Art · Sketches

Breaking in a New Sketchbook; Dylan’s Daydream Doodles

Starting a new sketchbook used to be a daunting task for me. I used to have a bad habit of buying one and not using it if my first drawing wasn’t “perfect”. I would put all this pressure on myself to christen my new sketchbook with some really nice, well drawn thing. Eventually, months would go by and I’ve drawn nothing in my nice new sketchbook. Then, I’d but a new sketchbook and the cycle would repeat.

Or maybe, I would draw or write in it, but I would skip that first page. I’d scribble some scrap or doodle here or there. My hesitation on the first page would set the pace and tone for the whole sketchbook. Every page would be void of substance. Void of a complete thought or idea. Then, I’d end up with a sketchbook full of half empty pages. Full of half-hearted thoughts and ideas. Thankfully, I haven’t had this problem as much recently; but I’ll never forget how frustrating it was!

So… I bought a new sketchbook recently

Some time ago, I made a post where I mentioned how I keep two sketchbooks at a time. A small one and a larger one. This was a bit of a half-truth. The whole truth is that until fairly recently, I’d actually been drawing in smaller sketchbooks almost exclusively. After some time, it started to feel a little cramped however. Until finally, I decided that I wanted to go back to the larger books that I previously renounced.

This new sketchbook is much larger than the 5″ x 8″ Moleskine sketchbook I’ve gotten so used to drawing in. Specifically, I’m drawing in a 9″ x 12″ Artist Series Cream Drawing Hardcover Sketchbook. The paper’s a little thicker than regular sketch paper which makes it suitable for a wider variety of art mediums. It’s great for if a sketch starts to reach a more finished drawing stage.

For this post, I present a little flow of consciousness drawing that I did to break in that new sketchbook.

First page of the new sketchbook showing a sort of stream of consciousness style of sketching.

Flame and Nothingness: Eternal Rivals

Dylan Powers is a bully. They’re mean, petty, short tempered. Possibly everything Jake Fox isn’t short of being evil. They’re needlessly competitive and look for any excuse to get one over on their rivals. Of anyone that Dylan has ever competed against, Jake Fox is the one they consider to be their greatest rival. The feeling isn’t mutual though, as Jake has many other friends he also counts as rivals. Dylan believes they’re pretty evenly matched in a lot of ways, but Jake is usually the better of the two. Most of Dylan and Jake’s relationship actually consists of Jake keeping Dylan’s mean streak in check.

New Sketchbook! First page! Go for it!

No thoughts. Head empty. I just started laying down marks on the paper and didn’t stop until I ran out of room. To make it a little easier, I started with an easy subject: Jake! My go-to when I can’t think of anything to draw. It didn’t matter if I made mistakes or if the sketch page came out ugly. The important thing was to go for it without hesitation. Using pen and ink was a great way to force myself to commit to every mark I made. That way, I couldn’t erase anything and would just move on once the page was full. I did allow myself a little white ink here and there but I tried not to go overboard with it. Once finished, I went back in and added a touch of color to the page.

I didn’t have any other goal in mind with these drawings outside of filling the page itself. First, I started off with some scribbles in the corner to get my pens going. Then, I just drew Jake on the page a couple of times. After about three Jakes, I drew a Dylan. Partway through the drawing, it started looking it could make for an interesting comic page. So I rolled with and tried to add some narrative element between Jake and Dylan. I originally created Dylan as a sort’ve pseudo-rival to Jake, and thought I’d take a peek at that relationship here.

Some close-up shots

Looking at it like this, there’s an overall triangle shape to the whole composition. Might be cool to incorporate something like that into a future illustration. I probably could have filled out that empty space on the bottom with random doodles or more geometry.
Before beginning, I did a few scribbles in the corner with my pen. This served two functions: 1. It got my pen writing; and 2. it broke the page in. Later on, I went back and I turned the scribbles into this little house scene. I kinda tried to imagine what Dylan’s home might look like here.
After the scribbles, I kicked things off with these drawings of Jake. I don’t remember which one I started with; but I can tell from the white ink that I definitely struggled a bit at first.
Lettering Practice in the upper right corner of the first page of the new sketchbook. It reads:
Ha  ha  haa

sfx: POW!

You like sticking your chin out at me...
At some point, I decided to try using a different pen entirely. I love how the linework and hatching on Jake came out here. Looking back? Dang, I think I was onto something with this.
Lower left corner of the first page of the new sketchbook depicting social media icons for Gmail, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook.

Below that is random text that reads:

"Do you want me to HIT you?"

Text underneath reads:

Since it’s the first page of a new sketchbook, I thought it prudent to include some form of contact information. This way, if I ever lose it and some merciful soul finds it they might return it to me. Although, they may feel dissuaded to meet me by the threat of violence in that snippet of dialogue.
Near the end, I thought that this might be a good example of flow of consciousness as a comic page. To try tying it all together, I drew Dylan here as if the whole page was just them daydreaming.

That’s all there really is to it.

The good new is that you don’t really have to fill up the entire page like this. The real goal is to just put something, anything down on the page; and then just move on. These days I’m not usually filling up sketchbooks and starting new ones as often as I would like. But when I do begin one, this is what I do to fight off that “first page” anxiety. After that, the challenge becomes keeping up this same energy for the rest of the sketchbook.

Easier said than done, I know.

Understandably, overcoming little mental obstacles like these through sheer force-of-will doesn’t come as easily to everyone. For me, it takes some level of indifference to just jump in and get it done. I didn’t care if it looked good and in the end I think it ended up looking good anyway.


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