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10 Ideas to Fill Your Sketchbook

India-Lynn Upshaw-Ruffner September 14 2021

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Hop out of your art slum with these creative ways to fill pages in your sketchbook.

Are you someone who can never quite finish a sketchbook? Or do you have a stack of sketchbooks with blank pages waiting to be filled? Do you not know where to start? This article will give you some ideas to help spark your creativity and offer ways to keep those artistic juices flowing.

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“Collages” by Anna Lacabidze

1. Test your materials

It's good practice to test your materials before using them in a full project, and your sketchbook is the perfect place for that. See how colors look beside one another, or how different materials mix and overlap. You can also label what you are testing and mixing and use them later as a reference.

2. Put reference photos

Collect photos or ideas you want to use for future projects. You could even make a moodboard! Having photos readily available makes it easier to start projects in the future, or find inspiration.

3. Write it down

Your sketchbook is a great starting place to explore your creativity. Use some of your pages to outline new projects, or to brainstorm ideas for the future. Write everything down; even if your idea isn’t used right away, it could be a launch point for something else!

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“Dance Flow” by Clara Olivia Levesque

4. Thumbnail sketches

Not ready to commit your idea to a full project? Need to find the best composition for your piece? Try thumbnail sketches! These are small sketches that represent the principal elements of your piece and their position. They can be very helpful when planning projects, as you can use them to decide the best way to position all elements.

5. Sketch from life

Set up your own still lifes; draw your neighbourhood, your room, your pets, etc. Being able to translate what you see onto paper is a good skill to have; it trains your eyes to be able to quickly discern forms and dimensions.

6. Use prompt lists and art challenges

Social media platforms like Pinterest have endless prompt lists. They are a great way to spark your creativity and get out of your comfort zone. Some of them prompt you to draw a different animal every day, or to photograph your bedroom furniture, or to improve on a specific subject, like hand positions or proportions. The idea is to try out ideas you wouldn’t think of. Art challenges are also a great way to fill your sketchbook, as they typically involve making projects over many days or weeks. These types of prompts push you to try new things and stay motivated to create.

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“A street corner on the Plateau” by Nancy Langevin

7. Try new techniques and styles

Collage, printmaking, abstract, figure drawing, character design, try anything that is out of your comfort zone! Platforms like Youtube have endless tutorials at your disposal. Find one that interests you and follow it in your sketchbook. You can also try to emulate other artist’s styles and experiment. Your sketchbook is the perfect place to try things out and make mistakes. You may even discover your new favorite style!

8. Recreate old projects

Recreating old projects is a great way to demonstrate how much you have improved over time. Going back to your older work is a good habit to get into if you want a record of your progress.

9. Study and practice through repetition

Studies are a great way to fill pages in your sketchbook, since they hyperfocus on one element you really want to learn or improve; for example, leaves, hands, or anatomy. You could even revisit something you’re good at making, as there’s always room for improvement.

10. Inspire yourself by looking at other artists sketchbooks

There are countless Youtube videos of sketchbook flip-throughs and tutorials on how to fill your sketchbook up. Some artists talk about their university application process and show the sketchbooks they applied with. There’s a lot that you can learn from these videos. You can also research the sketchbooks of famous artists to find inspiration.

Sketchbooks are incredibly personal to every artist. It takes a lot of experimenting to find the best way to tailor your sketchbook to your needs. I hope this article has helped you ignite, or reignite, your passion for creativity and artmaking.

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2 comments
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Sam replied 2 years, 4 months ago love this! Thanks for sharing India!
wlande199925 replied 2 years, 4 months ago Inspirational and informative!