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I don’t think it’s necessary to be inspired to come up with something to draw – life is full of shapes, colours, and concepts whether we’re motivated to think about them or not. Any random thought can be a seed for creativity if you’re willing to put in a little effort to plant it. One of the biggest things that helps me keep moving along is the fact that I’m not picky about how my sketches turn out. A lot of the time they’ll just end up looking mushy or vague because I didn’t have a particularly sharp idea in mind. And that’s fine, it’s still worthwhile to practice. Art doesn’t need burning inspiration behind it to be worthwhile.
I do have a few go-to things that I use for ideas if I’m stuck. Here’s a few thoughts:
- Landscape/travel photography
- Video games
- Thinkin’ about space
- Google Earth / street view of random places
- Heavy machinery and abandoned factories
- YouTube videos of people exploring parks, cities, or landmarks
- Videos of train journeys
- Looking up big lists of things like names of stars
- Whatever colour the sky is right now
- Books as you see them in your mind
- Scribbling random splotches and squinting at them
- My own old sketches from years past
If I get really stuck I sometimes look for inspiration in reverse – that is, I look at the last 3 or 4 things I’ve sketched and try to come up with something distinctly unlike those particular ones.
Routine! I am not picky about how my sketches turn out, since I do so many. I focus on the big picture (I almost never zoom in on a sketch), forgo any fine details, and try to accept mistakes and paint over them or work them into the piece, rather than habitually undoing strokes I dislike.
All I can recommend is what works for me – which is to practice regularly. If you aren’t satisfied with what you’re making, take the chance to deconstruct why, and try to improve those areas. If you do that daily and make small changes in your technique, eventually you’ll develop a style you’re more happy with. The key is just to do it often, and iterate quickly. Check out this talk I did at PechaKucha for more of my thoughts on daily sketching.
I use an Intuos 4 tablet and Photoshop CC. Sometimes I incorporate 3D elements made using Maya LT and Unity.