8 Ways To Fill Your Sketchbook

Do you love stationery but can’t think of ways to fill your sketchbook? If you’re like me, you probably buy them all the time but never use them. I’m afraid of ruining such precious objects too, but I came here to help you!

First thing you should remember is that a sketchbook is not a portfolio (at least, it doesn’t have to be). As Mariah Carey once said “baby, letting go it ain’t easy” and I’m sure she was singing about creative perfectionism. So assume some of your sketchbook pages are going to look really bad, and that’s ok because it’s your space to try new ideas and experiment with all you can think of.

Building the habit of using your sketchbook on a daily basis (more on that on my Instagram) is one of the things that will help your creativity muscles (?) the most. I know it’s not that easy, so I came up with 8 ideas to help you fill your sketchbook:

1. Get over the fear of blank paper

Yes, you know that, you’re tired of hearing it. But the thing is: how? You need to put something on the page (don’t think about it, just something). The possibilities are endless: you can grab a thick marker and color the whole page (like Windy Iris did on the image below), you can divide it into smaller rectangles, or just draw some lines. Once you have this first layer of random stuff and don’t see all that scary blank space anymore, drawing over it will be much easier.

Windy Iris Art (Youtube channel)

2. Use squared, lined or dotted paper

After watching the video below, I realised that this kind of paper is less scary than blank sketchbooks because they already have kind of a subtle pattern on them. They can look less “artsy” (maybe because they are used at schools) but who cares? Take advantage of those squares or lines and start drawing based on them. You won’t start from zero, isn’t it great?

If you don’t have that kind of notebooks at home, you can print them for free from this Printable Paper website.

3. Create art supply swatches

This is a very nice way of filling a page and also get familiar with your art supplies. Just draw some rectangles and fill them in with all the markers, pencils, liners or watercolors that you own. You will have a place to refer back to when you want to see how different marker colors look on that paper, their texture, how bold or subtle they are, if it’s easy to control them…

Art supplies swatches by @nini.journal

4. Use washi tape to create masks

You can stick several stripes of washi tape to the page and then fill in the spaces in between. As you can see in the image below, when you remove the tape you’ll have some crisp and perfect shapes that are really hard to achieve if you try drawing freehand. The best part about it is that you don’t have to worry about anything, and the result will always be so clean.

Washi tape masking project by Laura Bassen

5. Scribble challenge

If you need something to spark your creativity, challenges are a great option. There is one in particular I didn’t know before and I think it’s very adequate to fill sketchbook pages: the Scribble challenge. You just have to scribble some random lines or shapes, and then use that abstract result to create something else more elaborated (the picture below explains it better than me).

There are a lot of challenges out there, just to name a few: InktoberMermayHuevemberHomwork, Illustration FridayGood Type Tuesday …

6. Doodle a song

Yeah, this one is weird, but let me explain. If I asked you to draw a song, wouldn’t you draw something for a Mozart vals and a completely different thing for Daddy Yankee’s La Gasolina? (Does the song sound like curved lines, like aggresive dots, like watercolor gradients, like black and white squares…?).

Doodling the emotions that a certain song makes you feel can be an interesting exercise to let your creativity flow and even discover something about yourself along the way. To help you visualise this, I created a while ago an abstract music video with this same idea, where I “represented” a classical music piece:

7. Brainstorm ideas for future sketchbook drawings

Sometimes you have a lot of ideas but just don’t feel like actually sitting down and creating. What you can do instead is writing down all those ideas for the times when you want to create but don’t have any ideas. Clever, huh? If you want extra points, you can add a thumbnail with a rough sketch next to the idea so you have an album of references for future occasions. It would look something like the art supplies swatches we talked about earlier.

8. Start a quote journal

I’m sure there are many quotes from songs, films, videos, articles or books that represent you and can be relaxing to go through from time to time. So why not compiling them in the same place? You don’t need to be a lettering expert to do this. Even if you just write the quotes with not much else, it will have the same effect. Also, you can use these quotes for future Instagram captions, tweets, blog posts and so on!

Quote journal page from @elizabethjournals

Want more ideas to fill your sketchbook? Make sure to check out this blog post’s second part: 9 More Ways To Fill Your Sketchbook.