From Leonardo's journals ...

Sketchbook Topics: Idea List

  1. Choose a famous painting, drawing, print, or sculpture from Art History and do your best to draw a copy of it in your sketchbook
  2. Draw no less than three drawings from real life (person, place or thing) NOT copying a picture from the internet or a magazine.
  3. Draw no less than three drawings using a format (a box, margins, a “frame”) see how well you can compose your drawings.
  4. Use the “Rule of Thirds” to help you compose a drawing.
  5. Draw no less than three drawings neither from real life, nor from a picture, but COMPLETELY from your IMAGINATION!
  6. (This is harder) Draw no less than three drawings neither from real life, nor from a picture, nor from your imagination but COMPLETELY from your MEMORY!
  7. Take YOUR OWN PICTURES (phone, camera, webcam on a laptop, or tablet) but then try to draw YOUR photo (instead of one you find on the internet or a magazine.
  8. Go ahead, draw a photo that you find in a magazine or on the internet- but, instead of just another celebrity or looking for a scene or image that you like- look specifically for one of these types of photography: Bokeh, Composite/collage, Depth of Field (Selective Focus), Distortion or Distorted Perspective.
  9. Illustrate (come up with a small sketch, a logo, or a mini-poster, an ad for) each of the Principles of Design
  10. Illustrate (come up with a small sketch, a logo, or a mini-poster, an ad for) each of the Studio Habits of Mind (SHoM)
  11. Play a game of Exquisite Corpse, either by yourself, of with friends
  12. Try “Stream-of-Consciousness” drawing. Listen to a song or a video (without watching it) and draw whatever comes to mind as soon as it comes to mind. (AKA “automatism” used by both DaDaists & Surrealists.
  13. Illustrate a scene from a book, play, or movie.
  14. Draw a political cartoon
  15. Illustrate a song, poem or rap
  16. Draw a picture but divide it up into 6 areas and emphasize a different one of the Elements of Design in each of the six parts of your picture.
  17. Re-imagine Santa Claus. Update him for the 21st Century
  18. Draw something invocative, something evocative and something provocative, if you’re really ambitious, do all three with one drawing.
  19. Draw something spooky for Halloween, maybe something like Edvard Munch might have drawn
  20. Zentangle
  21. Draw some Calavaras y cráneos por Dia de los Muertos, like Jose Guadalupe Posada!
  22. Draw some mini-pumpkins
  23. Gather some fall leaves and try to draw them with as much detail as you can.
  24. Devise a 4-Phase Selfie, representing the 4 Aesthetic Viewpoints; Depictive, Compositional, Expressive, & Utilitarian
  25. Complete a 3-Step abstraction of a picture from a magazine.
  26. Take a picture, print an 8x10 of it (or find one in a magazine), use a 16 square grid (4x4) to enlarge it, See link: Value Square Grid
  27. Cut a picture from a magazine in half, tape or glue it to a sheet of paper (or a page in your sketchbook) and draw the other half of it.
  28. Your teachers (caricatures or cartoons)
  29. Your teachers (as realistic a portrait, profile or ¾ view as you can do)
  30. Set up a “still-life”
  31. Skull (I’ll loan you one of mine, so that it’s not from imagination or copying a picture, but a 3-D model)
  32. Negative-Space drawings (you choose the subject, doesn’t have to be a plant or a chair, but it has to be from real-life)
  33. Your hand in different (school-appropriate) poses
  34. Pure (“Blind”) Contour Drawing- you choose the subject (doesn’t have to be your hand)
  35. Copy ANY image, poster, picture, famous painting/drawing from Art History UPSIDE DOWN
  36. Copy a photo of someone’s face UPSIDE DOWN
  37. The eyes are the window to the soul
  38. Master Sfumato
  39. Master Tenebre
  40. Master Chiaroscuro
  41. Two pairs of shoes
  42. A shirt lying in a heap
  43. A hat
  44. A jacket with a lot of folds
  45. A mechanical object
  46. A rope or string lying in a pile
  47. Something very soft
  48. Something very rough
  49. Something very smooth
  50. A juice fruit
  51. A vegetable cut in half
  52. A glass of water with ice cubes
  53. A nose supporting eyeglasses
  54. A hand holding a CD or cassette
  55. A foot
  56. A window
  57. A reflection in a mirror
  58. A musical instrument
  59. A mechanical object (man made from tools)
  60. A wallpaper pattern
  61. A rock star
  62. A detail close-up of an insect, of a plant or flower,
  63. Three thing enlarged to the point of abstraction,
  64. Your interpretations of friendship, sadness, & brotherhood
  65. A drawing of a current political issue, a statement about America
  66. Overlapping images
  67. A copy of a photo from the newspaper
  68. A landscape
  69. A large bird
  70. Two objects that create tension
  71. Your house
  72. Your hobby
  73. Your room
  74. A toy in an unusual place
  75. A crumpled pop can
  76. A stack of books
  77. Your favorite Christmas ornament
  78. Expressive Lines – Fill the page with as many different kinds of lines as possible
  79. Directional Lines – Fill the page with groups of lines which move together, change direction with
  80. angles
  81. Echoes – Begin with one freeform line and echo it with many variations
  82. Draw what you hear – Visualize sounds without drawing an object
  83. Up and  Down arrows – Create a composition from  Up and  Down arrows
  84. Typography Testers – Fill the page with as many different types of lettering as possible
  85. Pen and Ink shading – Shade and achieve values and gradations with line patterns
  86. Pencil shading – Practice gradations on a composition of inventive shapes
  87. Bottle Landscapes – Create distance relationships in a contour drawing using many different bottles
  88. Full of Contours – Fill a page with blind and modified contour drawings from a observing something in
  89. the room
  90. Junk Drawer – Draw the inside of a real or imagined junk drawer
  91. Roller Coaster Contrast – Create interwoven loops and turns
  92. Draw who you are
  93. Stained Glass Stroll – Build a path of overlaps; experiment with blended/overlapping colors
  94. Fallen Leaves – Draw a collage of leaves and then experiment with color groups, tints, and shades to
  95. color them in
  96. Draw what scares you – Visual descriptions of scary things (real and humorous)
  97. Superhero- Design your own
  98. Letter people – Combine and distort figures into letterforms to create visual words
  99. All the letters in your name – Redesign the letters in your name
  100. Oh, No! Earth Invaded – Draw what the invaders look like
  101. The OTHER meaning – A visual pun, draw what a saying says, not what it means
  102. Related phrase – Two-word phrase illustrated with objects related to its meaning
  103. Spiraling shapes – Create shapes whose trails seem to spiral and tumble through space
  104. Funny Funny – illustrate a joke
  105. A-maz(e)ing – Use the theme of a maze as a design
  106. Confetti Names – Explore warm and cool colors on overlapping letter shapes
  107. Use the letters of your name – Resize, stretch, and compress the letters into a page-filling composition
  108. Create and exaggerated face out of a series of continuous lines
  109. Draw your own cartoon strip of the day in your life in four frames or more
  110. Seize distortions – Change the size relationships of two already related objects
  111. Special Edition – Present yourself (real or fantasy) as the front page story
  112. Fill in missing parts of a magazine photograph
  113. Create fanciful bouncing paths through real or imaginary space
  114. Page O’People – Layer colors for a more realistic range of skin tones
  115. Invent twelve funny things you can create using raisins
  116. Invent a machine to do something you don’t want to do
  117. Create a poster advertising the theme park you’ve always wanted to visit
  118. Select a specific room and draw as though you are looking down from the ceiling
  119. Choose a picture from a magazine or newspaper, glue it in your sketchbook and create a visual story from it
  120. What human qualities the contents of your refrigerator assume when the door is closed and no one can see them?
  121. Using multiple frames, show the transformation of one object into another  Ex: Scissors into a shark
  122. Choose your favorite artist, make them a birthday card
  123. Choose and arrange three related objects, draw them using a distinct light source
  124. Create an image using found objects
  125. Draw someone sitting in the room with you
  126. Look at yourself in a spoon, draw the distorted image
  127. What happens when a six foot squirrel shows up in your yard?
  128. Fill in the blank – “I am a ________ in this world ” Turn this sentence into a picture
  129. Create an image from the following questions:
  130. At age one I was ______
  131. At age six I was _______
  132. At Age twelve I was _______
  133. Now I am _______
  134. At age 35 will be _______
  135. At age 85 will be _______
  136. Illustrate a dream you’ve had using only symbols
  137. Draw a detailed image of your hand holding something related to school
  138. What does the holiday season mean to you?
  139. Practice observational drawing skills by drawing something from the following list:
  140. Shoes
  141. Corner of a room in your house
  142. Your pet
  143. Creative views of you car, bicycle, or skateboard
  144. View from your bedroom window
  145. Practice your creative drawing skills by imagining the following:
  146. What would you see if you grew wings and flew over town?
  147. What if your big toe became its own person?
  148. What if you suddenly became very, very small?
  149. What would your house look like if you lived beneath the ocean?
  150. Make a detailed up close drawing of your eye
  151. Draw bottles and cans  Use broken and crumpled ones too
  152. Create a series of positive and negative space designs using everyday objects alone or in groups
  153. Draw individual pieces of popcorn all over your page
  154. Design a vehicle
  155. Using color create an Impressionist Landscape drawing
  156. Draw a series of animals in motion
  157. Write words, create patterns
  158. Draw a pile of shoes
  159. Draw what you see when you look out the door or window
  160. Draw a figure from an unusual perspective
  161. Draw reflective objects
  162. Put on a silly face and draw a self portrait  Do the same with other emotions
  163. Design your own building
  164. Draw seashells
  165. Create a pretty flower with lots of leaves
  166. Draw a flower that has lost its leaves
  167. Show a cluttered place close-up
  168. Draw a sink full of dirty dishes
  169. Show your favorite food wit the wrapper included and to product showing
  170. Draw a close up of various pieces of a board game
  171. Draw what’s in your pocket?
  172. Draw your sunglasses and what they reflect
  173. Draw your mom or dad’s digital camera with the last picture they took showing
  174. Imagine your computer at a funny angle, draw what you see  Cords? Dust?
  175. If you had a magnifying glass what would you look at?
  176. Create a collage of photographs by drawing them
  177. Show your school books stacked or positioned in a creative way
  178. Illustrate these phrases:
  179. Conflict of interest
  180. More than meets the Eye
  181. Me, myself, and I
  182. Warped
  183. Nightmares/Other worlds
  184.  Habits
  185.  Habitats
  186.  Food: You are what you eat
  187.  Lonely
  188.  The seasons
  189.  The End
  190.  Pairs
  191.  I get around
  192.  Balance
  193.  Home is where…
  194.  All that glitters…
  195.  Pretty as a picture
  196.  Layer it on
  197.  So transparent
  198.  A touch of?
  199.  Messing around
  200.  Over the edge
  201.  The senses
  202.  Threads
  203.  It’s my nature
  204.  Take cover
  205.  It’s not easy being green
  206.  Color outside the lines
  207.  Hot and Cold
  208.  Lemon Yellow
  209.  Black and white with red all over
  210.  Sunset
  211.  Metallic’s
  212.  Autumn
  213.  Forest Floor
  214.  Fill bottles with colored water and use for a still life
  215.  Fill plastic bags with objects and draw them
  216.  Tape a pencil or marker to a yardstick or long rod: use this to draw from far away
  217.  Use a slinky or tubes to demonstrate circles and ellipses in perspective draw them!
  218.  Draw something not “pretty”
  219.  The inside of a peanut butter jar
  220.  Part of any object
  221.  Illustrate your favorite poem
  222.  Draw an object with surface texture
  223.  Draw a large jar and fill it with something
  224.  Draw a bowl of fruit
  225.  Keyhole – What would you see through a keyhole?