Dashboard Forums Drawing Questions Journal?

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    Misty Huckstead

    This may be an obvious question for most of you, but I have never taken a drawing class and I’m wondering how to start a sketchbook. It seems to be different that just doodling/ practicing as the ones I’ve seen have themes. Do you just put your best work in them or can you put your mistakes as well? Do you use a spiral drawing book? The ones from your classes look really neat and I’d like to try it.


    Marjan Van der Donk

    Hi Misty,
    Don’t be put off by how other people use/fill their sketchbooks! I agree that some are really beautiful, but like you said: you have to start somewhere, and aiming to be ‘perfect’ will get you nowhere 😉 at least that is my experience! And: everyone has their own unique approach and process…
    When I started at DTO, I bought a spiral-bound sketchbook and did all my exercises in them. A nice record of your progress! I also used the pages to make notes from the lessons, jotting down encouragements and ideas/thunmbnail sketches. My second sketchbook was a bound version. Nice book, but the third one will be a spiral-bound again because for me that works better.
    All in all, my advice would be: treat yourself to a nice new sketchbook, put pencil to paper and have fun! Boast about your most beautiful drawings, and have compassion on the botched ones …


    Great suggestions Marjan!

    Johannes Bogers


    I have a novice follow up question on the sketchbook use…. sorry if this sounds silly. How do you draw in them? Do you put them on your easel? How do you fix the paper? With some of the exercises (matching shades….) you press really hard on the paper. Does this damage the next page?



    Marjan Van der Donk

    Hi Johannes,
    ‘No question is silly’ one of my teachers always told me! Yes, you can put your sketchbook on an easle, tilting the easle at an 45 degree angle when sitting and 90 degrees when standing. Or, sitting at a table, you rest the sketchbook on your legs agains the table at a 45 degree angle (I use a piece of light plywood, for usually I use clamps to hold the sketchbook pages open, on the easle too).
    A good sketchbook can take pressing and erasing – though pressing really hard will leave some marks obviously. I use different grades in graphite pencils, so do not need to press that hard to match values. Also, using Matt’s favourite Col Erase pencil, you don’t press but you layer. Hope this helps!

    Scott Shulman

    Hi Misty,
    I’ll share my experience with sketchbooks.

    I’m afraid I’m not one who has ever been able to get the hang of ‘letting go’ in a sketchbook. It appears I’m too anal to truly experiment in anything I plan on keeping. Still, I do like sketchbooks for the simple reason that it keeps things in one convenient place and also if I want to draw at work, on a plane or in an airport, etc

    So the system I’ve arrived at is to have two sketchbooks— (1) a good quality one where I try to have finished products, to the point of covering up failures with something opaque and trying again, and (2) a REALLY cheap sketchbook which doesn’t even hold together and has such thin and crummy quality paper that it’s almost impossible to do a drawing worth keeping, then plan on throwkng it away even if one of the drawings works out (which I’ve held to).

    The downside of this system is obvious.. it’s sort of self defeating to use crummy materials.. yet Personally, I guess I’ve done enough things in life to have come to the conclusion that sometimes it’s better to work with your own nature than to run against its grain.

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