Find Your Creative Style! Sketching to Develop Your Aesthetic | Amandine Thomas | Skillshare

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Find Your Creative Style! Sketching to Develop Your Aesthetic

teacher avatar Amandine Thomas, Award-winning illustrator

Watch this class and thousands more

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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

    • 1.



    • 2.

      Class Project


    • 3.

      Why is Sketching so Great Anyway?


    • 4.

      Build Your Ideal Sketching Toolbox


    • 5.

      Subject, Sketchbook, and Composition


    • 6.

      Two-minute Scenario


    • 7.

      Ten-minute Scenario


    • 8.

      Twenty-minute Scenario


    • 9.

      Identify or Refine Your Strengths


    • 10.

      Apply Your Findings to Your Illustration Work


    • 11.

      Where To From Here?


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About This Class

Explore new techniques, play with tools and colours, and build your own illustration style through this fun, empowering sketching class!

Finding your own aesthetic can be tough:

what techniques should you dedicate time to learn?

What tools should you master?

And where even to start?

It can quickly become overwhelming, especially as you get pulled this way and that by Instagram trends and Pinterest boards. So, how can you find that sweet spot, and develop a style that feels right for you?

In this this class, you will not only learn to use sketching as your very own, no-pressure creative playground, but also as a way to feed your illustration work with new techniques and discoveries. 

To help you along the way, we will:

  • Put together your ideal sketching tool box
  • Follow a step-by-step, accessible approach to sketching, anywhere and anytime
  • Identify and/or strengthen your illustration style

Throughout the class, we will be delving into three short sketching scenarios, with tips and tricks to tap into your own, unique creative voice.

So, whether you are an aspiring artist keen to express yourself, or an experienced illustrator looking to refine your style, gather as many tools as you can, your sketchbook, and join me in this exploratory, empowering class!

Meet Your Teacher

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Amandine Thomas

Award-winning illustrator

Top Teacher

Hello there,

I'm Amandine Thomas!

I am a French award-winning illustrator and art director based in Melbourne, Australia. At age four, I announced to a bewildered family that I would become a children's book illustrator, and grew up writing short stories that I illustrated and compiled in crooked, clumsily stapled booklets.

Fast forward to present-day, and not much has changed: I now specialise in children's books, editorial, and commercial illustration, collaborating with people hailing from one side of the globe to the other.

Through my playful and lively illustrations, I explore the themes I am passionate about, such as our environment - and t... See full profile

Level: All Levels

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1. Introduction: For many people, finding a creative style that not only looks right, but also feels right can be really hard. What techniques should you use? What tools? Where should you even go stop? It can quickly become overwhelming, especially with the added pressure of social media where every piece of art is gorgeous and flawless. If this rings true to you, I'm here to help. I'm Amandine Thomas, and I've been a professional illustrator for about 10 years now. You can find my award winning work in the pages of children's books or magazines, in branding, in packaging, and of course in my many, many sketchbooks. I've been lagging them around the world for pretty much half my life. I use them to record experiences, capture memories, but also to experiment, try new techniques and push myself creatively. It's really in these sketchbooks that my personal style actually emerged. Sketching has truly played a major role in the evolution of my illustration work. That's why I decided to create this class, and help people along their creative journey. In the following lessons, you will not only learn to use sketching as your very own no pressure creative playground, but also as a way to feed your illustration work with new techniques and discoveries. In the first part of the class, I'll give you insight on how to get comfortable with your sketch book. By helping you build your ideal sketching tool box, picking your subject, and just getting started with sketching anywhere and any time. In the second part of the class, we'll look at how you can use sketching as a way to identify and strengthen your own aesthetic, and ultimately find your own illustration style. For your class project, we'll explore free sketching scenarios, short and sweet, to help you tap into that unique creative voice of yours. Because yes, you do have one, no matter where you are in your artistic journey. By the end of the class, you'll be able to use sketching both as a way to stay inspired and to grow creatively. Whether you're a budding artist, still exploring your own potential, or an experienced illustrator looking to refine your own style. If you feel like you need a little bit more of a warm up before we dive in, check out my previous class, Yes, You Can Draw, for a series of super fun drawing exercises that are sure to boost your confidence. You ready? Grab your sketch book, as many tools as you can gather and let's get started. 2. Class Project: Ready to hear about the class project, you guessed it. It's all about sketching. We're going to create free sketches together based on a series of short scenarios, and these scenarios are common situations you might encounter when you're out in the world with your trusty sketchbook. The first scenario is a very quick two-minute sketch, like you would do if you were waiting for a bus on the side of the road, or if your travel buddy just quickly popped to the bathroom. The second scenario is that ten-minute sketch, as you might do if you were waiting for your date at the terrace of a cafe, or you were having a little break on a hike. The third scenario is leisurely 20-minutes sketch. The kind you could launch into if you were spending the afternoon on the beach or simply relaxing at home. These free sketches will hopefully help you kick start your own sketchbook and establish that super important exploratory space. Which is just really for you to play, to try new things and to experiment. That safe space is really important in finding your aesthetic and in sourcing your own inspiration. But you need to be comfortable there first, and that's what this getting scenarios are for. So how do we get started? The following lessons will help you pick the right tools for you. Give you tips on observation, composition, and a step-by-step approach to sketching anywhere and anytime, and help you choose your subject with some handy prompts designed to get rid of that pesky fear of the blank page. You'll find that almost anything is inspiring when you take a bit of time to think about it. Finally, you also find exploitative demonstrations of each scenario with plenty of tricks to get the most out of your sketching practice. All you need before we dive in is a sketchbook or paper, and as many tools as you want. There can be tools you're already comfortable with or tools you've never tried before. We're here to explore and play and try things out. So this is a great opportunity to step out of your comfort zone, and rip out that ink you've been afraid to use, or that wash you've never opened. Once you've completed your free sketches, remember to upload them to the project section of the class. I'd love to see what you come up with. In the meantime, I'll see you in the next lesson, where we'll look at why is sketching so great anyway. See you there. 3. Why is Sketching so Great Anyway?: You already know I'm an avid sketcher. I've been sketching since I was 15 years old, and it actually started with a high school assignment. The summer before I turned 16, our teachers asked us to make our own sketchbook out of whatever we could find, and to draw every single day until school started again. One day, one sketch, all summer long. After that, I was hooked. When I moved to Paris on my own at 17, my sketchbook became my way to discover the city. When I left friends for Australia a few years later, it's in my sketchbook that I explored the colors and the landscapes of the country. I love to open a sketchbook at random and be immediately transported back to where I was when I was sketching, whether that'd be my grandpa's garden or a temple in India. But beyond a great way to record memories and experiences, it's also an amazing space to be creative and try things out without too much pressure. Your sketchbook becomes this personal, almost intimate space where you can safely fail or succeed for that matter. Regardless, the final product doesn't matter so much. It's more about that creative journey and what you can learn from it. Give yourself permission to fail, to be bad, and accept that not everything will look good at the end. Plus sketching is an amazing drawing workout. Just like with a regular workout, the more you do it, the stronger you get. Think of it as a little bit of a warm up before the big performance that a finished piece would represent. By flexing these drawing muscles, you can keep your skills sharp and challenge yourself without the added pressure of producing something perfect. Because, let's be honest, we are all feeling that pressure when we find ourselves browsing perfectly curated Instagram profiles, or Pinterest boards. Even my own work in progress images are carefully staged for Instagram. I don't necessarily feel comfortable sharing the actual mess of my creative process on the platform. What social media tends to do is push us to focus on creating perfect, flawless pieces, instead of valuing the super important exploratory phase, which allows us to grow and stay inspired. Because it's in that mess that we eventually find our own authentic voice, not a watered down version of hundreds of other people's styles. That's why it's very important to remember to value your creative explorations and to go back to them often, because there are so many golden nuggets to be found in there. I guess that could become central to your style. Now, as long as you remember that your sketchbook is a safe place, it's the creative journey, not the destination that will help you grow, and that all your experiments, even failed ones are valuable, then you'll be fine. We can move on to the next lesson where I'll help you build your ideal sketching toolbox. See you there. 4. Build Your Ideal Sketching Toolbox: Hi again, so you've decided to give this sketching to find your style thing a go, but you don't really know what tools to use. That's a very common problem. There's so many types of paint, pens, pencils, and each of them have their own sets of skills attached so that can be a little bit overwhelming. To avoid being swamped by these feelings. I slowly curated what I call my sketching toolbox. It's a set of drawing tools that over time I've come to really enjoy using and that I always carry with my sketchbook. In this lesson, I'll give you pointers to start creating your own based on your preferences and your natural abilities. But before I take you through what mine looks like in a little bit more details, one thing to note when it comes to art supplies and materials is that you don't need to buy the best of everything straight away. For example, I'm a little bit of a magpie or a squirrel when it comes to art supplies. I love to gather bits and bobs from everywhere. Of course, I do buy professional supplies now and then. But at this stage, you don't really need to worry about it. Go with what's already in your drawers and only buy what you really need or what you really love, so in my toolbox you'll find one or two boxes of watercolors with my own pallets, which I build based on the colors I like to use, a few brushes, my nib, a tiny jar of water, although I have been known to use seawater and bottled water, a basic mechanical pencil and an eraser, a few fine liners and some glue or tape for the many little things I like to collect and gather in my sketch books. The way I put this toolbox together is pretty much for trial and error, much like the way my style evolved. I slowly worked towards keeping the tools that best emphasize my qualities and weeding out the ones that just didn't work for me. For example, I love working with colors, but also transparency. So watercolor was the perfect medium to emphasize both. I'm also a line drawer. My drawings tend to be much more dynamic and impactful when I use simple strokes, so I was naturally attracted to find liners and precision tools like mechanical pencils, and to bring both my love of colors in line together, I started to use a nib and the more I used it, the more I loved it until it slowly became my main sketching and illustrating tool. But of course this took time and I had to try many, many different things before I started to identify what felt most natural to me and what eventually became central to my own illustration style. How do we get there? The first thing I really encourage you to do is to experiment. The more you play around and explore, the more you'll be able to spot the tools that feel most natural to you and incidentally, the more you'll be able to consolidate your style around them, and often it will actually be the tools you enjoy most, so honing your technique will become a pleasure rather than a daunting prospect. Of course, challenging yourself is also a very important part of the creative process, and sometimes a tool that could be right for you, One feel natural at the beginning. So what other ways can you use to identify what could best compliment your work? A really important step in finding your own aesthetic is seeking feedback. If you share your work with other people, you will start to get insight on what draws them to it. In my case, I noticed that people seem to respond positively to the sketches that included color. So that encouraged me to develop that skill further, even though at the time I felt much more comfortable working in black and white. You can get feedback from friends and family, of course, but also from your followers on social media or from people in the industry. You could find a mentor or maybe share your work with fellow artists or illustrators, and you can also find supportive creative communities where you can get constructive feedback on what works and what doesn't for you. The last thing to remember is that creativity is a journey, so there won't really be a point where you just stop learning and growing, or at least there shouldn't be. The most satisfying part of creating is that constant exploration and discovery process. There might be a time where you outgrow tool in your toolbox or you introduce a new one, and that's okay, and what you'll find as you learn to tame your toolbox, is that you'll be able to carry it over to your illustration work weaving these sketchbook findings back into a more polished result. But I'll tell you more about this later. In the meantime, to build that ideal toolbox, remember to first experiment with lots of tools and techniques. Then identify what feels most natural, which often is simply what you enjoy best. Seek feedback to challenge yourself and grow beyond your comfort zone, and of course, keep learning. It's not because you've found your dream toolbox that you should stop discovering new horizons. Okay. Empty your drawers, gather your tools, and I'll see you in the next lesson where we'll tackle subject, sketchbook, and composition. See you there. 5. Subject, Sketchbook, and Composition: You've gathered your tools and you're ready to dive into these catching scenarios and make some fun discoveries of your own. But first, there are a few small details you need to plan out, like your subject. For many people, picking what to draw can be a little bit daunting. It's that classic decision paralysis. There is so much out there, how do you decide what to highlight? How do you frame it? How do you know how much of it to draw? But don't worry, I'll help you answer some of these questions. The first thing you can do is actually identify the places where you can easily draw and where you enjoying. For that, ask yourself simple questions like, where would I spend the sunny afternoon, or what do I enjoy doing in my spare time? It could be having a drink at the [inaudible] cafe or hiking somewhere beautiful or visiting a museum and even sitting on your couch with a good book. All these places are perfect for sketching and filled with interesting subjects. Next time you there, remember to pack your sketch book and toolbox. The next question could be, what caught my eye first or what did I notice there? Don't over think it. Just go with the first thing that comes to mind. At the cafe, it could be as mundane as the cups on your table while on the hike, it might be a beautiful tree. Don't feel pressured to draw the entire cafe. Waiters, patrons, dogs included, unless of course it's what grabbed your attention first. Go with what naturally drew your eye. Your sketch will be a quick impression of where you are, what you see and what you decide to include will reflect your own experience of the place. Ultimately, that unique perspective is part of your style too. You quickly realize that drawing inspiration in the everyday is simply about spotting something that appeals to you. It can be because of a particular color combo and interesting detail, a quickie scene. For me, it's often about patterns, small details, swarming scenes. I'm attracted to these things and I tend to look for them when I'm sketching and you'll find these same elements in my illustration work where I love to hide fun details and weave patterns in. It's these particular characteristics that make my illustration style that much more recognizable. The more you sketch, the more you'll be able to notice what it is that inspires you and the easier it will get to just start drawing anything and anywhere. In fact, what you like to draw can inform many other important decisions, including how to pick your ideal sketchbook. For example, it can help you choose your preferred format. If you love to draw vistas and beautiful landscapes, you're probably not going to go with a portrait sketch book. It will also influence the type of paper you go for. If you find yourself being drawn to fast snapshots of street scenes, a Moleskine notebook might suit you well. While if you love spending time painting flowers, you need a thicker paper. Finally, it will help you pick the size of your sketchbook. For example, if you're like me and you love sketching small details, a little vignettes, a tiny sketch book might be perfect. But, just like I mentioned in the previous lesson, there is no need to go and buy the best sketchbook out there. Remember, I started with one I made myself with scraps of paper and it served me well. So now that you've selected your subject and your sketch book, we can tackle a bit of a big scary word, composition. Composition is scary because it evokes some complicated roles around depth, symmetry or perspective. But remember, your sketchbook is your playground and I want you to feel comfortable and empowered there, not scared to go down the slide. We're not trying to create a masterpiece here. We're just planning a few small details to make the process less daunting and one important thing to remember with the composition of your sketch is that you don't need to draw everything. The essence of sketching is to capture a snapshot of what you're seeing. It's up to you to correct what you want to highlight. To do that, I recommend you peak a star in your sketch, something you want to emphasize and that will be the focus on the page. It's good to take a minute before you start sketching to identify what that is. Often, it will be the very thing that caught your eye in the first place. Then you can compose your sketch around this element. Ask yourself, where will it sit in your page? Do you want it front and center or a bit off to the side? What else will feature around it? What do you actually need to include for the sketch to make sense? For example, you could draw a beautiful doorway without necessarily needing to include the rest of the building. What scale must you choose in order for everything to fit in the page. If you do want to include both the doorway and the roof of your building, then you have to draw everything pretty small, right? These questions are important. Not only because what you decide to draw and how you decide to draw it will definitely inform your personal style, as we'll see in the second part of the class, but also because it will help you avoid some classic sketching mistakes and I've made these mistakes over and over again. For example, I often start my sketches in the center of the page only to realize as I draw that my subject won't fit. Or I end up adding way too many details and my page becomes super cramped. Taking time to think about these little decisions can be really beneficial. It will help you establish some really good habits that you can then carry back to your illustration work, where a strong composition is really important. But don't worry, we'll cover all of these in more detail in the following scenarios. If you're ready to start sketching, I'll see you in the next lesson where we'll tackle our first sketching scenario. See you there. 6. Two-minute Scenario: Let's start sketching. In this lesson, I'll demonstrate a very quick two-minute sketch, which is the perfect way to just jump in and start drawing without being discouraged by thoughts such as, I don't have time or I'll do it later. Plus there are many situations in which you might need to draw very quickly. Generally, the time constraint comes from the environment you're in. It might be that you're drawing a moving scene which includes people or animals. You have to be fast before the scene is completely transformed. Or you simply have external pressures you cannot control. Like when exactly is your boss going to show up? How long will it take your friend to buy something from a street vendor? But it's also a really good idea to challenge yourself with a quick sketch sometimes regardless of where or what you're drawing. Because when we only have two minutes, there is no time to overwork good drawing. Your strokes have to be spontaneous and confident, not tentative. It also forces you to simplify your sketch to capture the essence of a scene without losing energy or rhythm. There is no time to get bogged down in details or to overthink anything. Finally, it gives you permission to do a bad drawing. Time goes by so fast that you don't really have time to worry or be negative about your sketch. For these class, I've decided to find inspiration in a park nearby. It's full of life, movement, color, and perfect for sketching. I will be keeping the same subject for all three scenarios as it will make it easier to compare and see progress in the second part of the class. Feel free to do the same with your sketches. Of course, for this first scenario, we only have two minutes, so it's better to start by picking our drawing tools according to that time constraint. For example, I will demonstrate this exercise with a fine line now, because it's easy to manipulate, it doesn't need a complicated setup and it doesn't need time to dry. But you could use pencils or charcoal or maybe a brush pen. Remember, this is an opportunity for you to try different things and to explore tools you might have a particular affinity with. Whatever you come up with could reveal some great insight into the right style for you. The first thing I recommend you do is use a timer because time goes by very quickly and guesstimate will lead to drawing for too long. Then pick a subject that lends itself well to a two minute sketch. Him I'm drawing a beautiful gum tree. What I love about it is the beautiful bark texture. I want to really focus on that in the sketch. As you beat the star of your sketch, remember to build around it. So that way if you get interrupted while you're sketching, you still have something substantial on the page. One thing that you might want to do as well is think about a narrative for your sketch. What story are you telling? For me, I'm in a park in Australia. There are all these majestic trees around me and that's what I want to capture. I want my sketch to be in service of that. Generally, when I have to draw really fast, like in this situation, I like to use line drawing as a technique. It's a great way to capture lifelike and expressive scenes without getting too bogged down on the details. It allow me to keep lots of energy in the sketch, which is one of the main advantages of drawing quickly. As you can see, when I have to draw quickly I just go for it. I grab my pen and I start sketching. There isn't really enough time to place elements first. It's a great way to build trust in your composition skills and gain insight in the relationship between the subject and the blank page. To help with that, one thing I like to do is to jump from one part of the sketch to another one. I might be working on a branch and then I'll jump on to some foliage or some bark. What this does is making sure that my sketch is progressing as a whole. I am not focusing only on one element. That way, if I do get interrupted, I have information about everything. The combination of that big picture approach and the line drawing technique is what allows me to capture a really quick snapshot of my tree, which is the star of my sketch and that's two minutes gone. Here we go. As you start sketching more regularly, you're sure to find yourself in situation where you have to draw very fast. Remember the great outcomes you might get out of a quick sketch, confidence, spirited strokes versus tentative, or lifeless ones or simple dynamic sketches versus stiff and overworked ones. A positive, open attitude versus negative even fearful approach. Plus challenging yourself to be spontaneous, to let go of your creative clutches and just stop overthinking when drawing is a great way to let your style emerge naturally. Pretty soon you'll be able to identify some constants in your work. Elements that feel right and look right. The more work on it, the more you'll consolidate that style and the stronger will come through. Now that you're all warmed up, it's time to move on to our second scenario. A breezy 10 minutes sketch. See you there. 7. Ten-minute Scenario: Let's tackle our second scenario, a 10-minute sketch. For me, this is probably one of the most common scenarios. I find that 10 minutes is the perfect amount of time to capture a scene effectively. For example, one of my friends might get impatient when I launch into a 45-minute sketch, I can always cover 10 minutes to draw. Whether I'm hiking, having a coffee, or even just waiting for my dinner to cook. It's also just the right length to go a little bit deeper with a sketch, without losing that energy and rhythm we just discussed in the previous lesson. A 10-minute sketch will essentially give you a little bit more time to play with tools, discover new techniques, and create more nuanced sketches, while also retaining that bold and confident approach that comes from having a time constraint. You can use that little extra time observing, weaving more subtle team to your sketches without actually having enough time to go overboard. Before you can start laboring over details or losing vitality, it's time to stop. You can make the best of that new found energy and trust in your strokes, while also dabbling in more elaborate techniques like paint, inks, or mixed media. For the second scenario, I'll take the opportunity to dive a bit deeper into my subject. Once again, it's great to start by thinking about tools. For example, I'll demonstrate this exercise with my nib and watercolor technique. That way, I'll get both the texture and vibrancy of the watercolor and the energy and liveliness of the nib. But you could also start with a quick pencil or fine line of sketch, then add texture with an ink or watercolor wash. Once again, this is an exploratory space, so feel free to mix techniques or try something new. This might inform your style later down the track. Once again, I recommend that you use a timer, because 10 minutes is really hard to estimate. It feels like it's longer but it actually goes by really fast. The first thing I'm going to do here is use a very light watercolor wash. This is going to help me set up my composition. It's going to give me a rough idea of my scale, of where all my elements are going to be, and more generally, of the space I have to work with on the page. It's like a no pressure first layer because I'm going to build from this. This is going to form the base of the sketch and then I'll lift my image up layer after layer. That means that even if the colors aren't quite right or the composition, it's okay because I know that I can come back to this layer and fix it. But in order to do that, I need the background to not be too strong. That's why I'm using a very light wash. Now that I've created that very simple blueprint, I can start using my nib. What I do is that I use it exactly like I would use a pen, so I put watercolor in it and then I use the same line drawing technique that I used in the first sketch. What that technique allows me to do is have these very energetic dynamic strokes with that beautiful rich brown color. The nib also brings a really nice flow to my strokes because as the watercolor gets used up, my line is going to get thinner, and then when I refill the nib, it's going to get thicker and it's going to give a lovely fluid quality to these drags. Now, because 10 minutes is to quite short, chances are you're going to want to rush through this. But remember to take time to observe, to think about your composition, to think about your color palette, and all these little decisions that we tend to neglect when we have less time. To help guide these decisions, you can think once again about the story you want to tell. Where are you, what can you see, how does it feel, and how can your sketch be in-service of all of that? As I'm progressing with the nib sketch, you can see that the watercolor blobs that I placed earlier are helping me find my way in the sketch. They're giving me really rough indication of scale and composition, which is very helpful. Now, I'm bringing in darker color into my nib because I want to work on that lovely bulk texture that I already mentioned before. The tree has almost a burnt look in some areas, so I want to capture that. For that, I'm using a sootier darker brown. One thing that I really love with watercolor, as I mentioned before, is that transparency you gain from it. I'm really indulging in that the way the lines are interacting with the fresh water color, it creates this beautiful floor, beautiful texture, I love it. Now that I've finished roughly sketching my tree with a nib, I can come back to my brush. I'm going to bring once again this really lovely, earthy warm brown, which is very emblematic of Australia. I'm using the lines that I drew with the nib to guide my brushwork. What's going to happen is that slowly that original very thin layer is going to get covered. Just a quick note on colors. One way I like to work with them is to actually keep them a little bit dirty. I like to mix them, I don't really separate them on my palette, and I don't wash my brush that often. This allows me to create a coherent color scheme at the end, because older colors bleed into each other and compliment each other. We'll talk more about color pallets in the next scenario. If you're interested, don't worry it's coming. For now, I'll talk about these green that I'm using now. It's a color that's very Australian. It's very common in nature here and it works really well without warm brown, which is part of the reason why I picked this tree as my subject. Maybe you also picked your subject because of color or because of a particular detail, regardless, keep that in mind as you progress because it will help you build that visual story we were talking about. You can see that I'm back on the nib now. What I'm doing is bringing details to the foliage. I often jump between one tool and the other depending on what I'm drawing and what one tool in particular would best serve. Once again, I get to work with transparency, bringing these very crisp lines on top of beautiful soft watercolor washes. That's an effect I particularly love. While you're working on your sketches, make sure you pay attention to the little techniques that you might enjoy in the same way. Now I'm going to switch back to my brush, slowly building on that back layer of watercolor. Once again, I keep it quiet light because I want to leave myself space to grow, so I can't go too dark, otherwise, I'll have nowhere to go. Maybe you've noticed that I still have that big picture approach that I mentioned in the previous scenario. I like to jump from one element of the sketch to another, sometimes in ways that are not necessarily logical, but it allows me to progress my sketch as a whole. That way, if I do get interrupted, which is quite common when sketching out there, I feel like I do have all the visual cues that are necessary for my sketch to be understandable. Because if I spend a whole lot of time on one particular bush, for example, and then I have to stop, well, it could just be any bush. There isn't really enough to give people information as to what I was actually drawing. Now, as we're getting closer to the end of the sketch, I'm progressively going to start working with darker and more vibrant color, so building that top layer of the sketch. What that's going to help me do is bring a littler bit more depth and a little bit more substance to the sketch. It looks a little bit less anemic because my original layers were so light and transparent, it can give the sketch a little bit more of a faded look. I would like my sketch to pop a little bit more. Going back to colors, you can see that the range that I'm using is not very broad, I'm probably only using four or five colors max. It's actually just the mixes that allow me to create all the hues in between. As I was mentioning earlier, that's what's going to help me create a coherent color scheme. As you can see, I also like to draw with my brush. Sometimes, I'll even draw on top of the lines I already placed with the nib. That first line sketch can almost be thought of as a rough draft and now I'm coming back with a brush to bolster them and give them a little bit more presence. Once again, now I'm working on the top layer of the sketch so I can use darker colors, I'm not going to have another layer on top. That's where the sketch is progressively looking more solid. Although the big risk now and you should be aware of it is the over working of the sketch. Usually, this would probably be a time where I would stop. However, since I still have time, I'm going to keep on going, but I'm going to stay with detailed and small alterations and I'm going to use my remaining time to try to make my tree stand out because that's the star of my sketch. I'm going to be working on the texture of the bark, on the small details along the trunk, I'm going to focus on that story I want to tell. I want to look back at this sketch and feel like I'm sitting under the tree again. Now I've placed all my elements and I'm really only refining that story, that mood, that feeling of being in front of that tree on this particular day. As you enter the last minute of your sketch, try to center back to that story, to what attracted your eye, to what made you want to draw this. Now, because there isn't that much time left, you might feel like you know your subject enough by now and you don't need to look up anymore. But you should keep challenging yourself to observe and to pay attention to what's happening in front of you. Try to identify areas in the sketch that you feel like you could improve. For me, it might be the background of the tree because I spent a lot of time on the trunk and the foliage, but I didn't really show what's happening behind. I'm going to see if I can do something about it. Maybe with the nib, maybe just a little bit of graphic lines would help and if not, I might try and bring a watercolor wash in there. Always being mindful of not going too far or not heading too much, especially this late in the sketch. For example, I'm not sure I should have brought that jade color into the sketch. It's not really part of my color palette and it doesn't necessarily belong in the scene. But because we are close to the end, I haven't been as thoughtful or as mindful as I should've been. But hopefully as the paint dries, it might create a nice contrast because we have a bluish green and then a reddish warmer brown, so that might work. We'll have to wait and see. Once you get into a regular drawing practice, you'll start to identify which types of sketches you enjoy best. You might prefer longer or shorter sketches. But regardless, remember that balance between taking time to indulge while retaining energy and liveliness. It will allow you to combine a bold and confident approach with more nuanced techniques, take time to indulge in what you enjoy drawing without losing vitality, and learn to observe your subject more in-depth yet retain a life-like quality. Personally, it's with these types of sketches that I developed, many of the techniques that later became central to my style, like the nib and watercolor technique I just used or the weaving of small details and patterns in most of my illustration work. Keep an eye out for discoveries in your own sketchbook. Who knows where it might take you. But we'll talk more about this in the next lesson, where we'll dive into our last scenario, a leisurely 20 minutes sketch. See you there. 8. Twenty-minute Scenario: It's already time for our last scenario, the 20-minutes sketch. I know I did just say I love a 10-minutes sketch, but there are many advantages to working on longer ones. With more time, you can pick a really ambitious subject knowing that you will have more time to understand it, time it, make it yours. That could be a challenging piece of architecture or full panorama. It's also the perfect opportunity to get all your tools out, no matter how complicated they might be to set up. Since you have time to switch tools, let things dry, rework such in areas with different techniques, etc, it's a great way to go full exploratory and dive deep into a sketch. With a 20-minutes sketch, we're not warming up anymore. It's time to take the discoveries you've made in your previous sketches and add intention and thoughtfulness to your work. For example, you can set yourself a clear goal. It might be that you want to explore a particular technique further, capture a mood or a feeling, or be more thoughtful about your color palette. Whatever you choose, having a goal is not only a good way to challenge yourself and grow, but it will also help you know when to stop drawing. Because when we have more time, it's harder to avoid overworking a sketch. You might model your colors by going over the same area again and again, or you might completely cramp your sketch by adding too many details until there is no space to breathe. With a clear goal, for example, your color palette, you can stop working once you're happy with that aspect of the sketch, regardless of whether you feel like you've nailed the rest. This is the perfect opportunity for you to reflect on which tools and techniques found most natural or enjoyable before, and use these time to get better acquainted with them. Let's start. For this scenario, I did speed up the video, the previous scenarios were in real time, but I'll go a little bit faster here as 20 minutes can start to feel a little bit long. But before I dive into this sketch in details, I'd like to talk about colors and how to build a color palette, whether you're using watercolor or any other tool. A good way to get started is once again to look at your preferences. I know I love to draw in nature, and that means that the watercolor palette I use for sketching has a lot of greens in it. Then they tend to be earthy, rich greens. Then of course I always include a few browns. Here I have these warm reddish one that I'm using, and then a couple of darker ones, including the suture brown I have been using in the previous sketch. I also include quite a few blues because with them I can create more greens, some teals and cool down my browns if I need to. They range from a deep velvety moraine blue to a brighter cobalt blue. Then there are always a few yellows as well, of course. I tend to favor ocus because once again, I like to use these earthy tones when I sketch in nature. Finally I have a couple of reds and orange and a purplish pink to bring a little bit of pets in my palette. With that, I can do a lot. For example, what I have been doing with these sketches is picking a few base colors and then mixing them to create a range. So if your green is filling a bit too fresh, I can mix it with some brown and tone it right down and vice versa. Before you set out to sketch, you can already think about what you're likely to draw and then prepare your palate accordingly. Now coming back to the sketch, a good thing to do before you start is thinking back on this idea of intention and thoughtfulness. You can ask yourself, what did you enjoy doing with the previous sketches? Or do you want to push further? Or do you want to try? For me, I really enjoyed the very graphic aspect of my first sketch with a line drawing. Then something is lost a bit in the second sketch. So now I want to make sure I bring it back in this one. With that in mind, you can see that I started by setting up my first sketch of the tree with the nib only. Because I know that I have more time, I can afford to really put a lot of attention into the star of my sketch. There isn't so much pressure to get a lot on the page quickly, so I can really indulge my love of details here and those textured fluid strokes I mentioned before. Not everyone might set up their sketch this way you might like to stick with the big picture approach I mentioned in the previous sketches, and setup a few landmarks on the page first, whether it be with color like I did in the previous scenario or maybe a rough pencil sketch. For me I do feel like I have come to understand my subject quite well in the two previous scenarios. So I feel comfortable launching straight into the tree. But ultimately, the way you choose to set up your sketch will become part of your personal style. So once again, trust your guts, the more you do it and the more you'll be able to identify what works for you. I don't want to be too prescriptive here, because I want you to find your voice. This is the method I have developed, but it might not work for you. Which is why experimenting and trying things out is important at this stage. So now that I have finished my nib sketch, I can go back to my brush in the same way that I did in the previous sketches. You'll see that I use a similar technique. I use a very light wash to set up my first layer, and I'll add details in depth as I go along. Once again if I start too dark, there won't be anywhere for me to go, I can't lighten the sketch anymore, and there is only so much darker I can go. So I'm leaving myself room to expand and develop on my colors. You can also see that different techniques work best for different things. So the brush works quite well for the foliage because it's looser and more abstract in a way, well the nib is perfect for the more graphic lines of the tree and the branches. So I'm using whichever tool works best for each element of the subject. So if you're using mixed media, it's good to take a little bit of time to think about these little details as well. As you go, try to keep that vitality and lifelike quality in your sketches even if it might be starting to feel a little bit long. You can try with each intervention on the page to keep that energy and that movement that we had going in the previous sketches. You can do that no matter the tool that you're using. You can see as well that these time because I do have 20 minutes, I can bring in more details into my scene, like the surrounding bushes or the surrounding trees, the background, etc. But if you decide to do the same, remember that these elements should be in service of the main focus in your page, not a distraction. So make sure you don't overwork them, spend too much time on them, or start getting lost in details. At this stage, we're about halfway through. So now maybe a time when you feel like you want to stop. Maybe it's because you feel like you have enough on the page, or you don't really know where to go from here. So you could be at risk of overworking your sketch. If you do feel that way, it's okay to stop, you have to trust your gut, because once you go beyond that point, your sketch will probably start to feel overworked. Not that many good things happened after you've had that feeling of okay, I'm done. So remember to trust yourself on that. If you've picked a goal for the sketch, now is a good time to check in and ask yourself whether you have achieved it and what you should do to get there. For me, it's all about that story and capturing the feeling of sitting here under this beautiful tree, and the light, the colors, the atmosphere. So I feel like I'm not quite there yet and I'm going to keep on going until I'm happy with that ambiance. Because we are about halfway in, now is a good time to remind you to keep looking up, and keep paying attention to your subject. As you might start getting stuck into your details or color or progressing into your sketch, you might forget to continue observing and be thoughtful about what you're doing, which as you've seen, might lead to some mistakes. So every once in a while do make sure that you look up. You don't actually need to stop drawing, trust your hand, it knows what it's doing. Just glance up and make sure you stay engaged with the subject and you don't start working from memory instead of observation. Now, for me right now, I feel like I'm happy with the elements I have on the page in terms of the composition. So I'm probably going to stop adding details outside of the boundaries have already established, and I'll focus on lifting what's already here rather than expanding further. Plus, another good thing to do is to give yourself a bit of breathing space around the sketch. You don't need to draw all the way to the edge as it might actually make your drawing feel cramped and a little bit squashed. So the white paper is actually a friend, don't be afraid of it, it will help your sketch stand out. So now might be a good time for you to reflect on where you're at in the sketch, and think back to what you actually wanted to push further or improve. You have enough time to work on it if you wish, remembering of course, that this is a safe space, so you don't need to put too much pressure on the end result. For me right now I feel like what I could improve, or the areas that I could work a little bit further would be once again that background which is looking a little bit thin. Once again, if I circle back to my story, I do want to be transported back here when I look at this sketch. So my goal was to capture the atmosphere in the park, the light, the color. In that sense, I feel like I could go a little bit further. So you can see that I've come back to my background and I've added more color and I filled in instead of the white that I had behind the tree, to bring a little bit more depth to the sketch. Once again, I'm trying to keep the same energy in my strokes, the same lifelike quality even if I am using the brush. I'm also of course trying to remember to be mindful of not going too far, and not overworking my sketch. I'm also thinking back on the mistakes that I've made in the previous scenario, like for example, introducing that jade color that didn't quite work with my color scheme, or the loss of the crisp and re-energetic strokes. So I've been trying not to repeat these mistakes with this particular sketch. But we're really coming down to the last few minutes now. So I'm just going to be putting in the last few finishing touches and then that's going to be it. Here we go. All done. The more you sketch with intention, the more setting up thoughtful compositions or picking color palettes that convey the right moods will come naturally. Of course, you'll be able to use these skills to refine or develop your own personal style, as we'll discuss shortly. But in the meantime, it's good to remember that longest sketches will help you be it the discoveries you've already made in your sketchbook, be more thoughtful with your decisions, like your choice of color, of techniques, or even subject, and become more and more able to make these decisions quickly and naturally. Now that you've completed all three sketches, remember to upload them to the project section of the class. I'd love to hear about what inspired you out there, the way you used your sketchbook to challenge yourself, explore new tools and techniques, and discover what makes your work unique. But we'll talk more about this in the next lesson, where we'll look at how you can use the contents of your sketchbook to identify and strengthen your own aesthetic. See you there. 9. Identify or Refine Your Strengths: Hi again. Now that you've completed your free sketches, we can start with the second half of the class. How sketching can help you identify and refine your strength and ultimately help you find your creative style. How are we going to do that? As I mentioned earlier, a huge part of my own style emerged in my sketchbooks. Starting all the way back in high school. One of the rules of that original assignment was that we were not allowed to throw any sketch out. Everything we draw had to stay in that sketchbook. You might be wondering, why was that a rule? Well, how many times have you finished the sketch or an illustration and immediately wanted to get rid of it? Hated it even? The reason why we sometimes feel this way is because we're strongly emotionally attached to what we create. It's understandable. Being creative is making ourselves vulnerable to other people's opinions and to our own. My teachers knew that. That's why they asked us to never throw anything away even if we did hate it. Then if we came back to the sketch later, once that initial emotional reaction was a bit less strong, we would be able to take a more objective approach and find qualities in our work that we had totally evoked before. That's a very important process. Being able to objectively assess your work, which doesn't mean simply pointing out the flows, but also acknowledging the qualities is a great way to learn and to grow creatively. Plus it's the first step towards using a sketchbook as a rode map towards finding your own style. Because of course, by going back through the pages of your sketchbook, you can compare different techniques and compositions, review what worked and what didn't, and most importantly, see the progression in your work. For example, I can definitely see progression in my free sketches. I feel like although I did make a few mistakes and there are a few things I'd like to change, at the end of the day, they do show some pretty strong constants, like the use of line drawing, of color and of composition. Looking back, I can use each sketch to improve on what I didn't nail and to push myself further. I encourage you to do the same with your free sketches and more generally, to regularly review your sketchbooks. Because the more you sketch, the more likely it is that you'll see some trends image, but it's not always easy to recognize them until you get a bird's eye view of your work. Each isolated sketch won't necessarily tell you that much, but together they'll show you your patterns, your strength, and even weaker areas you might want to improve on. Of course, it's not always easy at first to identify these trends. Once again, when we create, we feel vulnerable and it can be hard for us to be objective about our own work. That's where other people's opinion can help. As I mentioned earlier in the class, seeking supportive constructive feedback is a great way to identify what works for you. That being said, while feedback is super useful, especially at the beginning of your journey, the more you draw it, the more you'll come to trust your own gut. You'll know more and more what feels right for you. It's important to stick to it, even if it's always so easy to be tempted by all these trendy Instagram posts you see over and over in your feed. I'm talking from experience here. A few years ago I came back to illustration full-time after spending five years as the director of the magazine. At the time, I was feeling a little bit lost. I didn't really know what my creative voice was anymore, and I felt myself being pulled by the work of other artists that I admired. I spent a few weeks coming up with all these illustrations for new kid's book. I lost myself in the process. I forgot about my strength and I ended up with images that didn't quite feel like me. When I met with my editor, it was a disaster, she hated it. It was probably the most uncomfortable 10 minutes of my entire career. Luckily, I had other work in my portfolio that was more aligned with my usual style. Otherwise, the meeting might have been cut short. So the entire time, I think I knew that these images weren't quite right for me. But because I was feeling a little bit lost, a little bit unsure, I forgot to listen to my gut. I convinced myself that because wash and solid colors were so popular on Instagram, then that was what people wanted to see. Of course, this doesn't mean that you shouldn't be inspired by artists you love or learn from them. But it's really important to find inspiration from within. Your sketchbook is the perfect place to explore ideas based on your own experiences. For example, I ended up writing an entire kid's book about the ocean and had to protect it. The idea came from my love for wild, beautiful places in Australia where I live and my convictions about how important it is to protect them. That's a subject I explored time and time again in my sketchbook where I draw what inspires me what I mean all of. By keeping irregular sketching practice, you will find that you can become better and better at following these steps. Whether it be assessing your work objectively and constructively, gaining insight from regularly reviewing it or seeing trends emerge in your sketchbook, and of course, learning to trust your gut and go with what feels right for you, and source inspiration from within. Finding your best ideas from your own unique experiences and interests. You'll quickly be able to transfer all these findings from your sketchbook to your illustration work, and that's exactly what we'll do in the next lesson. See you there. 10. Apply Your Findings to Your Illustration Work: By now, you know that my own sketchbook explorations have led me to develop a style that feels right, and plays to my strengths. But how did I move from the pages of my sketchbook to illustration? Because drawing to capture reality is very different from drawing to illustrate. It can be difficult away from the real world to use our drawing skills in service of an idea, a concept, a message, especially if you add style in the mix. But what you'll find is that exploratory journey we've been on together, and all these discoveries you've made or the insight you've gained. All these can absolutely be transferred to your illustration style. For example, in my own illustrations, you can clearly see the influence of sketching and the process of translating what you've discovered in your sketch book into a cohesive illustration style is way more natural and painless that you might expect. Because what felt right and looked right in your sketch book, will also look right and feel right in an illustration. Whether it's a gut feeling that helps you identify your strength or a mentor or time and practice, whatever style you end up developing in your sketch book, you can easily translate into illustration work. Now, I know this sounds like a tall order, but don't worry, I'll give you a series of prompts to help you along the way. We buy your sketchbook and ask yourself these questions. Do I use tools in an unusual or interesting manner? For example, you could take a particular use of a tool you've uncovered in your sketch book and incorporate it into your style. For me, it was using a nib, not exactly in the way it was intended. You won't find these little tricks online. They'll come from your own exploration and discoveries and they'll contribute to what makes your style unique. Do I have an affinity with a particular material? In my case, I discovered a while back that I loved painting on tracing paper. It was a bit of a happy accident really. I ordered a sketch book online which turned out to have very silky, super wide bristol like paper. Although I was a bit peeved at first because I hadn't really used this type of paper to paint before, I quickly realized that I loved the vibrant colors and fluid almost stained glass effect the paper created with watercolor. It didn't take long for me to start experimenting with other types of silky paper, like tracing paper, which is now a huge part of my illustration style. Have you developed interesting or unique techniques? Something else you might develop in your sketch book are personal techniques you might use without even thinking about it. For example, in my case, I often carry a Stanley Knife in my sketching toolbox. I generally use it to scratch the surface of the paper when I've made a stain on the page. But that simple, little technique, which was purely practical, became an aesthetic choice in my illustrations once I realized I could scratch the tracing paper to create white lines in my artwork. You might have picked up similar habits in your sketchbook. Could they be developed into something more? Do they bring a little extra something to your work? How do you frame or scale your sketches? Of course it's not all about tools and techniques when it comes to illustration, as I mentioned before, creating strong and compelling compositions is a huge part of it too. The way you go about this is just as much part of your style as the tools you use or the way in which you use them. For example, I already mentioned that I love drawing small swarming scenes with lots of details. If you flipped for my sketches, you'd struggle to find anything bigger than my hand. But each sketch is likely to include lots of small details that natural inclination in my sketchbook informed the kind of illustrations I later produced. Pay attention to the way you've composed your sketches, and what you've chosen to emphasize each time. Once you've identified this, it'll be much easier to adopt similar compositions in your illustration work. To create cool, unique color mixes. Another big aspect of what can define a personal style can also be the use of color. You might discover as you revisit your sketch book, that you often use the same hues or the same color combination in your artwork. That aspect of your work might be just what people will remember after looking at your illustrations. The way you bring all these elements together, like the tools you love, the techniques you discover, the way you framed your images, or even the colors you like to use. All of that is what ultimately forms your own unique style. It's good to remember that we don't just wake up one day and think that's it, this is what my style is going to be. It's more of a process of slowly getting to know your own creative voice. Although that can't happen without putting in the base work. It would be like suddenly deciding you want to be an athlete, but only wanting to compete at the Olympics. If you skip your workout, your training, and you only show up for big events, you're going to be a little bit unprepared. That's why valuing the exploratory space, that is your sketchbook is so important as we've seen throughout the class. Yes, it takes a little bit of time, but it's also fun to be creative and play and explore. Plus it's also super rewarding as I've experienced myself recently. I went back to my dad's and I found myself browsing for the 15 years of sketchbooks stored there. From my very first high school one to my most recent. It was wonderful to be able to see the evolution of my style and to identify almost at first glance the turning points in my illustration work. I hope that through this class you'll feel empowered to embark on a similar journey, and that you'll be able to look back in a few months, a year or 10 years, and realize that yes, you do have a creative voice and it's all yours. You can build it, you can nurture it, and then eventually you can use it to your full capacity, whether it be in your sketch book or in your illustration work. Remember to share your free sketches in the project section of the class. I'd love to see what hopefully will be the beginning of that adventure for you. But in the meantime, we can move on to the next and last lesson, where we'll recap the key takeaways for the class. See you there. 11. Where To From Here?: Hi again and congrats. Now that you've completed the class, I hope that you feel empowered to use sketching as a way to develop your own style. I have no doubt that you'll get there. But if you need a little bit of help along the way, here are the key takeaways for the class. First of all, remember why sketching is so great, it's an amazing drawing workout, a wonderful creative playground, and a great tool to stay inspired. Then keep in mind the ways in which sketching can help you develop or refine your own style. Like how sketching regularly and revisiting your sketchbook often will help you identify trends in your work. How experimenting in your sketchbook will generate interesting discoveries unique to you and your work. How applying these findings to your illustrations will lead to a style that not only feels right, but also looks right. Of course, I really encourage you to share these first findings in the project gallery of the class. I'd love to see your initial free sketches and what you learned from them, whether it be your new favorite tool or cool discovery, or simply what felt right and what didn't. It's also a great place to get that feedback I mentioned earlier in the class. Moving forward, I hope you continue sketching as often as possible and that you keep on using in your sketchbook as a place to nurture and grow your creativity, you won't regret it, I promise. Although if you feel like you need a little bit more help getting comfortable with your creative self, Check out my previous class, yes you can draw it. It will take you for full super easy, super fun exercises designed to challenge your conception of what makes a good drawing and regain confidence in your creative skills. If you want to learn more about my work and my many sketchbooks, feel free to check my website and my social media and follow me on Skillshare. Congrats again and thank you so much for taking this class with me. I can't wait to see what you sketch and where it will lead you. Happy sketching..