Photo by Rachael Gorjestani
There you are, hanging out with your sketchbook, ready to get all arty, and suddenly your brain freezes. Your gnarled fingers clamp down on your pencil, and you let out an awkwardly loud screech of angst. You need ideas.
I’ve got yer sketchbook ideas, fella. All the sketchbook ideas you could possibly want (well 50 of them, at least.) Plus, an extra bonus section for tips on how to switch up your sketchbook to make it even more exciting and fun.
These ideas will appeal to current sketchbook-lovers as well as those just getting started, and you weirdo art students and teachers will find all sorts of easy drawing ideas that you can make more complicated to challenge yourselves further.
Let’s jump on in to the sketchbook ideas, including a printable drawing ideas list download you can access. Further down the page you can find tips for breathing some new life into your sketchbook if you’re in a rut or tend to approach every page the same way. (Guilty)
50 Sketchbook Ideas
- 3 animals wearing clothes
- a long, full page of a worm
- Practice drawing your thumb in different positions
- Blind contour drawing of your bed
- Draw your dinner
- Cut a rectangle out of a piece of paper, tape it to a window, and draw only what is inside of the rectangle
- Set up an impromptu still life using 5 things in your pantry or cabinets
- Trace around your hand and then go in and try to make it look like something other than a hand drawing
- Draw a mug with someone or something peeking out of the top
- Make up some underwater creatures
- Fill a page with only a section of an animal
- Turn your initials into a drawing of some sort of food
- Separate your entire page with 6 lines, then fill in the spaces with different patterns
- Draw something using only dots
- Draw a self portrait using pencil, and smudge it with your fingers so it’s as blurry as you can make it
- Big huge cartoon eyes
- Draw the outline of something without using lines. You have to just use the edge of a pencil to shade around where the object outline would be
- Draw a skeleton the best you can, just from memory
- Stacks and stacks of cars
- Draw the simple house shape you used to draw as a kid, but then fill it in with tons of details
- Half your face, half someone else’s – it can be a magazine face
- Draw something (object or still life) using all cross hatching
- Fill your page with stars, then color in all the negative space
- Cut out eyes, noses, and mouths from a magazine, tape them onto your page, and copy them
- Draw a basic face shape on your page, then separate it into lots of geometric shapes to color in or draw patterns in
- Write your name in the center of the page, then draw things, people, ideas, whatever that you love around your name
- Splatter ink, watercolor, tea, what-have-you on your page and turn it into something cool
- Cut shapes out from magazines and use them to ‘draw’ something on a sketchbook page
- Find an image of an old master painting, and copy it into your sketchbook
- Make a simple line drawing, then write all over the top of it- try to ‘draw’ the words with beautiful lines
- Find some texture that you like and do a few close-up studies of it in your sketchbook
- Use liquid ink or a Sharpie to draw a black animal silhouette then use a white gel pen to draw its skeleton over the black
- Draw all the flowers you can think of without looking at any reference pictures (or flowers). Make ’em up if you wish
- Make a page full of copied logos
- Start with a tiny circle in the center of your page, then draw outward, filling your page with tiny drawings
- Hands, hands, and more hands
- Fill the page with a grid and draw as many insects as you can think of (or make up)
- Draw the cover of your favorite book or album art
- 2 circles- shade one to look like a ball, and the other to look like a hole
- Draw an object, but personify it by giving it a face
- Spoons and forks
- Inside corner of a room
- Outside corner of a building
- Crumpled paper – bonus points for shining a light on it from the side so yo have dramatic lighting
- Glass of water with or without ice
- Scribble, scribble, scribble
- Tree and fill in the trunk area with a really unusual pattern
Printable Drawing Ideas List
Click here to download a printable version of this list.
Tips for Making Your Sketchbook More Fun
Try to limit yourself to shorter sketches on some of your pages, especially if you tend to approach each sketchbook page like it needs to be a masterpiece! You can set a timer for 5 minutes for a few pages, and limit yourself to filling 5 pages each in 5 minutes time. (You can always go back in later and add more.)
Try your hand at different media. Sometimes it’s fun to sketch the same thing on 3 different pages, in 3 different materials: try pencil, pen, crayon.
Switch up your style sometimes. Usually draw Manga? Try setting up a small still life or doing a self portrait as realistically as you can. Always draw landscapes? Draw a few pages of your beloved sleepy dog. (You don’t need to show anyone these pages if you hate them.)
Change your position. Try standing up and drawing with your sketchbook propped up on the wall, and drawing with your non-dominant hand. We tend to get comfortable and closed up while sitting with our sketchbook nestled up close to us, and just making these physical adjustments sometimes can make us approach our sketching session with fresh eyes.
Warm up your hands and brain by making some big, stupid scribbles on a piece of paper for a minute or two before you tackle the sketchbook.
Take 10 deep breaths or meditate for a few minutes before you begin. You want to approach your sketchbook with a sense of presence and actually enjoy what you’re doing.
By all means, go check out my list of 100 drawing ideas for kids, because you’ll no doubt find some more great ideas there you’ll want to try.