What's a sensible way to manage my diverse drawings?
June 22, 2007 10:41 PM   Subscribe

Best way to manage sketchbooks?

Do you keep just one at a time and fill it up? Do you use both sides of the paper? If you draw something crappy, do you rip it out, or scribble over it? If you have different styles (watercolour, pencils, ink, cartoon, layout) do you keep different sketchbooks (how many?) or just one? How do you refind your ideas?
posted by b33j to Media & Arts (5 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Do you keep just one at a time and fill it up?

I have a few by topic.

1. General purpose for personal use, where I don't expect to spend more than a 1-4 consecutive pages on the same thing before moving to something else.
2. General purpose for work use. (separation of work materials from personal materials is always a good idea)
3. Books dedicated to specific projects, where I expect to do a lot of stuff related to a project, so it gets its own book to keep it all together.

Do you use both sides of the paper?
For doodles and development sketches, yes. For sketches intended to be a bit more presentable, no.

If you draw something crappy, do you rip it out, or scribble over it?
No. But I'm not in the habit of showing people my sketchbooks. If I'm going to show a sketch, it's often easier to scan it, give it a quick polish in photoshop, then print a bunch of copies so that as we go over the sketch, it can be written over, sketched over, bits circled, bits crossed out, notes added, etc. The sketch is my process, and another person looking at it cannot see that process because they are not me. The sketchbook is for me, and as such, there is no reason to remove stuff. With the possible exception of what can happen to stuff after you die. :-)

How do you refind your ideas?
In book #1, I leave a few pages blank at the beginning, for a makeshift table of contents that I may, or may not, update as I fill the book.
More recently, I've started using a free wiki, with short one-line text descriptions, since these lines can be easily organised and juggled around by topic or other factor, and I don't need to see a page of my sketching to recognise the idea. It's sort of the conceptual equivalent of scanning a gallery via thumbnails :)
posted by -harlequin- at 11:50 PM on June 22, 2007 [1 favorite]

An addendum to the first question: My #1 sketchbook is as small and durable as possible without being uselessly small, so that I can take it with me, chuck it in a bag where it will get banged about a bit etc etc.

Whereas books #2 and onwards are larger. (Though they also tend to take the form of durable hardcover books, rather than pads, because I figure there isn't any reason to skimp a few dollars on format if I'm going to be putting some time into the contents. I mainly use pencil, which is happy on a wider range of paper than, say, watercolour, but art papers in hardback book format are not hard to find.
posted by -harlequin- at 12:02 AM on June 23, 2007

Best answer: I usually just have one sketchbook going at once. I try to fill it up before I move on to the next. For anything I do outside the book which I want to keep I'll just tape it in on a blank page.

I use the bound hardback ones - you can get them at any art store and often at office supply ones. I hate spiral bound notebooks so I steer clear of those but I'd imagine the paper quality is the same and they're probably a bit cheaper.

I figure a sketch book is meant to develop ideas and for practice so I don't worry if I do a bad sketch - I just move on and start a new one. There are different theories on this - some people do more polished sketches so they prune their books. Others fill every inch of space with something and don't worry about it. A lot of it depends on whether you're wanting other people to flip through it or not.

I've been drawing on both sides for a while but since I've started posting sketches on my blog I've noticed a problem with images on the back side showing through. Scanners are getting so powerful it can be hard to get them to dumb down.

So if you're doing sketches for the purpose of scanning them or for further work I'd suggest only doing one side of the page. If you're just having fun and don't care/have need for a clean scan then I'd use both sides to save some coin :)

I do refining work outside the sketchbook. Same with any alternate formats - everything in my sketchbook is pencil. If it's really good and I want to work more with it then I may ink it in the book before scanning to help the cleanup process. I use Photoshop for coloring, backgrounds, etc.

Most of the artists I know who do various formats do have different books simply because the paper you'd use for watercolors isn't ideal for, say, charcoal. They also don't want to waste a book of watercolor paper on random pencil doodles as the watercolor paper can be more expensive.

Hopefully that helps!
posted by Dallasfilm at 5:19 AM on June 23, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks very much. Very helpful.
posted by b33j at 3:32 PM on June 23, 2007

I have pads but they're all blank. Like they're "pages in waiting" I guess. I don't know what classification to give some thing until it is done. If I could determine beforehand then for a start I could ditch the need for a 'crap' pile.

Also ideas that swept me off my feet but then all of a sudden won't return my calls will begin to 'speak' to me again if they're where I will see them (Inside cupboards, behind doors) while I work on something else.

And only ever one side of a page. There are various practical reasons but mostly I just feel that anything else is would be a little insulting to all concerned.
posted by mu~ha~ha~ha~har at 11:07 AM on June 24, 2007

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