Keep a Sketchbook: Drawing Ideas, Journaling Prompts, and Practice Tips | Mimi Chao | Skillshare

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Keep a Sketchbook: Drawing Ideas, Journaling Prompts, and Practice Tips

teacher avatar Mimi Chao, Owner & Illustrator | Mimochai

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.

      Daily Pages Basics


    • 4.

      Design Considerations


    • 5.

      Favorite Tools


    • 6.

      Favorite Sketchbooks


    • 7.

      Guided Journals


    • 8.



    • 9.



    • 10.

      Studies & Inspo


    • 11.

      Your Routine


    • 12.

      Recap & Example


    • 13.

      Final Thoughts


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About This Class

Hello and welcome! This class is about establishing a sketchbook or journal habit that works for you and your schedule. Daily sketching or journaling (or both) is one of the best ways to support your well-being, tap into your creativity, and hone your skills.

If you've been wanting to keep a sketchbook practice but have had a hard time keeping it up, or want to figure out how to make your existing practice even more beneficial, this class is perfect for you.

I'm an illustrator and one of my most popular classes on Skillshare is even all about Illustrated Journaling. I’ve always wanted to keep a daily sketchbook but to be honest, it can be hard to maintain. After much trial and error, I’ve finally been able to make sketchbook journaling a consistent part of my daily routine. Now I want to share this process so you can build your own helpful routine, whether you want to journal or draw. 

In this class, you’ll learn to design your own daily pages to maximize your chances of keeping a sketchbook or journal. We'll cover: 

  1. The many benefits of daily journaling and sketching (i.e. what I call Daily Pages) 

  2. Common approaches to Daily Pages that you can tailor to your goals 

  3. How to design a routine that achieves your goals and is realistic based on considerations such as: 

    • Writing and drawing tool selection  

    • Sketchbook and notebook features 

    • Pre-made journals with prompts 

    • Go-to themes so you always know what to write or draw 

This class comes with a free downloadable worksheet to guide you as you design your own daily pages. 

Here are links to the products and resources I mention in the video.  

Favorite Digital Tools 

Favorite Analog Tools 

Favorite Blank Sketchbooks

Guided Journals

Mimochai Studio 

Meet Your Teacher

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Mimi Chao

Owner & Illustrator | Mimochai

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Hello I am the owner-illustrator of Mimochai, an independent creative studio based in LA. I'm here to share skills in drawing and mindful creativity. If you'd like to be updated on my new classes, just hit the +Follow button

My guided community is at My shop is at and my portfolio site is at Follow me on IG @mimochai and @mimizchao

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1. Introduction: Hi, and welcome to Design Your Daily Pages. I'm so excited for this one. I'm going to show you how to create your own version of daily pages to give you the best chance of actually committing to keeping a consistent daily sketchbook or journaling habits. I'm one of those people who's always wanted to keep a beautiful daily sketchbook. But to be honest, I have never been able to actually do it on a consistent extended basis until recently. I tried so many different approaches to this and nothing quite stuck, and I know that I'm not alone in this. We all know a daily drawing and journaling practice is good for us. It helps us improve our skills, and clear our minds and deepen our self-reflection. I'm an illustrator and designer for my studio, Mimo Chai. I also teach classes and host a creative community cloud house. Whether it's trying to get better at drawing or exploring self-discovery, a foundational practice I want to encourage is keeping a daily sketchbook for journaling habit. I finally decided to really focus on this and figure out a way to make a sketchbook journal really work for me. I absorbed a tone of the sketchbook and journaling practices that are out there. From drawing prompts to molding pages to bullet journaling and goal-setting journals. These are all great methods, but the thing I realized is that I need something designed for my specific goals and is realistically doable on a daily basis. That's what I did. My daily pages are now a part of my morning routine. They not only help me consistently improve on my illustration skills, but also help me start the day off on the right foot. I genuinely love it and I want to share this practice with you. In this class. I'm going to guide you through my exact process of how I came up with my version of daily pages, so that by the end you'll have your own. I'll break down all the elements and design considerations to keep in mind, and show you my favorite drawing tools, the best sketchbooks, and how I create my sources of inspiration. There's also a class worksheet to help make it even easier. I'm so excited to see what you're going to come up with. Let's get started. [MUSIC] 2. Class Project: Your project for this class is to come up with your own version of daily pages and share an example with us. I really encourage you to also share your process and considerations along the way. I really think it'll help inspire others. As for what you'll need, well get into the tools that you can use for daily pages in one of the next sessions. For now, all you need is something to sketch ideas or take notes with. A paper and pencil or a tablet are all fine. 3. Daily Pages Basics: I want to take a few minutes to go over why daily pages are so helpful and talk about a few popular formats that'll come into play later. When I say daily pages, I'm just referring to any sketchbook and or journaling practice that happens on a consistent, ideally daily basis. This one from practice and routine helps build discipline, improve skills, nurture well-being, and invite self-reflection. I personally find it to be one of the most important habits to keep right up there with meditation and exercise. There are many practices out there that support this habit. Let's talk about a few of them. Let's start with daily sketchbook practices. One of the most common pieces of advice you'll hear for artists is to keep a daily sketchbook. It helps hone your craft and come up with creative ideas. It's always so fun to see an artist's sketchbook filled with beautiful loose giants and quirky ideas. But I'm sure many of you have tried this and realized that it's harder than it looks. Sometimes it's because you don't know what to draw. There are many drawing prompt books and guide journals out there as well as drawing challenges on social media. Having some structure around what to draw is definitely helpful. It's even more helpful if you pick the drawing prompts yourself so that it serves your goals. We'll talk about that in one of the next sessions. Another great approach to keeping a sketchbook is illustrated or visual journaling. It's one of the first things that I did during my creative career transition and I still really believe in it. Basically, you just draw what's happening in your life or little bits from your day. Your drawing prompts are already predetermined, so that makes it easy. It's also a nice way to keep a journal and someone turns into a little comic or book about your life. I had a lot of fun designing different page layouts for this. However, after a while, I wasn't motivated to keep it up on a consistent basis. It took too long to do every day. We'll definitely keep this one in mind as we consider a daily page template and figure out how to make it work for us. Another popular form of journaling is gratitude journaling, and it's related to illustrated journaling but really focuses on the aspect of enhancing or developing our sense of gratitude, which helps shift our perspective to be more positive and also helps cultivate our sense of well-being. Many companies have put out guided gratitude journals and apps that help you practice gratitude every day. This is a little too narrow for my purposes, but I think it's really sweet and can be great element to bring into our planning. Morning pages is a practices introduced too through the book, The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron. It's a really popular book where people who are on a path of creative awakening. One of the main tools to teachers is called morning pages, where you fill up three pages of writing every day first thing in the morning. You can write about anything you like and you can think of anything to write. You can even just write, I don't know what to write over and over again as long as you hit three pages. The ideas are mental brain dump and is intended to help you break out of creative blocks and make room for the good stuff. Many people swear by the practice. I personally tried it and I found that while I enjoy aspects of it, I really wanted to practice specific skills such as drawing more. My issues weren't so much create of works but I wanted to hone my skills. I still think it's a great aspect to keep in mind. Let's keep that in our arsenal as we think about our daily pages. Last but not least, bullet journaling and similar goal-setting journals are of course very popular. They help set goals, break them into milestones and plan out our lives. There's usually some form of habit tracker, a planner, and intention setting. While the function of these journals is slightly different to me than daily pages, I want to include them in this discussion because there are aspects of each that I think are helpful to put into our toolkit and decide later if we want to include. We can keep going on and on, but those are the main approaches that I wanted to cover for this class. Now let's dive into actually designing our daily pages. 4. Design Considerations: Why is this class called Design Your Daily Pages? Design as a verb, by definition, means to do or plan something with a specific purpose or intention in mind. When we design something, we want to start with why. Why are we doing this? What is our specific purpose or intention? Once we have our why, it will be much clear what to do when it comes time to make decisions and make edits. Set your why. Why do you want to keep a daily pages habit? I'm going to list out some of the most obvious benefits. Pick up the ones that resonate with you, and, of course, feel free to add any that I've missed. To get better at a technical skill, to get out of creative block, to clear or sharpen the mind, to have time for self-reflection, to become more grateful, to practice creativity as self-care, to build discipline, to set and achieve goals and plans. For me, my purpose and intention is to build discipline, practice creativity as self-care, and improve my drawing and design skills. Another important aspect of design is to consider the requirements or parameters of your design. Are there any limitations that you want to keep in mind? One of the most obvious limitations for most of us is that we need to be able to fit it into our busy daily schedules. I encourage you to do an honest audit of your day and see where you can fit this into your life. Maybe it's first thing in the morning or it could last thing at night. I find that making it a part of a routine or a ritual at the bookends of the day, makes it much more likely that you'll do it. Once you find out your time of day, set a realistic time limit. If you have lots of time to draw, great. If you only have 5-15 minutes, that's still better than nothing. For me, I want to make this part of my morning routine and I have 20-30 minutes max that I can devote to this. As for whether to use a digital drawing app or a real sketchbook, that's, again, up to you. Digital is, of course, great because you can hit undo and you have all the brushes and colors in the world with just one pen , plus it's mess-free. With a traditional sketchbook, you're much more limited. But sometimes working in limitations can really push your creativity. It's also easier for many people, including me to think and brain dump with a pencil and paper versus a screen, and it's nice to have one collection of drawing all together in a neat little package. I work almost entirely in digital so that might seem like the obvious choice for me. But actually, I want to keep a traditional sketchbook for a few reasons. One, it gives me a simple structure, using some healthy limitations, and finally, it forces me to confront some weak areas that are easily covered up by the undo button. I play around with a bunch of drawing tools to see what my ideal combination would be and edit it down to a really limited set. Last but not least, try to make the experience as easy as possible so that you can do it anywhere. If you're traveling and can't bring all your drawing materials with you, it might limit your ability to maintain the routine. For me, I want it to be light and portable, but still big enough to be satisfying and fun to draw in. It's less fun to draw in a smaller three by five-inch or even the half-page notebooks compared to the larger one. I settled on a softcover 8 by 10 notebook with all my drawing materials carried in my canvas pouch. Last but not least, we should set some goals for our design to test its effectiveness. Ideally, a good design means that we're doing our daily pages on a consistent and daily basis. Set a goal. Are you going to try to do three pages a day like with morning pages? Or something gradually, say, with one spread a week? A daily practice will definitely build your skills up more quickly, but starting with something achievable is better than nothing at all. For me, I realistically can do one page a day. I've other aspects of my morning routine that I need to maintain, so this is the best balance that I can commit to. If I don't hit my goal, I don't beat myself up about it. I just pick back up when I can and move on. The intention here with the goals is to keep you motivated, not punish you mentally. 5. Favorite Tools: Here are the different tools that I've considered and personally recommend. Since I can't cover every single option out there, I thought it was most effective to just highlight a balance of introductory, but tried and true options to give you a good starting set. You can, of course, always explore more and add more on your own. I work using digital tools and want to share my go-to set, which I think is also one of the most common setups for many digital illustrators these days. Here it is. I use a 12.9 inch iPad Pro, the second-generation Apple Pencil, the Procreate digital drawing app, and a screen protector called clear view Paperlike, which helps give some friction to the drawing experience and somewhat mimics the feeling of drawing on paper instead of on a smooth piece of glass. As for what memory size to get, I get the smallest size of the iPad Pro because I pretty much only use it for digital painting, and the Procreate app files take up an incredibly small amount of storage space. If you've ever had to deal with huge Photoshop files, you know what I'm getting at. The entire drawing experience between the iPad, the pencil and Procreate is really seamless and can finish an entire complex digital painting within the Procreate app. I have a separate class I'm introducing you to digital painting. I'm going to do a quick overview of getting set up here, and if you'd like more details, I encourage you to check that class out. We want to set it up for a sketchbook. I would set up a template size that mimics the feeling of a notebook. You can use a default screen size since that's similar to a sheet of paper. Or you might look for your favorite notebook and see what the page dimensions are and set it up that way. For example, if I liked drawing in my 8 by 10 inch notebook, I can create an 8 by 10-inch template. I then group all the pages into one folder so that you can scroll through them similar to a book. The latest Procreate version as of the time of this recording has a new feature where you can see all your layers in a page format and then scroll through them, which is really nice. As for brushes and colors, I recommend picking just a few favorite brushes and a few favorite colors to keep your experience focused. You can organize your brushes in its own brush folder by creating a new one. You can also save your own special color palette here. Lastly, you can use separate layers if you like some flexibility. But drawing all on one layer it could be a nice way to mimic the feeling of drawing in a physical notebook. Let's move on to traditional drawing tools. I wanted to create an intentional curation of tools so that I can be focused and efficient with my daily pages. First up, I love this Frixion Erasable ink pen by Pilot. It actually erases really well. Using a pen is a nice practice of not erasing. But this gives a nice compromise for me. Basically, I try to use it as a normal pen as much as possible, but when I really want to erase something that's really bugging me, I'm going to go ahead and let myself erase it. Plus it's actually way nicer than a pencil in the sense, that the eraser never gets dirty and you don't ever risk getting those eraser skid marks. If you were to use just one tool, I would suggest this one. If you want to use pencils instead of ink, I really like the Palomino Blackwing traditional pencil and this one for a mechanical pencil. I use these a lot when I'm sketching designs for work. My new favorite thing to use for sketching is colored brush pens. These are the markers with a flexible brush tip, not the chiseled hardpoint. For now, I like to use neutrals and grays to keep a simple color palette and focus on values which just means the overall intensity or lightness or darkness of a color. By working in grayscale, I'm training my sense of contrast and shadow without the distraction of color. My favorite budget options for these brush pens are Sakura Koi or Tombow. They're also water-based so they're less likely to bleed through the pages. Copic is a more premium brand that I like and it has a much wider range of colors, but it's alcohol-based, so it will bleed through most notebook papers. So lately I've just been sticking to the Sakura Koi brushes. The thing I really like about them is that you can create larger spreads of color and shapes with them than you can with a pen or a pencil. This way I'm able to create quicker filled shapes and then add the pen in later as a detail versus how you was doing with before, which is to lay the foundational drawing, first with pen and then coloring it in. I prefer this new method a lot more. Finally, I keep a few items for small highlights. I love the highlighting effect of a white Gelly Roll pen on a gray or tan-toned paper. I also have this peach colored pencil for blush highlights on my figures. I sometimes also use a fat paint pen like Posca or Molotow for some pops of bold color. I also really like these Kuretake pens that are made for calligraphy actually, but there's a black color and different metallic colors that are really nice for filling in certain shapes. I also mentioned that I'd love to use gouache more, but it's hard to carry around and maintain for me. There's certainly artists who carry around their paints and ceramics for sketchbook purposes so don't rule them out if you're interested in them. I might try that in the future when I'm ready to add more color and practice painting in my pages. Last but not least some Washi tape can be helpful for taping off paintings or just decorating your journal. I use our mini tie ones as page marks. 6. Favorite Sketchbooks: When it comes to what sketchbook or notebook to use, there are a ton of different options out there. It really comes down to personal preference, but I think there's a few common things that everyone wants to take into consideration, such as how big it is and what the paper quality is like. To me, I think the most important thing is just to find one that you really like to use so that you stay motivated to draw on it, but at the same time aren't so precious about it that you don't want to draw in it because you don't want to mess it up. I've collected a few of most popular options here to show you and give you something to consider. Here is the Moleskine 5.5 by 8.5-inch art sketchbook, the Leuchttum data notebook, and six by 8.25 inches, and the Rhodia dotted softcover notebook and six by 8.25 inches as well, These aren't as popular but I want to show you some other options. There's this Rendr No Show Thru paper notebook. There's French studio notebook that has four different kinds of paper inside and Stillman and Birn toned notebook and eight by ten inches. With the Moleskine, the pages of the art sketchbook are pretty thick and smooth. For Moleskine, be careful not to confuse the art sketchbook with their regular notebooks. The paper on those are much thinner these days and I don't recommend them for this purpose. I'm not a huge fan of the half-page aspect ratio. I really find that I prefer this six by 8.25 or eight by ten inches more. With this Leuchtturm notebook, the covers similar hardcover to the Moleskine, but the interior pages are a bit thinner. Like do prefer dotted paper to blank paper these days. I also like when it doesn't be very thin and very light. These are a bit too distracting in my opinion. The thinner pages, it's not a go. With this Rhodia notebook, it's a nice ivory-colored paper and it's actually brushed velum, so it takes my brush pens a little better than the Leuchtturm. I liked the dots a bit more on this design too. This one's a softcover, it feels sturdy and it would survive in my bag. That's not true of all softcover notebooks out there. For example, I don't carry my fringe notebook out in a bag because I feel like it can get damaged too easily. Speaking of Fringe notebook, I really like the size and the paper quality is pretty decent. I also liked having four different kinds of paper to try. A gray line sheet, the yellow grid sheet, white dotted sheet, and a blank pink sheet. I found that I really liked drawing on the gray paper as the little white paper. The tone color allows the white jelly roll to really pop. Well, I never liked lined paper in the past. This one's actually pretty close enough to the paper color. I didn't mind them and I actually think it adds some interest to my sketches. Unfortunately, they don't sell a notebook with only grid papers, so this one's not a keeper for me either. Before I get to the one that I'm currently using, I want to stop and mention this Rendr one from crescent creative products. This one's interesting because I was introduced to it by one of the store associates as it's one of the only sketchbooks where you can use alcohol-based markers like Copic and not get them marker bleed through. That's pretty magical. Unfortunately, they don't make any tone paper ones and again, I don't really like this size. I decided to skip the Copic markers, stick to something that would work with a notebook that I do like, which is this Stillman and Birn one. This is my newest and favorite notebook and I really love the paper quality, it's quite thick. My sacred code pens don't bleed through and it has a slight grainy texture to it that I enjoy drawing on. The softcover is sturdy enough for me to feel like I could carry it around. Overall, I've been enjoying using it. Out of these six, if I had to pick one, I would probably stick to the Stillman and Birn notebook because it has nice tone pages, feels adorable yet light enough to carry. To be honest, these are all great options and yet none of these sketchbooks are perfect for me. I wish there was a notebook that was like the Stillman and Birn one, but lightly dotted or lightly lined. I also wish that I had the elastic closure and ribbon and back pocket that most of the other notebooks have. Am I asking for too much? You make this notebook for me, which I, speaking of which another option is actually to find your own notebook using paper that you like. There are a lot of great tutorials on this online. Some people really swear by the therapeutic practice of doing your own bookbinding for something personal, like a sketchbook or journal. But let's save that for another class. 7. Guided Journals: Now that we have a sense of our design parameters and what tools are going to use, let's gather some ideas of what our daily pages might include. I've collected some embedded journals to show you what other people have done with their templates. Even though none of these worked for my specific needs, it's suddenly helpful to take a look and see what we might be able to pull out that's helpful. First, here's an example of a prompted drawing journal called draw your day. This one focuses on drawing again, very similar to the illustrated journaling concepts and it keeps it really simple. It's very straightforward with a little drawing in the corner and some prompts to get you started. I personally don't use guided drawing prompts like these because I want to create my own prompts and I usually don't want to do most of the ones that they provide. I also personally prefer a blank notebook rather than one that's decorated with other people's drawings. That said, if you're looking for a good place to get started as a beginner and just want to take something really light and easy, I think that these are really great examples. Another type of guided journal is a gratitude journal. Kurzgesagt is a popular YouTube channel and animation studio that makes these fun and educational explainer videos. They put up a gratitude journal in connection with one of the videos that they made explaining the benefits of a gratitude practice. This one has prompts and is interspersed with little tidbits of wisdom and these really nice illustrations. I think it's really cute and really well done. But again, it's a little too specific and structured for my purposes. These two are similar in that they are for setting goals and achieving them, but have very different formats. The self journal is put up by best self company and it's really well designed and has a planner and habit tracker with a really clean type design. It's designed around a 13-week framework with goals, a bucket list, benchmarks in different areas of your life, a habit checker, spaces to plan up your month, weeks, and finally, daily entries with a space for gratitude journaling, goal-setting and target setting, mood and habit tracking, and some blank space for anything you want. I think it's really good you're looking for a very specific guided system for achieving specific types of outcomes. But again this isn't the right fit for what I'm looking for with daily pages. Another example is this one called hero's journal, which is presented in this comicy graphic novel format where the character you, hackles your goals through the metaphor of a hero on an adventure. If legends are more of your thing, this makes the whole experience a lot more fun. For me, I personally love a lot of this kind of information in a digital format in my Notion app. I don't need to do it again for my daily pages. However, I do think it's nice to incorporate some ideas of recentering on values and big picture in my template. More importantly, I just wanted to show you the range of different types of journals and templates out there so that you can think about what end of the spectrum you would like to be on. With all of these, really great if you want some specific structure around a specific topic, but say you wanted to tackle all three things. You wanted to do some drawing, you want to do some gratitude journaling, and you want to do a habit tracker and goal-setting. You would need to have all three journals and probably dedicate a lot more time to fill in each one out and you have in a single day. At least that's how it was for me. What I decided to do is to look at everything that's out there, think about what I really want out of a daily page and plot the elements that work for me into a blank notebook. 8. Elements: [MUSIC] Now that we know what we're working with, let's get into creating our own theory pages. I'm going to walk you through the different elements that you consider choosing from and you can think of it as a scheduled journal cafe that I'll walk you through and you choose what you want to put onto your [inaudible]. First, let's consider the methods of mark making. Obviously you can write like with a traditional journal, but you don't need to think of it just in terms of writing in straight lines, filling up the page with full sentences. You can also consider just writing short notes or even little poems to quickly convey sentiments or log events. On the other hand, if you're trying to practice formal writing or want to do something more similar to Julia Cameron's morning pages, then add that to your list. Since my daily pages lean more on visuals, I plan to include some writing just in small bursts around my drawings. I also make up little symbols to represent things I want to remember every day such as my mantra, my North Star and my work's focus. When I make the little symbols, I actively think about each element it represents. This way, I can keep them at the top of my mind every day, but I don't have to write it out each time. Drawing is the next big obvious one. You can simply doodle to let loose or draw intentionally to develop a skill. You can draw from imagination or do a study of a drawing reference. It really depends on your goals. If you're not sure what kind of approach is right for you, remember to look back at your why. Are you trying to get better at drawing? Then drawing from a reference and doing more intentional studies such as maybe drawing a bird a day might be more helpful. Or you're just trying to relax and do a bit of a brain dump. Then scribbles and doodles from your imagination may be the best route. Of course, you can always test out each approach for a few days and see what feels best for you and your needs. Since my current attention with my daily pages is to nurture my drawing and composition skills, I'll be using drawing references and combining them into something imaginative. If you're planning to draw, you might also want to consider to what extent you will be bringing painting or coloring into your sketchbook. We'll use stick to pen line drawings or fill it in with color, possibly even sketch directly with paint and brush. If you're not sure, you're of course welcome to try different mediums and see what sticks for you. However, just keep in mind what you can realistically commit to everyday and possibly take with you on the go. Traditional paints can get messy. A little plate of lighter colors maybe handier, in which case you want to make sure you get a notebook that has heavy paper that can hold the paint. Notebook manufacturers will say what kind of paper the notebook contains, so just look for one that says it has watercolor paper or heavy-duty mixed media paper. It usually has a GSM that is high, over 200. For example, there's a stationery company called Mossery that has a watercolor sketchbook that has 224 GSM paper. Compare that to a normal mole skin notebook that can't hold watercolor paints, which has a 70 GSM paper. You might also consider coloring pencils and markers. There are many options out there that range from the crayola variety you used as a kid, which are still great options, to more sophisticated options that give you more control and nuance with your coloring, such as offerings by Prismacolor and Copic. Regardless of what you choose, you can again return to your why in your own design parameters to see what makes the most sense for you. I personally think it helps to have some constraints, so instead of using every color and medium available, try to edit it down to a few favorites and a limited color palette. This also helps to make your sketch book with more cohesive if that's something that you're going for. For me, I considered the different options and decided to go with an ink pen, a few tonal coloring brush pens and a white gelly rolled pen. This gives me just enough range to work with while keeping it simple. Keep in mind that I draw a sketch on my iPad for all my other work, so my design parameters and requirements are really specific to what I want to get out of my daily cages. Last but not least, I want to mention the practice of collaging as an option. This is especially great for visual thinkers who aren't quite ready to draw or want to achieve more colorful, vibrant page in a quicker way. Collaging can be a great way to organize memories, collect inspiration and just have fun with mixing and matching different elements of visuals into one unexpected spread. You can practice skills of design and developing an eye for composition and colors. It's a related yet very different mindset than drawing and writing that can also be very complimentary. For me, I might try bring this element into the future, but for now, I want to focus on my own drawings and writings and not be in the headspace of collaging. [MUSIC] 9. Themes: [MUSIC] Now let's talk about some easy go to themes and prompts for your daily pages just to start you off with some structure. You of course, add your own now or in the future when you've built up your habit a little bit more. Let's start off with something easy and familiar. Drawing or writing about your day helps you grow in self-reflection and is the most common journaling practice. Keep this in your arsenal as an evergreen theme or topic when you can't think about what to write or draw. It can be deep and contemplative about your thoughts and feelings about that day, or more hearted, such as what you ate for lunch or what you wore that day and everything in-between. You can also incorporate some of the goal-setting and bullet journaling aspects we discussed earlier, such as tracking your goals and planning out your day and checking back in that evening or the next day to see how you did. As I mentioned earlier, gratitude journaling is a great way to practice nurturing in a positive perspective and mental health. It can build on top of daily life journaling by reflecting on what you're grateful for that day. Maybe something nice that someone did for you, for example, or a little flower that you found on the street. Or it can be more holistic and just focus on a general sense of what you're grateful for; just health, family and friends. Let's put this in our arsenal too. Somewhat related to the first two themes is an emotions or mood check-in. I see this in many guided journals and self-care apps. It can be as simple as making a little emoji face to indicate how you're feeling that day. I usually see a range of five faces from smiley to frowny or take a deeper dive into writing or drawing out how you're feeling. For me, I like to make just a little symbol to check in with how I'm feeling, such as a sun for happiness and a squiggly little mess for when I'm feeling frustrated or challenged. Another easy and helpful theme is to simply pick something to study and draw. This is great for developing your observational skills and staying focused in the present moment. It can be an object in your physical surroundings or a photo on your computer or phone. If you use a digital option, just be careful not to get distracted by notifications or other apps on your device. This is the one I'm most focused on right now, since the priority of my daily pages is develop a sketchbook habit with a secondary purpose of logging my daily thoughts and feelings. Another theme that I find to be easy and centering, is to go through the five senses. In my class of mindful drawing, I explained how using the five senses is a common practice in mindfulness meditation to ground yourself into the present moment. You can also use this with your daily pages. For example, either writing descriptively or drawing something that you see, you hear, you smell, you feel, or you taste. Again, it's something that's easy and always with you anytime making it a great candidate for your daily pages theme. Last but not least, a fun thing you can try is to write or draw something you've learned about that day, or maybe you even have a practice to intentionally learn about something so that you can use it for your daily pages. Illustrator Mike Lowery has a great practice of this. Check out his work on Instagram if you're interested in this approach. [MUSIC] 10. Studies & Inspo: [MUSIC] For those of you who want to include drawing studies in your daily pages, I want to dedicate a few minutes specifically to how I approach this. Since I'm short on time every day. I think it's most helpful to collect a bunch of drawing references in batches so you have it ready to go on a day-to-day basis. There are many ways you can do this, but here are just a few ways that I like to do it. First of all, regardless of what format it is you collect, find things that inspire you and make you feel calm, inspired, and well. This is the best motivator to draw and journal. It can be anything, flowers, nature, robots, cars, super cute sea slugs, anything. Second, find a format that works for you. On a traditional print side, you can consider books, magazines, or even free catalogs. I went through a phase where I use the magazine put up by the clothing company Uniqlo that I just happened to have lying around. It turned out to be great for studying poses and clothing. I also really like beautiful coffee table books, so that can be a great source of reference. Of course, there are actual drawing [inaudible] books, as I mentioned before, that can be great if you just want a straightforward prompt to work with every day. On the digital side, something like Pinterest can be extremely helpful. Any app that lets you collect inspiration from around the Internet and social media and organizes them is great for this purpose. I have specific folders that I call drawing references that I used for my daily pages. I add and remove things as I go along, so I always have something to draw in the morning. One tip I have is to make it easy to add photos to Pinterest from your phone. I love getting inspired by random things while out and about and only recently made the effort to finally remember to actually add them to my Pinterest so it doesn't get lost in the sea, that is my camera roll. Third, I recommend editing and focusing your references. If every day you have to start off making your big decision, going through all of your inspiration to find something to draw, it will become unsustainable unless you happen to have a lot of time for your daily pages. I recommend just focusing on one book or magazine at a time or with just one Pinterest board. Constraints are your friend here. Lastly, consider how you want to use studies to train your style. You start with a realistic study of the drawing reference, but eventually, adapt your studies to be stylized interpretations of your reference. Compare this realistic sketch with this stylized interpretation of a movie scene. You can also mix and match references to create unique compositions. For example, lately I like to take flower arrangements and combine them with poses at disproportionate scales. It creates a new scene that incorporates the drawing references, but also isn't an exact copy of each. I love to do this because I get the benefit of a sketch study while also practicing design, composition, and working from imagination. For this exercise, I personally prefer not to look at other illustrators or artists because I feel like it overly influences my work, but it's totally up to you. I definitely look at them for other inspiration in other contexts. [MUSIC] 11. Your Routine: [MUSIC] Now that you have your ideal daily page template in mind, we need to set ourselves up for success. I encourage you to build a habit and a routine that supports your daily pages practice. For me, I try to include it as part of my morning routine. I like to start the day off with a sitting meditation and a quick yoga stretch sequence. Then I wash all the digits from the day before, make some tea and do my daily page. This is my ideal way to start the day. But if I don't get everything in, I just do what I can. I can definitely feel the difference between the days that I can do my full morning routine and the days that I can't. In the morning is also nice because if I miss it, I have another chance in the evening. If I only plan for the evening and miss my daily page for that day, then I feel like I've given myself only one chance to do it. When it comes to building a habit, having an accountability partner or community can really help. For me, that's part of the reason why I created a cloud house community so that we can help each other stay committed to our practice. I encourage you to write down your commitment and daily routine. It can definitely evolve with you, but just having it written down can help you stick with your intentions and commit to your daily page. [MUSIC] 12. Recap & Example: [MUSIC] Here's a full recap of my process and how I set up my goals, my daily page, and my routine. This quick section follows the class worksheet so that you can have one quick point of reference if you want to come back to this video in the future. For me, the reason why I started this whole exercise for myself was because I hit this frustration point where I really wanted to keep a daily beautiful sketchbook but I couldn't find either the consistent practice for it or when I tried I just wasn't happy with the outcome and it wasn't feeling like it was achieving any of the goals that I wanted to set up to do. When I took a step back and asked myself why isn't this working for me and what is preventing me from doing it every day, there were a few obvious things that came to mind. One is that for the ones that I did like, they took such a long time for me to design, to fill in, to color, and to make it perfect. I wanted to avoid trying to make it too perfect and too time-consuming. On the other hand, when I tried to just wing it and not think about it and just scribble, I didn't like how they turned out, and so that also made me [LAUGHTER] upset and I didn't want to keep doing it every day. At the same time, I also draw and do a lot of design for work. Sometimes when I was doing my sketchbook pages, I would start to feel like I wasn't being efficient or effective with my time and my day. I really was trying to figure out a way that I could have this self-care practice that also was building up something for my work as well. That's where I started to think about how can I have both the study aspect of drawing but also incorporate some of the journaling practices I liked from practices, so just gratitude journaling or those goal setting journals that I showed you. Then I tried many different ways of doing this before I finally got to my template. I started with morning pages. I tried bullet journaling. I tried just sketch-booking. I tried following prompts. I did maybe one Inktober and then I stopped. Then finally, I started to draw the figures in the catalog that I mentioned and really enjoyed that. Drawing from the catalog and writing the morning pages was something that I found an element of both practice and enjoyment that I felt was a good balance. From there, I honed it down even more because filling up three pages of writing every day was too time-consuming for my practice and didn't leave enough room for me to practice my drawing. What I ended up with was actually focusing on the drawing first and then filling it in with just little notes from the day, little scribbles, maybe things that I wanted to get off my mind. I also liked the general look and feel of how that page turned out. It at once helped me achieve my desire to draw more, to have some daily writing practice, to check in with myself and remember my north star and my focuses and have a page that I could do it on a consistent basis, didn't take me forever, and I was happy with how it turned out. As for the elements and references that I incorporated into my daily page, here's a list of all the things that I think about every day. First I start with a study. I find usually a portion of a person, either full body or half body, then a flower arrangement that I like, and sometimes interesting environments. I combine this into my drawing reference and usually change some aspects to work on something that I am focused on, such as facial expressions. Then I put the dates. I think adding a date is really important to check your progress and also turn it more into a journal practice, and I make my little symbol to show my mood for that day, such as a little squiggle or a circle. I include my reference source, usually Pinterest, and then I add the little lines that represent, for me, the centering mantras and notes and focuses that I want to remember every day. That's it. [MUSIC] 13. Final Thoughts: Congrats on finishing this class. I hope that you are able to design your ideal daily page and commit to taking the time for this simple, yet highly effective form of self-care and self-discovery. I encourage you to share your worksheets and example of your daily pages with the class. I know I would love to see it. If you enjoyed this class, I encourage you to check out my other classes. You can also learn more about our Cloud House learning community at Keep in touch by following me on Instagram @mimochai and @mimizchao or joining our newsletter @mimochai. Until next time, thanks and take care.