Why constant sketching keeps you sharp

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When you turn on a hot water faucet, the water usually takes a few minutes to warm up, depending on how cold the pipes are. But if you turn the faucet on again soon after, the water gets hot much more quickly this time.

Creativity is really no different. The longer you let the creative juices flow, the hotter the ideas are that come pouring out. The next time you turn on your creativity faucet, the easier the ideas flow. So to stay creatively sharp, sketch often and sketch everything. By doing so, you may draw something that triggers an idea that may never have come to you otherwise.

Your sketchbook should be filled with all sorts of sketches and doodles from things you may see, hear, or observe. Though these doodles may be nothing more than exercises in free association, they're a gold mine that you can go back to and dig through later. The little doodles can be the seeds that grow into a bigger idea down the line.

For example, you may be sitting in a park and hear the roar of a motorcycle as it goes by. Later on, you may be sitting in the lobby of an auto shop waiting for your car to be fixed. While you're there, you may glance out the window and see a man get out of his car. All these experiences are opportunities to scribble something down in your sketchbook.

An example of this is the sketch in Figure 5-1, which I did several years ago. In this sketch/doodle, I drew a big semi truck going over an uncompleted freeway overpass. Now, I didn't actually see a big rig going over a bridge, but I had been looking at a freeway being built by the school I was attending and had seen numerous semi trucks go by. The drawing came out of my observations and my attempts at drawing something from an unusual angle or perspective. The large concrete pillars that hold up freeways are massive and, when looked at from directly below, create a dramatic perspective.

Figure 5-1:

The pages of your sketchbook should be a place to help formulate your rough ideas.

Figure 5-1:

The pages of your sketchbook should be a place to help formulate your rough ideas.

Drawing Caricature Pillars

A few months ago I was thinking about different ideas I had for an editorial cartoon I wanted to do about the failing U.S. auto industry. The story had been all over the news about how the U.S. automakers were suffering big losses and were in danger of possibly filing for bankruptcy.

It seemed to me that one of the car companies' major problems was producing huge SUVs that people no longer wanted to buy (unlike a few years ago). Yet they continued to build them; it was as if they were willingly driving themselves off a cliff. With that idea in mind I remembered a sketch I did showing a big truck going over a bridge. I looked up the sketch I had done over five years before and used it as the basis of the finished editorial cartoon in Figure 5-2.

Figure 5-2:

Using the rough sketches from your sketchbook can help you with ideas later on.

Figure 5-2:

Using the rough sketches from your sketchbook can help you with ideas later on.

Going Across Bridge Cartoon

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Freehand Sketching An Introduction

Freehand Sketching An Introduction

Learn to sketch by working through these quick, simple lessons. This Learn to Sketch course will help you learn to draw what you see and develop your skills.

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