By Nicole Tinkham
Have you ever looked at another artist’s sketchbook thinking they make it look so easy when yours always seem to be a struggle? Why is that? Often times when we compare ourselves to others, we walk away feeling defeated and ready to throw in the towel. “Is this whole art thing even worth it”, you ask yourself. Ok, time to take a deep breath and just STOP for a moment. It’s completely normal for you to feel this way. Thinking you’re the only one who has their setbacks is ludicrous. This is exactly why we need a community of artists who aim to spur each other on. If you’re looking for ways to develop a sketchbook that you can show off with pride, read on to find out things that make a sketch great- the answers may surprise you!
Let’s start with the definition of what a sketch actually is just so we’re all on the same page.
noun: sketch; plural noun: sketches
1. a rough or unfinished drawing or painting, often made to assist in making a more finished picture.
“a charcoal sketch”
synonyms: (preliminary) drawing, outline;
We wanted to first make that clear because so many artists beat themselves up over simple sketches when really, sketches are meant to be rough and unfinished! While they don’t have to be perfect, there are a few specific qualities that make good sketches good (in our opinion, anyway). Read on for what those 5 qualities are and how working on them can improve your sketchbook.
In any piece of artwork, the main thing that catches the viewer’s eye is how creative it is. When people see a bunch of the same things over and over again it becomes dull and they don’t think twice about it. But the more creative a piece is, it stands out and causes people to stop and notice. This works with paintings, sculptures, photography, digital art, and anything else you’re creating. Good artwork can often be subjective but one thing we can pretty much all agree on is that it must be creative.
Perspective is such a tough thing to master and we know many artists who struggle with it. Unfortunately, if the perspective is off even by a little bit the entire sketch looks a little strange. Take the time to learn and practice perspective to strengthen your skills.
When you sit down to sketch, your feelings and emotions show through in your work. If you’re just doing it to say you got it done, people will notice. There will be a lack of enthusiasm in your line work. But put passion into it and your sketch will jump off the page. It’s the same thing when talking to someone else about your artwork. Your confidence and excitement is all in your tone.
Your sketches should not be perfect. That is not the point of a sketch! They should be loose, rough, and quick. We love sketches for one simple reason; we can see the way the artist thinks and works through the piece all within the lines. Your sketch lines are the most important part so don’t go erasing all of them. Be confident with the lines you put down. When you’re unsure, that also shows through in your lines. Be loose, have fun, and don’t stress out over whether or not your sketches are any good.
Sketching is all about learning and improving. Most often the point of looking through old sketchbooks is to see that progress. To see how far you’ve come between the very first pages to the end of the book. You’ll go through a lot as an artist, many difficult times, struggles and failures. Use your sketchbook as a way to share the journey with others. We’re all at different points so you really can’t compare your sketch to another artist’s. Focus on your own journey and you’ll discover that your sketches are more incredible than you gave yourself credit for.
You may not be where you want to be in this creative journey of yours but you are getting there. When it comes to your sketches, or any type of artwork you do, keep learning and practicing. Come up with some super fun and creative ideas, work on your perspective (take a class if you need to!), put emotion into your work, get your line work on point with a nice flow, and track your progress along the way. You too can have amazing sketches in a sketchbook you love showing off.