Sketchbook: The Art of Sketchbooking

A brand new sketchbook is a thing to behold. Before you sits a million possibilities on these blank pages. However, because of instagram and peoples penchant for devastatingly perfect sketchbooks online for everyone to cry over, i find myself almost afraid to start a new sketchbook.

What i have found is that if you build up expectations for your sketchbook, you will make more mistakes and then you lose the joy of sketching. A sketchbook is first and foremost, YOURS. Nothing can make you share your sketchbook with the world other than your own free will. So, relax! Use your sketchbook to experiment, make mistakes, try new things, explore colors, textures, sketching techniques.

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STEP 1: Choosing the right sketchbook

We all work in different mediums and have our own favorite materials. Choosing the right sketchbook for your medium, is important as it will affect what you do. For example, painting in watercolors on sketching pad is going to make the paper warp as it is not thick enough to support water based products. Sketching with a fine pencil in a watercolor sketchbook may not work as the grain of the paper may be too much.

Sketching paper can be cold or hot pressed (textured or smooth) and normally are not thicker than 128 gsm.

Another thing to consider is whether you want a pad or a sketchBOOK. A pad can be useful if the way you sketch is only individual sketches and also may want to tear (GASP!) your sketches out. A journal will allow for continuity and will also allow for your sketches to extend over to the adjoining page seamlessly.

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STEP 2:  The First Page.

Something I have learned when starting a new sketchbook is never start on the first page. Start somewhere in the middle. This way, it isn't as intimidating and you won't be worried about disrupting the flow! As long as you don't need a chronological order for your sketches (a travel sketchbook or experimentation for a project, perhaps), this can also make your finished sketchbook seem more impulsive. It might be a bit harder to relocate certain pages but the overall effect is one of spontaneity and and takes the pressure of that sketchbook perfection paranoia we all suffer from.

NOTE: if you HAVE to start a new sketchbook from the beginning, break it in with something you know works for you. It could be something as easy as contour drawings, simple sketches, collages or anything, really.

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Having to keep several sketchbooks at once, especially for art students or artists working on different projects, could be difficult. However, it could be very useful, especially when you need certain trains of thought organized. When you keep separate sketchbooks, your notes automatically become more focused. It makes different sketches or notes you have made easier to reference. I sometimes find myself buying a pack of small sketchbooks and separating them for individual projects! I can also then keep one sketchbook just for myself, for pure creativity, which may just be for practice or to remind me why I love sketching.


remember that sketchbooks are not meant to be perfect. they are meant for mistakes, for messing up, for experimentation. If you dont make mistakes, you are never going to know what to fix. A sketchbook is your safe space as an artist, where you can share everything. and if something turns out well, its just another part on your journey of artistic growth. An actor needs rehearsals, athletes need training and artists need sketchbooks.