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Animatedly Yours: Helpful Hints From an Art Student

Hello WDW Radio Blog readers! This month I wanted to try something a little different from my usual style. I’m going to introduce you to my sketchbook! As an artist, it’s always important to keep a sketchbook on hand for whenever inspiration strikes. It’s also a super useful tool for when you’re completely out of ideas and need to get your creative juices flowing again! So without further ado, here are some helpful hints and ideas for starting/keeping a sketchbook, along with examples from my own.alyssa.sketch.1

  1. Make at least one entry a day- I treat mine like a visual journal, meaning I draw how I feel or whatever I’m thinking about; basically whatever pops into my head! It’s cathartic in a way because it helps me express how I feel in the form with which I’m most comfortable, as other people might do with musical instruments, writing, or any other passion. Drawing in my sketchbook every day also helps me sharpen my skills and improve. Practice makes perfect!

alyssa.sketch.22. Repetition- This goes hand in hand with drawing every day. When I come across an obstacle in drawing, like something I just can’t seem to get right (hands are my biggest weakness), I find it helps to simply keep trying! It’s a pretty basic piece of advice, but it’s easy to forget! I always struggle to keep at it and face the problem, and instead I tend to just avoid drawing hands altogether. It’s a bad habit that can only be broken with more practice. A good method for this would be to make ‘studies.’ A study is when you only focus on one subject or method and explore it until you have a better grasp on it, like my study of hands. It really does help!alyssa.sketch.3

3. Write the date next to each drawing- This is a simple tip but also really useful! I used to never do it, and then whenever I looked back at old drawings, I couldn’t tell exactly when they were from so I couldn’t really piece together a cohesive path of improvement in my work. I found it really frustrating, but it’s such an easy fix. It’s especially helpful to date drawings in sketchbooks so that you can easily see your improvement from day to day as you flip through.

alyssa.sketch.44. Make notes- This isn’t at all necessary, and I didn’t even realize I was doing it until I later flipped back to my previous entries. Whenever I’m struggling with a drawing, make mistakes, or even do something I’m proud of, I’ll make little notes next to it in response. They serve as reminders about what’s working and what isn’t, and they can come in handy when working on something similar in the future!alyssa.sketch.5

5. Don’t limit yourself- About 90% of the time that I have artist’s block (is that a thing?), it’s because I’m overthinking what I want to draw. I always put too much pressure on one little sketch and forget that this is all just practice; no one has to see this but you! Just try things out and experiment with new techniques, styles, media; be spontaneous! I find that my best work is done when I’m not even thinking, and I just jump right in. If it doesn’t work out, there’s always a fresh page awaiting you!

Animation and many other forms of art are all about the process behind the final product. Without process, trial and error, experimentation, etc., the end result wouldn’t even come close to being as clean and smooth as it could be! Keeping a sketchbook is a great way to explore process even if you don’t have a final piece in mind. Sometimes you can even be inspired by a little doodle you’ve created in your sketchbook and improve it to make it something bigger and better! It all begins with a sketch.

If you’ve found these tips helpful or have any more to add to the list, leave a comment below!

(Images from author’s personal collection.)

Alyssa Schulman is currently a student at Rhode Island School of Design. She was born in Florida but moved to Massachusetts at age 10. Alyssa’s heart has belonged to Walt Disney World for as long as she can remember, but something very high up on her bucket list is to visit all other Disney locations. She intends to pursue illustration in the hopes of being even half as inspirational, or at least entertaining, as Disney Animation continues to be to her.