Creative Success: A Drawing Exploration to Fuel Your Process | Carolyn Rodgers | Skillshare

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Creative Success: A Drawing Exploration to Fuel Your Process

teacher avatar Carolyn Rodgers, Designer, explorer, color lover!

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

9 Lessons (24m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Project: Ten-Step Drawing Exploration

    • 3. Keep a Sketchbook

    • 4. Analyze Patterns

    • 5. Drawing Exploration: Picking an Image

    • 6. Drawing Exploration: Starting Your Iterations

    • 7. Drawing Exploration: Making It Your Own

    • 8. Final Iteration to Final Piece

    • 9. Takeaways

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About This Class

Improve your creative process to become a more productive and happy creator!

Anyone can learn how to paint or edit photos but you need to learn about YOU to become successful! Creative Success: A Drawing Exploration to Fuel Your Process will teach you how to focus on what brings you joy, work with your interests in a ten-step drawing exploration, and use your exploration to create work you love. You'll get back to the basics of creating because once you nail down your process, you'll efficiently make satisfying work you love.

You will learn to set yourself up for creative success in your process by:

1. Learning what you love, by analyzing material in your sketchbook.


2. Using simple drawing exercises, by developing a simple sketch into a unique final concept. 


3. Making, by exploring your interests through quick sketches.


4. Making making a habit, by creating entry points to easily make what you love.


No prior knowledge is required! This class teaches basic skills in honing your process that can help any creative in their career or hobby. You’ll just need ten sheets of paper and a pencil, and your sketchbook. Let's get started :)

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Carolyn Rodgers

Designer, explorer, color lover!


Hello and welcome!

I'm Carolyn Rodgers, a designer and illustrator who lovers typography, colors, and exploring the world through art and design.

I love what I do and I love to talk about art and design. Learning is one of my favorite activities. I went to the Stamps School of Art & Design at the University of Michigan where I earned my BFA in Art & Design. I've learned a lot as I build my career as a graphic designer and have picked up skills in hand lettering, photography, animation, and even videography over the years.


I create brand identities, visual concepts / strategies, illustrations, books, lettering, and website experiences. Check out my portfolio at to see what I've worked on.


I ... See full profile

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1. Introduction: Hello and welcome to explore your interests to fill your work. I'm Carolyn Landers a designer and illustrator based in Boston, Massachusetts. My favorite part about being a creative is working through the process. I love getting into the flow of exploring something and pushing something pass what I ever imagined it could become and I wanted to share some tips and techniques to help you improve your own process and enjoy exploring and getting to know yourself. This class is all about getting back to the basics because the basics are what's going to make you successful as a creative. Anybody can learn how to paint or use animation software or photograph, but learning about yourself is critical to finding what's unique in satisfying to you and making work that you love. We're going to push your creative process today in four digestible steps. The first step is learning what you love. The second is using simple drawing exercises to really push your withdrawals. The third step is making, and the fourth step is making, making a habit. No prior knowledge or experience is required to take this class. Every creative is welcome and I'm excited to see how you explore your process. 2. Project: Ten-Step Drawing Exploration: Let's get started on your project. We're going to be doing a 10-step drawing exploration, where you will start with an original sketch from your sketchbook. Transform that sketch nine times in nine different drawings to end up with something completely different and completely your own. I actually wanted to do this project with you guys because it really helps to find my creative process. I did a very similar project my freshman year of art school, and it just felt original and so my own and personal to me that I want you guys to take this opportunity to surprise yourselves and figure out how you can incorporate these techniques in your own creative process. Let's get started on your project. This 10-step drawing our exploration, you will create 10 process drawing iterations that clearly done in story, how you are through your ideas all the way from that scotch in your sketchbook to a completely original iteration. You can scan in these drawings or take a nice picture of them arranged from 1-10 to see where you started and how far you've come by the end. Once you've completed your 10 drawing iterations, you can use that process of making your 10th drawing to create a final piece. This part is optional, but you can use whatever medium you want. I'm going to be making a painting, for example. This will give you an 11th iteration to explore even more in your process and make something a little more final rather than just a process sketch. You only need a handful of materials to complete your 10 drawing iterations. Grab a pencil or drawing utensil of your choice, 10 sheets of paper, and your sketchbook. Next, we'll look through your sketchbook before we start your drawings, just to check back in with your interests, so you can make informed decisions going into your 10 iterations. 3. Keep a Sketchbook: There is often this misconception that artists have this aha moment and all of a sudden they are creating their greatest masterpieces. That is really intimidating for somebody who is just trying to start and do something. I incorporate little bite size pieces into my process as entry points for me not to be intimidated and not to think that, this isn't a grand idea, so I should not pursue it. I want to teach you some of my techniques on how I make starting as easy as possible. One of those techniques is keeping a sketchbook. I don't normally use a huge sketchbook just because I like to be able to carry it with me all the time. This little guy is actually the one I've been using lately because it's so easy to just throw in my bag. Generally, they're pretty quick. I just include people I find interesting and things I find interesting. Lately I've been more interested in figures and faces, but sometimes I'll draw something that I saw on a hike or I can use these to come up with a more final piece of work. For example, I did this sketch, of a woman on the train. Later, I was doing more of a study. So I did more of a cropped section of her face. It's always super-helpful to have your sketch book as your starting point. Then you can make little notes and use them later. Like this woman on the train had very pretty red lipstick on so I took a note on her red lips if I ever draw her further. You want to have your sketchbook act as your library of resources. You don't have to wait for that moment of inspiration, you will just have a book of inspiration with you at all times. Start that sketchbook if you haven't already. In the next few lessons, we will look through that sketchbook together that you hopefully already have. Or maybe we will start on it in the next few days and come back to the next lesson where we will look through and analyze what you like and what you don't like. 4. Analyze Patterns: You've got your sketch book. Now we're going to look through it and see if there are any patterns that are coming through. Any consistencies, anything you're really not liking, we're going to note that down and that's going to be your starting point to your whole process. If you need some guidance, here are some questions you can ask yourself. What excites you? Are there any subjects you usually draw? Do you like simple objects or complex scenes? Do you like the roughness of your scotch? Do you see any repeating shapes? Do you notice a lot of similar direction of line or composition? Do you note or play with color? Write down your answers to those questions and that will help you in the next part of the class. Here's an example of my own list of likes that I've collected by looking at my sketchbook, by looking at my Pinterest board and just noting what I've noticed throughout the years of looking through our galleries, of going to art school, and looking through books. Now, you have your list of things that you like and things that you don't like. That's going to be super important in your process because you want to make imagery that you like. That's going to help keep you motivated and interested in your work and excited to keep coming back and exploring. Your list of dislikes is going to help you avoid any frustration. In our next lesson, we are going to use that list to pick out one of your sketches or images and transform that in your tungsten drawing process. 5. Drawing Exploration: Picking an Image: We've looked through your sketch book, wrote down a list of elements you like and noted the elements you dislike. Now we're ready to decide what image we're going to move forward with. You can always start by looking at your sketch book, and if something immediately jumps out at you, then obviously pick that to start your ten steps. I have my list of likes with me here. I think what I am going to choose to pursue is the shapes and geometric and organic qualities. I looked back through my sketchbook and I found this drawing that I made in a coffee shop one day. It's just this random wheel. That I guess opens up a door or something, I don't really know what it is, but I found it interesting because of all of the lines going really up and down. But then in our sector than the middle by this circle, and then there are several circles within the one wheel. I thought that was something I could break down because it is a very complicated shape and it has, one million shapes within the greater sketch. I'm going to use this to draw out in my nine iterations. Start with a sheet of paper that you're going to be drawing your other nine drawings with and redraw your sketch onto that. That's what I did with this, just so it's a little more consistent with my other nine drawings that I'm going to be making. Next, we will move on to our next nine drawings. 6. Drawing Exploration: Starting Your Iterations: We've picked a sketch to start with, and now we're really ready to learn some drawing techniques that will help you start making your project. This class really is not about the skill of drawing or a lesson on how to draw. It's really just focused on quick sketches that will help move your ideas and move you to a final piece. I would really recommend starting just with a pencil and paper. It's really not great to get on a computer right now because you're going to have that pressure to make something super final and views are really meant to be just quick, rough sketches. Let's start with your second drawing. I have my original sketch. Start to pick out what's interesting in that first sketch, to give you a starting point. It helps at this stage to think of your final medium. That way throughout the sketching process, you can have that final medium in mind and sketch it and make notes with that in mind. I want to end up with a tenth scotch that will bring me close to making a wash painting with maybe some pencil details we'll see. Overall, I'm going to want to make pretty flat shapes that are dynamic enough just in the composition alone. Then later, I can think about adding color. It's just best to focus on one or two visual elements during this process. You can think about color, really important in this composition and shape. You can think about dimension or depth, and then light and shadow to show that dimension in depth. Or you could really focus on texture or movement of a composition. But really try and focus on just one or two elements right now, you don't want to get super fancy at this point yet. Now you just want to start. If you just do and follow your instincts and have fun and play, then you'll get to drawing number 10 before you know it. Again, I really like how dynamic this up and down movement is with the circles intersecting. There are many shapes in between this larger general circle and rectangle shape. I think I want to play with that. But first, I'm really just going to simplify this complicated drawing and that like this repetition because everything here is pretty unique and might want to play with the letters here. I'll leave open. Really use this stop, my second stop to jump from that original sketch to something I already find more interesting. Although this looks maybe a just like a crab your version of the first sketch. That's really an important jump from all of this detail to what I'm most interested in. Next, we are going to continue the drawings. 7. Drawing Exploration: Making It Your Own: You've already started on your drawing iterations. Now it's time to keep going and really make it your own. Now I'm on sketch numbered nine, getting pretty close to ten, ten stops might seem like a challenge. But that's the point as to push yourself, force yourself out of your comfort zone and really see how far you can take it so your style and your voice will emerge. I think I made some interesting decisions along the way that helped me really get from the middle sketches into my tenth sketch. For example, I worked on both in their regular composition and then the centered composition. I also worked on more graphic type and introducing those letters and arrows at one point, but seeing it sketched out really made me realize that I didn't want to go in that direction. So sometimes just making a wrong move and seeing it on your piece of paper can give you a good idea on how to move forward to the next step. Keep having fun and working through and exploring your concepts in these ten drawings. Once you're done with your ten sketches, you'll be able to clearly see how far you've come from one to ten. Upload them in order to the project gallery by scanning them in or taking a picture of them all laid out. Then if you want to, you can start a final iteration in a medium of your choice. 8. Final Iteration to Final Piece: Congratulations on finishing your tense up drawing exploration. That was really all this class was about, moving through your process quickly to get to really new, interesting, original ideas, and now you have the option to take that tenth iteration and bringing it into a final form, so this could be photography, video, an animation of painting, and painting is what I'm going to do right now with you. I have my watercolor paper ready to go. I actually already lightly sketched my tenth iteration onto the paper. One last thing that I have to think about when I'm actually painting. It's nice because you have that focus of just having the pencil and paper and your tenth iterations, and now this whole new world of color, and space, and time has now opened up and this 11th iteration that you're going to be working on, so you're going to have a lot more to think about, but we've come along way in creating the tools that you'll need to be successful in this 11th iteration. Throughout my painting process, I might refer back to my original sketch for ideas on how to add texture or other elements of depth. So for example, I really liked the dot pattern and that was happening on the side of the object I originally sketched, so I might go back in with colored pencil, for example, on top of these paint layers and add in a similar dot pattern. I'll also refer back to my list of likes that I made earlier. For example, I remember that I like more irregular shapes rather than perfect straight shapes, so throughout my painting I am going to remember that, and remember that it's okay if I don't make things perfectly, and I actually will probably like it more if I don't make them perfect. I picked out this more colorful color scheme to have more fun and to be more playful than the metallic color of my original object that I sketched out. I usually catalog my color schemes in an app made by Pantone, where you can upload photos and it will pick about five different colors that you can save as a color scheme. Whenever I'm starting a painting, I usually refer to my color library on the app. I know Adobe has a similar one. So much like your sketchbook, is a visual library for you to start your own work. You can do the same thing with color by cataloging color schemes on your phone. I'm so happy with my final painting, I'm surprised with how far it came from the original sketch in my sketchbook, and even the tenth iteration of that sketch to the final painting. Upload your final piece of work along with your tenth iterations to the project gallery to show everybody how far you've come. 9. Takeaways: Congratulations on completing your 10 step drawing exploration. You have learned how to pick out what you love from your sketch book. You've learned simple iterative drawing techniques to help you go from an original sketch to something completely different and completely you. Now it's up to you to keep making. If there's one thing I want you to take away from this class is to just start and keep making and use the simple techniques that we learned to have a library of resources for you to just jump instead of waiting for a moment of inspiration. Get into the habit of drawing in your sketchbook and regularly pulling imagery from it. It's your personal library of inspiration. Return to your list of likes to guide your work at all times. Use this project's drawing technique of quick iterations whenever you get stuck or unhappy with your work. Stay curious and have fun exploring your work. Improving your creative process is only going to help you grow as a creative, it will also help you make things like artist's statements, where you're focusing on why you're doing what you're doing. If you have iterations or process notes, you can always refer back to those or even show those in the artist's statement to illustrate how you got from point A to point B, why you created the work that you've been creating. People also look for this in your portfolios. Future employers are going to want to see how you think through things, and if you have visuals to back that up, that's only going to help you even more. Thank you so much for improving your process with me. I'm so excited to see your 10 drawing iterations and your final piece of work and the project gallery. Be sure to upload that, we will view and then follow me for future classes. Thank you so much.