These days I know many designers go right to their computer to work on a design. I like to start in my sketchbook with a good old fashioned pen. Even simple signs are designed this way.
Often the design is little more than a scribble… just enough to work out the specific ideas, fonts and textures I might use. Customers never see these roughs for they only serve to gather my thoughts – before I sit down in front of my computer.
And then there is the full blown concept drawings. I spend more time working out the ideas in my sketchbook, often as multiple drawings of various parts. Then I scan the sketches into my computer and using my drawing pad, rearrange and resize the components and then on a new layer redraw a final rendering. These drawings are for presentation to the customer. When it comes time for production I trace them again with vectors to start my routing files.