How To Use A Sketchbook

How To Use A Sketchbook

sketchbook, drawing, practice

Sketchbooks are the garden of your future works.

The more you can capture your ideas down into your sketch book the more possibilities you will open up for future ideas. Getting the idea out of your head and on the paper is one of the hardest things an artist can do consistently.

It doesn’t matter whether you are capturing and idea in audio, pencil or even video as long as it is recorded somewhere where you can easily retrieve it.


The top keys to using the sketchbook

Don’t police yourself.

Your sketch book is not you final piece. It is there to help you work thru ideas and fully realize them. If you get too caught up in trying to perfect a sketch you will cut off your imagination and any future possibilities of evolving the drawing to what it could really be.

Keep 2 books

What I do is keep an idea book and a sketch book. This way I can use one to capture ideas and the other to flesh the out in a more visual format.

That doesn’t mean that I am not making sketches in the idea book but that book is strictly for recording not practicing.

If you can get these two concepts you will create an idea war chest that you can go to for inspiration and ideas for the rest of your life.

There are so many little sparks of ideas that come thru that if they are not recorded go away and are never seen again.

Flipping thru my own sketchbooks I see this very well. Things I had completely forgotten about are recoded sitting on my shelf waiting for the right time and day to be given the full attention they deserve.

The Idea Book

The idea book can be anything even another sketch book. I would just keep it close to you so you can jot down goo ideas as they pop into your head. There are so many brands and types to choose from. Just choose one that you can easily carry around in a pocket. You can even use your smart phone. I only stress using a psychical book since it will help you not have any barriers to getting the idea or sketch out.

The Sketch Book

Again the sketch book is where you should be doing all of the practice and experimenting. This is where you can jump in and start playing around with that watercolor idea or mixed media.

What to look for

After using and abusing tons of different sketchbooks the best ones I have found have the following:

Easy to open – rings not a fancy bound book. (sorry moleskin. I love the romance around them but they never did fit with my budget or needs.)

Can withstand the abuse – You want paper that can take what you throw at it, sometimes literally. If you are going to want to experiment with mixed media then a heavier paper will be best. Anything over 100lbs should be able to handle just about anything and won’t buckle or wrinkle up when you get it wet. Most of the one below are 60lbs. If you are looking to just do sketching and drawing that should be fine.

multiple sketchbooks


Consistency  is Key

Like most things being consistent and proactive is going to render the best results when it comes to using your sketch book. Creating new habits is not easy.

Experts say on average it can take up to 66 days to create a new healthy habit. That may seem like a pretty long time especially if you are recording your ideas down daily. You might fill up several sketchbooks/idea books but by the end you will have a great new habit and if nothing else a very well executed journal!

How to keep it up

Here are some tips from the experts on how to start a new habit.

  1. Repeat the same action at the same time and the same place, until it becomes automatic.
    This will get you thinking regular about the using your sketchbook when ever you are in particular places but one of the easiest is to simply carry it around with you all the time. Just a small one is all you need to record down your thoughts and idea. This can also be a great time to start a drawing challenge or competition to jump start you.
  2. Replace one habit with another.
    It’s easier to replace one habit with another instead of completely quitting cold turkey. Are there any habits that you could replace with working in your sketchbook? If there is one that you use with your hands replacing it with recoding ideas in your sketchbook would be a good alternate.

In the end just have fun. Every sketchbook entry does not have to be a finished piece of artwork. It is for practicing and exploring new ideas. If sit down every time and think you have to create a brand new prince of artwork you will never keep at it.

So practice, do it wrong and have fun. That is the real use of your sketchbook.

Jump start your new habit

A community and group of peers is always the best way to challenge yourself an get better at what you are trying to master. I challenge you now to jump start your efforts. Check out Pencil Kings’ ongoing sketch challenge. They run an ongoing sketch challenges that can help get you in the habit of daily drawing. Mitch is also a great teacher so you will be in great hands.


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