Often times it can be difficult brainstorming ideas for our sketchbooks. We can all agree that the more we draw, the better we’ll get. This is just one of the many reasons that keeping a sketchbook is important. But deciding what to draw in those sketchbooks can sometimes be a challenge.
I decided to do some of the brainstorming for you and create a list of 101 sketchbook ideas. 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 for any sketchbook.
101 Sketchbook Ideas
1. draw old shoes
2. draw a glass of water
3. draw a pile of unfolded laundry
4. draw your non-dominant hand
5. draw a scene in a restaurant
6. draw a stack of books
7. draw a view out of a window
8. draw your art supplies
9. draw wine bottles
10. draw children’s toys
11. draw a person laying down
12. draw a person sitting in a chair
13. design a typeface
14. draw different types of trees
15. draw objects in your pocket
16. draw game pieces
17. draw a caricature of yourself
18. draw the same object drawn with different techniques (hatching, cross hatching, stippling, etc.)
19. draw your favorite pet
20. draw a copy of your favorite Master’s painting
21. draw a crumpled piece of paper
22. draw a brown paper bag
23. draw an old chair
24. draw a person from history in which there is no photo reference
25. draw an old person’s face
26. draw a stapler
27. draw an old radio
28. draw an old car
29. draw an old camera
30. draw a pair of glasses
31. draw an open book
32. draw a bicycle
33. draw anything made out of metal
34. draw a hammer
35. draw tree bark up close
36. draw ocean waves
37. draw a pile of rocks
38. draw a cup of pencils
39. draw hard candy
40. draw any fruit (sliced open)
41. draw any vegetable (sliced open)
42. draw a reel mower (tough one)
43. draw a pine cone
44. draw a seashell
45. draw a banana peel
46. draw an old cabin
47. draw an old factory
48. draw flowers in a vase
49. draw simple forms (cube, sphere, cylinder, etc.)
50. draw old farm equipment
51. draw a sailboat
52. draw people standing in a line
53. draw a bowl of peanuts
54. draw a bowl of nails
55. draw bushes or shrubbery
56. draw several eggs on a surface
57. draw your favorite insect
58. draw a flower up close
59. draw a thumb drive
60. draw an exotic fish
61. draw a scene from history
62. draw a feather
63. draw any detailed machine
64. draw the insides of a watch or clock
65. draw a skull
66. draw an apple
67. draw a portrait of someone that is a different race from you
68. draw water coming from the faucet
69. draw a creek in the woods
70. draw a pair of socks
71. draw an object that is moving
72. draw a Cubist portrait
73. draw a view from a window
74. draw a candle in the dark
75. draw three random objects from your refrigerator
76. draw a bowl of popcorn
77. draw a set of keys
78. draw someone peeling off their skin
79. draw your hand holding an apple (or other object)
80. draw your feet
81. draw yourself as a cartoon character
82. draw a patterned cloth on a table
83. draw a wine cork
84. draw a face in profile
85. draw a candlestick
86. draw a fictional woodland creature
87. draw a close up of grass
88. draw an object three times in different lighting
89. draw a pile of jewelry
90. draw a close up of someone’s hair
91. draw a doorknob
92. draw a bird in flight
93. draw a video game controller
94. draw a pile of yarn
95. draw a stack of dinner plates
96. draw a trompe l’oeil image
97. draw hung drapery
98. draw a water sprinkler
99. draw calm water that is reflective
100. draw a person falling
101. just draw something!
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Submitted by: Amanda Linn,
Harmony Grove High School
ADVANCED PLACEMENT SKETCHBOOK IDEAS
[ Sketchbook ideas K- 8 | Sketchbook Advocacy | Sketchbook Labels ]
Lesson Plans: Make a Sketchbook (6-12) | Sketch book Choices and Ideas | H.S. Sketchbook Ideas
From Amanda Linn: I thought these might be useful to others. I am sometimes stumped for meaningful sketchbook ideas. Many of these are ideas I have "sponged" and modified from other people. Others were designed to prepare my students for specific art experiences we will have in the future or to support themes and ideas we are exploring.
· Select an above or below point of view in a specific area (your room, kitchen, bathroom, outside, in a car, etc. Complete this drawing paying attention to details. You may complete the drawing in pencil, colored pencil, pen, etc.
· Choose a portion of a magazine or newspaper picture. Glue that picture on a page in your sketchbook. Create a drawing that incorporates that picture into a story. You may use more than one magazine or newspaper image BUT the artwork should be made mainly from your added drawings. This artwork should span 2 pages. You may use color or shading. OR you could use a color scheme (monochromatic, etc.)
· Choose an enclosed space- a kitchen cabinet, a television, an oven, a refrigerator, in a drawer or closet. What human qualities do the objects in the enclosed space assume when no one is watching? Do the mustard bottles dance? Do the socks play cards? This can be one page with details…be sure and show the interior of the space as well as the objects.
· Over 2 pages show the gradual transformation of a pair of scissors into another object- example: scissors into a shark- DON"T USE THIS EXAMPLE- it was my idea. Details are needed in the drawing- color is optional.
· If you got a holiday card from one of these artists what would it look like?
Vincent Van Gogh
· Arrange three related objects (3 kitchen items, 3 shoes, sports equipment, etc.) into a composition. Draw on one page using a light source and shading
· Create an image using only found images (from magazines, newspapers, worksheets, etc.) The image should communicate a message or tell a story
· Practice drawing anything from observation- the most common things are good practice
· Look at yourself in a spoon- draw the distorted image
· What happens when a 6-foot tall squirrel shows up in your yard?
· Identify an object that relates to your identity. Create an artwork that uses the image of that object (or the actual object) as the SINGLE FOCUS of the artwork. Open media.
· Fill in the blank… "I am a _________ in this world." Use the text of the completed sentence to inform the artwork. Open Media. This should be a 2 page spread
· Answer these questions with an image:
At age six I was ________
At age twelve I was _______
Now I am ________
At age 25 I will be ______
At age 75 I will be ______
Arrange these images in a composition that communicates your identity. Open media. Should span at least 4 pages in some order that communicates the answers to the questions.
· Illustrate a dream you have had using only 5 symbols (single images that communicate ideas) This may take one or two pages. You may use color or black and white to complete the image. Consider what you know about composition, emphasis, etc. as you build the images.
· Make a detailed drawing of your hand holding something related to the fall season OR related to school. Make the drawing large enough that it touches all the edges of the page. You may add color or use shading
· Your choice- create a one or two page drawing that demonstrates several of your strongest art skills. This is your chance to create your own assignment as many of you have requested,
· What does the holiday season really mean to you? Your image can be abstract or realistic; you may choose the media. AVOID common images- meaning if you choose to show holiday gifts- SHOW THEM IN A CREATIVE WAY! I
· Create a design using elements from magazine or newspaper images. Cut and paste the images onto the page in your sketchbook to create the design.
· Practice observational drawing skills by drawing from the following list:
Corner of a room in your house
Create an arrangement of objects, use a lamp or other light to make dramatic shadows,
Creative views of your car, bicycle, skateboard, etc.
Make the image reach all the way to the edges of the page. Demonstrate what you know about point of view, emphasis, composition, positive and negative space, etc.
· Practice drawing from your imagination by drawing from the following list:
What would you see if you grew wings and flew over our town?
What if your big toe became its own person?
What if you suddenly became very very small?
Advanced Placement Sketchbook Ideas
Submitted by Robert Teslow:
Appropriate an image from magazine/newspaper/web-image that illustrates/demonstrates an unusual point of view of common objects, space/place, architecture, or group of things/people, other.
Draw a same size line drawing from your image.
Draw an enlarged scale version based on your same size line drawing (don’t be concerned about some changes in image… current drawing compared to a previous one).
Use oil pastels to enhance enlarged line drawing. Select among the following color relationships to be a guide to using color for expression and emphasis.
Warm hues with cool accents
Cool hues with warm accents
Submitted by Heidi Praff:
Homework assignment: Shadows as Connectors
This assignment will also be done in your sketchbook.
You may draw from a HIGH CONTRAST photos, or from direct observation, harshly lit.
DO NOT use any magazine photos of models, which are meant mainly to showcase makeup.
Draw the face, at least twice, summarizing it into shapes of shadows and light.
Observe and record how the shadows connect features.
Media: Your choice of Graphite Sticks, Oil Pastels, Charcoal, or any media you feel will give you the high contrast you are seeking.
At least 2 faces. If it is your own, you can just change pose or lighting.
Date all entries.
Homework Assignment - #3 The Eye:
This assignment is to be done in your sketchbook.
It involves drawing your eye twice in two very different ways. Both are from direct observation, though.
TWO DRAWINGS, DIFFERENT APPROACHES, DIFFERENT PAGES
Please read the directions carefully. As always, date your entries.
Make a DETAILED drawing of your eye and the area around it. Include everything you see when observing closely in clear, even lighting.
For the second drawing, make a drawing in HARSH lighting, showing the shapes of the shadows only. SUMMARIZE, don’t itemize. This drawing will not contain detail, but will accurately represent the shapes of light and shadow on and around your eye area.
Submitted by Ken Schwab:
Sketchbook for A.P. Art #1
You will be keeping a sketchbook for the entire year. This sketchbook will be a series of drawings and mixed media pieces that you will use for your portfolio. Each one should be considered a complete art piece. This means that composition and principles of good design can and should be utilized.
These are the sketchbook requirements for your first grading period. They can be in any media unless specifically designated. These 4 drawings will be due in 6 weeks and will be given 80 points, (20 for each one)
1. Draw a portrait using light and shadow. In order to achieve strong gradations and a sense of form, place a light from different angles than normal. These can be under the chin, behind the head or from the top. This can be in graphite pencil or colored pencil.
2. Study your feet and shoes. Create a strong thick and thin contour drawing of your shoes drawing from different angles. Include more than one drawing on the same page over lapping and filling the format. Pen or pencil
3. Draw a place around the outside of your home. This can be a plant, part of the building or objects on the porch. Use ink and watercolor to create a strong contrast between the color and the ink. Crosshatching as a style is suggested but not required.
4. Draw bottles and cans. Have them crunched up for details in the reflections and folds of the metal. Include lots of detail and only show a small area instead of the whole can or cans. If it is a bottle, find an area that shows off the reflections and surface quality of the bottle.
5. Create a series of positive and negative space designs. On your desk at home stack a few objects into a pile. With a light shinning from the back look at the space that is white (light) and draw the shapes as a contour line shape. Use black paint or ink to fill in the spaces as a flat shape. The silhouette of the object should still be seen but new shapes created.
6. Draw a piece of furniture in your house. This can be in color or black and white. Sit in an area and observe the lines and shapes of the piece. Create a format around your observed area and look for textures, gradations, wood grain or interesting shapes and make a detailed study.
Submitted by Ken Schwab
Sketchbook for A.P. Art #2
This is the second round of sketchbook assignments. Choose 4 of these to use and have them completed before the next grading period. Remember to use good drawing skills and composition.
1. Pop some popcorn. Take a few kernels and look at the shapes and shades created. With pencil and smudge shading, study a few of the kernels and fill the page with them. This drawing should show a good sense of drawing skill and soft grays with a Tortillons or some blending device.
2. Draw or design a vehicle. This can be a car, spaceship, airplane, boat, motorcycle, bicycle or anything you want. Include details and make it big! Any media
3. Draw yourself using a strong light source on one side of your face. Use a mirror and try to have some expression. Focus on the strong shadows created by the light. Use pastel for blocking in large areas with a lesser amount of detail.
4. Using color (Cray-Pas) create an Impressionist Landscape drawing. Use Van Gogh, Manet, Seurat, Pissaro, Sisley, or Cezanne as your guide. Use the internet and look up these artists to observe their work. Find a landscape on the net as well and draw it as a n Impressionist.
5. Draw a series of animals in motion. Such as a cheetah running, a rabbit hopping, a bird flying. This can be in any media and you can use just three views or images in a row.
6. Divide the page into three areas with a ruler. Create a very involved contour drawing with pen of a small object of your choice and put it in one of the areas going outside the shape. Next, in another area, draw the same object with pencil using good shading and proper proportion. For the last area, distort or abstract (like in cubism) the same object using three values or colors.
Submitted by Nicole Brisco
Ideas for the first day to engage creativity in any advanced class. I begin in Art 2.
1. Once I hand out Sketchbooks (or have students bring or make them) I have the students prepare the pages in a variety of creative ways, like paint washes on the pages, collaging, writing, cutting holes in some of the pages, creating patterns. This is just to alter the pages before we begin any sketchbook assignments/observational drawing... I know some people alter books and that is a great way also but I like the idea of the kids taking ownership of their sketchbook as a process oriented tool for thumb-nailing, drawing, doodling, writing, documenting, etc. It is a good first day activity especially if you give them a list that is open to interpretation, this challenges them to use their time wisely, be creative, use good craftsmanship, and follow directions. It is also a no pressure assignment that allows the kids to get to know each other. What I like about this is that it removes the white pages from the book and allows students to be more expressive with the drawings on the pages. It also make the sketchbook less intimidating and helps students to understand that every page does not need to be perfect and is more about learning and exploration. We look the sketchbooks of Wayne Jiang at http://www.waynejiang.com /sketchbooks/index.html
2. Another good idea is to print out a variety of sketchbook assignments on address labels and give them to the students. I have printed 30 different assignments on one page of sticker labels and printed one (each student receives the same problems) for each student, there is some initial cost for the labels but you will not have to give out another assignment sheet for the rest of the year. I created open ideas that instill good observational, creative, and compositional skills. Give each student the same printed page and they can chose what problem to tackle for their sketchbook for the week and stick the one they selected to the back of the page, or you can have them stick them to the prepared pages and they would be forced to move through the sketchbook in an unordered way. This gives the student options and allows them ownership in what they draw each week depending on their mood... but also keeps them focused on the skills they need to work on during the year. I have them staple the label page to the back of their sketchbook so that they do not lose it. I saw this idea and loved it and decided to adapt it to my art 2 and 3 classes and what kid does not like stickers?....even high school kids have a fascination. See list of ideas.
Here is a sample label file created by Gloria Rabinowitz
Suggestions from Ruth Wilson
• Draw a pile of shoes
• looking from an interior space to an exterior space (IE: a doorway)
• a figure drawn in an unusual perspective
• still life objects
• reflective objects
• self portraits with expression or mood
• pasting a piece of a magazine on paper and then drawing outward
• painting or drawing in an artists style
• distorted reflections
• shaded 3D forms showing strong contrast
• architectural drawing
• art history prints & Design elements
• draw on Mylar over an art history print with graphite to show the shapes, then another sheet of Mylar the directional lines, then the 3-5 local colors, and shading values
Suggestions from Donna Rodeghiero
A grouping of seashells
A single flower with all its leaves, etc.
A cluttered place close-up
A pile of dishes sitting on the sink
Your favorite food with the wrapper included, and product showing
A close up set of 3-5 pieces of popped popcorn
A close up of the various pieces from a game, the board, box, etc.
A set of keys and a couple other items from your pocket or purse
Your shoes or sandals (off your feet)
Your sunglasses and what they reflect
Your digital camera with the last image showing
Your computer from an angle you do not usually view it, cords and all
A view out a window of your choice (with motion or still) showing inside and out
A shiny Christmas ornament and the view it reflects
A magnifying glass and what it is magnifying as well as the space around it that is unmagnified
A grouping of photographs of you, your family or friends in collage form
Your school books positioned in an interesting manner
A single object of choice drawn from several views with significantly different light sources in each view
Something you view from a prone position looking up at whatever it is
Your pet or favorite object from 3 distinctly different views
Suggestions from Patty Knott
I like to give words or phrases for idea spawning. I don't grade sketchbooks. I believe they are personal places of exploration for not only practice but journaling and questioning and sometimes, even doodling, but especially creative thinking. I just always hope they will discover mixed meanings, irony, metaphor, and symbolism.... just how to get ideas. This summer I am going through 5 years worth of art , fine crafts and photo magazines that I subscribe to, and I am listing word, phrases, titles, media and techniques that catch my eye. I like to have the kids make arbitrary picks from the list ( pull from a hat, a spin wheel, etc.) and take a day a week that they do the sketchbook exploration without the pressure of projects and grades.
Here are just a few of words and phrases I am currently compiling: (I always have them mind map and web all the possibilities for all the words)
Conflict of interests
More than meets the Eye (I)
Me, myself, and I (eye)
Food .. You are what you eat (still, after 36 years, my most
biggest art challenge was the RISD portfolio requirement - Draw your
family at breakfast. )
Lonely -- L (one) ly inspired by the e.e.cummings poem "1(a"
I get around
Home is where...
All that glitters...
Pretty -- as a picture
Layer it on
A touch of __________?
Over the edge (this one led to a student doing his concentration on Robert DeNiro film roles)
It's my nature
It's not easy being green
Color outside the lines
Hot and cold
Black and White & red all over (so glad a student made red - read)
A sketchbook should be a fun place, not a chore or another "have- to." If I judge and grade the sketchbook, then where do they go to make free ideas? If we all had i-pods and camera phones, I would include those too.
Suggestions from John Steiner
Where is Waldo? Students take one sketchbook page and fill it in with miniature drawings of everything that relates them and their lives… gum, braces, football jersey, soccer and footballs… etc and endless… the page must be filled, no blank space and all items are reduced to the same or nearly same size… could a 2D as well as drawing assignment... teachers complained that my students were drawing in their class!
They were fabulous!
Draw a chess set set-up and partially played - do the same with other board games- use your favorite game from childhood.
Take a page from the notebook for another class and draw over the notes
Draw on white Mat board, cover with several layers of gloss medium, cover this with oil paint- release the drawn image, the paint and the medium.
Landscapes with and without man-made structures.
Draw buildings and man-made structures with character- bridges- the interior of old churches or old theaters.
Fill bottles with colored water and use in a still-life.
Fill plastic bags with objects and draw - draw bags of candy or marshmallows.
Play the Password Game. Divide the class into groups of five or six. Use one painting each group comes up with five descriptive words from the same work of art. The students share their words with the class and everyone must then take all the words and write a piece of poetry. The poetry must use all the words, words that are repeated must be used as often as they are repeated. Students then illustrate their poetry.
Draw small architectural, mechanical things tiny may be very small drawings only 3 or 4 inches
Contour drawings of insects like a bug collection... (or dead flies off the window sill)
The skeleton of a small animal or bird really small or really big.
Tape a pencil or marker to a yardstick or long dowel; use this to draw on papers attached to a large wall.
Every night for I week draw the same object in a different media on neutral ground paper
Botanical drawings especially pine or spruce twigs w/pinecones.
Wash drawings from real life
Wash drawings taken from paintings, esp. of groups of people
Use a slinky or tubes to demonstrate circles and ellipses in perspective
Five views of the same object or objects.
Rather than just drawing hands, draw the same hand rotating and changing with each view...
Draw on objects or surfaces not usually used to draw on... these may be primed with tempera paint.
Stretch an old pair of jeans or flannel shirt. Prime with tempera if necessary, use this as a drawing surface for chunk charcoal or graphite sticks.
Stain plaster with tea, coffee or other natural materials... let "dirty" snow balls melt on drawing papers... draw or 2D over the dried color
Use a small picture frame, 8 x 10" (20 x 25.5 cm) or 10 x 14" (25.5 x 35.5 cm), stretch dampened paper by gluing the edges with Elmer's Glue; it will shrink and tighten when dried. Use this as a drawing or 2D design surface. The surface is "soft" and will not allow much pressure and for sure no erasing!
[ Sketchbook ideas K- 8 | Sketchbook Advocacy | Sketchbook Labels ]
Lesson Plans: Make a Sketchbook (6-12) | Sketch book Choices and Ideas | H.S. Sketchbook Ideas