Sketchbooks are an indispensable part of every artists life! It is where skills are strengthened and ideas are recorded and worked through. They are essential in developing creativity! Often sketchbooks are used in preparation for upcoming projects and practicing various skills. It should be a place where artists are completely free to experiment and find their visual voice.
Current HS Sketchbook Assignment Handout:
Past 2015-16 Assignment Sheets:
My favorite student sketchbooks are Mead Académie Spiral Sketchbook / Sketch Pad, Heavyweight Paper, 70 Sheets, 11 x 8.5 Inch Sheet Size
Great books on building creativity:
These are the requirements for my HS Art Sketchbook Assignments:
You must complete a minimum of 4-5 assignments listed below in each 9-week period.
- Drawings should fill the ENTIRE sketchbook page (points will be deducted for small drawings.)
- Include DETAILS (include textures & value, unless otherwise specified.)
- Spend a minimum of 45 minutes on each assignment.
- Each sketchbook assignment counts as a QUIZ grade!
- Sketchbooks handed in late will be accepted but 30 points removed for lateness, 2 days late will receive a “0”.
- DRAWINGS NEEDS TO BE FROM DIRECT OBSERVATION ie: you LOOKING at the objects! That means NOT from memory, photos, or imagination. (except where otherwise noted). Pay close attention to proportions (size relationships)
YOU MUST LABEL EACH PICTURE at the top with the appropriate title (ex: SB #1: Black & White Design)Grading: Total 25 pts. Each
Title 0- 2
Below are just some of the sketchbook assignments we have done throughout the years. Not listed are the essential contour line & gesture drawings that are required throughout the year.
SB #1: Black & White Design: Using only simple geometric shapes (circles, squares, rectangles & triangles) create an interesting composition with a focal point. Without outlining any shapes use parallel lines to give different values for each shape. Use only horizontal, vertical, or diagonal lines. You can also use Solid black or solid white to fill a shape. Use a ruler & circle templates!! Medium: Sharpies
SB #2: Juxtaposition Drawing: Create a new object by combining 2 unrelated objects-one needs to be from nature, the other needs to be mechanical. Render with full shading. Medium: colored pencil
SB #3: Contour line: Look in your backpack or purse, pull out 5 things you use on a regular basis (phone can not be one!) arrange them in an interesting way, then draw a contour line drawing (outline only) of the composition. Medium: drawing pencils
SB #4: Scissor Metamorphosis: Use a pair of scissors as a beginning point, creatively transform the scissors into something else- a monster, a robot, a machine, a vehicle, an animal. Change its scale & it purpose. Render with full shading. Medium: colored pencils
SB #5: Student Choice: Choose your own subject and complete a drawing using skills & techniques learned in class. Medium: Your Choice
SB #6: Preposterous Cross-links: Choose any 2 words below to combine together in one image:
Turtle Octopus Snake Bird Bee Rat Fish Cat
Pencil Saw Hammer Pliers Scissors Tire Clock Drum
Medium: colored pencil
SB #7: Futuristic Mutation: Take an everyday object and use your imagination to redesign it with a futuristic look. Medium: colored pencils
SB #8: Small world: What if you were the size of an ant, draw the view you would see if you were in a forest looking at ground level looking up. You can have it look cartoon-like, add fantasy creatures (keep them appropriate!) Medium: colored pencils
SB #9: Shoe: Draw one of your shoes from your closet. Or a shoe that you think is very interesting (ballet, boot, etc.) ADD FULL SHADING Medium: colored pencil
SB #10: Wheels: Draw something with wheels (Real or imaginary). Medium: your choice
SB #11: 2D & 3D Arrows: Create a full page composition using a combination of 3-dimensional and 2-dimensional arrows. Use overlapping to break up the spaces into interesting positive and negative shapes. Medium: Outline with sharpie and fill the shapes with markers
SB #12: Non-objective: Create a non-objective drawing using lines, shapes (geometric) & color-use a color scheme! Look at artwork by Wassily Kandinsky for inspiration. Medium: Markers or colored pencils
SB #13: Pet Portrait: Draw a picture of your pet or the pet you would LOVE to have. Medium: Colored Pencils
SB #14: Skateboard Deck Designs: create TWO designs for the bottom of a skateboard. You can use realistic, abstract or non-objective designs. Keep it CLEAN & appropriate. Medium: Sharpies & Markers
SB #15: Hand Value Study: Draw your hand in 2 different appropriate positions (both on the same page). Render with full shading. Medium: drawing pencils
SB #16: Eye Study: Find 4 different eyes in magazines. Cut them out & glue them to your sketchbook page. Draw the eyes underneath the picture & render with a FULL range of shading. Medium: pencils or colored pencils
SB #17: Color Scheme: Choose your own subject, create an obvious focal point and complete the drawing by coloring it in a color scheme of your choice. Label what color scheme you used next to the title. Medium: Colored Pencils, Paint, or Markers
SB #18: Realistic VS Abstract: Choose one object to draw (an interesting one! NOT simple!) Divide you sketchbook page in half with a pencil line. Label at the top of one side “Realistic” & on the other side label “Abstract.” Under the Realistic side, use a pencil to draw the object as realistically as you possibly can. On the Abstract side, distort your object so that it is still somewhat recognizable-use abstracted colors to color it. Medium: Colored Pencils
SB #19: Crushed Soda Can: Draw a crushed soda can, include details like the logo. Render with full shading. Medium: drawing pencils
SB #20: Worm’s Eye Point of View: Draw your choice of subject matter from a worm’s eye point of view. From below looking up at the subject. Add shading to indicate highlights & shadows. Medium: drawing pencil
SB #21: Bird’s Eye Point of View: Draw your choice of subject matter from a bird’s eye point of view. From above looking down at the subject. Add shading to indicate highlights & shadows. Medium: drawing pencil
SB# 22: Paper Airplane: Fold a paper airplane, place it in front of you & draw from direct observation as accurately as you can. ADD FULL SHADING Medium: drawing pencil
SB #23: Creative Hand Drawing: Trace you hand -yes I said Trace your hand on your page (tracing is usually forbidden). Use your imagination to turn you hand into something different. Add details-make it interesting! Medium: colored pencil
SB #24: Cloth Drawing: Draw the cloth that is hanging on the art room wall. ADD FULL SHADING Medium: Drawing pencil or Charcoal pencil (spray when finished)
SB #25: Interactive Drawing & Photo: Fine a photo either of yourself or someone else (can be from a magazine). Cut the person out & brainstorm how you can create a drawing that combines the two so that they interact with each other. ADD FULL SHADING Medium: drawing pencils
SB #26: Flat to 3D- Come Alive: Look at the two examples below of a flat drawing-mostly lines/no shading that slowly transforms to become 3D with full shading. Design your own drawing that morphs from flat to 3D. Medium: drawing pencils
SB #27: Visual Puns: Illustrate 2 two-word phrase using drawings of objects related to their meanings. Example: hot dog, hair brush, two face, fish face, bone head Medium: colored pencil
SB #28: Procreate Or Sketchbook App Drawing: Use your iPad to create an ORIGINAL drawing of subject matter of your choice. Medium: ipad
SB #29: Botanical Study: Find a flower or plant from nature. Study it carefully before drawing. Draw the whole plant on 2/3rds of the page. Select 3 areas to “magnify” & draw smaller, partial up-close drawings of those 3 areas including all the details. ADD FULL SHADING Medium: watercolor, watercolor pencil, or drawing pencils
SB #30: Morphing Transformation: Choose 2 two objects (one animal & one man made) to slowly morph into each other. You should have 6 drawings illustrating the transformation of one object into the other. ADD FULL SHADING Medium: drawing pencils
SB #31: Mixed Media Experiments: Have fun experimenting with mixed media techniques. Do the experimenting on other paper, then cut out the different experiments & glue them in your sketchbook. Label each experiment with a brief description of how you created it. Try at least 6 of these different experiments. Use up a minimum of 2 pages in your sketchbook. Medium: various art supplies
SB #32: Collaged Music Sheet Drawing: Glue a music sheet onto a page in your sketchbook-Let it dry completely (do at least one day in advance). Choose an image or two to draw with India ink & draw it directly onto the music sheet. Add color with watercolors or colored pencils. Medium: collage, ink, watercolors or colored pencils
SB #33: Wooden Mannequin Sketches: Use observational drawing skills (DIRECT Observation-right in front of you) to draw a wooden mannequin in 2 different positions. Pay careful attention to proportions–goal is accuracy in proportion! See Body Proportions Lesson & Project Medium: Drawing pencils
SB# 34: Line Inventory: See Liberty HS Art Teacher Page create an empty template — two rows of four squares; one row of four vertical rectangles; and one row of four circles. When you have drawn your blank template, place four different kinds of lines in the first row of squares. Refer to the example below, but do not copy — come up with your own kinds of lines. Then, invent a series of variations on each line in the remaining columns. Medium: ink or sharpie
SB #35: Tool Metamorphosis: See Idea from Stan Winston School Choose a tool (hammer, ax, wrench, pliers, drill) as a beginning point, creatively transform the head of the tool into something else– a monster, a robot, a machine, a vehicle, and instruments, an animal, etc. Change its scale & it purpose. Render with full shading. Medium: colored pencils
SB #36 Balance Sketchbook Assignment: Draw 3 squares or circles. Use shape templates & rulers to create non-objective design examples of each type of balance (symmetrical, asymmetrical, & radial). See Types of Balance Lesson. Use Shape templates to create designs that illustrate each type of balance. Fit ALL designs on one page. Label & color them with colored pencils or markers. Medium: colored pencils or markers
SB #37 Adult Portrait: Find a frontal view of an adult male or female. Cut it out or print it out. Open your sketchbook so it is showing 2 pages (a spread), glue onto the left side your sketchbook. On the right side use what we learned about adult human facial proportions to draw the portrait from the picture. Use light shading to indicate major values (highlights & shadows) or to lightly shade the nose. Medium: drawing pencils
SB #38 Refraction Drawing: Refraction is the visual distortion that happens when an object is viewed through a glass container filled with water (or some liquid). Find an interesting glass container (drinking glass, vase, jar, etc) and place a spoon or fork inside. Fill the container only half way with water and place it on a light colored surface. Carefully observe the distortion. Use observational drawing skills to draw the glass, spoon, water & any lights/ shadows you see on the table surface. Medium: drawing pencils
SB #39 Illuminated Letter: Choose a letter to draw. Go on a computer & play with the letter in different fonts- choose one & print it out. Look up examples of illuminated letters for inspiration. Draw the letter large in your sketchbook in pencil. Add decoration to the letter, possibly even a border Medium: colored pencils, sharpies & markers
SB #40 Fantasy Landscape: Use your imagination to draw a fantasy landscape. It can be anytime period on earth, in space or some other world. What type of plants, flowers, and trees would you see? What does the typography look like? can you see other worlds from the planet you are on? Are there buildings? What is gravity like in the land you are drawing? Medium: colored pencils
SB #41 Sign Language Hands: Choose either a short word (3-4 letters) or your initials. Using the sign language alphabet, finger spell each letter and draw YOUR HAND in each hand position. See Sign Language Chart Medium: drawing pencils
SB #42 Color Mood-Know about colors and their effect. Certain colors inspire certain emotions; learn to use them! Choose a color to explore, compose a realistic, abstract or non-objective drawing based on the emotion produced by a single color. Use the tints and shades of a color to add different values to the drawing. Medium: colored pencils, watercolor pencils, or markers
- Black – authority, discipline, strength and promoting independence.
- Blue – cool, calming, relaxing, and promotes feelings of tranquility and peace.
- Green – balance, refreshing, normalizing, and promotes emotional growth.
- Orange – cheerful, commanding, and stimulates goodwill, conversation and appetites.
- Pink – calming, accepting, and encourages affection and socialization.
- Purple – comforting, spiritual, and generates mystery and a good sense of intuition.
- Red – empowerment, stimulation, drama, competition and passion.
- White – purification, energy, unity, and gives vigor to other colors it is used in combination with.
- Yellow – cheerful, expanding, and increases energy.
SB #43 Cast Shadows: Choose an object that has a lot of broken negative space (like a bike wheel). Using either natural light (Sun) or a lamp, position the light on the object so it creates a long and interesting cast shadow (see bike example). Compose a drawing that shows only a portion of the object & MOSTLY the cast shadow. Add value to the SHADOW, the rest can be contour line only. Medium: drawing pencils
SB #44 Steampunk Drawing: Being inspired by the age of Victorian Futurism, create a steampunk drawing by making a natural object have mechanical features. Draw the object from nature (person, animal, something from nature) first, then add mechanical features such as goggles, gears, rivets, bolts, winders, etc. Medium: watercolor & ink or sharpie
How to Draw Steampunk Books:
SB #45 Broken Object Drawing: **ASK parents for an object that is not valuable. Break the object a little and then draw it showing all the broken fragments, tears, and loose debris. ***If you break something glass or metal, please wear protective gear (gloves and goggles) See Example by Armin Mersmann Medium: drawing pencils or colored pencils
SB #46 Travel Drawing: Draw a place you want to visit. Find a reference picture and create your drawing from that. Idea is from Art is Medicine Medium: colored pencils, drawing pencils, or watercolor pencils
SB #47 Origami Drawing: Create 2 origami cranes or other animals. Draw them large on your paper.( Draw accurately-check proportions/size relationships) Render with full shading. Medium: Charcoal Pencil
SB #48 Merging Animals: Combine 2 real animals to become a fantasy creature. Use characteristics of both and colors of both in the new design Medium: colored pencils
SB #49 Animal Eyes: Choose an eye to draw from these 4 types of creatures: Animal (land or sea), Bird, Reptile, and Insect. Draw 2 per page so they take up approximately ½ the page. Render with full shading. Medium: colored pencils or Pen & Watercolor
SB #50 Small to LARGE Enlargement Drawing: Choose 1-2 small objects to draw (less than 2”). Draw 3 preliminary sketches focusing on an interesting composition that enlarges the object (s) so much that it goes off the page on at least 3 sides of the paper. Medium: drawing pencils
SB #51 Magnification Drawing: Using a magnifying glass, look at an object or insect very closely. Draw the details of what you see. See The Helpful Art Teacher: Drawing Magnified Leaves Medium: colored pencils
SB #52 Sculpted Paper Strips Drawing: Credit-A Faithful Attempt-Curled Paper Drawings Give each student 2 strips of paper (½x11” & 1×11). Have students twist/bend/manipulate them into some type of curl or even add zig-zags. Tape them onto a sheet of paper so they are spread apart. Draw lightly with a HB pencil until they get the proportion just right. Use Drawing pencils 4B to add shading. Medium: Drawing Pencils
SB #53 PVC Pipes: Choose 3-5 PVC pipe joint connectors and arrange them in an interesting composition. Draw the PVC pipe composition. Use drawing pencils to add shading-pay close attention to value changes. Shading should include the “5 Elements of Shading”. Medium: Drawing Pencils (Optional full project: PVC Pipe Charcoal Drawing)
SB #54 Types of Composition Sketches: Divide your sketchbook page into 6 sections with a pencil and ruler. Label the top of each section with these titles: Rule of Thirds, Triangle, L-Shape, S-Shape, Circle, & Diagonal. In each section sketch out a drawing that illustrates the use of that composition structure. (no shading) Medium: drawing pencils
SB #55 New & Old: Find 2 objects to draw something new and something old or vintage. Place them side by side or slightly overlapping each other and then draw them with full shading. Medium: drawing pencils
SB #56 Grid Journal: Read MilliAnde’s What is Grid Journaling article, watch her video, and view her examples. Choose a piece of architecture to explore (best to be physically present, but if you cannot then find several reference pictures to work from). In NONE of the grids will you draw the whole structure, you will focus on smaller sections. Following her instructions draw your first box and one detail from the architecture. Next choose another detail to draw, make sure to draw the box to fit the detail. All the boxes should be different sizes. Continue to draw until you have between 7-10 boxes on one page. Medium: Pen & Ink
Additional Sketchbook Resources:
Other HS Art Project Ideas
- Beyond the Border Pen & Watercolor HS Project
- Mixed Media Drawing Collage
- Motorcycle Mixed-Media Art Lesson High School
- Ceramics Roll-A-Beast Animal Sculptures
Have you done any unique sketchbook assignments with your students? If so, I would love to hear about them!