Image editing software programs are popular tools with which to create professional print advertisements for your product or business. They are of little help, however, when a great idea springs to mind and all you've got is a pencil and piece of paper at your disposal. A hand-drawn sketch is an effective way to capture an initial concept for final execution or to serve as a piece of eye-catching artwork that stands out from traditional photographic ads.


As a small-business owner, you may have the creative chops needed to sketch your own advertising concepts. While you can always hire outside resources to polish your ideas, it is often to your advantage to create your own drawings because you know your product or service best. Before you begin to sketch, focus on your most important benefits and what you have to offer over your competition. Even if your initial ideas are vague, you may uncover a bigger picture.


Begin by doodling or drawing several small thumbnail sketches with a traditional drawing tool, such as a simple pencil, thin marker or pen and ink. Sketch quickly without paying too much attention to detail. This method, according to brand consultant and graphic artist Robin Landa, encourages visual exploration through the generation of impromptu ideas. Let your ideas float to the surface. Draw your thumbnails at a proportionately smaller size -- approximately one-10th to one-quarter of the actual size of your finished ad.


Further refine your ad by sketching out rough layouts of your best ideas. Visualize an invisible center line, both horizontally and vertically, to create an imaginary grid in which to place your ad's elements -- headline, image, body copy and company logo. If you don't have an actual attention-grabbing headline yet, sketch in heavy lines to indicate where your headline will go. Body copy is also important; if you have not written your ad, sketch a placeholder with "greeked" or dummy text in lieu of the actual copy.


If you are working with the production department of a newspaper or magazine, your layouts can be quickly turned into final art or scanned as is for publication. Creating your own concepts is generally the most cost-efficient way to create display or classified ads. All you pay for is the media buy, if necessary, and ad production fees.