100 Sketchbook Prompts Your Students Will Love
If you’re anything like me, you can never get enough good sketchbook ideas. I’m always looking for ways to engage students so that they truly want to work in their sketchbooks. Whether you use sketchbooks for project planning, skill development, brainstorming, or something else, you’ll find ideas here that will work for you. My sketchbook assignments and prompts take an “all of the above” approach, making the following list well-rounded.
Want an eBook with all these prompts? Click 100 Sketchbook Prompts eBook to find it!
The list covers many bases and is organized by category. There are prompts about animals, food, people, and other things that will spark interest among students. This list is geared toward secondary students, but you’ll find a lot here that will work for younger students as well. Take a look and see what will work best for you and your students. Add your own favorite sketchbook assignment in the comments below!
Click here to download the list!
These prompts are an amazing place to start. However, knowing how to implement the prompts and manage students with sketchbooks is important, too! If you’d like ideas to help your students develop their creativity, drawings skills, and information retention, be sure to check out the following two PRO Packs, which can be found in our PRO Learning .
- Sketchbook Ideas that Really Work
- Implementing Sketchnotes in the Art Room
100 Sketchbook Prompts Your Students Will Love
- Draw someone you sit by in an odd pose.
- Draw family members with things that are important to them.
- Draw yourself (or someone else) painting toenails.
- Find a quiet place in a crowd. Draw the crowd.
- Draw a relative by the light cast from a TV/Phone/Computer or other screen.
- Make a portrait of yourself in twenty years. Or in fifty years. Or both.
- Draw a masked man (or woman) that is not a superhero.
- Draw the ugliest baby you can imagine.
- Draw two sports figures–one in a dynamic pose, one in a static pose.
- Draw two self-portraits with odd expressions.
- Draw something or someone you love.
- Draw hair. A lot of it.
- Take a picture of someone near you on a bus or in a car. Draw them.
- Draw an animal eating another animal.
- Draw your art teacher in a fight with an animal.
- Draw an animal playing a musical instrument.
- There is an animal living in one of your appliances. Draw it.
- Draw a dead bird in a beautiful landscape.
- Draw something from a pet’s point of view.
- Draw an animal taking a bath.
- Draw an animal taking a human for a walk.
- Combine 3 existing animals to create a completely new creature.
- Draw a family portrait. Plot twist: It is a family of insects or animals.
- Draw the most terrifying animal you can imagine. Or the most adorable.
- Draw a pile of dishes before they get washed.
- Tighten a C-Clamp on a banana. Draw it.
- Draw a slice of the best pizza you have ever seen.
- Draw junk food and the wrapper.
- Draw your favorite food.
- Create your own restaurant. Draw the restaurant, your executive chef, and a 12-item menu.
- Draw the ingredients or process of your favorite recipe.
- Draw salt and pepper shakers.
- Draw fresh fruit or vegetables, or something fresh from the oven.
- Draw a salad.
- Draw the oldest thing in your refrigerator.
- Draw a piece of fruit every day until it becomes rotten.
- Draw everything on a restaurant table.
- Draw what is in the rearview mirror of the car.
- Draw moving water. Draw still water.
- Draw an object floating.
- Make a drawing of all of your drawing materials.
- Find a trash can. Draw its contents.
- Draw tools that belong to a certain profession.
- Draw three objects and their environments. One of the three should be in motion.
- Draw the interior of a mechanical object. Zoom in, focus on details and shading.
- Create three drawings of messes you have made.
- Draw five objects with interesting textures: wood grain, floors, tiles, walls, fabric, etc.
- Draw a collection of purses, wallets, or bags.
- Draw your favorite well-loved object or childhood toy.
- Draw a watch or another piece of jewelry.
- Draw something hideous that you keep for sentimental reasons.
- Draw something with a mirror image.
Technical Skill/Skill Development
- Draw all the contents of your junk drawer with one continuous line.
- Make a detailed drawing of a rock.
- Draw a dark object in a light environment.
- Draw a light object in a dark environment.
- Make a detailed drawing of five square inches of grass.
- Draw a transparent object.
- Draw a translucent object.
- Do several studies of eyes, noses, and mouths in a variety of poses.
- Draw an interesting object from three different angles.
- Value Studies–Draw three eggs and part of the carton with a strong light source.
- Draw three metallic objects that reflect light. Focus on highlights and reflections.
- Refraction–Create two drawings of separate objects partially submerged in water.
- Make three drawings (your choice of subject) using materials with which you are not familiar.
- Draw a piece of patterned fabric with folds.
- Draw a bridge and all of its details.
- Draw yourself as an original superhero.
- Make a drawing that looks sticky.
- Draw a mysterious doorway or staircase.
- Draw an empty room. Make it interesting.
- Draw a flower. Make it dangerous.
- Draw an object melting.
- Draw an imaginary place, adding all kinds of details.
- Draw a gumball machine that dispenses anything but gumballs.
- Danger! Draw yourself in a dangerous situation.
- You are on the back of the bus. Figure out who is with you, where you are going, and why. Illustrate and explain.
- Draw what’s under your bed (real or imagined).
- Draw the most incredible game of hide-and-seek you can imagine.
- Create a new sport. You can improve an existing sport, combine two existing sports, or come up with something completely new.
- Make a drawing that is totally truthful.
- Make a drawing that lies all over the place.
- Make a drawing that is completely and utterly impossible.
- Story Illustration: Fix a story that you don’t like, or reflect/improve upon one you do.
- Let someone else choose your subject and tell you what to draw.
- Draw your greatest fear.
- Use song lyrics, quotes, or poetry to inspire a drawing.
- Find the three most useless objects you can and draw them.
- Draw an interesting form of transportation.
- Draw something for which you are thankful.
- Go somewhere new and draw what you see.
- Draw something that can’t be turned off.
- Draw something soothing.
- Draw something you think sounds or smells incredible.
- Draw something that needs fixing.
- Draw something you’ve always wanted.
- Draw something out of place.
- Draw something that should have been invented by now.
- Draw something you keep putting off, or something that causes you to procrastinate.
Does this list inspire you to take some sketchbook assignments head on in your art room? Or maybe the opposite is true and you are finding that you feel underprepared to teach drawing skills. Maybe you fall somewhere in between and you just need a little more inspiration to tweak your drawing curriculum. These are all great reasons to take a peek at our course, Studio: Drawing . The class is jam-packed with hands-on learning experiences, advanced technique tutorials, and opportunities to share and learn with art teachers just like you.
What are your favorite sketchbook prompts to use? How do you use sketchbooks in your classroom?
Magazine articles and podcasts are opinions of professional education contributors and do not necessarily represent the position of the Art of Education University (AOEU) or its academic offerings. Contributors use terms in the way they are most often talked about in the scope of their educational experiences.
Tim Bogatz is AOEU’s Content & PD Event Manager and a former AOEU Writer and high school art educator. He focuses on creativity development, problem-solving, and higher-order thinking skills in the art room.
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Sketchbook Ideas for Any Classroom
Tools, supplies, strategies, challenges, prompts, lesson ideas, and assessments.
In this guide, you’ll be introduced to a variety of sketchbook ideas, processes, and techniques that can help you use this in any classroom and with any group of students.
Interestingly, artistic talent has nothing to do with this process. Making sketchbooks look pretty is NOT the point! Instead, it’s the simple practice of sketchnoting that makes this beneficial for all students – no matter what age.
Jump to a section:
The Benefits of Sketchbooks
Better for Our Brains?
Journaling for Yourself
4 Essential Sketchbook Tips
Creating Student Buy-In
Building Relationships through Sketchbooks
Idea 1: Combined Weekly Journals and Sketchbooks
Idea 2: Use Thinking or Drawing Prompts
Idea 3: Sketchbook Challenges
Idea 4: STEAM Journaling
Idea 5: Sketchbooks for Assessment
Idea 6: Providing Choice
Idea 7: Group Journaling
Idea 8: Embracing Icons
Process Over Product
Ahh, sketchbooks. You might hear some people call them visual journals, others call them doodles. Whatever term you use, the process of sketching has been around since prehistoric times.
The sketchnoting process provides a space to construct meaning and provide better recall. Many people create them when they are taking notes. A big trend right now is creating sketchbooks based on what you’re reading . Sketchnoting helps people of all ages understand and process knowledge. They also help us recall details from a meeting, talk, book, or even a podcast!
There is plenty of research to back this up. Let’s start with Marzano and Classroom Instruction that Works . Non-linguistic representations are one of the research-based strategies proven to increase student achievement. Non-linguistic strategies can be sketches, graphic organizers or mind maps to make learning and comprehension visible. Perhaps you have provided these types of outlines for your students:
Students of all ages can use frames like this. Older students can create their own, or you can provide a few examples for them.
Check out the resources of these sketchnote stars: Tanny McGregor , Sunni Brown and Silvia Tolisano. Their websites and books have many easy, usable sketch note ideas for you and your students. Start documenting that learning, today!
Better for our Brains?
Is it really better for our brains to take notes by hand instead of typing on a computer? Pam Mueller and Daniel Oppenheimer, two scientists at Princeton University, wanted to find out. Mueller had switched from taking notes on her computer to pencil and paper and noticed that she remembered much more from lectures. While typing notes on his computer, Oppenheimer discovered when he looked up, he had no idea what the speaker was currently talking about. These two personal experiences prompted their 2014 study.
Mueller and Oppenheimer discovered that college students had better long-term comprehension when they take notes by hand. Handwriting notes forces us to process the information; typing on a computer merely transcribes it. By offering sketchbooks as a tool for taking notes, we’re supporting this long-term comprehension.
But “taking notes” can look different for everyone. For some, it’s simply writing things down by hand. For others, it’s drawing, sketching, and doodling. Whatever the method, the act of pulling out a sketchbook for learning is powerful.
Start with Visual Journaling for Yourself
Before we can teach something, we typically need to feel comfortable doing it ourselves. So now is a great time to start this practice for your own purposes.
To begin, try to use black thin and thick permanent markers plus just one colored marker . As you listen or participate in a conversation, book study, or even a podcast, write down keywords and phrases and add lines and shapes wherever there is space.
You can sketch for:
- Improve memory
- Creativity, expression, reflective practice
A visual journal can be your place for unstructured structure. Write your ideas down, and then play with words, shapes, and figures.
Now that you’re ready to get started, here are my four essential visual journaling tips:
- Use a blank, unlined notebook, or create your own with some drawing paper in a manila folder.
- Simplify your notes with color, line, and shape! You can really jazz things up with colored markers, repetition, use of space and balance.
- Add your own graphics! Look at these free icon sites for inspiration: The Noun Project , FlatIcon or Open Clip Art . It’s much easier to start drawing when you can look at a simplified drawing of an object.
- Not into writing on actual paper? Try out a digital app! I have dabbled with Paper , Notability , and Inkflow Visual Notebook . Find one that suits your needs!
Once you’ve tried it out, plan how visual journaling will work best in your classroom with your students. “Cement” that learning with visual journaling!
Creating Student Buy-In for Sketchbooks
Now that you’ve tried some visual journaling on your own, let’s look at how to bring this practice into the classroom. To start, it’s helpful to look at historical examples.
We can learn so much by exploring journals from great minds of the past and present, and thanks to technology, now we can bring them into our classrooms! Sharing DaVinci’s journals with students is a fantastic way to show an example of how these great thinkers recorded their findings. Take a look at DaVinci’s journals , Thomas Edison’s complete notebook , and Alexander Graham Bell’s sketchbooks .
A page from Alexander Graham Bell’s notebook
These primary documents can even be treated as works of art, and observing them using the See, Think, Wonder strategy is very effective in helping students determine the purpose of journaling. Students are always amazed when learning about Marie Curie’s radioactive journals . Although they will be radioactive for another 1,500 years, students can safely view pages through a device.
Providing these mentor journals, combined with guided observation and discussion, gives students motivation and purpose when creating and using a journal of their own.
Often, sketchbooks can offer a gateway into communication with students. Here’s an example from educator Holly Valentine:
“Within my literacy block, as so many teachers do, I had a reader’s notebook. In it, one section was dedicated to weekly letters from the kids. In these letters, they were to write about their reading, how it was going and what they were struggling with. I would write back to them and the notebooks became a quiet, insightful written dialogue between myself and each student. As we got more comfortable with doing this – or I should say I got more comfortable and wasn’t trying to make each student appear to be perfect in my responses back to them – these letters began to morph into so much more than a reading discussion. Students opened up about everything and anything – events both in and out of school. And I started to see them so much more individually, and gain so much insight into these little souls in front of me. I began to know each student so well, academically and personally, that when problems did arise, I felt like I really knew each student and what made them tick. I was often finding myself being able to address struggles before they got too big, or to understand what was at the root of them.”
Let’s take a look at some practical sketchbook ideas that you can start to implement in your own classroom.
Idea #1: Combined Weekly Journal and Sketchbook
You can use this process in your own classroom to maintain a weekly journal with the kids that combined not only writing but sketchnoting, the arts, perhaps even music.
How would this work?
- So many kids have a hard time breaking away from the traditional linear notebooks, and as a result, struggle with looking at a blank page. Let them be inspired, and attack a weekly entry from any direction – how will they layout their thinking and ideas? What format will it take? It could be a combination of mediums and no right way to approach the entry.
- The use of and choice of color could add so much to the entry. It’s no secret that color choices often align to moods. Think of how insightful this could be as a getting to know your students exercise. You would learn how to connect outside events and emotions with what they are expressing through their journal.
- Caffeine for the Creative Mind – by Stefan Mumaw and Wendy Lee Oldfield
- Journal Sparks: Fire up your creativity with spontaneous art, wild writing and inventive thinking – by Emily K. Neuburger
- 52 Sketch Prompts – by Samantha Cole
What a wonderful memory this could be for you and each of your students by the end of the year, tracing through art the journey through your time together.
In order to increase communication and facilitate that relationship between the two of you, it is important that the journal would become a place for you both to share. You will each find ways to add creativity and to comment on the work the other person is doing.
Ideally, the journal will become a combination of art and writing, a natural flow of ideas.
Idea #2: Use Thinking or Drawing Prompts
Another idea is to allow students to free-sketch as a means of processing information. But looking at a blank page can be daunting. This is where thinking or drawing prompts can help.
Art Educator Michael Bell shares his practice for using drawing prompts with students:
“ When students are first getting into visual journaling I usually provide them with the drawing prompts, but also choices as to whether they want to use those prompts or create their own. I give them a template of 10/10/10 to knock out their first 30 pages. 10 pages of notes, diary entries, text messages, etc., 10 pages of observational drawings or photographs, and 10 pages of mixed-media/painting with an overarching goal of FILL THE PAGE (every square inch!)”
Here’s a list of 25 drawing prompts if you need some inspiration:
- Choose something from the “Assorted Collage Items” box. Use that as your inspiration.
- Use the iPad mini to look our Instagram pictures to get an idea.
- Get a piece of paper and draw with stencils. Overlap shapes.
- Use your favorite type of paint on a piece of paper. Fill in all of the space.
- Use stencils to create a border around a piece of paper. Create a collage in the middle.
- Look on the walls to get an idea. Where is your favorite artwork? Which one has your favorite colors?
- Look in your sketchbook and folder for an idea.
- What is your favorite center? Go, get supplies and start creating!
- Go to the drawing books and pick one you never used before and find something inspiring.
- Make 21 dots on a paper without looking at it. Now create something out of those random dots.
- Get a small piece of paper and draw tiny things on it.
- Create something with materials you have not used before.
- Draw a family portrait. Plot twist: It is a family of insects or animals.
- Create an animal playing a musical instrument.
- Draw the most terrifying animal you can imagine. Or the most adorable.
- Draw fresh fruit or vegetables, or something fresh from the oven.
- Make a drawing of some drawing materials. Or make a painting of some painting materials.
- Draw a collection of something, like: dogs, baseballs, bags, shirts, toys…
- Create a clock, a watch or a piece of jewelry.
- Create a robot that can do a chore that you do not like to do.
- Create an artwork that is made with only primary colors.
- Create an artwork that has only cool colors.
- Create a mysterious doorway or staircase.
- Create something that should have been invented by now.
- Create an interesting form of transportation.
Idea #3: Sketchbook Challenges
Sketchbook challenges are perfect for building your students’ creative skills in a low-stakes way that can be a personal collection of their own artistic and academic growth.
The challenges are collections of artistic prompts like the examples above which get the problem-solving creative juices flowing in short exercises. They provide an opportunity to build skill-sets and create a pattern of “making” every day. They can easily give your students new sketchbook ideas to run with and eliminate the question of “what do I write/sketch/draw next?”
These challenges typically tackle drawing skills, but they can also include photography, painting, printmaking, etc. So find one, or a collection of challenges, to spark a daily practice!
Sketchbook Challenges can:
- They can hold you accountable for doing something creative every day. This creates a habit of artistic accomplishment and builds confidence in the practice.
Be Time Flexible
- You can work on a project for as little or as much time as you’d like
- If you like pen and ink drawing over painting, the challenges still work for you. Use the medium of your choice or challenge yourself with one that you’ve never tried before.
- These challenges might start out simple and then inspire you to complete a more complete project with more time and detail. I’ve developed some of my most interesting lessons from sketchbook challenge prompts.
- You can look at a few challenge examples from online resources and pick your favorites. Put them together on your own for a personal challenge that only includes prompts that you are interested in.
Here’s a list of 28 Sketchbook Challenges you can start with in your classroom:
Looking for more challenges? Explore the Sketchbook Skool Blog . This site is a fantastic collection of ideas, tips, tricks, and inspiration. If you get really into it, they offer classes as well. Co-founded by Danny Gregory , who brings humor and freedom to those who are creative and those who need more creative confidence.
Idea #4: STEAM Journaling
STEAM challenges may seem hard to assess. There are so many components, and it doesn’t make sense to give a paper pencil test to assess a performance-based activity. STEAM journaling, combined with a single point rubric, can solve the problem of this assessment quandary AND it can be used as a formative OR summative assessment.
A STEAM journal is not something that takes a lot of teacher preparation. It can be as simple as a 3 ring binder with plain paper, a composition book, or a stapled packet of paper. Or, it can be designed by students, like these student-created nature journals .
Journals could also be digital so that students can add photos, videos, and captions to record the process of their learning. The app Seesaw can be an efficient tool for this, and Google Slides is another great tool for digital journaling. Whatever the design, the purpose is the same: an organizational tool that can help develop beneficial habits of mind .
Here are two suggestions for making this a natural part of the learning process:
- When first starting a journal, it is helpful to assign times for students to record . To do this, add a writing component as you build background knowledge. For example, if you ask students to turn and talk to a peer, require them to record a thought in their journal after they turn and talk. This holds students accountable, and it also helps them to retain information.
- Turn the “Think Pair Share” strategy into “Think Pair WRITE Share” . This means students will have a record of their conversations. In addition, your more introverted students, or your students who need more processing time, will have an equal opportunity (and a higher comfort level) to share their thoughts with the class.
Idea #5: Use Sketchbooks as an Assessment Tool
Sketchbooks can be used as both formative and summative assessment. Using a single point rubric is an effective way to do this. If you aren’t familiar with these rubrics, take a look at this article by Cult of Pedagogy and give them a try immediately. These rubrics have revolutionized the assessment process, making self-reflection easier for students, allowing for more student creativity, and making teacher feedback more useful and personalized.
A single point rubric is basically a stripped down traditional rubric. Create a three-column chart. Choose your criteria for proficiency, and list that in the center column. The column on the left is a place to provide feedback for someone who has not yet reached proficiency in that criterion, and the column on the right allows space for feedback for those exceeding that criterion. Here is an example of a single-point rubric for artist statements:
When assessing STEAM journals, try to crowdsource your class to create the criteria. This is typically done after you’ve had students using a journal for at least one STEAM challenge.
Once students have a little experience, they have ideas to share related to the journal organization and what it means to have a useful journal as a tool. You can also look back at famous journals and sample student journals from previous years, both exceptional and slightly off. After an initial student brainstorm, summarize the students’ criteria into categories, add anything that is missing, and create the rubric to share.
Using Sketchbooks for Formative Assessment
As a formative assessment, students can use the single point rubric to self-score and reflect on their journal periodically. This is a great sponge activity task– something that students can do as they wait for class to officially begin, as they arrive in the morning, or as they wait for their bus in the afternoon.
After this self-reflection, conference with each student and use the rubric to direct your conversation. This conference gives you an opportunity to check in with students and set some goals for students who are struggling.
You can also provide extensions for higher level students. Keeping a record of these conversations provides you with a progression of student learning.
Using Sketchbooks for Summative Assessment
Each marking period, after you’ve conferenced with each student two or three times, collect these sketchbooks and score them using the same single point rubric.
Students have the opportunity to perfect their journal prior to turning it in, but the conferences and goal setting, along with the clear expectations provided on the rubric, give students a high chance of success.
You can analyze the results to find if there are any patterns of misconceptions that you need to address, or if you notice that students are struggling with a part of the design process, such as making observations. Then, you can adjust your instruction accordingly.
Idea #6: Providing Choice
As teachers, we need to give our students opportunities to learn, understand and then use information. Imagery is important in our world. Allan Paivio’s dual coding theory says this: when we present information in visual and linguistic form, recall and learning improves. Creating sketchnotes will help students construct meaning and remember their learning.
Sketchnoting is also a great way to provide some choices. Many teachers have a few different organizers for students to choose from. You can display a few simple ideas for students to refer to, like these:
Idea #7: Group Doodling
All students benefit from cooperative learning and being active during a lesson. Group doodling is a great way to learn sketchnoting with your students! This strategy in The Doodle Revolution is perfect for when a class needs a visual of the lesson.
For this idea, students create a large, visual reminder together. They will use a yard or two of wide paper from a roll or very large poster board, along with broad-tipped markers. These markers are a must since you can’t erase them and the drawings and words can be seen from far away.
After the group doodle is created, it can be posted in the classroom for reference throughout the year. A group doodle will be much more meaningful to students than a visual that the teacher creates.
Other bonuses to these sketchbook ideas of group doodling and choice offerings are that everyone is heard, and students can capture the content of the lesson quickly.
Idea #8: Embrace Icons
Let’s address the common concern that many people have: “I can’t draw a straight line.”
That old, ridiculous line is not true for anybody. You, and everyone else in the world can draw lines and shapes.
If you need an image to look at to draw an object, use The Noun Project . There are over one million simple icons for EVERYTHING. The creators call it “global visual language,” and it is!
Try having students use these icon representations as a connection to ancient Hieroglyphics, and create their own visual language. Or, use the icons as a quick way to document their learning. So much can be done with such simple lines and shapes.
Process over Product
In the end, these sketchbook ideas offer a starting point for any student in any classroom to begin processing their thinking and sharing their interpretations. This isn’t meant as the end product; rather, the value is in the process of the work itself.
Much like the goal of learning is to continue to learn, the goal of sketchbooks are to continue to sketch. It’s through action that we make progress.
Looking for more helpful ideas, strategies, and tools? Try one of our other resource guides:
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Art Sketchbook Ideas: creative examples to inspire students
Last Updated on February 2, 2022
This article contains a collection of sketchbook pages from art students around the world, including those who study IGCSE / GCSE Art, A Level Art, VCE Studio Arts, NCEA Level 3 Scholarship, and IB Visual Art. Many of the sketchbook pages shown below are from projects that achieved full marks. These examples illustrate the wide range of possible approaches to sketchbook content, annotation, and page layout.
You may be interested in our new book: Outstanding High School Sketchbooks . This book has high-resolution images so that fine details and annotation are clear, making it an excellent resource for students and schools. Learn more !
Examples of great art sketchbooks
This sketchbook page collection features work from students who specialize predominantly in drawing, painting, mixed media, and Fine Art. The examples cover a wide range of presentation techniques and layout styles. It is worth remembering that these represent only a fraction of what is possible.
READ NEXT: How to make an artist website (and why you need one)
Need more art sketchbook ideas?
This article is part of a series showcasing and celebrating outstanding sketchbooks by students, artists and designers. You may also be interested in viewing our other sketchbook resources:
- Photography sketchbooks
- Graphic design sketchbooks
- Textile and fashion design sketchbooks
- Sculpture, architecture, and 3D Design sketchbooks
- Digital sketchbooks
- Tips for producing an amazing high school sketchbook (this was originally written for A Level Art and IGCSE/GCSE Art students, but is relevant for students creating a sketchbook, art journal, or visual diary as part of any high school art qualification)
- How to annotate a sketchbook : a guide for art students
This sketchbook collection is continually updated. Please bookmark this page so that you can return to it when needed! If you would like to submit your own sketchbook page for inclusion, please contact us . 🙂
Amiria has been an Art & Design teacher and a Curriculum Co-ordinator for seven years, responsible for the course design and assessment of student work in two high-achieving Auckland schools. She has a Bachelor of Architectural Studies, Bachelor of Architecture (First Class Honours) and a Graduate Diploma of Teaching. Amiria is a CIE Accredited Art & Design Coursework Assessor.
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49 Creative Sketchbook Ideas to Spark Your Imagination
By: Author Valerie Forgeard
Posted on Published: August 27, 2022 - Last updated: July 31, 2023
Categories Creativity , Art , Inspiration
Do you love drawing and painting but are stuck in a creative rut? Are you looking for new sketchbook ideas to help jump-start your imagination? If so, you have come to the right place! This blog post will share 49 creative ideas for your next sketchbook. It also gives detailed information about choosing and using sketchbooks. From nature sketches to character designs, there is something for everyone here. So what are you waiting for? Get inspired and get drawing!
49 Sketchbook Ideas
- Draw a picture of yourself.
- Draw a self-portrait with your eyes closed
- Draw what you think the future you’ll look like in 20 years.
- Draw a picture of your favorite animal or pet.
- Draw a portrait of a stranger on the subway/bus/train/etc. (with picture).
- Draw a picture of someone who inspires you, such as an author or artist who’s influenced your life.
- Draw a picture of your favorite place in the world.
- Draw a picture of something that makes you happy (the sky, a cupcake, etc.).
- Draw a picture of something that makes you angry or sad (an injustice).
- Draw a picture of an object from nature (a flower, an insect).
- Draw a picture of a place from your childhood memories (your room when you were little).
- Draw someone who influenced your life for the better – someone who made it possible for you to live in this world and grow into who you’re today!
- Draw a picture of where you’d like to travel once you’ve saved enough money!
- Pencil sketch a bird’s eye view of your house or the street where you live so you can get a feel for what it looks like from above.
- Draw an architectural element you like, such as a Victorian-style window or a curved roofline.
- Sketch a piece of furniture in the room you’re sitting in, then ask yourself if it would look better in another room of your house. If so, redraw it there!
- Draw the inside of your favorite store or restaurant and imagine you’re one of the customers walking through the store looking for a particular product (such as a new pair of shoes).
- Draw something you see in the sky above you right now (this could be a bird, an airplane, or even the sun)
- Draw a picture of the food you ate today.
- Draw a picture of your favorite toy as a child.
- Draw what your bedroom looks like now!
- Draw the last item you bought online and then draw what it looks like in its packaging.
- Draw yourself as one of your favorite characters from a movie or series ( TV ), or draw someone else as one of their favorite characters from those series/movies!
- Draw yourself doing something completely different from what you’ve done before (like skydiving or playing guitar).
- Draw something to go with each letter of the alphabet! This can be the letters themselves or words that start with that letter (e.g., “apple” for A). Or just draw whatever comes to mind for each letter – whatever helps you finish quickly so you can move on to other things!
- Draw something from your childhood memory
- Draw something you wish existed in real life
- Draw someone who inspires you but doesn’t show their face
- Draw something you’re really good at
- Draw people doing everyday things, like sleeping or eating lunch at their desk
- Draw what you ate for breakfast
- Draw something you feel confident doing, then draw what happens when you don’t feel confident anymore.
- Draw a few possible logos or branding ideas for yourself, a friend’s business/project, etc.
- Draw a picture of yourself as an object – like a flower or a vegetable – and explain why you chose that particular object.
- Sketch the floor plan of your dream house (or apartment).
- Draw a picture of yourself in a different country every day for a week, or draw a place from each continent over a month.
- Draw a few famous paintings from history that you know well (like Starry Night or The Scream). Then try drawing them again blindfolded or with your eyes closed!
- Draw a picture of a family having dinner together
- Draw every time you go for a walk
- Draw a list of things you want to do today
- Sketch what your ideal day off would look like – what would you do on it? Where would you go? Who’d you spend time with? What would the weather be like?
- Sketch an object that reminds you of someone who’s passed away (e.g., their favorite book or flower). This can be a fun way to remember the deceased person abstractly without the pain they left behind seeming overwhelming.
- Draw a picture of your favorite book cover or what you think is the most beautiful book cover of all time
- Illustrate your favorite book. Illustration can be fun and give us different angles on a story; sometimes, it can lead to a new drawing idea.
- Sketch out goals for yourself for the next year: physical goals (exercise more), mental goals (learn another language), and professional goals (start a business). Use a timeline: When did these goals become important to you? When did they suddenly become more urgent than ever before?
- Create a graphic representation of your favorite song lyrics.
- Sketch the perfect outfit for any occasion (work, school, weekend).
- Draw your ideal closet
- Sketch what you’d do if you only had 24 hours left on earth (before the end of the world)
How to Choose a Sketchbook
Choosing a sketchbook can be a challenge because there are so many options these days. Here are 10 tips to help you choose a sketchbook that fits your needs.
1. Choose a Size That Fits Your Needs
Size is important when choosing a sketchbook because it determines the number of pages you can fit. If you draw in your sketchbook daily, you should choose it to fit your daily work.
You should also consider the size of your hands when choosing the best size for your sketchbook. If you’ve small hands, a smaller sketchbook will probably be more comfortable than using a larger one.
If you plan to use the sketchbook at home or simply need more space to draw, you should choose a larger one.
2. Choose a Type of Paper
The type of paper is important.
If you get a sketchbook, the type of paper can make all the difference in your experience with the book. Some sketchbooks are good for sketching but not so good for writing or doodling. Other sketchbooks are good for doodling but not so good for drawing.
The first step in choosing paper is to think about what kind of artwork you want to create in your sketchbook. A sketchbook with a smooth surface is best if you mainly draw with a pencil or pen. A rough surface may be better for you if you mainly draw with acrylics or watercolors.
3. Look for a Variety of Sketches
Sketchbooks with pages of different types of paper will help you improve your drawing skill in several ways. First, the different textures let you try different mediums – pencil, charcoal, watercolor – and keep everything in one place. Avoid oil and acrylic paint or mediums that are too thick or take too long to dry.
Second, these types of sketchbooks force you to work on different surfaces and learn how to adapt your style to the particular characteristics of each surface; for example, if you work with pencil or charcoal on rough paper, your lines will be much heavier than if you draw them with a pen or marker on smooth paper.
If this helps you improve as an artist, keep that in mind when choosing the right sketchbook!
4. Pay Attention to the Quality vs Price
When you’re choosing a sketchbook, quality is key. But it can be difficult to know how much to spend if you’re on a budget and looking for the best possible price.
You should ensure your sketchbook is durable enough to be used regularly but not so expensive that you’ve trouble replacing it when it wears out.
Suppose you’re using your sketchbook for professional purposes (or just want it to look like it’s been used professionally). In that case, this is especially important – you don’t want your drawings to be thrown away because they can’t be properly preserved.
5. Look for a Sketchbook Whose Pages Lie Flat
When sketching, it’s important that you can draw without the paper curling up or getting in your way. Many sketchbooks are bound with glue, so the pages can’t lie flat. This can make it difficult to draw and cause problems when drawing.
6. Choose a Sketchbook With a Good Binding, So the Pages Don’t Fall Out or Tear Easily
The binding is the part of your sketchbook that holds the pages together. If it’s not well made, your book will be difficult to open and close, and the pages will fall out or tear easily. Also, if the binding isn’t sturdy enough, you risk damaging your sketchbook if you accidentally bend it too much while turning the pages.
7. Consider Buying Several Sketchbooks at Once So You Can Swap Them Out When They Get Full or When You Want to Try Something New
When you’re just starting, buying just one sketchbook and using it for everything can be tempting. But what if you want to try a new medium? Or if you just need to do some quick sketches and don’t have time to wait for the ink to dry?
If you’re unsure and can afford it, buying several sketchbooks at once is a great way to avoid these problems. You can always replace them when they’re full or if you want to try something new.
8. Pay Attention to the Material of the Cover of Your Sketchbook Before You Buy It – You Want Something That Will Last and Not Crack or Fade in Sunlight
Sketchbooks are an essential part of being a good artist. But how can you figure out which one is the best for you?
It’s not just about choosing a sketchbook that looks cool – you also want to make sure it’ll last. Before buying a sketchbook, you should look at the cover material because some materials get cracked or fade in sunlight.
9. Make Sure There Are Enough Sheets in Each Book, So You Don’t Run Out Too Quickly!
The best sketchbooks are the ones that have enough sheets so you can capture your ideas, but not so many that you run out! That way, you won’t run out so quickly and have to buy a new one.
10. Try Different Types of Sketchbooks Until One Suits You
You’ve started sketching and are quite happy with your progress. You’re just getting the hang of it and starting to see some really amazing things in your art.
But then… something happens: you run out of ideas for what you could draw. You want to make more art, but nothing is left to draw!
The solution is simple: try different styles of sketchbooks until one suits you.
Some people like very small and compact sketchbooks, so they can take them everywhere. Others like big, thick sketchbooks with lots of space to fill the pages with drawings and write their thoughts about their progress as artists. Some people even like spiral-bound notebooks with an elastic band to keep everything together without worrying about losing pages!
You’ll probably find that once you start using a particular style (or even brand) that best suits your tastes, it’s easier to figure out what supplies work best for your drawing style.
How To Start a Sketchbook
You can start a sketchbook in any way that suits you.
Here are a few tips to help you get started:
An easy step is to start with a simple idea on a blank page (e.g: random geometric shapes or a simple shape like a house). You may want to sketch lots of different shapes first, or you may want to draw characters from your favorite book or movie. Either is a good place to start!
- Find a medium that suits you. If you’re new to drawing, try drawing pencils or pens first – they’re easier to control than brushes, which are harder for beginners to handle. However, if you’ve been drawing for years and are comfortable with painting techniques like watercolor or oil paints, then sketching with any medium should be easy for you!
- get inspired by the work of other artists or a famous painting – or even by things that aren’t art but inspire you anyway (like nature). You’ll be amazed at what happens when you take time each day to sit down with your materials and let your mind wander!
- If you don’t know where to start, consider taking an art class and trying out a drawing lesson before you buy a sketchpad to get an idea of whether you’re ready to begin your creative journey.
How To Organize a Sketchbook
If you’re wondering how to organize your sketchbook, here are some tips:
- Keep it small. Sketchbooks are great because they’re easy to carry, and you can easily take them. But sometimes, a big sketchbook can be overwhelming – especially if you’re just starting! If you’re having trouble staying organized or taking up too much space in your sketchbook, pick up a smaller one instead of continuing to use the big one.
- Think about what kind of sketches you’ll be doing most often. Will you be doing layouts? Character design? Storyboarding? If so, make sure these pages are separated from each other, so they don’t get mixed up or accidentally erased while you’re working on other projects.
- Consider color-coding your pages by topic, so it’s easy for anyone who looks at them later (like future employers!). Separate sections may be useful to you in the future when you’ll look for a specific sketch.
- Keep everything in one place. If you’re unsure where to draw, keep all your materials in one place (like a colored pencil case). That way, all your materials are easy to find and even easier to put away when you’re done.
- Organize your sketches by subject or object. For example, if you want to keep all your drawings from a particular trip, you can group them in the same binder section. If you’re trying to draw more realistically, separate them from your other sketches in a different section.
Should You Draw on Both Sides of a Sketchbook?
If you’re using a small sketchbook, it’s not a bad idea to draw on both sides – but only if it’s the right sketchbook. If you’re just drawing doodles and random sketches, it’s fine to draw on both sides. However, if you’re using a larger sheet of paper or trying to create something that looks like a picture, you shouldn’t! You’ll have difficulty drawing straight lines on both sides of the paper.
So if you have a big sketchbook and you’re drawing more serious stuff in it, don’t worry about drawing on both sides. But if you have a small sketchbook and want to ensure your drawings look good on both sides? Then go for it – it’ll save space!
Are Sketchbooks Supposed to Be Messy?
The beauty of sketchbooks is that they’re not just for sketching. They’re also for doodling, scribbling, and writing down ideas – all of those things should be messy!
Think of it this way: If you made a collage or a puzzle, would you put the pieces in a neat pile? No, of course, you wouldn’t! You’d leave them and put them together in whatever order suits you. And that’s exactly how you should handle your sketchbook – you should be all over the place with your ideas, feelings, and drawings.
It should show where your head is when you’re working on something creative! But when working on a project in your sketchbook, it’s best to use a clean page every time. When taking notes or sketching out your idea, you can always go back and look at what you’ve done – and even change it if you need to. If you keep using the same page, it can get confusing and hard to understand later.
If you’ve trouble with this, try using one page for each process step. That way, if something doesn’t work right the first time, you’ll have a flawless page to try again later!
How To Fix Mistakes in Your Sketchbook
You can cover mistakes in your sketchbook with a ruler and an eraser if you use drawing pencils.
First, you need to measure where you want the cover-up. It needs to be as wide as the original mistake, or it’ll look funny. You can make it wider if you want, but it’s best if it stays close to the width of the original bug, so it doesn’t look like someone drew in extra lines on purpose.
Next, use the ruler and eraser to draw across your mistake. Use small strokes that follow the contours of your original drawing idea so that when you erase it later, it’ll look like there was never a mistake! However, if you use other media, you won’t be able to cover your mistakes.
How To Make Your Sketchbook Look Interesting
You don’t have to buy a fancy sketchbook to make your drawings look interesting. Using a graphite pencil or watercolor, you can make your pages look beautiful.
Crayons are another great way to add color to your drawings. Crayons are easy to use because they come in different shapes and sizes, so you can pick the one that best fits your project! They also come in many colors, so there’s something for everyone!
The best thing about crayons is that they’re easy to find in any art supplies store. You can use them to draw anything from landscapes to portraits of animals or people. Plus, they come in many colors, so you can choose which ones you need for your project.
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Creativity Journal Ideas (24 Creative Prompts and Ideas)
101 Drawing Ideas for Your Sketchbook
I decided to do some of the brainstorming for you and create a list of 101 drawing ideas that you can include in your sketchbook or turn in to finished works. The items on this list are meant to challenge you a bit, but can still be completed in a short amount of time – making them perfect subjects.
Easy Drawing Ideas
- Drawing from Imagination
- Challenging Drawing Ideas
Remember, we can always use the ideas that we conceive in our sketchbooks and turn them into finished works of art. A sketchbook is great place to practice, but it’s also a great place to plan and find some inspiration.
We’ll begin with the easy subjects. Defining what’s considered easy will be different for everyone. It all depends on how much time and effort you want to put into your work. These items are considered “easy” simply because the shapes used to sketch them are rather simple.
Here’s a list of easy drawing ideas…
- An old pair of shoes – Look no further than your closet to find a weathered pair of shoes – the older the better.
- A stack of books – Find some old books lying around and stack them up. Try to configure them in an interesting way.
- An open book – Now take one of those books and open it. Sketch it from an interesting angle.
- Wine bottles – A classic subject. Look for an interesting label for an additional challenge.
- A wine bottle cork – Does that wine bottle have a cork? Use that too as a separate exercise.
- A stapler – A stapler is made up of simple shapes that are very easy to draw. Once the shapes are in place, then it’s just a matter of adding the details.
- Several eggs on a table – Line up a few white eggs allowing them to overlap. When you look at the eggs, pay close attention to the gradual changes in tone and shade accordingly.
- A hammer – Tools make great subjects for drawings. A hammer is rather simple and should be fairly easy to pull off.
- Game pieces – Pull out a board game and check out the pieces. Some of them may make a nice subject for sketching.
- Sea shells – You may find some inspiration in the form of a sea shell.
- Objects in your pocket – Got stuff in your pocket? Pull it out and sketch it.
- A thumb drive – Like the stapler, a thumb drive is made of simple shapes.
- Children’s toys – Most toys are designed with simple forms, making them an easy subject. Plus, most are brightly colored.
- Fruits – Fruits are great subjects for practice. Any fruit will do – a pear, a banana, or a strawberry. For an added challenge, slice it open.
- An apple – Okay, I know an apple is a fruit but apples are great subjects for exploring different mediums. Try the same apple with colored pencils, pastels, graphite etc. This lesson may help you – how to draw an apple with pastels .
- Vegetables – Just like fruits, vegetables are great for sketching practice as well.
- Candy – When it comes to food, you don’t have to just stick with the stuff that’s good for you. Here’s a lesson that may give you some inspiration – how to draw a piece of candy .
- Items in your refrigerator – Close your eyes and reach in. Use whatever you pull out.
- A pair of socks – Find a pair that’s clean please.
- An old chair – A chair may seem complex, but it’s really just a few simple forms pieced together.
- A doorknob – This is a more of a challenge than you may think. Pay attention to the changes in value.
- A video game controller – Even everyday items like this make great subjects for your sketchbook.
Drawing From Your Imagination
I should point out that the best way to get better at drawing from your imagination is to spend a good amount of time working from observation. When you practice working from observation, you learn how to translate what you see into a work of art.
When you’re working from imagination, you have to rely on what you’ve learned from your observational practice.
Here’s a list of drawing ideas when working from imagination…
- A person from history without a photo reference – Imagine what a person from ancient history would have looked like and sketch your vision.
- A scene from history – Think back to some of the events in the history of the world and envision the scene as if you were there.
- A person peeling off their skin – Make this one as gory as you like or make it funny – let your imagination go where it likes.
- Design a typeface – Design a few letters and try to create a brand new font.
- Simple forms – Imagine a small still life made of cubes, cones, spheres, etc. Think about the light source and keep it consistent. Here’s a lesson that may help you – how to draw basic forms .
- A Cubist portrait – How would Picasso interpret someone that you know?
- Yourself as a cartoon – What would you look like if you were a cartoon?
- A fictional woodland character – Draw a woodland creature that doesn’t actually exist.
Up for a Challenge?
Here’s a list of ideas designed to challenge…
- A glass of water – Reflection and transparency are some of the hardest things to master. Here’s a lesson that will help you out – how to draw a glass of water .
- A pile of unfolded laundry – Folds and values galore. Throw those clothes up in the air and draw them how they land.
- Use with your non-dominant hand – If you’re right-handed, sketch an object with your left hand.
- A scene in a restaurant – Most restaurants are fairly dark so noticing the values will be a challenge. Set up in the corner and start sketching.
- Your hands – There’s a great subject waiting for you at the end of your arm. You always have it with you, so there’s no excuse here. Here’s a lesson that may help you out – how to draw hands .
- Your art supplies – Brushes, paint tubes, etc. are also great subjects for practice.
- A person laying down – You can always sneak up to someone sleeping to pull this one off.
- A person sitting in a chair – Grab a friend to pose for you.
- Different types of trees – Get outside with your sketchbook and find a nice shady spot. Here’s a lesson that may help you out – how to sketch trees .
- A caricature of yourself – This one is a little different from drawing yourself as a cartoon. You’re going to need a mirror.
- The same object with different techniques (hatching, cross hatching, stippling, etc.)
- Your favorite pet – If you haven’t got a pet, then here’s a good reason to get one.
- A copy of your favorite master’s painting – What artists inspire you? Find one of their artworks and make a sketchy copy.
- A crumpled piece of paper – What a great challenge! Look closely for all of the tonal changes. This one is sure to help improve your shading skills.
- A brown paper bag – Think the crumpled piece of paper was a challenge? This one is even tougher!
- An old person’s face – Find an image of an older person that you know. All of those wrinkles should be a challenge, but oh what character and interest!
- An old car – I’m talking really old here. If you see one out in a field – even better. Take photos whenever you come across a subject that may make a great piece of art.
- An old camera – And speaking of photos, why not an old camera? The buttons, ellipses, and text should give you a nice challenge.
- A pair of glasses – Just like the glass of water, there’s plenty of reflection and transparency here.
- A bicycle – The circles, spokes, handle bars etc. make this a classic subject for your sketchbook.
- Anything made out of metal – Metal objects are usually reflective and present their own set of challenging textures.
- Tree bark up close – All of those wonderful textures!
- Ocean waves – Anything in constant motion is going to be a challenge. You might want to work from a photo on this one. Here’s a lesson that may be helpful – how to paint waves .
- A pile of rocks – Look for the basic shapes first and then add the values and textures.
- A cup of pencils – Put at least three pencils in a cup and start sketching.
- A reel mower – Now this is tough one – but first you have to find one. Take your time and try to be as accurate as possible.
- A pine cone – A simple object from nature with all kinds of complexity.
- Your favorite sea creature – What’s your favorite creature that lives in the deep? Here’s a lesson that may help you out – octopus with ink and watercolor .
- An old cabin – Work on your linear perspective skills and draw an old cabin.
- An old factory – If you live in the city, grab your sketchbook and venture out in search of an old factory. Try to capture the years of aging.
- Flowers in a vase – Another classic subject for practice.
- Old farm equipment – Much like the old car idea, old farm equipment is often weathered by the elements and features wonderful textures.
- A sailboat – If seascapes are your thing, then why not include a sailboat. Here’s a lesson that may help you out – how to draw sailboats with mixed media .
- People standing in a line – The human figure is the quickest way to improve your skills. The human figure is perhaps the most complex subject out there.
- A bowl of peanuts – Any repetitive subject will prove to be challenge. Why not start by with a bowl of peanuts?
- A bowl of nails – Peanuts too easy for you? Try drawing nails.
- A bowl of popcorn – Nails too easy for you? How about a bowl of popcorn?
- Bushes or shrubbery – Bring me a shrubbery!
- Your favorite insect – Insects are quite complex. Even the most simple insects are more complex than they seem. Here’s a lesson that may help you – how to draw a beetle .
- A flower up close – Once you’ve drawn a vase full of flowers, pick one out and sketch it from the perspective of a bee. Here’s a lesson on this subject – how to draw a rose .
- An exotic fish – Well, any fish really. Here’s a lesson – fish with pen and ink .
- A feather – Light in weight, but heavy in challenge. Sketch a feather as realistically as possible. Here’s a lesson on this subject – how to draw a feather .
- Any detailed machine – Machines these days have become more sleek in their design. If you want a real challenge, think in terms of an old typewriter. An antique shop is a great place to look for inspiration like this.
- The insides of a watch or clock – Sticking with the detailed machine theme, perhaps you have an old watch you can pop open.
- A skull – When it comes to portraits, you must have a strong understanding of the structure of the head. A great place to start is with a skull. Here’s a timed sketching exercise on this subject – how to sketch a skull in 30 minutes .
- A portrait of someone that is a different race from you – This one is self-explanatory.
- Water coming from the faucet – A moving subject is always a challenge.
- A creek in the woods – Be sure to include the elements that surround it as well like perhaps a grassy bank.
- An object that is moving – This can be anything that moves like a motorcycle, airplane, or car. Try to draw it from observation without the aid of a photo.
- A view from a window – Look outside, there’s lots to see out there.
- A candle in the dark – The key to being successful with this idea is all in the value. Try to create a lot of contrast.
- A set of keys – This subject may see rather easy, but it’s more complex than you think.
- Your hand holding an apple (or other object) – The way we approach hands changes dramatically when we put objects in them.
- Your feet – They’re easier than you think, but if you need a little help, check out this lesson – how to draw feet .
- A patterned cloth on a table – Set up at an angle and try to capture the pattern in a sketch.
- A face in profile – Drawing a face from the side is a little more difficult than sketching one from straight on. Here’s a lesson that may help – how to draw a face .
- Your eyes – Get that mirror out again and draw your eyes from observation. Here’s a little help – how to draw eyes .
- A close up of grass – Why not try this one with colored pencils or another colored medium.
- An object three times in different lighting – Set up a still life with only one object. Sketch the object three times, changing the direction of the light source each time.
- A pile of jewelry – Make sure that you own it.
- Someone’s hair – Leave the spaghetti for dinner. Hair as a form, not a collection of lines. Here’s a lesson – how to sketch hair .
- A bird in flight – Might want to use a photo for this one. Here’s a little help – how to draw a bird .
- A pile of yarn – Talk about a challenge!
- A stack of dinner plates – This is another idea that may seem easy at first, but once you start dealing with all of the ellipses, the challenge is realized.
- A trompe l’oeil image – Trompe l’oeil images are designed to fool the eye in believing that what you see is real and not part of an artwork.
- Hung drapery – Take a sheet and hang it from a door or wall and set up a strong light source. Get lost in all of the folds.
- A water sprinkler – As an added challenge, sketch it with water coming out.
- Water that is reflective – The key here is the elements around the water. They should be reflected in your image.
- A person falling – This one is really better suited under the imagination section, but it’s also a wonderful challenge!
- Just sketch something!
Deciding What to Draw
Hopefully you’re now filled with inspiration and you’re ready to get started. Each of these subjects have been carefully thought out and were chosen for specific ways that they’ll help improve your skills. So you may be wondering, which of these should you tackle first. This will depend on where you are currently in your artistic journey. We’re all at different skill levels.
I may suggest making a game out of your sketching practice. Why not think of these suggestions in terms of a scavenger hunt? Instead of just picking a few, why not tackle them all. Grab a sketchbook with at least 100 pages and draw each idea one by one until you’ve filled it up completely. Then compare your first sketch to your last. You’ll notice a huge difference. You will be get better over time.
More Places to Find Ideas for Drawing
So maybe you’ve scanned the list here and you don’t see anything that appeals to you. Maybe some of the subjects sound too difficult or perhaps you’ve already drawn them before and you don’t want to revisit them. (Revisiting subjects is not always a bad thing. Sometimes, when you revisit a subject for the second time, you find that you’re more successful.)
Fortunately, there are other places to look for drawing inspiration other than this list you may have just stumbled upon. Here are a few more places to look for inspiration and activities that may spark your creativity…
Go For A Walk and Get Ideas
It also helps to change our environment. It’s great to get outside and take a look around. This also helps to get our creative juices flowing. I often get my best ideas when I’m out on a jog or just walking around the neighborhood.
Going for walk does two things for us. It changes our environment and also gets us moving.
Look At Other Drawings – Get Inspired By Other Artists
The internet is a wonderful resource, but looking at art in a physical book or better yet – a gallery or museum is the best option.
Listen to Music Without Lyrics to Get More Ideas
Some people are inspired by other forms of art outside the realm of visual art. Music can be a great source of inspiration and may give you some ideas for your drawings. I’ve found that music that has lyrics is often too literal and is less inspirational. But music without lyrics allows you to paint a scene in your mind and may lead to more than just a quick sketch. You may find that the right music gives you an idea that you can build on and you end up creating a work that is well beyond a simple sketch.
Dear Matt, Thank you for the suggestions. I’m sure they will be of use.
I was just looking for some ideas for sketchbook assignments for my students. It was like you read my mind…and this popped up. Awesome!! I wanted my students to write about their drawings as well…do you have any suggestions? I have all levels from beginners to advanced. I also wanted to know how you would divide your list of assignments according to experience levels.
Thanks so much for this! I’m gonna make sure i do everything on this list !
Thank you Matt, you blessed my day!
Matt, this was especially good for me. I used to draw and love it but that was 4 decades ago. Now as a retired 62-year-old, I’m looking at doing some of things I used to love but I live in a place (south central KY) where local art stores are about an hour away (oh voila, internet!) and drawing lessons are non-existent, except for yours online. I plan to use many of these to practice blind contour drawing (very good for an older mind)and then translate them into more. Thanks!
Thanks Matt for the sketching ideas. I find that when I sketch I tend to put too much detail in to try to make the drawing perfect. I am going to limit myself to 5 min a sketch to try to improve this habit.
Hey..don’t reduce the time…instead after doing a sketch,find a distraction and afterwards look at your sketch..even then,if you feel any detail is missing,then you can add them..by this, we also understand what needs to be changed..
there are several things that i have wanted to get into. photography is one of them and art is another. i have absolutely no talent. i knew someone who was very talented and she said it was just a matter of drawing all the time and getting better as she went along. it seems that you are offering exactly what i need and was looking for. i used to live in new york city where there were plenty of art schools but was not interested at the time. was working and had 2 small children. no time and no money. i still do not have money and i no longer live in new york and do not know of any art schools in my area. i think if i manage my time a little bit better with your teaching i should be able to achieve my goals. life without the internet is no life at all. you came into my life at just the right time. thank you in advance. i hope to learn and have fun.
This list didn’t help me at all, its dump and not useful in anyway. Thxs for notin.
Wow-what a jerk you are. Your just jealous of this awesome dude who made this website. I’d like to see you try to do the same-and fail.
gave me tons of ideas! THANKS A BILLION!
My life has been art! But things changed a few years ago. I’ve been away from drawing and art in general for 10 years because of having several little strokes. My doctor assured me that my art would come back, he said, “Don’t worry, your art will be back in 5 years or so. The brain will re-route around the strokes, it will be back!” I know he was trying to help, but when you spend a lifetime doing something creative everyday and then they tell you it will be back in 5 years, I was devastated! Well, 5 years came and went. This is year 10, I did my first drawing in July! A fawn in grass in the woods surrounded by trees. I had a blast doing the face of that fawn, and the bark of the trees! I’ve been following you for at least a year. You have been a source of inspiration! THANK YOU MARK!
I have this very same problem Fiona !!
Well this didn’t help because I tried for 1 to draw a soul and I ended up crying my eyes out and I’m only 15
Thank you, Thank you!! This really did get me drawing! Thanks a ton.
Thanks for the ideas, if was such a help to me instead thinking of the ideas myself
WoW! this helped so much. Thanks Matt
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Home > art & design
60 + Easy Drawing Ideas For Your Sketchbook
You’re looking at a blank sketchbook page and you’re at a loss for your next drawing idea…again. Whether you need a creative break in the day, a weekend project, or more drawing prompts to fill the pages, it can be challenging to keep generating cool drawing ideas.
We’ve compiled a list of ideas, tips, and resources to jumpstart your creative juices no matter your drawing expertise – now grab your tools and get going.
Drawing Ideas: People
- Draw a caricature of yourself.
- Depict yourself as a superhero.
- Draw self-portraits from different perspectives. Try positioning a mirror from different angles.
- Sketch your hands in different positions. Draw your feet.
- Draw a close up of the eye. Try your teeth. Do a study of different people’s ears.
- Draw a self-portrait from your reflection in a spoon.
- Draw yourself double your age.
- Study and sketch people in cafes, parks, and on public transportation.
CreativeLive has tons of classes on Art & Design, Photography, and more. Learn more.
Drawing Ideas: Landscape/Perspective
- Draw the view out of a window.
- Draw the clouds.
- Capture the view from your car’s rearview mirror.
- Play with perspective: look up under a bridge, between high rises, or at the ceiling of an elaborate building. Look down over an overpass, a cliff, or from a balcony.
Drawing Ideas: Imagination
- Draw an object and give it a face.
- Create an alternate cover to your favorite book or album.
- Illustrate a scene from your favorite song.
- Draw a scene or character from your favorite book.
- Illustrate your favorite fairy-tale.
- Invent your own insects.
- Draw an intricate made up flower. Make it a bouquet.
- Design your own typeface.
- Draw something truthful.
- Draw something false.
- Create your own game board.
- Combine animals to make your own mythical creature.
- Draw a scene from a dream you’ve had.
- Draw a home in outer space.
- Play the exquisite corpse drawing game.
- Fill the page with things with wheels.
- Fill the page with things that float.
- Fill the page with robots.
- Combine two subjects that don’t belong together in the same scene.
- Design your personal logo.
- Divide a paper into 6 sections and create a different pattern in each one.
Drawing Ideas: Still life
- Draw a towel in different positions: crumpled, hanging, strewn on the ground.
- Get a handful of utensils and toss them on the table. Draw them as they land.
- Draw a still life of items from your fridge or pantry.
- Draw the ingredients of your next meal before your prepare it.
- Draw an old pair of shoes.
- Draw a pile of unfolded laundry.
- Draw a fruit or vegetable sliced open.
- Draw the inside of your closet.
- Draw your room before it’s cleaned.
- Draw the same still life 3 times, zooming farther in each time.
Drawing Ideas: Weeklong
- In your sketchbook, make 7 random scribbles or shapes. Over the course of a week, complete each drawing.
- Illustrate your to-do list for the week
- Draw every meal you eat for a week
- Pick a subject and illustrate it a different way for 7 days.
- Document your week as it progresses as a comic strip.
Drawing Ideas: Build a Daily Habit
It takes 28 days to make or break a habit. Join the thousands of creators that have been inspired by the free daily ideas in our 28 to Make series:
- Blind contour drawing: Without looking at your paper, draw any object, such as your own hand, in one continuous line without lifting your hand from the page. Grab a partner and do simultaneous blind contour portraits of each other.
- Subtractive drawing: Try this one with charcoal. Using it horizontally, shade your paper an even value of grey. Now “draw” with your eraser – erase the highlights of your subject.
- Left & right: Draw something with your dominant hand, then your non-dominant hand .
- Everything else: Draw the negative space around an object.
- Topsy turvy: Draw a portrait from an upside down photo.
- Scenes from memory: Sketch 3 scenes from your day from memory. Play with perspective and try this daily.
- Copy the masters: Draw a painting by your favorite painter. Or go to a museum and draw works you enjoy.
- 360 degrees: Choose an object and draw its outline. Turn the object slightly and draw the outline again. Repeat.
- Minimalist: Draw something with the fewest lines possible.
- Get the gist: A great way to approach drawing the human body, gesture drawing captures the basic form of your subject in a loose manner that often expresses emotion. Try limiting your time to gesture drawings of 10-30 seconds.
- Different techniques: Try shading different ways : hatching, cross hatching, stippling, and more.
- Light it up: Play with lighting. Draw outside at different types of the day and inside using multiple or single light sources from different angles.
Consider the following tips to help improve your drawing skills:
- Try different media Pencil drawings are just the tip of the iceberg. Try charcoal, pastels, pens, markers, crayons, and conte crayons. Experiment and mix media to discover what produces your best drawings.
- Draw daily and at the right time Don’t just wait until Inktober to get on the grind. Find the time of day in which you have the most creative energy and don’t waver from it. After the first week it will settle in as routine.
- Commit to a drawing series online Tumblr and Instagram among other platforms offer daily drawing challenges (think Inktober, but yearlong). Joining one of these and posting your drawings will increase your accountability and motivation. Not only will set themes give you direction and just the right amount of constraints to work within, you’ll also be joining a creative community that shares feedback.
Happens to us all. It’s part of the messy middle of any challenging project.
- James Victore advises that you “ Feck Perfuction “, but if you’re at all like us, you might also need some of Gary John Bishop’s advice on how to “ Unfu*k Yourself “.
- Creatives are hard on themselves. Mel Robbins can help you break the habit of self-doubt and build real confidence.
- And most of all, listen to Ze Frank: your pencils are sharp enough . Just get started!
How Can You Learn and Improve Your Drawing Skills?
Check out the following resources for more drawing ideas:
Drawing Classes & Tutorials :
CreativeLive has so many drawing and illustration classes, it can be hard to pick just one or two, so you might want to get a subscription and watch them all! Also check out:
- How to Make Money Drawing For Fun
- Drawing for Graphic Design: 6 Exercises to Sharpen Your Skills ,
- Drawing the Everyday Every Day
- Drawing Basics
- Drawing Ideas E-book By Mark Baskinger and William Bardel, Watson-Guptill Publications. Buy here.
- Drawing: A Complete Guide (Paperback – Illustrated) by Giovanni Civardi. Buy on Amazon.
- The Master Guide to Drawing Anime by Chris Hart . Buy on Amazon.
- 365 Days of Drawing by Lorna Scobie, Chronicle Books. Buy Here.
CreativeLive has thousands of free high quality lessons, and also streams classes for free 24/7. Subscribe for access to the full CreativeLive library on your own schedule, and learn a variety of different drawing and illustration techniques to express your creativity! Learn more:
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40+ Sketchbook Ideas to Spark Your Creativity
Are you looking for sketchbook ideas to help jump start your creativity? Get inspired to draw and paint with these 40+ fun sketchbook ideas. Find tutorials for each idea so you can create the perfect sketchbook spread, whether you are a beginner or professional artist.
From nature sketches to figure drawings, there is something for everyone in this list. Get started on your next masterpiece today!
Disclaimer: Fine Art Tutorials is a reader supported site. When you make purchases through links on this site, we may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.
Sketchbook ideas for complete beginners
For complete beginners, a sketchbook is a place to doodle, improve and express yourself without the pressure of creating a polished looking painting or drawing.
If you don’t know how to get started with a sketchbook, try starting with some simple objects. Find some fruit, or a plant and try drawing what you see in front of you, focussing on the broad shapes and forms.
A good tip is to use some pages for free form expression, some pages for drawing exercises to help you improve and some pages to plan compositions and create studies for larger works you plan to complete.
Drawing sketchbook ideas
Pencil drawing is the easiest medium to get started with. All you need is a pencil, eraser, sharpener and a sketchbook and you’re ready to go!
There’s no end to the possibilities of sketchbook ideas when using pencil as a drawing medium. Here are just a few ideas to get you going:
Draw a portrait with charcoal
Portrait drawing goes hand in hand with charcoal. This is because it’s a blendable medium that can appear soft and subtle, or you can apply pressure to achieve dark shadow values. Charcoal can get quite dusty and potentially transfer onto other pages, so make sure to get some fixative to preserve your drawings . If you’re interested in improving your skills at charcoal drawing , check out our guide!
Draw a charcoal landscape
Drawing a charcoal landscape is a great sketchbook idea, whether you find your references on the field or from photos in the studio. This artist uses charcoal pencils and a tortillion to blend. The great thing about charcoal is the deep values that artists can achieve, without the pencil marks being distorted by a sheen, unlike graphite pencils.
Use brush charcoal
One way of creating incredibly smooth looking blends with charcoal is to get some charcoal powder and brush it on the paper. This technique is especially useful for portrait drawing. To emphasise the shadows, get a charcoal pencil and draw them in. For the lightest highlights, get a small eraser, like the Tombow Mono Zero or a kneadable gum eraser to reveal the brightest areas.
Draw a tree
If you want to improve your landscape sketching skills, you could practice drawing individual elements like trees or plants individually first. In this video learn how to draw three different trees, including fir trees with graphite pencil.
Draw a rose
A beautiful and easy sketchbook idea, is to fill the page with a rose drawing. Roses are delicate and complex, but also have a lot of symmetry which makes them ideal for beginners. Follow this tutorial to create your own rose sketch.
Start by drawing a simple oval shape in the center of your page. Then draw the petals curling outwards, gradually getting bigger further away from the centre. Shade the inner corners of the petals, where petals above are blocking the light and casting a shadow to give the drawing depth and realism.
Draw a cityscape
Cityscapes are an incredibly fun sketchbook idea, however they are challenging. Use your perspective drawing skills to achieve the correct proportions in the buildings. Choose any city you like, whether that’s a street scene in New York, or your favourite building in London. To draw buildings, you may need some additional tools to help with geometry, like a ruler.
In this tutorial Alphonso Dunn shows artists how to draw a panoramic city skyline, using ink pen and the hatching technique to create the impression of light and shade. Use an ink pen, like a pigment liner or a fountain pen to create the same effect.
Architectural sketchbook ideas
Teoh Yi Chie creates a wonderful sketch of the Basilica of Superga with a fountain pen and washes of watercolour. He shows artists how to observe the reference and accurately draw angles of the building, to achieve a realistic perspective.
Create a realistic sketchbook drawing with coloured pencils
Oil and wax pencils such as Polychromos and Prismacolors are excellent for creating detailed drawings. They are highly pigmented, layer wonderfully and artists can create clean colour mixes. This is why this particular drawing medium lends itself to realism. If you’re new to realistic drawing, start by drawing a relatively easy subject, such as a leaf.
One of the most challenging sketchbook ideas is to create a realistic piece. Realistic drawings take time and work, but the results are worth it. If you want to create an ultra polished looking sketchbook that you will keep on a bookshelf for years to come, you can justify spending more time on each of the drawings. Of course, if you really like a drawing you make, you can always remove it from the sketchbook, or scan and print it out to hang on the wall.
Create a pineapple drawing
Create a drawing of a pineapple ! Pineapples have an interesting form, with long leaves and small diamond shaped fruitlets, so they make excellent subjects for practising your drawing skills. For this sketchbook idea, I used a Strathmore Toned Tan book , which has a velvety smooth soft cover and thick pages. The toned paper provides a wonderful base to draw on, it speeds up the drawing process as the mid tone values are already established on the paper. I used a burnt umber Polychromos pencil for the shadows and a white Polychromos pencil for the highlights.
Sketching from photographs
This tutorial from Draw Awesome and Art Tutor aims to help artists simplify a reference by playing down the amount of detail. This is an approach that can save heaps of time whilst drawing.
When it comes to sketching from photographs, there are a few things you need to keep in mind. The first is that you should always use a reference photograph that is high quality and has good lighting. This will help you avoid any frustration later on when trying to recreate the image.
Another important tip is to start with the big shapes and work your way down to the smaller details. This will help you create a more accurate sketch and avoid getting bogged down in the small stuff.
And finally, don’t be afraid to experiment! Try different mediums, paper types and techniques until you find something that you love.
If you love hiking and being outdoors, why not keep a nature journal. Track the plants and animals you see year round, with quick sketches. This is a great way to feel in touch with your surroundings. You can label the flora and fauna you see too! One art supply that is great for travelling with is watercolour markers . The markers pack away small in a case, but you can wet the marks with a brush to create wonderful watercolour effects when you’re on the go, without cleanup or mess.
Create a wildlife drawing with coloured pencils
Because coloured pencils layer so beautifully, they are the perfect medium for creating wildlife drawings. Draw an photo of an animal you find online, draw your pet, a bird, or you could even take a trip to the zoo and draw an animal there.
Drawing fur is tricky, so watch how Amie Howard Art layers red, orange and brown tones with short pencil marks to create the impression of squirrel fur.
Fill your sketchbook with gouache paintings
Gouache is a wonderful medium for sketchbook work. It behaves in the same way as watercolour paint, but is is more pigmented and opaque. This means that you can layer paint a bit like acrylic, leaving some of the highlights until last. The benefit of using it for sketchbook work is that it is fast drying and easy to clean. Here are some fun sketchbook ideas to try with gouache paints:
Create a gouache mountain painting
I created this gouache landscape painting from a reference picture I had taken in New Zealand around Queenstown. The Strathmore Visual Journal made for a great cold pressed sketchbook, as the paper is thick and doesn’t buckle under washes. I also used the Introductory set of Winsor & Newton gouache colours .
I started by blocking in the midtones, then working in the shadows and highlights, whilst also building texture of the plants and grasses with the dry brush technique.
Paint a series of tonal portraits
Paint a series of quick portraits and try to use a limited palette for each. Paint in whatever style you like. Use the gouache paints with water to create transparent looking washes, for soft looking gradations in skin tone. Use titanium white for opaque highlights to layer on at the end.
Paint flowers in your garden
Get outside to your garden, to a park, or you could even buy a bunch of flowers to paint a still life.
Watch how James Gurney blocks in the broad shapes and tones with gouache, then refines details. Colours that work well for painting bright flower tones include cadmium yellow, cadmium red and magenta or rose red. Mix your green shades from blues and yellows, or buy viridian and sap green tubes.
Paint a mountain lake reflection
Follow this tutorial to create a mountain lake reflection painting. I start with washes of colour, then build up details, shadows and opaque highlights. To create the texture in the trees and the clouds, I use the dry brush technique. This is a pretty simple technique, where the artist loads their brush with colour, then removes excess moisture on a paper towel. The dry brush will pick up the texture of the paper, creating organic and broken looking brush strokes. For optimum results, if you want to try using this technique, get cold pressed or rough textured sketchbook.
Paint nature scenes
Paint along with YouTuber Dadozilla and paint some small, cosy nature scenes. If you’re a beginner gouache painter, starting by working on a smaller scale can be really beneficial. This is because you’ll complete the paintings faster and therefore get more practice at painting a variety of scenes. For more gouache painting ideas , check out our guide.
Create a series of illustrations in your sketchbook
Make a series of small illustrations, whether that’s character designs, typographic sketches or other types of graphics. Get creative, drawing a mixture of wildlife, portraits, or sketches entirely from imagination. You could also sketch some fun, bright objects, like a pair of red roller skates or packaging of your favourite sweets. Sometimes with illustrations, the more obscure the sketchbook idea the better. It can help to think of themes, for example, draw a series of haunted houses, or a series of characterful cats.
Try a sketchbook drawing challenge
A great sketchbook idea, if you’ve got a bit of creative block, is to join a drawing or art challenge. You can find drawing challenges online, for example on Instagram by following hashtags. Challenges like these will give you daily prompts, however, if you want to start a daily sketching practice, you can make your own prompts list too!
100 heads in 10 days
Draw 10 heads per day for 10 days. Use whatever medium you like, for example, charcoal, graphite, oil pencils or even marker. You can be as detailed with these head drawings as you like and draw them in whatever style you like. Whether that’s a cartoony style, or more realistic.
Inktober is one of the most popular drawing challenges, that artists take part in every year in the month of October. It’s super easy to take part, head over to the Inktober website and look at the drawing prompts for each day of the month. Then draw your own interpretation of the prompt. The challenge was set up to encourage artists to improve their skills and start regular drawing habits. However, if daily drawing is too much for you, you could try completing a drawing every other day, or even one per week. Of course, you can use any medium you like, it doesn’t have to be ink pen. Some oil painters take part in Oil-tober, which is a similar daily art making challenge, but with oil paints. Track your progress through the month in your sketchbook and share your results on social media if you feel like it!
Plein air sketchbook ideas
Painting and drawing en plein air is a great way to get inspired and motivated to create. It can be challenging at first, but the results are so worth it.
Here are some tips for painting en plein air:
- Choose a subject that is simple and not too busy. A landscape or cityscape with few buildings or people is a good choice.
- Find a spot where you can set up your easel and have a good view of your subject.
- Start by sketching out the scene with light pencil strokes.
- Once you have the basic composition down, start painting in the sky first.
- Work on the middle ground next and then the foreground.
- Add in any final details and highlights last.
By following these tips, you will be well on your way to creating beautiful en plein air sketchbook paintings. So grab your drawing supplies and head outdoors!
Watercolour sketchbook ideas
Watercolour is a beautiful medium to use in your sketchbook. It can be challenging, but the results are so worth it. Here are some watercolour sketchbook ideas to get you started:
Paint a seascape
Seascapes are mesmerizing and peaceful, making them perfect for relaxing and de-stressing. Paint this moody deep blue seascape, using multiples washes and the layering technique. If you want a clean line around your paper, use some masking tape.
Ink and watercolour painting
This is a fun and easy painting technique that produces stunning results. To create an ink and watercolour painting, start by painting your background with watercolour. Once the background is dry, add in some ink details. You can use a pen, like a fountain pen or a pigment liner. This technique is great for drawing buildings, cityscapes and other features that suit being outlined.
Watercolour pencil drawing
This is a great way to add some colour to your sketches. To create a watercolour pencil drawing , start by sketching out the scene with light pencil strokes. Once you have the basic composition down, you can start colouring in the main areas where you want to create washes. Activate the pencil with water. Then for the final details, you can choose to draw over the painting with dry watercolour pencil.
Acrylic painting sketchbook ideas
Acrylic paints are a versatile and fun medium to use in your sketchbook. They can be used for a variety of effects, from bold and bright to soft and subtle. Here are some acrylic painting sketchbook ideas to get you started:
Paint an abstract acrylic piece
Abstract paintings are a great way to experiment with colour and texture . Acrylics dry fast and are water resistant when dry, so layers will not reactivate as they do with watercolour and gouache.
To paint an abstract acrylic piece, you could first choose a colour scheme . Abstract pieces can look quite effective with limited colour palettes. Experiment with dripping, flicking and scraping the paint. Check out our acrylic painting techniques guide for some alternative ideas.
Paint a relaxing cloudscape
Paint a relaxing cloudscape with acrylics. Acrylic paint is fast drying, so it can be tricky to blend unless you use a medium to slow the drying time. Use this open working medium to increase the working time of the paint. Use a clean soft synthetic brush to blend cloud textures.
Paint the forest with acrylics
Forests are complex subjects with lots of leaves, trees and foliage details. Approach a complex painting like this by blocking in the broad shapes and colours. Then gradually work in the details and highlights. You don’t need an extra small brush for the leaves, work with a medium square brush to avoid focussing on details too heavily.
Pen and ink sketchbook ideas
When drawing with marker pen and ink, make sure to get a thick sketchbook that pen won’t bleed through. Smooth paper works best with pens as it allows artists to create fine details and delicate line work.
Create a portrait drawing with copic marker
Create a portrait with copic marker , or Winsor & Newton’s Pro markers . Colours blend beautifully into one another and are best layered from light to dark, similar to watercolour. If you want to create small highlight details you could use a white gel pen.
Urban sketching with pen and ink
Watch this tutorial to learn how to create accurate urban sketches. Discover fundamental skills like how to compose the drawing, to frame buildings to create areas of interest.
Draw from imagination in your sketchbook
One of the most rewarding things you can do in your sketchbook is to draw from your imagination. This could be any kind of fantasy scene, from a series of characters in a book that you’ve read or some characters that you’ve made up.
If you get stuck, try looking at some reference images to help you get started. Once you have the basic idea down, let your imagination run wild and see where it takes you!
Keep a travel sketchbook
If you get the opportunity to travel, take a sketchbook with you! Drawing in a sketchbook in a new location is a great way to make you feel grounded and in touch with new surroundings. It can also attune your artists’ eye and make you look out for interesting scenes.
Pack a sketchbook and some gouache paints while you’re out touring a new city, find somewhere comfortable to sit with your sketchbook and draw or paint scenes you find inspiring. If you want some tips and ideas about how to keep a travel sketchbook , check out our guide.
Create a double page spread
When creating a double page spread, the format of your sketchbook and the binding will affect how your sketchbook page looks. For example, landscape format sketchbooks are great for panoramic scenes. In a spiral bound sketchbook, the wire separates each page. Make sure to get a thread bound book so that the pages sit perfectly next to each other.
Also, think about the composition of the piece. When creating a double page spread, you will want to make sure that the composition of each individual page works well with the other. This means that you should avoid making one page significantly busier than the other, for instance.
Once you have considered all of these factors, you are ready to start creating your double page spread! There are endless sketchbook ideas for double page spreads, including vast cityscapes, imaginary scenes and more!
Warm-ups, drawing and painting exercises
One of the benefits of having a sketchbook is that you can use it to do warm-ups, painting and drawing exercises .
Warm-ups are a great way to get your creative juices flowing and help you to avoid artist’s block.
These exercises are designed to help you improve your skills and techniques, and can be anything from life drawing to trying out different mediums.
There are many different types of warm-up exercises you can do, but some simple ones include:
Drawing a series of quick sketches of random objects, people or scenes is a great way to get your hand moving and help you to loosen up.
This exercise is also a good way to warm up before starting a more detailed drawing or painting.
To do a speed drawing, set a timer for one minute and then draw whatever comes into your mind.
You can also try two-minute or five-minute drawings if you want to challenge yourself to create more detail in a short space of time.
Once you have completed a series of quick sketches, take some time to review them and see if there are any patterns or themes that emerge.
You can also use these sketches as inspiration for future drawings or paintings.
Doing some gesture drawings is a good way to improve your figure drawing skills.
To do a gesture drawing, start by finding a subject. This can be anything from a photo in a magazine to a live person or animal.
Don’t worry about getting every detail right, just focus on capturing the overall gesture and motion of the subject.
Create colour swatches
A colour swatch is a chart that contains the pigments in your palette painted in a series of small boxes. Label the boxes with the pigment number and colour name for the pure swatches. Optionally, you can create tints and shades of the colours by adding white or black.
Colour mixing chart
Create more colour swatches by mixing pigments together. Colour swatches are a great way of practising colour mixing and getting familiar with the pigments you are using. To create the colour mix swatches, mix up your colours in differing quantities, then label the proportion of colours mixed. You can use these swatches as reference points for when you come to make larger pieces.
Contour drawing is a great way to improve your observation skills and learn how to capture the essence of an object or subject.
To do a contour drawing, start by finding an object with interesting shapes. It can be anything from a vase to a leaf. Place the object in front of you and look at it closely.
Then, start drawing the outline of the object, starting at the top and working your way around. As you draw, pay attention to the small details and try to capture the essence of the object.
Once you have finished drawing the outline, fill in any details that you see.
Create a composition sketch
A thumbnail sketch is a small drawing that contains the basic elements of your composition. They are generally no bigger than an inch square.
To create a thumbnail sketch, start by brainstorming some ideas for your composition. Once you have come up with a few ideas, begin doing some quick sketches of each one. Think about how you will create a focal point and lead the viewer’s eye in with the positioning of the subject.
Don’t worry about getting the details perfect, just focus on capturing the overall idea of the composition.
Once you have a few thumbnail sketches, take some time to review them and see which one you think has the most potential. You can then use this sketch as a starting point for your larger piece.
Sketchbook cover ideas
Your sketchbook is a reflection of you and your creativity, so make sure to choose a cover that represents that! You can go for a simple and classic look with a black or white cover, or get more creative with patterns, colours and textures.
If your cover has a cotton texture , you could even acrylic paint over it! Prime the surface first with sealant and gesso, then paint your custom design. Wait for it to dry and optionally varnish it.
Mixed media sketchbooks
Creating a mixed media sketchbook is a great way to explore your creativity and experiment with different mediums.
To create a mixed media sketchbook, start by finding a sketchbook that is made from high quality paper. This will ensure that your sketches don’t bleed through to the next page. Once you have found a suitable sketchbook, gather together a selection of mediums that you would like to use. These could be anything from watercolour paints to pastels.
Experiment with different techniques and mediums, and see what you can create! There are lots of mediums that are compatible with one another. For example, you can use oil pastels or soft pastels over watercolour paint. Pastels also go well with matte acrylic, gouache and acrylic gouache.
Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, as this is part of the learning process. The most important thing is to have fun and be creative!
How to use a sketchbook
A sketchbook is completely personal and unique to each artist. Certain artists will want to put more thought and time into each of their drawings and perhaps only use one medium throughout. Whereas other artists will use their sketchbooks for warm up exercises and to doodle to their heart’s content.
The best way to use a sketchbook if you have art block, is to just get started and not worry about messing up! A sketchbook is a place to learn and improve and you don’t have to show anyone else the contents. Your art will improve quickly, if you create a deliberate, focussed and regular drawing practice, with the help of your sketchbook. If you commit to a regular drawing practice, you’ll finish many sketchbooks over the years. Keep hold of your sketchbooks to track your drawing progress. Each sketchbook page doesn’t have to look like a masterpiece when you first start out, but as your skills improve, more pages will showcase your skills and techniques.
Pick the right sketchbook for your art
It’s important to pick the right sketchbook for your needs. If you want to use watercolours , choose a paper that is heavy enough to withstand the wet media without warping or buckling. For pen and ink drawings, you might want a smooth paper so that you can draw details without them being obscured by the paper’s texture. Find the best sketchbooks for artists in our guide.
I hope you found these sketchbook ideas helpful and that they inspire you to create your own art. Happy creating!
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1 thought on “40+ Sketchbook Ideas to Spark Your Creativity”
Wow! So many ideas that I haven’t tried before. I will have to save this and return to it.
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120+ Cool Drawing Ideas For Your Sketchbook
Drawing in your sketchbook is fun, relaxing, and did I mention fun?
It’s always crucial to study the fundamentals and practice your drawing skills like proportions, perspective, value, and composition.
Sometimes though, you just wanna draw. And it’s easy to get into a sketchbook rut where you want to draw but you’re fresh out of ideas(it’s the worst!)
So here are over 120 ideas for those days when you’re looking around like “What the heck do I draw?”
Dig some shoes out of your closet and set up a little still life , or draw the ones on your feet (or someone else’s feet!)
2. Cats & dogs
If you have a furry helper at home, draw them!
If you don’t then just do a quick image search on Google or Pinterest to find a fuzzy friend to draw.
3. Your smartphone
Come on, you always have this on you. Pull it out, lay it down, and start drawing.
4. Cup of coffee
Drawing is a great activity to couple with your morning coffee.
Whether it’s black coffee in an old mug or a fancy latte, this is one you should definitely try.
Do you have any houseplants around?
Draw their portrait and make ‘em look pretty.
If not, hop on Google to find a picture of a plant you’d love to have in your house.
6. A fun pattern
Start drawing swirls, dots, stripes, zigzags, or whatever you want to create a fun pattern.
Google “zentangling” to get inspiration. (Bonus: This is super relaxing and meditative.)
A globe on a stand is great practice for practicing proportions and symmetry.
You might even improve your geography skills at the same time!
Pretty much all artists have a collection of these laying around so make them pull double duty!
Dump out your pencils and start sketching.
Draw that pile of clothes on your floor (pretty sure you have one).
Or draw clothes on hangers, that’s fun.
For an added challenge try drawing clothes on a person or mannequin, but ONLY the clothes.
10. Bananas & apples
Set up a little still life with some fruit from your kitchen. Then enjoy a healthy snack when you’re done.
11. Kitchen utensils
While you’re in the kitchen: grab some silverware or cooking utensils, dump them on the table, and draw them where they fall.
You probably sit on your couch all the time. But have you ever really looked at it?
Get some practice at drawing soft material and gain a new appreciation for your favorite piece of furniture.
Sketching knots and wires can be tons of fun!
Draw your headphones arranged neatly or in a tangled mess. Although come on, they’re a mess and you know it.
14. Your feet
With or without shoes, feet are an important part of figure drawing.
Put your sketchbook in your lap, look down, and start drawing. Try with bare feet, socks, whatever.
15. Your hands
Now these are always available!
Pose one hand and draw it with the other, or try drawing your dominant hand with your non-dominant one. Or just look up some references and practice drawing hands that way.
Come to think of it, yeah that 2nd option’s gonna be way easier.
Books are surprisingly versatile subjects for artists.
Draw them stacked, open, sprawled on the floor, resting on a shelf, in a box or with a fox .
17. Trees and bushes
If you need a break outside find a shady spot and draw any trees or foliage you see.
You can also do this from a window or just draw from a photograph if the weather isn’t ideal.
If you want practice time but just don’t want to get out of bed, well here’s your solution.
Practice drawing cloth, folds, and soft material without having to leave your comforter’s warmth.
Flip open a comic book and copy your favorite illustrations .
Draw a photorealistic rendering of your favorite Marvel characters, or invent your own superhero in your own style.
20. School desks
Waiting for a class to begin? Bored with the class you’re in?
Pass the time by drawing some desks. Just don’t get caught!
Balloons are great practice in shapes, lighting, and shading smooth textures.
Find a photograph or use this as an excuse to buy yourself some balloons.
Draw a real one on its own or in a light fixture, or draw a cartoony light bulb to spark your inspiration.
Don’t just watch TV; draw it!
Sketch your fancy flat screen or go for an old-fashioned set with rabbit ears.
24. Cartoon characters
Draw your favorite cartoon or comic book characters, or make up some of your own.
This one should be yabba dabba delightful.
25. Yarn ball
Yarn is a crazy texture. You’ll get a lot of practice here with lines and form.
Pro-tip : Don’t combine this with the “draw a cat” prompt. For obvious reasons.
If you’re craving more after drawing your smartphone, draw the charger!
If you feel really wild draw them both together.
27. Mouse & keyboard
Here’s a fun exercise in linework, shading, and perspective.
Challenge yourself to draw your mouse and keyboard, not just any random mouse and keyboard. Notice what makes it unique.
Pose your sunglasses or regular glasses and start drawing.
You can have a lot of fun drawing clear or tinted plastic. Or some Where’s Waldo spectacles.
29. Your bed
Try this for a crash course in drawing fabric folds.
But really this is more challenging than it sounds, especially if you don’t make your bed!
Here’s an amazing exercise in line and perspective work.
Draw stairs from different angles to play with different perspectives. Also try to get the depth just right: it’s tricky but extremely valuable for all artists.
31. The trash
You’d be surprised how many interesting shapes you can find in the garbage.
Draw a dumpster or your kitchen garbage can, or even trash on the street. Then take a nice big inhale to get those “juices” flowing… or just throw it away. Litter ain’t cool.
Go through your jewelry box or draw a piece of jewelry on someone else.
See if you can capture the texture and sparkle.
33. Your idea of Heaven (or Hell)
Get creative here!
Make this a whole scene or a series of smaller doodles that encapsulate your idea of heaven or hell.
Or for you married folks maybe it’s better to imagine dinner at the in-laws house. Every night, forever.
34. A silly face
Let loosey and get goosey. Go for realistic portraits, cartoon expressions, or something in between.
It’s all fair game when the end goal is to be a goofball.
35. Paper towels
They seem mundane and utilitarian, but even the most humble objects make great drawing practice.
You’d be surprised how interesting paper towels can be when you try to draw them. Sounds like sarcasm but worth a try right?
Open, closed, spiral bound, try all the possibilities.
Play with different angles to practice perspective and maybe try drawing one of your other sketchbooks .
37. Bar of soap
Really get into the texture here.
Maybe add some soap bubbles and puddles for fun.
After you draw soap, get out a shampoo bottle and throw that into the mix.
Or squirt some on the counter just for the fun of drawing a shiny blob of stuff. I don’t know, it’s your sketchbook.
39. A skull
Skulls are super spooky and super fun to draw .
Also they’re genuinely good practice for portrait work and for studying anatomy in general.
If you have one hanging around, arrange it in a still life or draw it on its own. Or just find a photo of a weird animal skull to draw.
Draw these on blank or grid paper, or draw them wiggly on purpose!
Put your own spin on this and play with line and perspective work.
41. Game controllers
This is extra fun if you have a collection of different video game consoles.
Practice drawing proportions and how light reflects off different plastic materials. Tons of variety here with the shape of joysticks and buttons.
Because why not?
If you happen to have a gnome laying around, perfect! If not, Google image search has you covered.
Also I’ve heard you might check somewhere over your garden wall.
43. Candy & junk food
If the fruit prompt didn’t do it for you, try this sweet alternative.
Draw the actual food or the package it comes in. Or both. Either way, you learn something!
44. Water bottle
Sketch your bottle, and don’t forget the shadows.
This is a great prompt for lighting practice and working around shapes.
And then, you know, drink some water. All this drawing can make you thirsty.
Draw birds you see in your neighborhood and flying around the local park.
Or do an image search for the most exotic bird you can find. This is one of the best prompts to go from easy to hard with so much to pick from.
46. Christmas stuff
Draw lights, Christmas trees, presents, stockings, candy canes, fruit cake, your shih-tzu in his little Christmas sweater…anything goes!
47. Halloween stuff
Another holiday with even more weird stuff.
Skulls, bones, black cats, pumpkins, spiderwebs…the list goes on and on.
Draw your decor, your Halloween candy, anything you can find that’s Halloween-y.
48. Bathroom faucet
Utilitarian things like this are great for drawing practice.
Especially because you don’t look at them often so you have to pay attention to draw them correctly.
Bicycle, tricycle, unicycle, tandem, find any kind of bike you want and put pencil to paper.
Doodle around your own skateboard or a picture of one.
Really pay attention to knicks, scratches, and bumps that make that particular skateboard unique. Also I bet it’s got some sick deck art.
Draw a portrait of your favorite movie monster or invent your own.
Cartoony or scary, the style is totally up to you. Might I recommend starting with Mike Wazowski and working from there?
52. A Chair
For an extra challenge, include shadows with as much realism as possible.
Draw a bare-bones kitchen chair or a plush armchair.
53. Isometric art
If you need a break from drawing true perspective, give this a try. It’s a fun challenge and not something that most artists bother to practice.
54. Quick poses
Practice your figure skills by limiting yourself to ten, thirty, or sixty second gesture drawings.
This process is covered in detail in Proko’s figure course along with all of his free figure drawing videos.
And if you don’t have a bunch of references saved locally you can always use one of these websites to auto-generate poses. This way you just focus on the drawings and really nailing those gestures.
Drawing plain cubes is great practice for shapes. But it gets kinda boring.
Here’s a fun spin on the classic “draw a cube” exercise.
56. Monopoly pieces
While you’re digging dice out of your board games, try drawing Monopoly pieces too.
There’s a wide variety of subjects here so draw them together or one at a time.
Just don’t be too upset when you realize your old Monopoly game has all the classic pieces you miss .
57. Deck of cards
Before you leave the game cupboard, find a deck of cards.
Draw individual cards, the neatly stacked deck, or play a little 52 pickup and sketch the results.
After you draw some easy subjects take a break on the couch.
While you’re there go through the cushions to find some coins.
Try drawing super detailed pictures of individual coins, or dump them and draw them together.
59. Hair styles
This is another great one if you’re bored on your train commute, in a waiting room, or during a class.
Or if you wanna practice some weird hairdo from the 1930s you saw online.
60. The sun & moon
Whether you’re into realism or more stylized drawings, this is a fun idea for all skill levels.
Try drawing different phases of the moon for an even better challenge.
61. A bridge
You can draw anything from the Golden Gate Bridge to a simple footbridge in the woods.
Or even better: imagine your own.
Pull up a chair in front of your fish tank or Google pictures of the craziest fish on planet earth.
If you haven’t seen a blobfish before you might wanna look into that.
Mechanical things like airplanes are awesome for learning proportions and getting control of your lines.
Try drawing a single seater as well as huge commercial airplanes, or anything else inbetween.
Horses have fascinated artists for millenia.
They’re also insanely hard to draw and require a ton of practice .
Find a field of horses to draw from, or find pictures of different breeds. Catch them running, grazing, jumping, rearing up. The possibilities are endless.
65. Company logos
This is especially great if you’re into graphic design so you can see how sketching logos works.
Try copying your favorite logos or invent some of your own.
66. Silly hats
Hit up Google for this one, unless you’re a crazy hat connoisseur.
Granted if that’s you, hats off to you! (Sorry that was so bad)
67. Famous statues
The Statue of Liberty, the Colossus of Rhodes, the Little Mermaid…
Google famous statues or statues that exist today. Maybe some others from history. Lots of marble to turn into graphite.
When was the last time you really examined your wallet as an object?
Now’s your chance. Try drawing it open and closed, with money or (as we all know) without money.
69. Gym equipment
Draw weight machines, dumbbells, jump ropes, even the pool.
You can find so many interesting shapes and subjects in a gym and the machines are really complex which is great for practicing concept art ideas.
70. Table fan
If you’re sweating on a hot day, distract yourself by drawing your table fan.
Just make sure to sit where it won’t blow your pages around.
71. Old photos
Google or dig out some old photos and copy them realistically or in your own style.
This one prompt can keep you busy for quite a while and leave you smiling as you dig through old memories.
If you still have any childhood toys or if you have kids, well, draw some toys!
It’s also a good excuse to hit up a toy store at 2 in the afternoon.
73. Celebrity faces
Portrait practice is so important!
And what’s more fun to draw than celebrity portraits?
Try drawing your favorite celebrities in famous roles or at red carpet events.
If you have a guitar, draw its outline and practice the details.
Pay special attention to frets or little details that make it special.
75. A nice car
Draw your dream car and draw yourself driving it.
Or draw a clunker and slap a ticket under the wipers. That’ll show whoever owns that fictitious pile of junk!
76. The human torso
Practice drawing the torso and spend a lot of time here. Anatomy is huge and torsos have so much musculature to practice.
Try male and female, different body types, with and without clothing.
77. Soda cans
Pay attention to logos here and other things like bar codes or nutrition information labels.
Crunch a few cans if you want a more variety.
For a deceptively simple prompt, draw scissors from different angles. Open and closed.
While you’re rifling around for the scissors grab a stapler too.
If you want to get really crazy, open it and scatter a few staples around for an office-themed still life. Just don’t touch Milton’s Swingline.
Copy some of your favorite emojis or design a few you wish existed.
This can be really fun because you can get pretty crazy with the artistic style.
81. Farm animals
So many to pick from here so I guess just draw your favorite!
Cows, pigs, chickens, sheep, rabbits, goats, get out there and smell that farm air.
This can be anything from vast landscapes like mountains or beaches, to the tiniest leaf or mushroom.
Try a bit of both.
83. Door knobs
Draw every door knob in your home and challenge yourself to make each distinct.
It’s harder than you think!
84. Ice cream
Draw it on the cone, in a cup, or still in the carton.
But draw quick before it melts!
Basically ice cream but better.
Draw the entire jar or scoop out a spoonful and draw that before you gobble it up.
Anything ocean-themed is fair game here.
Beaches, coral reefs, starfish, tube worms, anything you can think of. Maybe even some nude beaches if you’re into that kinda thing.
87. Any book cover
Draw your favorite book covers and maybe add a few creative touches.
So many beautiful book covers out there to pick from, with new ones published every week. Go exploring!
Draw your house, a friend’s house, or your dream house.
Or browse Pinterest “dream house” boards because you know there’s thousands of these right?
89. World capitals
Draw some of your favorite cities or world capitals you’d like to visit someday.
Images online might be the place to start but if you can book some plane tickets, even better.
90. A swingset
Visit the local park or your own backyard to draw a swingset.
Try capturing it from multiple angles to really expand your practice regimen.
Whether you want to go cute or scary, try drawing one of these mythical creatures and see how it turns out.
92. Your computer
You spend a lot of time on your computer, so give it some attention and immortalize it in your art.
Head outside to draw from life, or find photographs of your favorites if things aren’t blooming yet.
Or use this as an excuse to buy yourself a bouquet. Treat yo’self!
94. A clock
This could be anything from your microwave clock to a wristwatch to a grandfather clock to Big Ben.
Or maybe some kind of device that combines all three…
Draw a Thanksgiving feast, portraits of your relatives, Thanksgiving decor, or anything that reminds you of family time.
96. A king & queen
Draw a king and queen from history, from a favorite book or movie, or create your own.
The Queen of Hearts is also acceptable.
Whether you’re into classic or newer bikes, this is a great idea to practice with texture, form, and shading.
There’s also some pretty gnarly designs out there.
98. Pool table
If you want to step up your basic shapes try drawing a pool table.
It’s all rectangles and spheres with a lot of nuances between them.
99. An old boat
You can make this as simple or elaborate as you want.
Old rowboat or crazy complex pirate ship, it’s up to you matey.
This one’s open to interpretation and that’s what makes it so fun.
Draw a rabbit in a hat, an abstract sketch of what a spell might look like, or something Harry Potter themed. Just be sure to make it… magical.
They might be extinct, but they’re still great for drawing.
Draw a group, or draw a single magnificent dodo all by its lonesome.
Have fun drawing cute, cartoony ghosts, or go all in with the horror and gore.
For an extra challenge play with drawing transparent ghosts. This probably requires a bit of color but it’s fun to see how far you can take little challenges like this.
103. Your window
Wherever you’re sitting, draw the closest window to you. Include curtains, blinds, and maybe even your view.
Or maybe a window to another dimension… *twilight theme starts playing*
Drawing stripes is fun! Also pretty easy to color if you only have a standard graphite pencil.
If you loved the horse prompt then step it up a notch with this zany creature.
Draw jazz instruments, a jazz band, or even an abstract drawing inspired by jazz music.
Your sketchbook, your rules.
You can always draw a guy in a tux which is pretty sleek.
But you could also draw a tux by itself, a tuxedo cat, tuxedo cake… basically just start chasing tuxedos and see where you end up.
107. Wrapping paper
Whether it’s neatly on the row, plain, heavily patterned, or crumpled and ripped after Christmas morning, this is a fun one to draw.
Practicing sketching a champagne bottle, a cork, champagne in a flute, or all three!
Make sure to get the bubbles in there too. Texture is everything.
109. The circus
Interpret this how you will but it better be festive.
Draw a tent, acrobats, trapeze artists, clowns, show horses, or peanuts!
You could even do a whole sketchbook series on this.
110. Movie theater
When you think movie theater, what images come to mind?
Popcorn, a ticket stub, or even a poster for the last movie you saw. Or the usher walking up the isles with a flashlight on a hunt for those teenagers making out in the corner.
Draw a brand new cigar, one that’s smoldering and ashy, or a person smoking one.
And have fun with the smoke! That’s one texture you can really push with some practice.
112. Pizza box
When your delivery shows up, save the box for drawing practice.
Some may call you crazy but I saw it’s worth it. Or maybe design your own box from scratch.
113. A chocolate factory
Try something that would make Charlie proud.
A building, a variety of chocolate, or something in the variety of Roald Dahl.
114. Anything upside-down
This is a classic art exercise because it forces you to look and not just draw what you think something looks like.
So turn any object or photo upside down and start drawing. Pay careful attention to every detail.
If you’ve never done this before you’ll be amazed at the end result.
115. The tooth fairy
When you were a kid, how did you picture the tooth fairy?
Try drawing that and make your kid-self proud. Or find a photo for inspiration and go from there.
Candles come in all shapes and sizes so they’re great practice for drawing forms.
Not to mention excellent practice for lighting if you draw them lit in a dark area.
117. Camping tent
Sketch a regular ol’ tent, with or without scenery, or design the ultimate camping tent.
Or go on a camping adventure and bring that sketchbook with you.
118. Hot tub
Keep it simple and just sketch a hot tub (with the cover on, if you want to stay REALLY simple).
Or draw a full-on hot tub party scene. But if you’re drawing from inside the tub make sure you don’t drop your sketchbook. Paper and bubbling water don’t play nice.
119. April Fool’s Day
Anything that makes you think of April Fool’s Day is fair game here.
From a cheesy banana peel, a flower that squirts water, some diagram for short sheeting a bed, or a picture of someone running into a wall of cellophane.
Turn your sketchbook into a prankster’s paradise.
Draw your favorite star ships from science fiction stories and keep em coming!
Add some rockets from history or use this prompt to design your own spaceships.
People are the ultimate drawing subjects.
Draw yourself, your loved ones, celebrities, and random people you see in public. There’s no better artistic practice than working on real people in the real world.
122. Cubes and spheres
Of course, you can always get back to basics with forms like cubes, spheres, cones, cylinders, and pyramids.
These forms are classics for a reason.
Also if you want some totally awesome & free exercises to practice drawing shapes you should check out the Drawabox lessons .
Drawabox is absolutely perfect for beginners and even really good practice for more experienced artists who want to improve their skills drawing from imagination.
Author: McKella Sawyer
McKella is an artist and freelance writer from Salt Lake City, Utah. When she isn't painting or writing for clients she loves to write fiction, travel, and explore the mountains near her home either on foot, horseback, or a mountain bike. You can view her art on Etsy and her writing services at TheCafeWordsmith.com .
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