Credit: Boccaccini Meadows

Today I'm creating a Sketchbook


A sketchbook is a small book made of sheets of paper, usually white, used for notes and drawings. For a designer or an artist, a sketchbook is often simultaneously an exercise book, a visual diary, and a collection of initial drafts of projects.

It can be a:

  • Notebook for observational studies (from photos or from life), to improve your drawing technique;
  • Travel diary, to document what you see and experience;
  • Notebook to gather the fleeting ideas that come at any moment (for paintings or new studies);
  • Sketchbook to train creativity, by drawing from imagination;
  • Visual diary, to put thoughts and feelings on paper, to express yourself.

The sketchbook is a safe place, which you are not obliged to show anyone and on which you can draw and write whatever you want.


The sketchbook can be used to practice observation and improve drawing technique, an ability that everyone has, and which is useful for studying, understanding, and experimenting. These exercises also serve to create a personal visual archive, useful for future projects.

  • You can practice starting from some photographs, even with slightly different positions. This allows you to have a more complete view of the subject.
  • In the case of drawing from life, you have all the information you need right before your eyes. You can play with different perspectives by rotating the subject or moving around it. Take advantage of this, your drawing will improve in realism, and you will find it easier to draw.

Drawing the same subject multiple times allows you to connect with it and get to know it better. This way you will have a lot of visual material, which will allow you to carry on your projects.

Remember to be kind to yourself and not to expect too much on your first try: the more you practice on the same subject, the easier it will be to draw it later.

So I abandoned my work there for the time, and went, sketchbook in hand, to La Houssinière. Joanne Harris COASTLINERS (2003)

TRAVEL DIARY – A sketchbook can also be used to draw during your travels, both to create a memory out of the moment you sketched and to build a visual collection of environments and subjects that might be useful for future projects. Drawings from life may be even better than copies from photos, because it gives you the opportunity to experience the moment and therefore capture those feelings on paper. You have the chance to perceive the correct depth of the place, the light, and a wide range of other fundamental details. In summary, you would receive much more information than you would be able to get from a simple photograph. In your travel sketchbook, you can also add handwritten notes. Using a mix of various languages allows you to have a more complete reminder at the end of the trip.

IDEA COLLECTOR – The sketchbook is also, and above all, a way to organize ideas, to make them visible and concrete.  It is a collector of initial drafts of projects, visual notes, and preparatory studies. When ideas for paintings suddenly come, you can’t waste time, or they will start to fade immediately. That is why it’s important to always keep the sketchbook with you. The purpose of the sketchbook as a collection of ideas is to gather them, without having to structure them in any way. It allows you to draw intuitively, not very organized, everything that comes from your imagination. When these ideas come, they can be in the form of well-defined images or just silhouettes: capture everything that comes to your mind in the sketchbook. Also jot down words, sensations, ideas for the colour palette, everything that might be useful later to better define the basic idea, and that you might forget. It often occurs that these sketches are actually the “ugliest” in your entire production. This happens because, apparently, when we put ideas on paper to capture them, it’s as if our brain steps back and almost cancels out all the technique we have learned over the years. So don’t worry if the first draft turns out to be a series of almost incomprehensible scribbles even to you. Ideas need to be refined later.

CREATIVE TRAINING NOTEBOOK – The sketchbook can also be used as a space for creative training. Drawing from imagination while keeping reality as a reference, is a process that involves modifying some characteristics and introducing elements that come from your imagination. You can use both photographs and life drawing as a starting point. Keep in mind that you don’t have to introduce something completely new every time. You can also make just a few thoughtful changes: they don’t have to be big changes. The more you practice training your creativity, the freer, more focused, and more confident you will be when you create. Always remember that the more you learn, the more your creativity will be fuelled. Cultivate curiosity!

VISUAL DIARY – The sketchbook can also be used as a visual diary. You can carry it with you all the time to be able to transfer images, your thoughts, and feelings onto paper. Anything is allowed, defined or abstract images. Words are not banned, but they are not the predominant part of this type of sketchbook use. The visual diary is a way to reconnect with yourself.

SUGGESTION FOR PERFECTIONISTS – It’s also possible to do the reverse process, i.e. drawing on loose sheets and then collecting and binding them together into thematic notebooks. This is a method that might be very convenient for those who are afraid of ruining the entire sketchbook with an imperfect drawing. This way, the concern for the final result decreases and you feel calmer and freer to draw. Everyone can use their sketchbook as they see fit. Some people use it only in one of the listed ways, others mix a few. All the methods can be used, or artists could select just some, and alternate them over time. Some create specific sections (divided with bookmarks) within the same sketchbook and others have a sketchbook for every need. It is an extremely free and liberating tool.

Test it and use it in the way you feel most comfortable.

Let us know how you use it by sending photos of your sketchbook. The most unique sketchbooks will be published on these pages.

Image from Pinterest
Image from Pinterest
Image from Pinterest
Image from Pinterest
Image from Pinterest
Image from Pinterest

People Say

“An open notebook is an invitation to adventure: accept it and let your imagination guide you”.

The images of these notebooks make us a specific invitation: have "new eyes", "follow the impulse", "enjoy the feeling of freedom"... and this is the attitude of those who, with this notebook in hand, look around in search of inspiration. Because nothing is impossible... life is magical.

Cristina Madini