9 More Ways To Fill Your Sketchbook

This is the second part of my previous post, 8 Ways To Fill Your Sketchbook (check it out if you haven’t already!). It was so well received that I wanted to explore more on that topic and bring you 9 more ideas to fill all those beautiful sketchbooks you have at home but don’t know how to use. Let’s dive in!

1. Start with a geometric shape

Get over the fear of blank paper, draw something on the page and then build up from there. Everyone can draw a circle, a triangle or a square (I didn’t say it had to be a good one, but you can use rulers if you are struggling). Then you can start doodling inside the shape: smaller geometric shapes, curves, dots… You can also try zentangle (that deserves a whole different post) or even a mandala if you draw several concentric shapes.

geometric hexagon zen doodle
geometric zen doodle drawing
Doodles in a geometric shape by @mariopatterns (me!)

2. Draw from your environment

Sometimes we try to find a poetic inspiration or never seen before references, and it can get us stuck. The truth is that you don’t need any of that: things around you (your immediate environment) can be your primary source of inspiration.

A lot of things from your room could be inspiring. Maybe you have a Pokémon figure you can recreate, or there’s a particular book with a cool cover artwork and a lettering style for the title you didn’t pay attention to. Maybe the floor creates an interesting pattern, or the curtains’ fabric is the best.

You can letter the title of that song you listened to a million times this month, draw the ingredients of your favorite recipe or the exciting view from your window (even if it isn’t, you sure can make it interesting). Are your creative juices starting to flow?

3. Journal for self-care

Let’s forget drawing (just for a minute!). While all the other options on this list are a way to practice self care, writing can also be very beneficial for your mental health and make you feel calm. By asking yourself the right questions you can became more aware of your feelings and release things that have been worrying you.

I’m talking about writing down your goals, things you are grateful for, the reasons why you might be having a bad mood day… I found an article with a lot of writing prompts for your mental health:

4. Draw a pattern

There’s something so appealing about patterns. Placing and repeating the elements so they create a seamless texture to fill up your sketchbook page is a very satisfying creative exercise. It involves drawing, color, composition… also a certain level of repetition, so it’s therapeutic and relaxing. It can be as complex or simple as you want.

abstract pattern doodle sketchbook
Pattern by me (but inspired by @katharinewillisart)

5. Create a moodboard

Have you had any of these projects you didn’t know how to start? A moodboard is a sort of collage where you put together different references or sources of inspiration for a creative project before actually getting started. It helps you define the general vibe you are going for with elements like color ideas, textures, pictures from magazines, etc.

If you are starting a drawing project, the moodboard could include the supplies you are planning to use, the color scheme, patternslineslettering styles… So why not using your sketchbook to gather all these inspiration together?

Learn more about creating moodboards here, and take a look at this example by Jessica Levitz:

Moodboard by Jessica Levitz

6. Experiment with collages and mixed media

Following the idea of the collage, if you really want to go all the way you could try mixed media (disclaimer: you need very thick paper for this). Mixed media is an art form in which you include different mediums in the same artwork. For example: ink, watercolor, pencil and acrylics. Sounds interesting, right? You can even stick real objects like a leaf or a small stone to your pages. There are endless possibilities to explore with this technique and the results are often very unique, like these examples from Get Messy Art Journal.

Instagram posts by Get Messy Art Journal

7. Explore your personal style

Developing a graphic vocabulary is key to find your personal style: what kind of lines do you enjoy using? Are you into patterns? Maybe character design? Is color an important part of your pieces? Are they bold, delicate, trendy, minimal…? Trying out different graphic elements can help you find the answer to the previous questions, and sketchbooks are a great place to start.

If you are into flowers, study and draw them from different angles, research different types , try grouping them in bouquets… Do you see where I’m going? Explore the things you are interested in, and put that into your sketchbook.

For example, I love patterns and hatching so I’ve been drawing some hatching swatches:

Hatching swatches by me again (ugh) @mariopatterns

8. Use bullet journal prompts

Bullet journaling is a way of planning your weeks on a blank notebook. You design all the spreads, decide which layouts and systems would help you be more productive… all with the aesthetic you want.

The “bujo” community is really popular around the internet, and they provide lots of different types of spreads and ideas that can help you fill your journal. You can design weekly or monthly spreadslists like books to read/movies to watch/gift ideas, trackers for different habits you want to stick with (meals, sleep, fitness…). There really are millions of ideas out there!

To give you an idea, here are some posts taken from the Instagram hashtag #theartofbujo:

#theartofbujo on Instagram

9. Sketchnote your favorite video

Last way to fill your sketchbook, take notes! I guess nobody loves taking notes, but maybe you’ll like sketchnoting. It’s a way of taking notes combining text and drawings so you have a visual representation of the concepts from a lecture, conference or video. The final result often looks something like this:

Sketchnotes by Langwitches

You are drawing concepts, so you’ll remember them more easily. Having these kind of visual notes from your favorite videos or tutorials around the internet can be another way to fill your sketchbook and also learn about the topics you are sketchnoting. And it looks good!

There are tons of resources about it in Sketchnote Army.