The Art of a Good Sketchbook

So, after a very long summer since I finished up my first year at University, the second year is finally looming. ‘Back to School’ signs are popping up everywhere, and I get that sinking feeling once more as I realise in a months time life is going to get stressful again for 7-or-so months. Don’t get me wrong, I love to learn; Going back into education has been the best decision I’ve ever made, and I am so glad I didn’t listen to all the naysayers when I decided to apply two years ago. However, yeah.. Juggling studies, part time work, a long distance relationship and a social life is quite the challenge, but I’ve never liked to make things too easy for myself. Where’s the fun in an easy life?

Sketchbookz r 4 cool kidz. Random doodle.
Sketchbookz r 4 cool kidz. Random doodle.

Back to business. One of the many things my course has taught me so far is the art of having a good sketchbook. Back in college all those years ago, up until the last year or so, I absolutely detested using a sketchbook; I couldn’t think of anything worse. I’d much rather try and draw something from start to finish in one go. If it looked alright, great. If it looked terrible, I’d get annoyed and brood over how terrible an artist I thought I was. Then feel so down I’d eat a whole sharing bag of Doritos (Cool Original, of course) with mild salsa dip, proceed to feel rather ill and then regret every cool, salsa-y moment of my comfort eating whilst laying in the fetal position. Productive, right? When it came to starting my course at university, they expected all this sketchbook work to support my ideas and show progression. Ughhhhhh, honestly, such a pain. It felt like I was taking 2 weeks to do something I could come up with in 2 days, but all this sketchbook work actually proved valuable. I paid £9’000 for my first year to learn how to use a sketchbook – bargain! But in all seriousness, it has become a staple tool of mine. One huge deciding factor has been on using proper paper sketchbooks. We’re talking Seawhite of Brighton’s extra-strength when wet kind of proper sketchbook. I’ve found even Moleskine’s sketchbooks and the ones you can pick up in the art section of WHSmith’s lack quality. Nowadays, like with my Lost and Found comic, I’ll draw all the artwork in my sketchbook and scan it in from there, I don’t even use ‘final paper’ anymore. But yes, I have learnt that forcing myself to work in a sketchbook first, although may take extra time, actually makes the final pieces look surprisingly better. Still, for some work I’ll just go in all-guns-blazing and completely a piece start to finish with no planning (Boba Fett, for example), and my recent comic-endeavours have been extremely quick turn-around for deadlines so sketchbook work has been limited. But as I approach my last 5 weeks of ‘freedom’ before uni starts up again, I have been utilising my sketchbook for my last three projects of the summer. I’m not quite sure why I keep piling on work for myself, I guess it makes sense to keep a consistent flow so that uni’s 5-projects-at-once doesn’t cause me to have a breakdown.

Currently I’ve been using my sketchbook to work on ideas and scripting for a children’s book commission I’ve been asked to do. I love children’s books, I have no shame in admitting that. Oliver Jeffers is probably one of my favourites, along with Jon Klassen coming in close second. Even better, this book I’ve been asked to do is a Christmas book! So I get to be completely over the top and make it as magical and Christmassy as my imaginations will allow. My preliminary character development and sketchbook work is pretty much complete, so now it’s time to get it drawn up, yay! Here are some snippets of my sketchbook and the characters so far, to keep you all interested;

So, there you have it. The elusive sketchbook. Not a huge amount to update this week as I’ve been super busy with other boring adult things, but hopefully I’ll have more for you all next week. (Yes, if you notice the French translations, I’ve also been using my sketchbook to aid my learning Français. J’ai améliore (I hope)!) For now, I hope you all have a lovely weekend whatever you may be doing. Over and out!

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