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Sketchbook Ideas for Beginners

a person bored

Looking for sketchbook ideas for beginners?

Sketchbooks are essential for artists. They carry it with them everywhere. Along with their pencils, sharpeners, and thoroughly pencil-poked erasers.

However, for some (most), those sketchbooks either remain empty or only have one pristine and perfectly sketched drawing on one page. This happens for two reasons:

  • Artists usually fear ‘ruining’ a sketchbook if they draw in it.
  • They don’t know what to draw.

The first reason is a bit ridiculous but it does happen and it happens a lot.

My only remedy for that is when buying a sketchbook, go for a simple and inexpensive one instead of a cool-looking and costly sketchbook.

With a simple sketchbook, you’ll be less likely to worry about your drawings ‘ruining’ it as you’ll be able to convince yourself that you could always get another.

Expensive sketchbooks are a lot more daunting for beginners as you’ll constantly fret about whether you’re ‘good’ enough yet for the sketchbook.

Table of Contents

    Sketchbook Ideas for Beginners

    For what to draw on your sketchbook, this whole article will focus on answering just that. But for an overview, here’s a table of ideas you can use for your sketchbook and the benefits that come with them:

    Gesture DrawingsWill help you improve with drawing poses and movements
    PortraitsAllows you to study and memorize facial features
    Human AnatomyHelps you to draw figures and their proportion more accurately
    FoodsIs good for practicing shapes, sizes, and proportions
    AnimalsGets you to expand your drawing skills from drawing humans to animals
    NatureA great introduction to landscape drawing
    ObjectsA fun way to study shapes
    ArchitectureGets you to learn and practice shapes and their relationship with perspective
    Abstract DrawingAllows you to express yourself in a more creative and liberating way
    An Overview of My Sketchbook Ideas

    To know more about these sketch ideas, keep reading!

    What Should I Draw in my Sketchbook when Bored?

    When you’re bored and you don’t want to draw any of the ideas I mentioned above, you can take inspiration from your favorite artist/s and try to take a page off their book. What do they like to draw? What specific thing do you like most about their art?

    Drawing when bored is a whole lot different than drawing for a purpose. When you’re bored, you just want to put anything creative and stimulating down, whether it be sketches, doodles, or a whole Leonardo da Vinci painting. So I can imagine the frustration when you just want to draw something but you don’t really want to draw anything.

    You can try drawing lines or scribbles on your sketchbook! One particular thing I like to do when this happens to me is draw scribbles until it takes the vague form of a shape, and then I go off that.

    The scribble can often turn into a figure, an object, or just a blob depending on where my hand goes. If you don’t know how to scribble draw, have a quick look at this video:

    However, if you’d like to draw something more specific, you can try out these ideas.

    What Are Some Good Drawing Ideas?

    There are a lot of good drawing ideas out there. Anything you see can be drawn. If you want something more specific, you can read our other article here: 17 Drawing Ideas For Beginners To Warm up and Build Basic Skills

    However, if you’re looking for ideas to draw on your sketchbook, you can do any of the following:

    Gesture Drawings

    Gesture drawing is the practice of drawing figures only by their actions or gestures. This type of drawing doesn’t have to be clean or accurate, as long as the movement of the figure is captured, you’re good to go.

    Gesture drawing is done using simple lines and shapes. The bodily figure doesn’t have to be proportionally accurate as the goal is just to draw movement or action.

    The best thing about this is that it’s quick and relatively easy to do. If you don’t have the spare time to sit down and sketch out a face or an apple, you can simply practice by sketching gestures.

    If you’re really pressed for time, you can even resort to a basic stickman drawing, so long as it’s doing an action.


    Portraits are done by drawing faces. This exercise can be a good way to study and learn about facial features.

    Human faces are often one of the most difficult things to draw. By sketching quick portraits, you can easily learn how to draw faces and fill up your sketchbook at the same time.

    To start with, I suggest using references. They can teach you the accurate proportions of facial features that you wouldn’t know if you start by drawing from memory.

    From there you can gradually try copying a face without looking at the reference. Eventually, you’ll be able to create faces from imagination alone. 

    When drawing portraits, remember that they won’t always be accurate. In fact, 90% of the time your drawings won’t look like their reference. If this is the case, don’t be discouraged, and just keep sketching.

    Eventually, you’ll start to see accurate results the more you fill up your sketchbook.

    Human Anatomy

    Human anatomy is an essential thing to learn as an artist. It deals with body sizes and proportions.

    If you learned gesture drawing, you have to learn the human anatomy. And what better way to learn it than to consistently draw it on a book you carry with you everywhere?

    Make use of references. The human body comes in different forms, shapes, and sizes, so when sketching anatomy, it’s always handy to have a reference to make sure your drawings are accurate.

    If you can’t always carry a reference with you, you can try making quick sketches of the people around you (although I do suggest using a still image first before moving on to real life).

    I suggest pairing this practice with gesture drawing, that way you can hit two birds in one sketchbook: anatomy and dynamic poses.


    If you’re out of ideas for your sketchbook, you can always draw food!

    Drawing foods is a fun way to get your eyes used to shapes that make up everyday things. They’re also a lot easier to copy than figures so if you don’t want to do anything difficult, you can opt to draw food.

    For this, you don’t really need a reference as it’s easy to remember food (pizza for example), however, if you want your sketches to be more accurate, draw whatever simple snack you have.

    You can even draw them as you eat them, bite after bite, to make things more interesting. If you’re the type to bring markers with you everywhere, you can color these drawings to make your sketchbook pop.

    Foods usually have simple color palettes so you don’t need to worry about not having the right color.


    Animals can be a great addition to your sketchbook because not only do they offer variety, but they also expand your drawing skills.

    You can’t just draw humans and figures forever. Explore your options and draw a cat or two. Learn animal anatomy.

    This can give variety to your sketchbook pages as there are thousands of different animals you can draw. Unlike humans, animals don’t have the same proportions or facial features, so if you plan to draw animals make sure to have a reference.

    If you find that it’s too difficult for you, you can start by drawing cartoon animals. Their proportions are more exaggerated than their real-life counterparts but they’re still quite diverse and you can still learn from them.

    You can even apply shapes to draw these animals to get yourself used to viewing the world in shapes.


    Lacking resources for reference? Draw nature.

    Drawing nature can introduce you to realism, still life, or scenery drawing.

    They’re also easy to find references for as all you have to do is go outside and look around.

    They’re also made up of simple shapes, unlike humans or animals, so they’ll be easy and quick to sketch.

    By drawing nature, you can also practice light and shadow. Especially if you draw outside and observe how the sun hits certain objects. You can even try to draw a scenery twice at different times of the day just to see how light affects your subject.

    If you live in an urban area and the park is too far from home, you can choose to draw a quick simple sketch of the sky and clouds or a sketch of the fake plant you’ve been watering for months before you realized it was fake.


    Another easy thing to find references for is objects.

    We all have all sorts of objects lying around our houses. If our sketchbook idea barrel has really run dry, you can pick a random object and sketch it.

    Drawing objects can help you identify shapes and sizes.

    Just make sure to never draw the same thing twice, or if you do, draw them from different angles. That way you can have a bit of diversity in your pages and also learn about perspective.

    With objects, it’s also easy to study shading. You can learn about midtones and bounce light, even different ways to shade, from drawing objects.


    Sketching architecture, especially ones you see in your day-to-day life, is a great exercise for perspective.

    Start with your neighborhood and draw different buildings you can find. If you like, you can even add tiny figures to give your drawings personality. Try to draw from different perspectives and learn about the vanishing point.

    As you keep drawing, gradually move on to buildings with more complicated architecture, like churches for example.

    I suggest you use rulers for these but if you can’t bring one with you every time, you can just eyeball it and fix it when you get home (that’s what I do).

    This practice can help you get used to creating backgrounds. This can help your portraits or figure drawings look more interesting.  

    Abstract Drawing

    If drawing specific structures or figures feels stifling, you can dive into abstract art for your sketchbooks.

    Abstract art is creatively liberating as it doesn’t follow a strict set of rules. It isn’t bound by reality like realism nor do you have to fret about proportions.

    Abstract art relies heavily on emotions and expressions so if you’re feeling frustrated because you have nothing to draw on your sketchbook, release that frustration through abstract art. Make shapes of all sizes, have them overlap, draw lines, and splash color. Do whatever you can to turn your frustration into something creative.

    If it’s incomprehensible, don’t worry. It’s abstract art. It’s supposed to be.

    Choose a Theme

    If you want your sketchbook to be coherent and consistent, try choosing a theme for the month.

    With themes, it’ll be difficult to run out of ideas as there is a certain pattern to follow.

    For example, if the theme you chose is fantasy, for every page of your sketchbook you can fill it with anything related to “fantasy” be it elves, fairies, warlocks, etc.

    Not only will this result in a sketchbook with a specific ‘aesthetic’, but this will also provide a comforting sense of consistency. Each time you look at your sketchbook you’ll be reminded of your productivity because of how consistent it is.

    Even if you miss a day or two, or even a week, skimming through your sketchbook at the end of the month after choosing a theme will be satisfying.

    If a theme is too intimidating for you, pick something you can draw differently every day. I knew an artist who drew frogs every day and each frog was different from the last. Her sketchbooks were filled and she didn’t feel burnt out in the end.

    How Can I Make My Sketchbook Look Interesting?

    You can make your sketchbooks look more interesting by adding variety to your drawings, mediums, or style.

    Each page can be a different drawing in a different style with a different medium. For instance, page one is a Pokémon in acrylic paint. Page two could be an abstract drawing of a flower in markers. This will help your sketchbook look more “interesting”.

    Although, personally, I don’t think this is something you should worry about. Unless you’re being graded or paid to have your sketchbook look a certain way, you don’t need to make your sketchbook interesting to others. It only has to be interesting to you.

    If this means your sketchbook will be filled with the same sketches of figures on every page, then so be it. It’s your sketchbook.

    Sketchbooks are personal to every artist. Skim through someone’s sketchbook and you’ll be able to tell what kind of artist they are. If you finetune a sketchbook to someone’s idea of “interesting”, you’ll be doing a disservice to yourself.

    Creative Sketchbook Ideas

    For specific creative sketchbook ideas, you can try to draw these!

    • Different Disney princesses in battle
    • Redesigned Pokémon
    • Abstract plants
    • Flowers but as humans
    • Houses in different weathers
    • Your favorite character in Tim Burton’s style
    • Objects as human
    • Food in abstract form
    • A visual for your favorite songs

    Basically, you can draw anything under the sun in your sketchbook. You just gotta broaden your horizon and add a little bit of imagination and creativity!

    What Should I Draw First in my Sketchbook?

    If this is your first time drawing in a sketchbook and you’re wondering what to draw first, I suggest starting with something simple.

    The first page of your sketchbook should have your name and contact info in case it gets lost. The second page will be where you make your first drawing.

    Start with a simple drawing like doodles or scribbles. Don’t spend your time trying to make it look pretty or the best. In fact, your first few pages should have your worst sketches.

    If you make your best drawing on the first or second page, you’re gonna spend the rest of your pages trying to one-up that page. This can obviously lead to frustration and burnout.

    So I suggest going with something simple and easy to draw. An apple? Maybe your own original character? A quick self-portrait? Anything that you can do in under an hour should be good enough.

    That’s all for this article. I hope this helped. Thank you for reading!

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