I’m a firm believer that nothing can replace the freedom and flexibility of a good old-fashioned sketchbook.
Why a sketchbook? You don’t need batteries or WiFi to travel with it. Sketchbooks are also very personal. They are often filled with explorations and “failures” that are not meant to be shared with others – but nonetheless are incredibly valuable when it comes to working through an idea. So get away from the computer, don’t rely on Google reference images and get your hands dirty to mix up your creative routine.
6 Ways to Jump-Start your Sketchbook Habits
1. Get Messy with Glue
Even if you can’t draw well, you can collage. Pick up some Gel Matte Medium and grab some leaves, old fabric, photographs and smash them up. The result is enticing layers of texture and chaos. It’s a scrapbook on steroids, without any rules. The Gel Matte Medium acts as an adhesive that allows you to embed various objects on the paper and it mixes well with paint. This is one of my FAVORITE methods. For inspiration, join the Altered Book Pool on Flickr.
2. Fill an Entire Page with Doodles
Challenge yourself to fill an entire page with mini-sketches leaving no white-space unturned. Use a pen so that you can’t erase and if you make a mistake – just go with it. This exercise is a great way to explore your subconscious mind because you’re not focused on an overall composition or layout. You might come up with some really amazing characters or logo ideas this way.
3. Find a Theme for Your Sketchbook
Come up with a theme for your drawings to keep you motivated. Sometimes thinking of an idea is the hardest part. For example, choose the alphabet and explore different ways to use nature allowing the letters to form. Each page can be a new letter. Or perhaps each page is a different breed of bird from your imagination. The important thing is to stick to it and draw on a regular basis.
4. 90 Second Studies
Use the gesture drawing technique to capture the “gist” of a person in action or the shape of an object. This method forces you to pick and choose the important aspects of line work without getting stuck on the detail. The result is very loose and flowing lines that build to create volume.
5. Draw Without Looking at Your Paper
Choose an object or person around you. A lamp for example. Look at the lamp and draw what you see without looking at the paper. Don’t cheat – no matter how badly you want to look. It might help to not lift your pencil off the paper so that you don’t loose your place. This amazing exercise will help you learn more about proportions.
6. Recreate Your Kid’s Drawings
Children’s drawings are often full of imagination and lack the perfect lines and proportions, we as adults obsess over. This exercise will challenge you to maintain the essence of the child’s drawing while enhancing the details based on your own interpretation. There is an amazing series over at DrawerGeeks where a group of artists re-draw their own rendition of a child’s drawing. Just see the example below.