Hi Diana, I sometimes start with a pencil and a sketchbook to develop
a design. If you're comfortable drawing by hand, you can scan a
pencil drawing and import the image into some CAD programs to use as
a basic template to make the CAD drawing, or give the sketch to the
CAD person to work with as a visual outline.
I've talked to some people who love using a graphics tablet. It's
only a personal preference, but I prefer to draw with a mouse. When I
started working with graphics programs, I bought a WACOM tablet only
because I thought I would need one. I don't ever use it. I don't even
use a graphics program anymore. For me, once I have the design in my
mind, it's easier to draw it right in Rhino. However, I recently
found out that the scuplting tool in ArtCAM is pressure sensitive, so
I'll probably give the WACOM another try.
From the term freehand designing, I'm assuming that exact
dimensioning is not being addressed at this stage of the design
process? From what I understand about most CAD programs, a 2D drawing
is usually just used as a starting point to begin working in 3D.
Before you invest in a graphics tablet, you might ask the people you
are working with how useful a freehand design created on a graphics
tablet will be to their particular application. You may not even need
a tablet right now.. You can save up for a CAD program instead!