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How to Fill a Sketchbook in One Month

Robert A. Sloan is a San Francisco-based science fiction writer, art writer, art teacher, artist, artisan, and Renaissance man.

Blue Lake Scene, 8 1/2" x 11" in Ultramarine Deep Dark Shade Pan Pastel by Robert A. Sloan

Blue Lake Scene, 8 1/2" x 11" in Ultramarine Deep Dark Shade Pan Pastel by Robert A. Sloan

Why Try to Fill a Sketchbook in One Month?

Because at the end of the month you will be a much better artist. Your drawings and sketches will be more lifelike, your shading smoother, your lines more confident and your shapes more accurate. Everything you do in that sketchbook is a learning experience. If you fill a sketchbook every month, you will be on the fast track to becoming a serious artist capable of being professional.

You may still want to remain an amateur if you're not interested in pursuing an art career for other reasons, such as my reason for preferring to be a full-time writer. Art is my way of relaxing and reducing stress, which helps my fibromyalgia as much or more than my medication does. The thing is, the better I draw and sketch, the happier drawing and sketching make me.

The more social support I get for it too when it looks good. Compliments by other people on my drawings cheer me up and break up the blues when the pain gets too bad or I have to be patient about novel submissions that may take a year or more to hear back from them. I'm also well past the point of skill where I could make a living on art since I did that for several years in New Orleans when I wasn't as good at it as I am now.

Someday I'll need to go back down there now that I can sketch buildings and landscapes better. There's a lot that I saw when I lived there and wished I could draw—now that I'm better at sketching, I could go through and render every one of those things beautifully from life in much less time.

That's the other benefit of filling a sketchbook a month. You'll learn to draw fast. Drawing fast means you can do more sketches in the same hour, so the time you spend practicing is more productive and you'll learn faster.

I first ran into that suggestion in the sixteen-page front section of my Leonardo da Vinci Sketchbook. It's a truly beautiful hardbound sketchbook with a lovely reproduction of Leonardo's drawings on the front cover and a sixteen-page biography with many more reproductions of his sketches before you get to the 100 clean white pages for your own amateur efforts. I still mean to try copying some of those Leonardo sketches.

Copying from a master gives a lot of practice at getting certain forms and proportions accurate. Like people, their noses, their hands, the really hard parts. It also helps teach mastery of line. Many of Leonardo's drawings are in ink. So copying his would help me learn to do slightly curving, more expressive ink strokes and to dare sketch without penciling under the drawing.

That can be really handy if you're doing it at work on a break and have a cheap ballpoint and the back of a business letter or piece of snail mail spam at hand. Sketch everywhere on anything you have at hand. Doodle. Fill the backs of envelopes and the fronts of sticky notes once you've used the information on them.

Then keep your actual sketchbook handy.

Don't cheat and just buy a 25- or 30-page drawing pad. Start with an actual sketchbook, the kind that has 80 or 100 pages, in a decent size like 9" x 12" or 8 1/2" x 11".

That's the challenge—fill one of these in one month. Extra points if you chose the big 11" x 14" one to fill. So what are some ways to fill it that fast and still have time for those other activities like work, staying married, family time with kids, going out, or watching favorite movies?

Snow Leopard, 3" x 4" in Pitt Artist Pens on sketchbook paper by Robert A. Sloan

Snow Leopard, 3" x 4" in Pitt Artist Pens on sketchbook paper by Robert A. Sloan

Pen Sketching

Pitt Artist Pens are a wonderful sketching tool. They come in brush tips; the brush tips are small but allow a varied line that's very expressive. Most of all, pen sketching means not going back to erase anything or rework it. That means the sketch goes forward and for any misplaced line, just put the good line in and ignore the wrong line or fill in over it with something dark.

That alone can speed up the drawing process because a lot of beginners spend as much time erasing as drawing. It's very easy to get caught up in trying to get sketches perfect when that isn't the main point of sketching. So any kind of pen sketching is a good thing for filling your sketchbook fast. If you botch it completely, just start over and do it again next to it.

This big cat was from a photo challenge on WetCanvas in a Weekend Drawing Event; the host posted some zoo photos and many other beautiful references. I used Pitt Artist Pens to sketch all sixteen challenge photos over the weekend because I was so impressed with which subjects she chose for her photos.

So that's another way to fill the sketchbook too. Participate in the Weekend Drawing Events. Try drawing anything in it that takes your fancy and posting the results even if they're not perfect. That snow leopard drawing isn't something I could sell as a serious painting, but it didn't take long either. It also has enough information that I could build on it and sketch and paint a serious oil painting or watercolor that would be salable—even without having the reference handy anymore.

If you think of sketching as something like your phone camera, your sketchbook will fill up fast. Don't try to fill the whole page with a drawing. Do a bunch of little fast drawings on every page and watch them fill up with more interesting content. Then try doing something big like that blue monochrome sketch I started the article with—but use something bold, loose, and blunt like the wedge sponge tool with Pan Pastels Extra Deep Shades. Or use large markers for sketching big.

Whatever you do, don't look back. Don't slow down and noodle over details.

Beginners try to get all the details right. It's too easy to get a detail right and do it the wrong size for what's next to it though. So you get portraits with one eye bigger than the other, noses too small or large, mouths wandering away to the side, or too big or small, and it doesn't have the likeness even though each feature might look good.

So the best way to sketch is from simple to complex. Do the details last. You may not even need that many details to convey what you're doing—just a few key details can say a whole lot in a sketch.

Cauliflower Study, oil pastel on sketchbook by Robert A. Sloan

Cauliflower Study, oil pastel on sketchbook by Robert A. Sloan

Oil Pastel, Charcoal, and Conte Crayons

Oil Pastels, color Conte, charcoal, Conte crayons, and soft pastels (the ones that feel like chalk but aren't) are all sketch mediums that work great for doing very large bold studies in color or with dramatic values. My study of a cauliflower head in a fruit market was from another Weekend Drawing Event photo.

I simplified the subject—the photo was an entire vegetable market, so I picked just the cauliflower head and put in a bit of the green drapery behind it and the cloth it was on. If you draw very loose and just choose colors that come close to the right hue (what color it is) and value, blending by drawing over the other colors or smudging it with a blender or assorted fingers, you can get a lot of information down very quickly.

It's hard to fuss about details using something as blunt as a pastel stick or oil pastel stick. You have to sharpen it to a point and then work slowly if you want details. But this isn't about realism. Sketching is about getting the basic shape and its volume down accurately. Color notes like this would help me paint it in oils and do a serious oil pastels or pastels painting someday. I might compose a still life and want a cauliflower head in it; then, I could go back to this sketch instead of buying one.

This is another reason to keep filling sketchbooks. You'll get good at sketching anything that's in front of you, and then when you do plan a serious painting, the sketch will go fast. You'll have old sketches for references and the habit of easily getting the outlines right.

Bison, Derwent Tinted Charcoal Pencil on sketchbook paper. Robert A. Sloan

Bison, Derwent Tinted Charcoal Pencil on sketchbook paper. Robert A. Sloan

Charcoal and Tinted Charcoal Pencils

Charcoal, soft pastels, hard pastels, and tinted charcoal have the advantage that you can get deep darks very fast and smudge your middle values with assorted fingers or tools. Tortillons and stumps are little cardboard smudgers that you can find cheap at any art store. Tortillons are the one-ended hollow ones, double-ended stumps are a bit more expensive, but they're solid and can be sharpened again with a pencil sharpener. A chamois, cotton bud, or Colour Shaper can also be used to smudge charcoal and pastels.

As sketching mediums, pastel charcoal pencils have the cleanliness and convenience of pencils while still having the easy smudging of charcoal and pastels. This helps fill a lot of areas with bold drawings very fast. Good for finishing your sketchbook within a month and good for paying attention to how light and dark values give anything volume.

Animal sketching demands close attention to the animal's body proportions and build. Buffalo or bison have very short stumpy legs compared to, say, a cow or especially a horse. They're all front end, the shoulders are gigantic, and the head is huge while the butt is tiny in comparison. So the more often you sketch the same animal species from photos or from life, the easier it is to see how it moves, remember its proportions, and get its poses looking natural.

Bison are also shaggy. Some strokes and marks are better for showing some types of fur than others. Practice sketching animals, and you'll start to discover the best ways to get the textures of what you're drawing too.

This is in color, but it is also a tonal drawing. I shaded it as if it was in black and white, just chose different colors of tinted charcoal to get different effects. If you did this in plain black charcoal pencil, it'd be a perfect tonal drawing. Feel free to copy any of my sketches from this article if you think mine are good enough to copy.

A tonal drawing is when light, medium, and dark values in patches and areas help define the shape of the form. A pure tonal drawing would have no outlines at all, just something dark behind a light edge or something light behind a dark edge so you can see where the subject is against the background.

Drawing notes from Watercolour Secrets course, by Robert A. Sloan

Drawing notes from Watercolour Secrets course, by Robert A. Sloan

Classwork Helps Fill Your Sketchbook!

Lots of free online tutorials and videos are available on YouTube, WetCanvas, and many websites. Just search "art lessons" or "drawing lessons," and you'll find lots of them. You can also take out good art instruction books from the library or pick them up on Amazon.

While you're filling your sketchbook in a month, consider getting a good drawing book such as The Complete Guide to Drawing by Giovanni Civardi, Drawing the Face and Figure, How to Draw Animals and Drawing Scenery: Landscapes and Seascapes by Jack Hamm. or The Drawing Bible by Craig Nelson. I mentioned all three of Jack Hamm's titles because each one is good for its subject. The other two cover animals, landscapes, people, and still lifes within a single volume.

Using pencil, washable graphite pencil, ink wash, and other sketching mediums, try to draw as many of the exercises from the book as possible. It can help improve your sketching ability even faster to work from a lesson or take a class online. There are video classes you can buy, like Watercolour Secrets by Bob Davies. The second DVD in my watercolor course is entirely on Drawing, so when I bought it, I did the drawing exercises in my sketchbook.

If you work through even a chapter in a good drawing book, you will probably fill a lot of pages, and your skills will get even better. Also, look at my blocky horse-like shape. That was the initial sketch for doing a plow horse that came out accurate. It was the first horse I drew that my farrier (horseshoeing blacksmith) daughter said, "That's beautiful" instead of "It's cool, but you got the (head too long, neck too short, legs have extra joints, hooves are wrong, belly too skinny, etc.) The first horse I ever got proportioned accurately was drawn by blocking it in with simple oblongs and ovals.

So there's proof—it really works better to blow off the details and get the large masses right in proportion to each other. Details are easy to get right if you have the whole blocked in. Even beginners don't screw them up that bad—it just seems like that's the way to start because good drawings by skilled artists look so detailed.

Cat gesture drawings by Robert A. Sloan

Cat gesture drawings by Robert A. Sloan

Gesture Drawing

Gesture drawing is when you try to get down the most important shapes of a subject, usually a living one, within a minute or two. Sometimes up to five minutes per drawing is a gesture drawing. The idea is to ignore details and try to get the shape right.

These can fill your sketchbook in no time. Because you're taking only a minute or two per drawing, you'll go through a lot of pages while each drawing gets more and more accurate. They are very useful for reference later on, even if undetailed. The little gesture of my cat laying down at the top of the page is a beautiful pose.

I can get his fur textures, exact coloration, eye color, and details right by looking at him sound asleep in another pose. But I could sketch him for an oil painting from that quick little gesture because I got his proportions perfect. The larger one is a bit bunchy, and his head's a little too large. It's okay to make mistakes in gesture drawing.

That's sort of the point of it—do the subjects so many times so fast that you correct the mistakes on the next drawing instead of that one. I sketched just his paw in one of my gestures. He turned his head, so I did his profile. He moved his ears during that minute, so I wound up putting the new ear gesture over the old, and it looks like he's got something on top of his head. But I can read that for where his ears go.

Gesture drawings don't have to be pretty, even though the one at the upper right and the paw are to me. They need to be fast and as accurate as you can get in one minute. Drawing living models doing gesture poses is easier on your friends and family members because they don't have to hold still for 20 minutes or worse, try to get in the same pose to get drawn again after their break.

You can do gesture sketches of people in restaurants and at the office. You can do gesture drawings of anything anytime because it doesn't take that long. Use any sketch medium you've got available, including ballpoint pens. The more often you do gesture drawing, the better you'll get at sketching in general.

Contour drawing of an apple and two marbles in pen by Robert A. Sloan

Contour drawing of an apple and two marbles in pen by Robert A. Sloan

Contour Drawing

This is a type of sketching where shapes are defined by outline alone. I haven't sketched in the contours of the shadow side of these round objects yet, because this is borrowed from another tutorial where I went into depth on describing complex contours in sketching. This is just a simple one.

When you draw things like this with clear outlines, it's practice for developing control of line. Being able to get the contours accurately—including the shapes of cast shadows (the ones on the flat surface they sit on) and modeling shadows (the ones on the surface of the spherical objects) is the way to sketch for paintings, whether you're painting in pastel, watercolor, oils, acrylics or oil pastels. No matter what painting medium you use, it all begins with a contour sketch before you're ready to start painting.

So while filling your sketchbook, think about doing some pages of contour drawings of common objects around you. One of the best subjects to start with is a still-life object like your coffee cup. Coffee cups have a complicated shape with a handle; the sides might flare or curve. There's usually an interesting shadow, plus the oval of the top and the curved line of the base. Then there's a modeling shadow on the cup itself, and if there's liquid in it, the coffee itself can be another thing to outline.

Drawing the same subject again and again at different angles will also improve your sketching. I did this apple contour drawing after doing the apple in many other ways.

Apple and Orange, Pitt Artist Pens in white wirebound ProArt sketchbook by Robert A. Sloan

Apple and Orange, Pitt Artist Pens in white wirebound ProArt sketchbook by Robert A. Sloan

Draw the Same Thing in Many Different Ways

Long before I did the contour drawing that led to a Prismacolor realism painting of a green apple and two marbles, I drew apples of many different colors and breeds in every sketch medium I could try. This one is a Red Delicious apple in front of an orange; I put them both on my desk and sketched them with Pitt Artist Pens. Other times I've drawn them in charcoal, tinted charcoal, pastels, oil pastels, pencil, and anything that came to hand.

Vary what you're doing by using color sometimes with colored pencils, watercolor pencils, brush pens, felt tips, markers, highlighters, pencils, charcoal, pastels, and oil pastels. If it can make a mark in a sketchbook, it's probably a good sketching tool. Much to my delight, Pan Pastels Extra Dark Shades turned out to be a great sketch medium because I can get a full range of values when I use the dark colors.

It's easy to keep from getting bored if you try doing different types of drawing and different mediums. It may get frustrating if you have trouble getting something right, but each time you sketch it, you'll get closer to doing it accurately.

For a difficult but rewarding sketch subject, try drawing your own left hand. If you're left-handed, try drawing your right hand. It may take doing it many times before you do a hand drawing that looks true and real, but by the time you do, you can draw anyone's hands well. Or draw your own feet. Look in a mirror and do a self-portrait or look at a photo of yourself for one.

Whatever you most enjoy drawing—flowers, people, animals, landscapes, dragons—practice drawing that to fill your sketchbook. Divide the number of pages by the number of days in the month and try to average filling five or six pages a day to do it in a single month. That would be using both sides of 80 pages in a letter-size ProArt sketchbook. 5 1/3 pages (sides) a day would do it. If you only use one side of the page, then it'd only be two or three pages a day to fill a sketchbook in a month.

I use only one side because I prefer using smeary mediums like charcoal, soft graphite, Derwent Graphitint, oil pastels, and pastels sometimes, and don't want to worry about drawings rubbing off onto the fronts of other sketches. If I were just doing pencil or pen, I'd probably use both sides. I do this when I'm using a watercolor journal.

For smudging mediums like soft graphite, charcoal, Pan Pastels, pastel, or pastel pencils, use workable spray fixative such as Krylon Workable Matte Fixative or Blick Workable Matte Fixative over your drawings when you're done. This helps protect them from smearing.

Try to work from the top down and left to right if you're right-handed. If left-handed, top-down, and right to left would help. This keeps you from dragging your hand over finished sketches while doing new ones.

Have fun! It doesn't matter if any of them come out bad, because you'll improve and learn something with every one. Sometimes a bad one can suggest something else and turn out better than you planned; that serendipity happens a lot in art. More than that, if you finish a sketchbook in one month, you will become a much more skilled artist—and your hand will never run out of images you can get down, unlike your phone camera.

Questions & Answers

Question: Should I buy a new sketch book just for the motivation? I am feeling really demotivated with my sketchbooks and I just want to start fresh. Is this something I really should invest in?

Answer: It may help give you a clean start. Whether you buy a new sketchbook or not is a personal thing. It can work just to use up blank areas in old ones, or to buy a new one. It's not like they're too expensive or anything - pay attention to what motivates YOU with a question like that. Yeah it's worth it if when you do, it gets you thrilled and gets you moving. But if you buy a new one every time, fill four pages and then stack them up... try getting back into existing ones. Because if you check the dates and pick up an old one you will SEE how much better your new sketches are than the old ones. I do buy art supplies to motivate myself sometimes and it works for me. But others' mileage varies. Usually when I do, that'll get me really going. However, around the middle of them I also get motivated by looking through older ones and going "Wow, I've got more than half the pages left in this and it was a GOOD one..." and then "wow. That is SO much better..." because growth is inevitable. Do whatever works to get yourself into the habit!

By the way, no, I don't watch the number of times I mention brands or actually try to sell any particular brand. I watch for bargain ones. House brands at places like Blick or Jerry's Artarama are also good quality and inexpensive. It is not like I get a sales commission or anything, if I like a brand for something it's just that I like it.


Ingrid on August 10, 2014:

I know this is so posted 4 years ago, but it was still great advice in this post. I am finishing my first monthly sketchbook soon!

Ernesto de la Rosa on January 30, 2014:

I haven´t even started reading the whole thing when I ran a search under ProArt and you mention it 4 times, are you some type of undercover salesman Mr. Sloan?

Lynsey Hart from Lanarkshire on January 28, 2014:

Great hub. I'm thinking I should do this, because since qualifying as a Graphic designer last year, I have went back into the world of work (out with my profession-needs must) and I suspect my drawing abilities will be a tad rusty. Thanks for the inspiration! You have shown that everything I doodle doesn't have to be the finished article!

Boo McCourt from Washington MI on March 23, 2012:

I think this is a great idea, charting progress and learning what you are capable of every month, exploring different forms of drawing is also a fantasic idea, I tend to stick with contour drawing and want to explore more mediums, and this hub is very encouraging...

Cheena on February 06, 2012:

This is awesome! Thanks for the post! I recently designed a sketchbook for children, something that can be personalized and carried easily. It is a constant companion to my 5 year old, he is an amazing little artist! Do stop by ( and give me feedback, thanks a ton!


JanMont on March 11, 2011:

One of the best I've seen on drawing. I teach art, and some of the tutorials just aren't as clear and well-explained. Nice!

For those who are intimated by a pristine piece of drawing paper, pull your thumb down the oily side of your nose and mark the paper with it. Now the paper is no longer pristine so you don't have to worry about "messing up!" Old teacher trick, and students look at you like you're crazy.

Claire on March 07, 2011:

I loved this piece! I make my own sketchbooks and journals, but all too often I don't want to "spoil" them with my messy efforts, so end up giving them away to folk who CAN draw! This article kind of gives permission to me to actually get drawing, and it's ok if it's not perfect. Too many blog posts and art books have the finished version of a picture, and never mention the basics, or the mistakes. Sometimes it would be nice to know - or see that even the best drawings came from a little scribbled outline on a napkin, lol

Thanks very much for this. :)

Ian Hudson from Sheffield, England on January 10, 2011:

Great page! I love the way you have managed to capture the water and trees using the side of the pastel, this is very effective. I am about to start a new sketch book today, my project is called "Self", I have to produce a sketch book of self portraits. I will try to use your method of working at some point.

Candace Allan on August 28, 2010:

Hi Robert, Well I did it! I began a special 8.5x11 sketchbook about a month ago, took up your challenge, and just have a few pages left. (I began 7/24 on my birthday, but allowed myself to call it an all-August challenge.)I did not sketch on both sides of the pages, but did include various notes on some facing pages. Most of all I had a blast, became a better artist, learned how to capture my dog Dutchess, way improved my oil pastel landscape impressions, and more. The best thing--- I learned to love to make daily art for the joy of it, not concerned with a "purpose" for the drawings, or whether I could ever sell much, or any other stifling ideas. I just love drawing more than ever. Been at it on & off since I was a preschooler & I'm 58 now, just getting to really ENJOY it !!!

Thanks Robert for this challenge to fill a sketchbook. I believe I have developed a habit I can keep & not want to ever kick. ....and feed my art supply addiction.....


Candace on July 22, 2010:

This was so inspiring. As usual, if I am too tired to sketch after work, I google a topic by Robert Sloan and find a great piece of writing on art! I wanted a review on sketchbooks and now I am going to do the fill a book in a month challenge. Thanks Robert. Thanks also to others who coment here and share ideas and drawing anxieties!

faceman on January 01, 2010:

My favorite one are the fruit...they made me hungry.

Thanks faceman

Tina from Wv on October 09, 2009:

Your hubs are absolutely inspirational!! I have sketch books I have kept and looked back through.. I haven't kept it up since my sone was born. I have also been hubbin way too much!! Time for me to dust off the sketchbooks!

beadams from St. Paul on October 09, 2009:

this is a nice hub.

check my Hubs.

robertsloan2 (author) from San Francisco, CA on October 07, 2009:

Sasuke, even if you just date what winds up in your sketchbook it'll amaze you. I can understand sketching all over the place but that can get frustrating if your best drawing currently winds up on a napkin or a back of an envelope and gets lost. One solution is to get a hole punch and a 3 ring binder so that when you do draw on loose sheets and instantly recycled materials, you can at least hole-punch it and save it in what becomes its own sketchbook.

That also allows for cutting specialty papers that don't always come in pads and sketchbooks to size and keeping those in the binder too. I might write a Hub on that. There's a pastel supply company online, which sells something fancy for that, a KoolBind system with pre-hole-punched sanded pastel paper in three or four brands and grits. But the idea of it could be applied to a normal cheap binder on sale from a Back to School bin and the big sheets of watercolor paper or Canson Mi-Tientes you can get at Michaels or Hobby Lobby.

Nikki1, thank you!

nikki1 on October 06, 2009:

Awesome drawings

sasuke7s8s from Riverside on October 05, 2009:

I never ever fill my sketchbooks... I have a few but i sketch all over the place and just end up loosing all my work. I going to try and get it all into my sketchbook from now on though :p

robertsloan2 (author) from San Francisco, CA on October 05, 2009:

Tony, that is fantastic. Yes, the Chinese brushes are wonderful for sketching and the sumi-e style improves sketch-wash technique like nothing else. To go the lazy way, any pan watercolors will work with the Chinese brushes.

Sage, that rocks. It's not a big deal whether he uses pencils, charcoal or markers, all these sketch mediums teach their own skills and it's mostly the massive amount of practice. I love my Pitt Artist Pens for that -- they're mini brush tip pens in 48 colors and work beautifully for a thick-thin line.

Sage Knowles on October 05, 2009:

thanks! my son is an aspiring artist, i will have him take a look at your ideas here...he loves trying new mediums all the time, right now he is into fine tip markers...

Tony Morris on October 05, 2009:

Robertsloan2--Thanks for the advice and tips!! I can't wait to finish the first notepad! I've got some chinese brushes already. I've had them for years. Just never used them. But you've given me an excuse to now. Thanks again!

robertsloan2 (author) from San Francisco, CA on October 05, 2009:

Tony Morris -- That is AWESOME! Yes, start with the notepads -- date everything -- it's amazing how much the worst rotten drawing can cheer you up when you look at something you did better only two weeks or a month later. Then how horrid it looks a year later when you draw like a god and you know how fast you learned. That is the most motivating thing I can do -- look back at bad sketches!

Absolutely do some copying of artists you admire. That's how to learn their techniques. You'll find after a while that their styles blend and it starts getting hard to copy exactly, you wind up rearranging it and doing their subjects in your style as it evolves. Every artist you love contributes to your style.

Serious realism contributes to powerful cartoons. Cartooning contributes to economy -- to knowing what details are important to your intent and which ones just distract from your main focal point. Practicing both is wonderful. Also consider getting a brush pen and a book on sumi-e like The Sumi-E Book by Yolanda Mayhall. This helped my cartooning style and my serious drawing more than I can say, even if most of the time I don't practice with the formal ink grinding and Chinese brushes but go the lazy speedy route with what are in essence Japanese writing pens.

Don't worry about filling a page, enjoy it when you do but if a drawing is placed wrong so it doesn't leave usable space around it, let it be that big or awkward and turn the page. After a while you get better at page layout too, which helps immensely in cartooning. Sometimes sketch out spaces on the page with a ruler too, to get used to staying within those sizes and not drawing to the edge when doing a work intended to be framed -- those need a half inch around them to go under the mat usually. I broke that bad habit in my sketchbooks.

luciano63... that is AMAZING! I looked at your page of concept designs and I'm in awe. I love seeing good car drawings, just haven't actually done any because I'm more focused on natural forms, trees, rocks, animals and birds. I will get to a point where I start drawing machines and devote enough pages of bad sketches till I can get their proportions plausible. You have a glorious level of skill and yep, that's how you got it!

That's giving me the idea of doing theme sketchbooks, setting out specifically to do one on "Figure Drawing" and one on machines and so on, to shore up areas where I'm not as strong. That would rock.

Luciano Bove from Paris on October 04, 2009:

I totally agree! Sketch books are important in any type of art and design field.

In Transportation Design the rule N°1 is to have a sketch book always with you starting school, it will be filled by sketches during the all school period and then it will be again once we leave school because it becomes a part of our day life. Here a good example for car design students or passionates:

Thanks to a sketch book habits the improvements in your skills are guaranteed, it takes some time and dedicated attitude.

Good hub.

Tony Morris on October 04, 2009:

Also, do you think I can learn anything by copying some my favorite artist work. I have several files of artist that I like to study. I feel like that would help me fill my books up even faster. Since I always struggle with what to draw. I love drawing cartoons most of all. Although, nothing makes me feel more like an artist, then when I draw a portrait of someone. I usually try to draw evry little detail.

Tony Morris on October 04, 2009:

Awesome!! You da man!!! Thank you my good friend for responding so soon! I have been stressing over this issue for a long time..too long! After reading your reply, I feel like there's hope after all. Seriously. I had become so overwhelmed. Thinking, "how am i ever going to finish all of these books"? Or even start them.

I'm going to do just what you suggested. I have several notepads laying around my studio that would be perfect to start with. I've always imagined how good it would feel to have 25 or more sketchbooks of my own work to flip thru.

Once I get past trying to make every sketch perfect, I'll be okay. And also, trying to fill every little space on the page. I love filling up the pages! I have some clips on youtube of me flipping thru some of my books. If you have the time, my username is: Yatsura7. If you type it in the search box, you can see what i'm talkining about. Or just type in "sketchbook pages". I'll keep you posted.

Thanks for the advice!

robertsloan2 (author) from San Francisco, CA on October 04, 2009:

Tony Morris, if you fill all 25 empty books that you already have in hand, one a month, I can almost guarantee that you will reach a point you're proud to show them to other people in an amazingly short period of time and will not have wasted one page in them. Seriously. Make sure you date each sketch. I find that my rottenest old drawings make me feel good because I look back and they're horrible, they make me feel better about my current art and let me see how much I improved -- and how fast.

If you really love those hardbound ones, start by getting the cheapest spiral bound paper-cover book with lots of pages that you can and use that one for the first month. Then get another one if you're still scared to use the good ones. I'm sure it'll take no more than two or three before you're starting to have so many good pages that it's worth using the great ones you got for yourself. Do the ones that were gifts last if you really liked the people who gave them to you.

Use the ones that were gifts from people you can't stand first so that the annoying-relative memories associate with the earliest most amateur sketches. Seriously. You will improve so much in 25 sketchbooks you won't believe it was you that did them.

Go really tough on them, use pencil and use both sides of the page if you want to be super frugal about not wasting anything, until you get to the point that people are offering you money to pull out pages and sell them. I don't because I know I'm bad about not sketching as often as I should and like getting new sketchbooks. I just don't let myself get new ones till I've gotten one nearly filled.

Tony Morris on October 03, 2009:

This all sounds good and inspires me to fill up a book in a month. But it's so hard for me to relax and allow myself to ruin a nice hardbound sketchbook. I've got about 25 empty books that I would love to see full. I bought most of them. And the rest of them were gifts.

I fear that I won't enjoy looking thru a book filled with bad sketches. I feel like i've wasted good paper.

robertsloan2 (author) from San Francisco, CA on September 29, 2009:

This is great! I think you'll probably come up with something completely original getting back to your sketchbook. The perfect flame will come when you least expect it, followed by something that isn't what anyone expected but would be awesome. How about a flaming sword with perfect flames coming out around the blade, that'd be cool? I've had that in mind as a design for a while.

bloodnlatex on September 29, 2009:

This was truly inspirational. I used to draw and sketch all of the time, but my time is now filled with many other things and I must resort to doodling here and there. You have completely given me the itch to grab a new sketchbook and fill it with anything and everything that comes to mind.

I have done some paint work on cars, and have been stuck on trying to draw the perfect hot rod flames and forcing myself to learn how to pinstripe, but I constantly find myself getting frustrated because I can't come up with anything new. I think this is exactly what I needed. I need to clear my head and go back to the basics. I think that doing nothing but sketching for a solid month will remind me why I like drawing in the first place.

Thank you for showing me that there is a lot more to do than chase the quest for the perfect flame or force myself to try to learn to replicate everything that I think is cool with no learning curve. I needed that.

robertsloan2 (author) from San Francisco, CA on September 28, 2009:

Charlie, that would rock! Great idea. You'll turn up some surprises in it doing that much sketching. Life drawings tend to come out better anyway, especially on subjects that don't move it's a lot easier to get it accurate from life.

Charlie Gavin on September 27, 2009:

Great article! I'm getting ready to fill up a sketchbook or two (or three) of life drawings for my Cal Arts application next year, this is great reference.

robertsloan2 (author) from San Francisco, CA on August 15, 2009:

Thanks! Wayne, you are one of the artists who demonstrates WHY it's a good idea to fill a sketchbook every month. Your drawings are incredible and you never hesitate to draw something cool that you think of. I can believe you fill more than one every month.

Wayne Tully from Hull City United Kingdom on August 15, 2009:

Leonardo da vinci was a master of anotomical studies and that's what I like about looking at his work and it's a great idea to learn from master artists and fill a sketchbook in a month, although I often fill more than one a month most times.

Drawing and sketching is just like any other thing that you do regularly, the more you do it, there will be a point when you get better and improve more by repetitive drawing and practicing, I have got better at drawing skulls and demons and monsters and thinking back when my drawing style was different, I can see the changes and how my art as a result has gotten alot better.

Anyway a great mix of sketches and quick art pieces you have created there, to do a mix of stuff that you draw is something that I need to try and do...