200+ ideas for sketching

There are many reasons why people decide to do sketch-booking. One person may find it relaxing, another finds that it helps to stay concentrated on the goal. Some people want to create a habit of drawing daily, to improve their drawing skills. Others sketch to capture the energy of memorable moments.

I hope the sketchbook ideas that you find below will be useful to all of you.

In this article I collected different sketching ideas and divided them into categories. Each item can become a page in your sketchbook, or the main theme of an entire sketchbook.
I illustrated the points with examples from my sketchbooks.

Let’s start with the usual use of a sketchbook for artists

Sketchbook as a collection of fast naturalistic sketches

All artists keep collections of sketches for their inspiration and study. The artist’s sketchbook is always with the artist, as no one knows when the “perfect moment” will happen. A sketchbook usually contains a mix of styles and subjects. But nowadays modern sketchers have a special sketchbook for each theme or subject.

Botanical sketches

– Herbarium’s sketch
– House plant series
– Leaves of different trees collection
– Trees collection
– Bushes collection
– Draw different flowers while studying them
– Dedicate a sketchbook or a page to sketching the gifts from your garden: fruits, fruits, vegetables
– Draw various mushrooms and berries

House plant collection, sketches by Iya Carson

Landscape sketches

– City park landscape: Draw a part of the park, paths, benches, lanterns, park sculptures;
– Seascape: Draw a seashore, a beach, or just a rippling sea;
– Rural landscapes: rural houses, fields, forests;

– Cityscapes: Draw the city life with houses, streets, cars;
– Industrial landscapes: Feel like an architect, drawing industrial structures, booms of construction cranes, factories, depots and stations

Watercolour sketches by Iya Carson

Architectural sketches

– Sketch houses of different styles, studying their features – Admire the various temples, churches,
– Draw a part of the structure: arch,

pediment, column capital
– Sketch architectural monuments
– Create a collection of decor – how and with what the architecture is decorated – Draw sculpture or reliefs from the front of the building
– Street lights are a very beautiful theme – Small architectural forms: gazebos, bridges, billboards, benches or bus stops

Prague, fast ink sketch by Iya Carson, 2019

Cafe sketches

– Draw the ordered dish
– Make a still life of food and dishes
– Capture the interior of the cafe
– Record the overall impression
– Add to the sketch a recipe or menu for a dish or a check for lunch
– Draw the view from the cafe window

OVAS 200+ Ideas for Sketching

Animal sketches

– Draw a portrait of your pet;
– Make quick sketches of an animal in motion – several on one sheet;

You can draw animals longer and in more detail from stuffed animals in the museum.

Ink sketches by Iya Carson

Portrait and human figure

Draw a self-portrait in the mirror;
Or draw your hands, feet
Make sketches of people in transit (metro, train, plane);
Sketching in a park where people relax is also a good idea.
Draw your family members;
Sketch ballerinas, actors, singers while at a concert;
Visit a studio where sitters are invited to pose;
Draw people from the screen while watching a TV show or movie;

Draw a gallery of portraits of your favourite actors;
Or musicians;
Or maybe you are interested in drawing Disney cartoon characters;

You can draw anime, or comic book characters

Ink and pencil sketches by Iya Carson

If life sketching is not what you are looking for, then you can be inspired by the following ideas. By doing so, you can create useful encyclopedias for you. And you can draw here to the best of your ability!

Sketchbooks as references, visual libraries, collection and studies


– Create a handwritten lunar calendar to study the influence of the moon on human life;
– Do you love gardening? Then the “gardener’s calendar” will be relevant to you – you can draw what time you have grown and bloomed, what crop you got;

– Or make a sketchbook with a selection of folk signs

Learning foreign languages

– Learn one foreign word every day and illustrate it in a sketchbook; – Make illustrations for foreign proverbs or common phrases;

Learning a specific art style

– Create a guide to architectural styles;

– Study styles in fine arts, draw examples;

– Created a collection of ornaments from different countries, eras, styles;

– Clothing style. Sketch the basic elements of different styles and examples;

– It can also be interior styles;

Or – styles of furniture

Alcohol markers sketch by Iya Carson


– Make a drawing with a map of the cities you have already visited;
– Draw a heart divided into fragments indicating the share of each city; – Sketch the cities you want to visit;
– Or places of interest that you want to visit;
– Tell in pictures the history of the cities where you were;
– Draw the city where you live, your favourite places;
– Draw cities that have fortresses;
– Make a visual guide to the cities of the Golden Ring of Russia;
– Or a directory of cities with UNESCO sites;
– Or different cities that stand on the seashore;
– Do you like to relax by the sea? Draw the best beaches in the world; – Do you like to visit sights? Draw the temples of the world;
– And if you are a shopping lover, then create a “shopping guide and map” – what and where to buy in different cities and countries;

Fashion sketches

– Make a “my wardrobe” guide for yourself – so you can always remember what is in your closet and what goes with what;
– Learn clothing styles – draw your visual encyclopedia;
– Sketch what is in fashion now;

– Make a collection of your favourite models or their details to yourself “on a note”;
– Create color collections – what colours are in trend, what goes with what; – Sketch ideas of what you would like to sew or buy;

– Make a selection of “My style” – what suits you, what is in the wardrobe, what goes with what;
– Collect all your jewelry and decorations in one place in a hand-drawn way;

– The same can be done for handbags and shoes;


It’s a good idea to illustrate recipes by providing them with concise pictures instead of a long description. Variants of thematic sketchbooks in this case can be as follows: “Recipes from … (the name of a favourite chef)”;

Book of desserts;
My grandmother’s recipes;
Cuisine of a certain country;
Tea or coffee collection (tag, sketch and taste description); Or you can make a hand-drawn guide to decorating dishes; The library of ingredients and spices.

Collections of patterns and ornaments

Draw patterns in a circle – mandalas. You can create your own or color existing ones;
Collect a collection of drawings or ornaments of a certain folk craft (Pisanka, Satsuma, Gzhel, Khokhloma, etc.);

Draw patterns from fabrics;
Collect patterns and ornaments of a certain style (for example, Art Nouveau)

fast ink sketch of fabric pattern by Iya Carson


Practice in calligraphy with different spellings of letters;
Explore various printed and handwritten fonts;
Create font compositions from one or more phrases;
Draw drop caps – large letters with monograms or drawings that adorn the beginning of the text;

Watercolour and ink message cards by Iya Carson

OVAS 200+ Ideas for Sketching


Study various trees, sketch their leaves, the shape of the crown and branches; Create a hand-drawn collection of a certain type of plant (for example, garden Roses, Petunias, Lillies);
Create collection of your garden harvest;

Collect your own botanical guide to plants that interest you or plants that are found in your garden;
Study and draw different types of flowers;
Any plants can also be subjected to research:mushrooms, berries, fruits;

The Travel-books

A travel-book is a travel diary or notebook that you keep on a trip.

Diary of one trip:

Plan ahead of time what to bring with you. In the process of packing for a trip, check this plan so as not to forget;
Draw a map of your trip or city plan;
“Record” in the drawings what you visited (sights, cafes, museums, shops); Draw the purchases you have made;

During the journey, you can keep a diary of the day: where you were, what you saw;
At the same time, you can keep a weather diary – this will come in handy for your next trips there;

Draw the interior of the hotel;
Study the history of the local currency. You can make an image of a coin using the scratching technique;
Make sketches of local residents;
Draw the dishes of the local cuisine;
Tell about local traditions and holidays;
And, of course, draw local landscapes;

Travel geography:

Create a map of your trips (for example, for a year. Or for one trip if you have been to several cities); Tell in the drawings about the features of the national cuisine of a particular country;

Draw the main sights of different countries (cities); Illustrate the traditions of different countries; Capture the atmosphere of the city;
Landmark sketches:

Draw top 10 places to visit;
Draw urban architecture;
Draw the city in detail (balconies, doors, stained- glass windows, fountains, public transport, lights, windows…)

Inspiring and Motivational Sketchbooks

This type of sketchbook is your conversation with yourself. You can choose to make it very colourful by combining collages and drawings. The main purpose is to inspire you and support you.

Spiritual diary, journal of self-knowledge

Draw the wheel of your life values. To do this, draw a circle as a symbol of all your time and attention. Then divide the circle into sectors, symbolizing a particular area of your life. Which sector is most important to you? And which one takes more time and attention?;

Create your list of imaginary lives;
Draw your family family tree;
Write down 5 of your childhood achievements;
Make a list of people we admire;
Draw a picture of “my fears and concerns” (by looking into the face of fears, letting them out, we can easily get rid of them);

Thanks Book

The feeling of gratitude is a great energy that can transform our life into a more fulfilling and joyful one. It is important not to fall into despondency and condemnation, to maintain gratitude in yourself. The Gratitude Book will help you with this.

Create a 30 Days of Gratitude book or 30 Days of Giving Thanks book. Every day, draw what you are grateful for the past day;
Add a gratitude envelope where you will collect notes with gratitude for the events in your life;

Make a page “10 people to whom I am grateful”; Create a list of the most joyful events in your life; Draw objects that make your life better;
Draw your “signs of fate for good luck”;

Write down what you are grateful for;

www.ottawavalleyartstudio.com Page 20 of 27 Created by Iya Carson, 2022

Draw the dress of your dreams;

Think and picture what your ideal partner looks like;


Draw places where you would like to visit;

Draw 5-10-100 things (feelings, conditions) that you want to experience;

Draw a picture “How I want to see myself”;

Draw the dress of your dreams;

Make a book “Wedding Dreamers”;

Draw your ideal day;

Think and picture what your ideal partner looks like


Collect and illustrate quotes from books;

From the movies;

From songs;

Sayings of great people;

Create a poetry diary;

Diary of the Year

The features of such a sketchbook are in its specific focus and regular


Create a weather journal, draw what natural phenomena were on each day

of the year;

Draw the events of your life all 365 days of the year;

Diary of pregnancy

You can create pages like this:

my taste, musical preferences;

baby’s dowry;

comparing a baby with a fruit by week of pregnancy;

what annoyed me;

first movements;

changes in appearance, habits;

name options;

how I found out about the pregnancy, ultrasound pictures;

when the sex of the child became known;

when we talked about pregnancy

Children’s diary

A diary of the first days of a baby’s life can be not only with a photo, but also

drawn. How do you like these topics:

diary of the first year (first tag, smile, tooth, toy, word, trip; favourite food, book;

how I grow and gain weight)

an album of the child’s birthdays (what was presented, what was the cake, who

was visiting; what were the clothes on that day; what was the weather …)

funny baby sayings

drawings and crafts of the child;


If you draw life events that give you pleasant emotions, then there will be more such events!
What can be drawn?
Concerts: the place, who performed, what were your impressions; Museums: exhibits, ornaments on objects, compositional schemes of paintings, interesting moments;

Books: book characters, plot, copies of illustrations;
Movies: scenes from the movie, characters, comics based on the plot of the movie;

Diary of your Creativity

Participation in marathons, games, challenges, flash mobs:
The sketchbook will also come in handy in various mass online events. Here is one of mine:
Facebook group SKETCH BUT NOT


Get a sketchbook for “drawings about nothing.” When you don’t know what to draw, when you just want to collect your thoughts or get rid of bad emotions, you can draw simple patterns, scribbles, swirls.

Do “machine” unconscious drawings when you simply trust the hand to draw what it wants;
Draw mandalas – images in a circle. This allows you to focus and harmonize your inner state;

Doodles – abstractions dominated by scribbles, swirls, simple patterns and symbols;

Master zentangles – ornamental drawings, schemes that are in large numbers on the net;

The study of certain artistic material

A sketchbook is a creative space where an artist can experiment with materials and try out new techniques before venturing into more serious work. This is a kind of testing ground where you can “go all out” and not be afraid to spoil the result.

Try different watercolour techniques;
Test new markers;
Draw with soft materials: charcoal, sanguine, pastel, chalk (good for tinted or craft paper)

Make a mix of media: appliqué, acrylic paint, gel pens, felt-tip pens – have a blast!
Use unusual materials, such coffee, tea, red wine, soy sauce, milk. The sky is your limit!

An Album for Friends

Perhaps every girl in childhood used to have such albums, do you remember? It is a good idea to bring it back to our “adulthood”.
The first page is yours, you answer all these questions. And, after you ask your friends to answer too.

Friends profile

Write, draw 10 facts about yourself;
Tell the story of your life in 5 sentences, in the form of a comic; Draw what happiness is (kindness, success …);
3 things you are great at
3 best gifts of life;
the last compliment you received;
Draw your family;
Draw your favourite animal;
Tell us what your favourite tradition is;
Draw your favourite cartoon character;
Picture your favourite dish;
Tell us about your favourite city;
Illustrate your favourite word;
Your favourite candy;
And a favourite movie;
favorite verse;
favorite color;
favourite time of year;
favourite time of the day
5 ways to win your heart;
Illustrate the quote you go through life with;
Describe in detail where you are now;
Tell us about your nickname;
What is your ideal weekend?

Collection of your friend’s drawings

Ask your friend to draw:
– their wish to you;
– a self-portrait;

– what is in her purse;
– their Zodiac symbols;
– one of their collections (stamps, butterflies, cups, figurines)

I hope you will be inspired by the ideas collected here.
Join our Facebook group SKETCH BUT NOT and let us know which idea you would like to sketch today?
And share this article with your friends!

The best, Iya Carson

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