatch in sight.

If everything is stacked against you before you even start, for example you don't have much time or the fabric samples you ordered have not arrived yet, then the better option would be a computer generated board. This will serve its purpose, albeit not ideal! The other time that a digital sample board can be beneficial over a hand produced board is when it is being emailed to a client rather than presented in person.

Do more with a hand generated sample board

Personally, I feel that having an actual tactile sample or swatch of each item you envisaged for your design on the board will help you win a potential job. In addition, it will offer both you and your client a much better understanding of the quality and finish of each material you have selected for the final design.

Keep in mind that showcasing your originality and creativity is hugely important as well. The sample board you put together by hand will offer you a greater platform for displaying your flare for design.

Finally, it is important to play to your strengths. Everybody is different and some of us are better at digital composition and design, while others prefer the hand produced option. Always produce a board that will showcase your design and your skill in its best possible light.

What is your own preference for a sample board? Do you prefer to generate it by hand or digitally? 


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Written by: Colette O'Sullivan

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