A sketchbook is a vital tool for any artist or designer. One of the important uses of a sketchbook is for recording and developing ideas. You can put down your ideas before you forget them and come back to further develop them later. A sketchbook is also the perfect place to practice and refine your drawing skills and to experiment with new techniques. Some of the most successful artists in history have kept sketchbooks diligently (Picasso and DaVinci both kept volumes of sketchbooks ).
To get the optimal benefit from your sketchbook, you should use it daily. This means 365 days a year – no exceptions. You should carry your sketchbook with you everywhere you go. You never know when an idea will come to you. Inspiration can be found in the most unlikely places.
What you choose to draw is up to you. Jot down your ideas both visually and verbally. They might be ideas for a project you are working on right now or they may just be random thoughts that might be relevant to a future project. Sketch the people you observe playing in the park or sipping coffee at the table across the cafÃ?Â©. Sketch things that you see in nature. Draw what you are feeling at the moment. Write down the lyrics of a song playing on the radio that you find inspiring. Record the dream you had last night, both visually and verbally. Dreams can provide you with valuable insights into yourself and can be a great source of inspiration for later projects. Many successful artists and writers regularly use content and imagery from their dreams in their work.
At first it may seem tedious and insincere forcing yourself to draw in your sketchbook everyday. However, soon it will become a habit and eventually you will begin to wonder what you ever did without it. In the beginning, set goals for yourself, such as filling up 3 pages per day. This may seem overly structured, but it is only an exercise, designed to get you into the habit of keeping your sketchbook.
Don’t think of your sketchbook as homework, even if it seems like it at first. You are the one who is going to gain from this exercise, so use your sketchbook in the way that you think will benefit you the most.
Because you are going to be taking your sketchbook with you everywhere you go, you need to make sure it is light enough to carry on a daily basis and small enough to fit into your purse or bag, but still large enough to give you ample room to work. Spiral-bound sketchbooks or notebooks are great because they lay flat and allow you to use almost the entire drawing space. A fancy, expensive sketchbook isn’t necessary – a simple notebook will be sufficient. However, if you like, there are some absolutely beautiful sketchbooks available at most bookstores. Make your sketchbook something that is special and unique to you. Decorate the outside and make it your own.
Sketchbooks are a great place to experiment with new mediums, tools or techniques. Try sketching out several variations of the same idea, using different styles for each sketch. Find works by other artists whom you admire and try to recreate them. First, try to duplicate the work as accurately as possible, working in the same style as the artist. Then, experiment with different variations, putting your own spin on in.
Feel free to add things to your sketchbook, such as photographs or magazine clippings that you find interesting or that can serve as visual cues to help you recall a memory or idea. A digital camera can be a great accessory to a well-kept sketchbook. Sometimes an image is too complex to get all the necessary information down in a few sketches or there may be instances when you are rushed for time, but want to record something that will be of use to you later. However, photographs are not substitutions for sketches. The drawing process is vital to developing your ideas as well as improving your skills and techniques. Photographs should be kept to a minimum.
Like a journal or diary, a sketchbook is also a wonderful keepsake. A sketchbook records what you were like at a particular time in your life – what you were thinking about, what was inspiring you, what your goals were, etc. Having this to look back at as you grow older will be very meaningful to you. Also, you may be looking through a sketchbook from years ago and discover an idea that you never carried out, but would like to revisit.
Remember, your sketchbook is a tool to help make you a better artist/designer. It should not be looked at as a finished piece of art. Don’t concentrate on the layout or on making things look perfect. The contents of your sketchbook aren’t going to be hanging on the wall of a museum (well, unless you’re Picasso). It’s for your eyes only.
Some of us were gifted with natural artistic talent, but like any talent, it needs to be nurtured. Use your sketchbook to refine your drawing skills and develop your own personal style.
In the end, you will have a great source for ideas and a visual record of your growth as an artist. Your skills will be sharper and more diverse and you will have a better idea of who you are as an artist and where you want to be.