I have been designing skate decks for DF13 Skateboards since the inception of the company. That is one of the perks of founding the company. You get to do what you love to do and it just so happens to be a really cool job when the company you've founded makes skateboards and skate clothing. Okay so I'll dial back the boasting and get to the meat of it.
Over the last 2 years, I've been asked by quite a lot of people how I design skate decks, or essentially how they could design skate decks. Sometimes I find myself without patience to explain things to people. So when I decided to design a second Joker deck, I would also take photos of the process to help document it and write sort of a step by step. Please keep in mind that I'm by no means saying that you have to do it this way. This is how I do it and this article is extremely specific to the new Joker 2.0 deck, even though my process is very similar for every DF13 deck.
This is after all "art" and as such you should create the way you enjoy creating. There are only a few MUSTS in the process. Those requirements are that 1. Your end design should be 9" wide by 33" high, so that it fits onto a deck and 2. You should make sure that no important part of your design is cut off on the deck. Outside of that, your process of creating your art, is all up to you. I'm just hoping that this will get your started on your path by describing how I do things.
So let's get started.
Creating artwork for anything, typically starts this way. Designing skateboards is no different. You have to have an idea and you have to get that idea on something tangible so that it begins to take form and eventually will develop a life of it's own. For the original Joker deck, I went with a more traditional style Joker in the style of "The Killing Joke" issue. This time I wanted to go a little darker and more evil.
I have never really been one to create "rough drawings." When I have an idea, I typically draw that damn thing out until it has so much detail that one might actually think it's done. Far from it however. The downside of this habit of mine is that it actually creates more time consuming work than you might think. Keep in mind that this is just the first step of many. The remaining steps actually will have me redrawing this thing a few times. Each time I redraw it is to add the next step of the process. So yeah, not doing "rough drawings" can result in a big pain in the ass. However, I really wouldn't have it any other way. It's the way I enjoy doing things and the it's the way I prefer to work.
That doesn't mean that you have to skip the process as well, unless you too prefer to put as much detail into your first comp as possible.
In any case, sketch out your idea. It doesn't have to be a complete sketch of the entire deck, but should at least be the main subject of the deck.