Visual Creativity through your sketchpad

Ah the humble sketchpad, be it an expensive moleskin or the cheap A4, there is a lot to be said about using this powerful creative tool to enhance your artistic skills.

Too many artists don’t use a sketchpad or rarely use it, and it shows in their work. I think part of the problem is many artists see the sketchpad as a platform for delivering awesome final works of art, and don’t want to have it full of mediocre images. I myself was in this bracket for a long time. I went out and spent a lot of money on expensive moleskin, and then of course never doodled in it. Rather than become a creative tool, it became a creative hindrance. It was a book of fear every time I looked at it. I wanted to create, but couldn’t bring myself to risk making a mess inside. I seen so many professional and highly skilled artists showing finished work in their sketchpads, and just expected that I too could deliver the same quality.

©Sketching on location in Malta and France

The problem here, was that I was not at their level, or anywhere close. How could I show anyone my work if it was rubbish? It was one of the biggest mistakes I made. In particular because I was starting out and relearning drawing from a very long break. This is where its even more important.

The sketchbook should be seen as a visual workbook instead of sketchbook. its where you can put your thoughts and visual ideas onto paper, regardless of how crappy they are. Its your personal space to take ideas from your mind and put them onto a 2D surface. You don’t have to show it to anyone,ever. The mantra here is just draw!

©Trying out some Ink brushes for something more graphic

Drawing, and good draftsmanship is all about time spent. The more hours you put in, the better you get. There is no hidden secrets to getting better at drawing/painting. Its all about the hours. Hundreds and thousands of hours spent honing your craft, and it starts with keeping a visual workbook.

Don’t be tempted to buy fancy sketchpads, get yourself the cheap A4 copy paper. They usually come in 500 page blocks. And draw on every single one of them, back and front. That’s a 1000 pages cheap and easy. How much do you think you can improve with a 1000 pages worth of drawing. I bet you will see quite a increase in your skills.

©Linework sketches for production painting on a video game project

I use these pages for gesture study mainly and believe it or not, drawing straight lines free-handed. Its just the way I was thought. Having the skill to draw straight lines free-handed actually translates a lot into your work, but that’s a conversation for a different day. If I have ideas for designs, compositions,etc, I just throw them down on paper with the use of a HB or B2 pencil. Simple and easy. They may look crappy, but often once the idea is there, I can come back and sort it out later for further development. As a designer, the idea is the most important aspect to me.

Remember, to just draw, get out your visual workbook and make it a habit to draw in it everyday. Try to do at least3 drawings at 20 minutes max each. If your using an A4, then 5 drawings minimum per page. So what are you waiting for? Stretch those creative legs and get drawing/painting. And most importantly, have fun! Until next time.

©Visual Development Sketches, for some props work for a video-game.


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