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Art Education

Artists’ Sketchbook

Artists’ Sketchbook

Artists have kept sketchbooks to record observations, develop artistic skill and ideas since dawn of paper. Artists and designers alike keep an ongoing journal to practice their drawing technique and develop ideas and products.

Besides an inspiring name for a mutant turtle in a secret underground ninja order, Leonardo was an extremely talented boy from the town of Vinci during the mid 1400’s. People who knew him recognized his creative talents, studying and drawing subjects from a wide range of topics and studies, from architecture to zoology. After becoming an apprentice to the Masters of his time, Leonardo would become the Master of Masters. Along side legendary works like the Mona Lisa and The Last Supper, Leonardo’s sketchbook pages, numbering in the thousands, stands as a collective master piece of not only drawing, and illustration but of human investigation his spirit for curiosity.


Leonard da Vinci’s Sketches



Looking at exceptional master works can be a daunting for a student as well as is inspiring, it may drum up feelings that the skills are too hard to learn. All artists feel this way, start off small and practice the your skills for even just a few moments each day.  Illustrator Mark Crilley gave a drawing challenge his friends, “The rules are simple – each has to pick a character and sketch it three times by hand in 10 minutes, 1 minute, and 10 seconds.” In the featured article Greta, J. shares an array artists and images that reveal the artistic process and gradual progression of shape and form in a subject.


Speed Drawing Challenge

Asks Artists To Sketch In 10 Mins, 1 Min,

And 10 Seconds.


Sketching: The Visual Thinking Power Tool
The 3 best reasons to carry a sketchbook with suggestions for those who don’t think they can draw very well. How does sketching help artists develop a variety of ideas? What are alternative ideas and rabbit-hole ideas? Why can sketches be more inviting of team discussions than highly finished art?


Corgis and crowns: Steve Antony’s Sketchpad Share in Pictures
Explore the sketches, analyze the the use of shape and repetition what gives the characters such refinement? How does repetition help an artist develop ideas? How does the artist show variety, unity, and/or movement in the work?


Terms and Concepts

Composition, an arrangement of line, shape, form, space, value, pattern and color or value.
Crosshatching lines, a series of crossing lines to create values, esp. pen & ink
Depth, the illusion of real space on a flat surface.
Line, varied weight, a line that changes thickness.
Shape, two dimensional enclosed areas, circle, square, etc.
Sketchbook, a book to practice drawing, formulate ideas and keep visual resources
Space & Structure, organization or composition of shapes, lines and forms in a picture.
Thumbnails, many small drawings that are studies for larger works of art.
Value, an element of design that relates to the lightness and darkness of a color or tone.

Robert Castillo – Story Board Artist

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Questions to consider

• How old was Robert when he came to the United States?

Recall what city did he come from?

Relate the feeling he describes of the cold air hitting him for the first time.

• What conflicts arise for Robert as he first arrives in New York Cite evidence?

• Why do think he felt conflicted meeting his mother the first time?



Students will need a sketchbook that they can use to sketch and draw in daily. A spiral sketchbook with white unlined pages works best, glued binders tend to fall apart after a while. A variety of sketchbooks are available at art supply stores and online or you can construct on in class. Below are a typical brands of sketchbooks you will find online or at a store near you.


Sketchbook Guide and Rubrics

• Cover each page with a variety of thumbnails, sketches, drawings and notes.
• Use thumbnail frames at first and mix frameless sketches into the page.
• Leave a little space, called gutters, between frames and the edges of the page.
• Sketch lightly at first, and darken lines later with a variety of dark and light lines.
• Create a variety of five to seven different values of gray, and work in some contrast.
• Add pattern, textures, and details, and other observations of the subject.

Sketchbook Format Español Link 


* Cast shadows, presente sombras _/10

Vintage PowerPoint Link


Mends, D., Leonardo da Vinci Drawings, Retrieved from

Greta, J. Speed Drawing Challenge Asks Artists To Sketch In 10 Mins, 1 Min, And 10 Secs.,, Retrieved 1/25/2017

Rohde, M. Sketching: the Visual Thinking Power Tool, A List Apart, Retrieved 1/25/2017,

Anthony, S. Corgis and crown Steve Anthony’s Sketchpad Share in Pictures, The Guardian, Retrieved 1/25/2017

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