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https://www.haydnsymons.com/blog/sketchbook-inspiration/ Sketchbook Inspiration – Drawings, Paintings & Creations English Want some sketchbook inspiration? Looking for some creative spark to get you fired up? I love creating and working in my sketchbook. It’s my number one place to create exactly what I want, without limits. I have a mixture of... https://www.haydnsymons.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/sketchbook-inspiration1.jpg 2022-01-3

Sketchbook Inspiration – Drawings, Paintings & Creations

Want some sketchbook inspiration?

Looking for some creative spark to get you fired up?

I love creating and working in my sketchbook. It’s my number one place to create exactly what I want, without limits.

I have a mixture of sketchbooks, ranging from A6 sketchbooks all the way through to A4 sketchbooks (which all serve different purposes). If you’re interested in finding out more about this, I reveal these sketchbooks (and much more) in my top tools and resources.

Within this blog post you will discover my latest sketchbook inspiration creations – including master studies, paintings, and things I’ve been learning. If you’re lacking sketchbook inspiration and motivation, look no further!

If you’re unfamiliar with myself or my work, I’m a freelance illustrator based in the United Kingdom. I work mainly within the editorial, publishing and advertising space, and draw a lot in my sketchbook in my spare time. My sketchbook is where my craft and skill is honed, and a place to escape from commissioned work.

A sketchbook is like the dress rehearsal of a play. Actors practice and rehearse to perfect their roles. Every single bit of practice and rehearsal strengthens their overall performance, giving them confidence when the curtain goes up to a live audience.

A sketchbook is no different.

With deliberate practice in your sketchbook you can perfect your craft.

Improve 1% Everyday

As I haven’t published a sketchbook inspiration post for a little while, I thought I would publish my recent drawings from the previous few months. At the moment I’ve been concentrating on focusing on one area of study at a time. Aiming to improve at least 1% everyday.

Focusing on working on my weaknesses so they become a strength.

I learnt this valuable piece of advice on Love Life Drawing’s Youtube channel. It’s a great video which I highly recommend. Kenzo (the host) explains why we all should have goals (especially with drawing), and work towards these goals every day.

Instead of just mindless practice, creating a checklist of things you want to practice and work on.

It’s what James Clear calls Marginal Gains.

For example, if your goal is to improve your hand drawings, you would first:

1 – Studying master’s work.

2 – Read anatomy books.

3 – Learn from Youtube videos.

The goal breaks down into 3 separate sections, making the overall goal seem more achievable.

At the moment I’ve been learning and practicing shape design, and how shapes are a core element in drawing. J. C. Leyendecker was a pro at shape design! I haven’t been practicing this in my sketchbook, but on layout paper, roughly A2 in size. I’ve also been exploring line quality, looking at how lines makes a huge difference in the quality of a drawing (good line quality = good drawing).

“The difference a tiny improvement can make over time is astounding.” – James Clear

This is usually in the form of figure drawing. Not only do I want to improve these areas of my work, I also want to improve my figure drawing – a double win! I’ve found this way of working to be very rewarding, which I highly recommend you try for yourself.

What Else Have I Been Working On In My Sketchbook?

Alongside my focus on deliberate practice within my sketchbook and personal work, I’ve also been working my way through drawabox.com’s fantastic (and free) lessons.

I discovered this from Dorian Iten, who has some fantastic articles!

I’m quite far through drawabox.com’s lessons, completing their legendary 250 box challenge, learning to draw from my shoulder, and practising confident lines.

I’m finding it fascinating, and I think it’s worthwhile even though you may consider yourself an ‘expert’ or ‘professional’. Of course, this website is ideal for beginners, but I think everyone can benefit.

What Sketchbook & Drawing Materials Should You Choose?

Especially for beginners, choosing the correct drawing materials and sketchbooks can feel daunting. With so many options to choose from, where do you even start?

The first point of call is to think about your goals. Do you want to create quick sketches? Want a sketchbook for more refined drawings and exploration? Or do you want a cheap sketchbook to help you quickly learn new methods and improve your skill? without worrying about the paper’s quality or thickness.

I personally have a few different sketchbooks for different purposes. I have 1 Moleskine sketchbook, which is ideal for painting and for longer drawing studies. It’s 200gsm so it’s ideal for this type of work. I also own several cheap A4 sketchbooks (that I term my ‘learning sketchbooks’) that I use when I’m learning from Youtube or conferences for example. I also have a few A5 traveling sketchbooks that are ideal when I’m out and about.

“The first point of call is to think about your goals.”

You can see I have different sketchbooks for different uses. I highly recommended this approach. If you’re interested, check out my resources that I use to create my art and illustrations within this blog post.

Master Studies

Alongside these sessions, I’ve been doing a lot of master studies, especially of John Singer Sargent. I recently purchased a great book, revealing 42 of his portrait drawings. Offering high-quality photographs and roughly A4 in size – it’s a cheap purchase too!

If you own a sketchbook, then you should take the opportunity to create master studies.

I’ve spoken before about how master studies can improve your art (this great video illustrates the point well). Much like learning from a great self-help book, you can gain a completely new perspective and improve your art with master studies. There lots of different artists (past and present) out there that can benefit your work.

You can take Monet’s colour, Rembrandt’s composition, to Sargent’s drawing skill and technique. This is just an example, and you can choose any artist master to learn from.

“You can’t do sketches enough. Sketch everything and keep your curiosity fresh” ~ John Singer Sargent

This is exactly what I’ve concentrated on within my sketchbook art recently. Focusing on deliberate practice, having goals in mind, and producing master studies. Here’s a few things to remember when creating your own master studies:

  • Don’t just copy, study the piece.
  • Choose a theme and focus (for example, Monet’s colour or John Singer Sargent’s tones).
  • Study from artistic masters. You can pick up bad habits by drawing from amateurs.
  • Select an artwork / artist you love.
  • After studying from a master, try and replicate that ‘style’ into another image. The emphasis here is to not start drawing like Picasso in every drawing you do from now on (and become a rip-off of that artist), but this exercise forces you to create a piece of art like they might have.


I’ve also been painting in my Moleskine sketchbook. It’s been very rewarding, and I can certainly see the improvement in my work over just a year of painting consistently.

This leads me to say this (like I said previously above) – I encourage you to keep improving your art. Improve 1% every day, and this compounds over time into great results!

Focusing On Basic Forms

Over this period, I’ve also been focusing on basic forms, referencing the great videos of ‘The Drawing Database‘ hosted by Marc Leone. In particular I’ve digested the great video of ellipses, and how it’s everywhere and in everything we draw.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always known about ellipses and basic forms, but this refresher video was very helpful. I love learning new things, and Youtube is a great way to do just that. Marc is a great teacher, and his videos are appropriate for both beginners and experts.

As a follow up from this, I’ve been creating lots of hand studies in my sketchbook. I’ve always wanted to improve my hand drawings, and combining this with Marc’s teachings was a no-brainer.

One thing I’ve recently learnt is the number of things you have to remember whilst drawing or creating art. When we look at a finished artwork, we don’t always know the thought process behind a piece. We can sometimes take this for granted.

There are so many things to consider – tones, colours, shapes, basic forms, perspective, the list can go on and on. This might sound overwhelming, but if you can learn each element even marginally, then your art will benefit ten-fold. Remember that knowledge + action = power!

It’s certainly improving my work, and I can see the improvement with deliberate practice in only a few months. It’s certainly worth the effort to improve your sketchbook art.

Enjoy This Sketchbook Inspiration Post!

These images will hopefully help you fuel your sketchbook inspiration! I really hope it does, which includes the drawings, paintings and creations I’ve been working on in the last few months, enjoy!

Many thanks for listening and visiting my blog today. You can follow what I’m up to on my Twitter, Facebook or Instagram pages, I’ll really appreciate it if you do, and don’t be afraid to say hi to me! Many thanks again, and have a great day!

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