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Airship Notebooks

Creature Iterative Sketching by Arthur Rodriguez

This great set of fantasy creature sketches by Arthur Rodriguez (@videogameartist1321) might make you think twice before diving into some murky waters. I love these scary looking sea monsters. Some of these creature concepts remind me a little bit of crocodiles, yet others are more humanoid in shape. All of them have some great textures and are awesomely inventive. They look so cool!

I realized recently that, although we sell SKETCHbooks, we rarely share pages of sketches. Sure, we post plenty of urbansketches… and many drawings that pro-artists call “sketches,” but that the standard fan (myself included) would just call “awesome pieces of art” (I’m talking to you Ian McQue)… but rarely do we share something like these iterative sketches from Arthur.

Iterative Sketching vs. Iterative Drawing

The term “iterative drawing” has been used previously by the artist, Sycra, but he used it more as a method of improving drawing skills quickly over time (it’s a great video by the way; be sure to check it out). I call it “iterative sketching” just as a way to describe what I think Arthur did to create this series of sketches—literally, sketching several iterations of a similar design over and over with minor variations. To be clear, I’m not trying to create a term out of nowhere, it’s just a way to describe one method of sketching that can help you to produce ideas.

There are many different ways to go about hashing out ideas and developing conceptual designs, and they should be used like tools in a toolbox to help you create. This is especially true when you have a creativity block; if one method of formulating ideas isn’t producing meaningful results, it’s helpful to be able to use a different method to keep the creative juices flowing. In this way, iterative sketching is an important design tool to have at your disposal when you’re trying to hash out an idea and dig yourself out of the chasm of barren creativity… one pencil or pen stroke at a time.

Yes, there are many times where you might be “in the zone” or you had an extra cup of coffee and the artwork just seems to flow out of you without any blocks whatsoever. An idea appears in your head and it comes so easily from your psyche that it feels like you’re pouring ideas through your pen (or pencil). But I’m sure every single one of you has faced difficult periods of artist’s block or times that you just feel uninspired or your brain refuses to be jumpstarted into epiphany.

Well, next time that happens, try some iterative sketching to prime your creative pump. Pick something random and draw it… even if you just need to pick up something odd from your desk or that coffee shop you frequent. Then think of a way to improve or change that object. Thinking not working too well? Then just add something to it… give the cup of coffee a pair of legs; apply a set of wings onto your water bottle; give your dog scales instead of fur… or, like Arthur did, figure out the creepiest way to draw awesome looking sea beasts with varying numbers of legs, teeth, and body shape. The more you do this, the easier it will get to fight through the quagmire of creative block. Think of it as stretching and exercising your brain… you know, the fun kind of exercising… with pen and ink.

Do you have a particular method of hashing out ideas and climbing out of the chasm of barren creativity? We’d love to hear about it in the comments!