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How to Come Up with Ideas for a Drawing

Updated on February 28, 2013
Here is a marker rendering I did for one of my clients. The illustration started with a sketched pencil drawing.
Here is a marker rendering I did for one of my clients. The illustration started with a sketched pencil drawing. | Source

Ideas for Drawing Come From Within and Without

When I first decided to write this article, I had to stop and think for a minute. Because I am an artist, I forget that it is sometimes difficult for people to start drawing, and find subjects to draw.

I have been drawing since my hands had enough dexterity to hang onto a crayon. My first canvas was the white wall in our first house and in spite the scribbling, my dear mother encouraged me to draw.

Since those early days, I have never found it difficult to find subjects for my drawing. When I first started out drawing as a young person, I drew the things that I was passionate about. When I got a little older and wanted to turn my talent into an income, I started drawing made up stuff in my head. Now that I'm a bit older, I turn to people or nature to find the subject matter for my drawings.

Regardless of where you find ideas for your drawing, I have found that creating great art must be connected by strong emotion or feelings. This passion for your subject drives and motivates artists to draw more and more. Drawing more and more leads to mastery of drawing skill.

When you finally master the skill of drawing - and you will if you want it bad enough - creating art becomes a true pleasure. Today, I find myself getting lost in the intricacies of a drawing. I enjoy the process because it allows me to immerse myself in something and leave the outside world where it belongs - outside my head.

So, here are my three best ways to come up with ideas for drawing...


Some drawings I did for a book. I was especially passionate about the subject of this particular book about cello music.
Some drawings I did for a book. I was especially passionate about the subject of this particular book about cello music. | Source

Drawing Things For Which You Have a Passion

The absolute, number one thing needed when drawing any subject is passion. If you don't have an intense interest in a subject, it's going to be more difficult to execute a drawing.

When I first started out, I had a real passion for drawing wildlife. I grew up in the Colorado Rocky Mountains and wildlife was a big part of my life at the time. I drew deer, elk, chipmunks, birds - anything that was a wild animal in that part of the country. There were lots of ideas for drawing things wherever I looked. I had a passion for drawing wildlife.

Drawing or creating art is a bit like homemade cooking. If you have ever had a really good home-cooked meal, prepared with love by someone for whom you care very deeply - there is just something about that food that tastes better than any other food. I think that somehow those precious folks somehow put love into the recipe. They had a passion for creating great food for those they loved.

Drawing is sort of like that as well. I remember when I first started creating what I would call "really good" art, people seemed to take notice. They would tell me things about how a drawing made them feel or what emotions they would experience when looking at a drawing I had completed. I discovered people were attracted to the drawings of subjects for which I had the most passion.

When you draw things for which you are passionate, it will come through in your drawing.


This drawing of an in-store display area had to be imagined or seen in the artist's imagination before it could be drawn on paper.
This drawing of an in-store display area had to be imagined or seen in the artist's imagination before it could be drawn on paper. | Source

Finding Ideas From Your Imagination

One of the best places to get drawing ideas is from your imagination. Think about this for a minute - what if you could draw anything that your mind could imagine? Imagine that you see a particular character from a book, a place or a building - and then draw it out on paper.

That's what drawing from your imagination really is all about. I learned to do this as a young boy. At first, it was terribly, excruciatingly difficult. I tried and tried but the images I drew were just not what I was seeing in my imagination.

I worked and worked, drawing several hours every day, sometimes late into the night - sometimes all night long. I could see that with practice, I was getting better with each attempt. That gradual improvement kept me going, pushed me to try again and again.

Today, after almost 50 years of drawing each and every day of my life, I can easily visualize something in my mind and put it onto paper within seconds. It's not magic, it's perseverance. I simply trained my mind and hand to work together. And you could do the same thing.

Some of the best ideas for drawing come from inside your mind - your imagination.


People are a terrific source for drawing ideas,
People are a terrific source for drawing ideas, | Source

People as a Source of Ideas for Drawing

If you get ideas from people for your drawings, you will never run out of subject matter. Every single person is a unique treasure trove of drawing ideas. I like to catch people in the everyday activities of their lives to create drawings.

If you are fortunate enough to be part of a big family or community, you will always find plenty of willing models to sit while you sketch away.

The next time you go out, take a small sketch book along and start making some simple drawings of all the people you meet that day. I like to sit in the park and just watch people.

Drawing the human form will take some practice in order to do it well. That's the great thing about drawing - each creation becomes the teacher for the next drawing and all the drawings that come after.

So what are you waiting for? Get out there, start looking for some ideas and get drawing.

Good luck!


Drawing Ideas Poll

Where do you find the best ideas for drawing?

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    • MKayo profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Texas

      unvrso - Thanks for stopping by and the VoteUp!

    • unvrso profile image

      Jose Juan Gutierrez 

      5 years ago from Mexico City

      Very interesting hub! I sometimes find it useful to use my own imagination and past experiences when looking for resources for drawing.

      voted useful!

    • MKayo profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Texas

      Thanks do much MarleneB! Yes, it's easy now but I had to practice to get there.

    • MKayo profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Texas

      Dbro - couldn't agree more. You ate SO right. Thanks for the read and comments!

    • MKayo profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Texas

      Hey bb - I bet you could. I have taught lots of folks to draw over the years. Thanks for the read and comment!

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I just dropped by to give you support. I can't draw stick figures. :)

    • Dbro profile image


      5 years ago from Texas, USA

      Awesome Hub, MKayo, as always! This is one of those "I wish I'd have said that!" hubs. Like you, drawing is just about my favorite thing to do in this world. I draw anything that strikes my fancy, so I'm drawing as much as I can every day. I teach drawing to both children and adults and I always tell them that nothing is too hard to draw, just as nothing is too easy to draw. It's all about practice and loving what you are doing, don't you think?

    • MarleneB profile image

      Marlene Bertrand 

      5 years ago from USA

      You are very good at what you do. I wish I could draw. I can visualize things, like you say, but for some reason, I can't seem to get it from my head to my hands, to the drawing pad. My husband, on the other hand, can make things come to life just from a description. I'll describe something to him and he'll sketch it out as if he's been doing it all his life. I imagine it's like that for you, too. Excellent hub. I enjoyed reading it and learning how to draw.

    • barbat79 profile image

      B A Tobin 

      5 years ago from Connnecticut

      Your hub is very interesting!! Thank you for more good reading! :)


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