Drawing ideas: How to find inspiration

9 simple tips to help you develop ideas

Drawing ideas: How to find inspiration

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The pencils are sharpened, the paper is flat on your desk, you are ready for action and suddenly you ask yourself: What should I draw? It’s super annoying when you feel like drawing but are troubled by a lack of ideas. But that’s no reason to worry, because there are ways to give your creativity a push in the right direction and find inspiration!

Tip 1: Draw the heroes of your childhood

Nostalgia can arouse quite strong emotions in us, which is a great starting point for developing ideas and drawing. Maybe there is a hero we always wanted to draw?

As a child I always wanted to draw all characters from the anime Sailor Moon, but I didn’t succeed. Nearly 20 years later I was confronted with a long phase were I lost my creativity, but it stopped thanks to this project.

Drawing heroes from childhood: Sailor Jupiter

Tip 2: Find inspiration in your own sketches

This tip assumes that we run a sketchbook. If you don't have one, you're definitely missing out and should urgently consider buying one - or simply jump to the next tip. :)

A sketchbook is probably the best source to find ideas for drawing, because at best you have already done some preliminary work and recorded different ideas or concepts.

Find inspiration in your own sketches

Tip 3: Get inspired by the everyday life

The search for inspiration doesn’t have to turn into a big adventure where you have to leave your cozy room. Sometimes it is enough to let your eyes wander, because the most everyday things can suddenly seem interesting (especially if we really don’t want to go out).

Inspiration for drawing in everyday life - Banana
Inspiration for drawing in everyday life - Ashtray

Tip 4: Experience travelling in a new way

On other days, however, we need an adventure. Even if certainly no one spontaneously books a flight to the other end of the world out of frustration over a blank piece of paper, you may have taken great photos or drawn sketches on your last trip. Maybe you can find something amongst those, from which you could develop a new drawing.

The great advantage of such very personal visual records is that they preserve some kind of emotion from us, which is a wonderful prerequisite for drawing!

Inspiration for drawing while travelling: House in Hanoi
Inspiration for drawing while travelling: Architecture student in Melaka
Inspiration for drawing while travelling: Landscape in Vientiane, Laos

Tip 5: Watch music videos

Music alone can make us get inspired, but I personally like to watch interestingly produced music videos to expose not only my ears but also my eyes for some creative input. An idea for drawing then usually develops by itself.

Since I like drawing people, I find the music video for Stay Tonight by Chung Ha especially interesting. Almost every frame could be a reference for drawing poses, no matter if it’s a dance or aesthetic scene.

Tip 6: Learn something new

You can always defeat the emptiness on paper with a tutorial. For How-to-Art.com I wrote a whole tutorial series on learn how to draw, but you can also find all kinds of tutorials on Google or (very classy) check out a textbook on drawing.

Learning to draw a head

Tip 7: Buy new material

It doesn't have to be a super expensive and huge range of new branded pencils, but you shouldn't underestimate the inspiring power of a new pencil set, a new drawing block or three new pans of watercolours.

New material awakens in us the spirit of adventure and the curiosity to know what it is like to work with the new material will erase all blockades.

Try out a watercolour block

Tip 8: Participate in challenges on social media

If you use Instagram for artistic purposes, you've probably heard of one or two challenges.

For example, there is the #sailormoonchallenge, where everybody uses the same image reference of Sailor Moon for a new artwork, or the #inktober, where every year on every day in October an ink drawing on a certain topic is uploaded.

The good thing about such challenges is that you leave your comfort zone. I actually only used ink for the Inktober and returned to my pencils for the remaining months, but it was a great pleasure to participate and I will be definitely back next year.

Ink and watercolour
Drawing Ink
Ink drawing hamster

Tip 9: Take more than knowledge from trips to museums

Not everyone is a museum-goer, but good museums can be a super source of inspiration for all kinds of topics, from which we can develop great new ideas for drawings. Not many of us deal intensively every day with fascinating topics from the natural sciences, history or culture, but in a good museum such complex knowledge is served to us on a golden plate in an easily digestible way. And we all know that we draw much better when we understand our subject.

For example, I wouldn’t have expected to come across a stone in the mineral collection of the Museum of Natural History, of all places, that would later inspire me for the background of a drawing.

Malachite, Natural History Museum Berlin
drawing: background inspired by malachite

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