View Full Version : How to break habit of using bad paper

01-13-2013, 05:53 PM
I am finding that I do my best work on notebook paper. Actual lined notebooks. It's very nice paper, and cheap enough I literally waste 2 sheets for every sheet I actually keep. I just tear them out and crumple them up and throw them away when I don't like what comes out. I always tell myself ill do the rel deal into my sketchbook, but...yeah.

How do I convince myself to use the sketchbook even when I'm not sure it'll come out even remotely good? Or should I not waste the paper? Maybe move to copy paper which is at least white? (Nothing I make is expected to be findable in a few years, things of mine get "lost" (read, parents throw it out or we move again and it gets lost (still mad at movers for losing my box of stuff from 2 moves ago,including my prized doll drawing, urg)) and stuff happens. Plus, most of my pencils, etc. are not lightfast, and drawings do smear.))

Just now, I experiemented with markers, water, and messiness inside the sketchbook. It was horrible. The paper gave a curdling scream before giving up all hope. I swear my heart cried a little in sympathy.

I feel less inhibited with the notebook, but then once in a while something good comes out and...
(My sketchbook pics are usually a bit too stilted and formal, not casual and free flowing, I can actually tell, it's that bad.)

Any ideas?

01-13-2013, 05:57 PM
Personally I would say just use what you feel most comfortable with. You seem to be sketching for your own enjoyment, so just have fun. Sketches can look great on all different types of paper, lined, graphed, prepainted, whatever. The important thing is that you are sketching and enjoying what you are doing. Keep it up.
Maybe the sketchbook you currently have just doesn't suit you. Look around for others with different paper that you feel more comfortable with.

01-13-2013, 06:18 PM
I love my sketchbook, I mean I chose it after all :)
It's more a matter of economics. If I waste a few sheets of the notebook, if I just decide to scribble, it's less than a few cents. If I do the same to the sketchbook...yeah, like a dozen times that cost. Probably more (can't remember where I got the notebook). It's 80 pages, each page is a dime each, which means on a given day I might go through a dollar or more worth of paper. That doesn't seem like a lot, but it adds up pretty fast.

I'd love to be able to feel free to do whatever on expensive paper, but...well.
That's the reason I rarely use my special watercolor paper. Even for watercolors. Or my acrylic paper (cold press). I probably should, now that I think about it....

But you're right, I have fun :D

And honestly, I got the sketchbook I have because it was the best I could get for the price. Very nice archival quality paper, super thick, somewhat small. I dislike wire binding, but then again I dislike binding in general (but I still need it as a matter of practicality). I'm considering making my own booklets actually, so I have every kind of paper I might ever need conveniently in one book. Gonna use the Circa system or perfect bind if I do.

Does anyone reading this make their own books?

01-13-2013, 06:21 PM
Preprinted...yum. I wanna crack open some of the cheap acrylic paint I have lying around and paint some pages pretty colors...or maybe just watercolor them "vintage". I used to do that in high school, can't remember why I stopped.

01-13-2013, 06:43 PM
Don Colley, a really neat artist, often sketches in old ledgers and appointment books. So maybe just use what inspires you! Even if its lined notebooks. :)


01-13-2013, 07:12 PM
that does make me feel better. Thanks!

And...I finally figured out how to attach images, so here are my favs (that i had on hand, aka from this week or so.)
These were fast and Im not particularly skilled, but some of these are pretty good, to me.

The second apple pic is a lot better in reality. It's done with markers, but somehow I got green, yellow, orange, pink, and red to work together. It's not nearly so dark - I used my webcam, what can I say. I saw Mr.Sloan's apple pic from online, and ive been obsessed with using red and green together since (aka for the past 3 days).

The pokeball is with WC pencils... It's great in real life, I love it, even if it shows my age. I believe my second attempt to use WCPs, so a great accomplishment all told. Pokemon >> Digimon! :wave:

The last one (next post) is Pichu in a hat. it was supposed to be colored, but the sketch itself is just so kawaii! I couldn't bear to color it.

01-13-2013, 07:15 PM
My favs are the oil pastel flower (purple one - lots of finger blending :cool: ) and the colored pencil building-and-trees one (shading with CPs :) )

BTW, They are all more colorful and varied in real life. the webcam doesnt have the best color saturation. And the building is straight, it was photographed crooked is all.

01-13-2013, 07:29 PM
Right now I'm focusing on tonal values and color saturation, with minor work with layering.

I love color! Can't believe it's taken me this long to move from graphite to CPs!

01-13-2013, 08:04 PM
Amy, if you are having fun, then don't worry about what you are using. If you want to keep your art efforts, then you might consider looking into archival materials. Then again, maybe not. It'll be entirely up to you as you grow in your art.

Great sketches. The pokeball is great. :)

01-13-2013, 08:36 PM

Actually, just looking at the pics now makes me happy :D

01-13-2013, 10:33 PM
I love your apples and pokemon. You use colour really well. So glad your pics make you happy, that is always a good sign. They all made me smile too. :)

01-13-2013, 10:34 PM
That might be the best idea about binding the pages after you get a bunch that you like and arranging them how you like. :wink2:

01-14-2013, 03:01 PM
Amy, the paper might be bad, but the habit is good. Don't break it.
Just draw and have fun. And it looks like your drawings are fun.
Welcome to the forum. I hope you share more.

01-14-2013, 03:25 PM
Thanks guys! *hugs*

01-14-2013, 08:05 PM
Congrats on getting your sketchbook started! Hope to see lots of posts this year.

01-14-2013, 08:59 PM
Hey Amy!
Great drawings! They look like so much fun! And there's nothing wrong with the subject matter (look at my avatar, its Gatomon! :thumbsup: ) And I just finished a series of drawings of my toy TaunTaun from Star Wars. I've always thought it was a cool monster. And I'm over 40. ;) So draw what interests you!
Also, many art schools encourage you to learn by copying the Masters...and there are many Masters in the comic field. So give comic books a try, loads of fantastic art in those!

Your original question is about how to break from 'bad' paper and start using the good journal that you have. How about this?

It sounds like you only have the one really good journal, and don't want to 'waste' it (think about that for a minute- if you are not using it, its being wasted!). So how about getting another one (or two) good journals, and tell yourself you're saving one of those for when you get better, so its OK to use your original journal for practice. Perhaps you can trick yourself into relaxing and being free on the good paper when you have lots extra! :D

Remember, its only wasted when its blank...

01-15-2013, 10:32 AM
I think you should use whatever paper you are comfortable with. You may or may not want to upgrade eventually. But.....since you have this nice journal you may want to at least occasionally put something in it so it doesn't just sit there empty forever. That said, I have a couple of those "special" journals that haven't been used yet too. LOL!

01-15-2013, 01:27 PM
I am trying to work more in my sketchbook, but I actually just found out that it cannot handle any water. like not even markers dipped in water :(. The paper, the nice thick paper I love, warps badly.
Whereas my line notebook was chosen for fountain pen use, so the paper holds up great. I guess I HAVE to use that for wet media (I only have like 5 pages of WC paper left, going to use it for the good stuff only - plus I've decided I didnt like cold press...)

BTW, is cold press acrylic paper okay for watercolors? I have nice acrylic paper, running out of the WC paper tho. (I bought it years ago, when everything cost less :P when i first got my acrylic paints ).
--nvm, I read the fine print, it's fine for all media, wet or dry. Gotta love Stratmore!

01-15-2013, 01:47 PM
Amy, I use watercolor in my journals, and yes, most of them do warp to some degree. You just figure out by trial and error which ones work for which media. The ones that take watercolor best may not be good for pen, and the watercolor ones are expensive, so I don't waste them on pencil sketches. I have two nice hard covered journals that have a picture of a pencil and a paintbrush on the cover and yet they warp and the paper turns slightly grey when wet, so it's hard to be sure how my washes look until the paper dries. I still use them though, and can't wait until they are used up.

I never heard of "acrylic paper", but if it's good for acrylics it should be good for any watermedia including watercolor.

01-15-2013, 04:13 PM
Wow, I thought anything rated okay for watercolors would not warp. Isnt that why they are so expensive? Oh well, I guess that's why you're supposed to stretch paper beforehand...

I've never seem any paper turn grey when wet though... what brand/type is this, so I know to stay away from it?

01-15-2013, 04:56 PM
The paper in my ProArt 5x7" watercolor sketchbook is 140lb.
It warps all out of shape, but flattens out again after it's dry.

01-15-2013, 05:25 PM
How does that affect your art? Is it hard to judge distances when wet?
I don't mind the stretching, I just hate the drying shrink.

01-15-2013, 05:34 PM
My watercolor skill are still so bad that I don't think it matters. :)
(See the Inspirational Pictures thread.)

01-15-2013, 05:38 PM
Actually, I just found a sheet I did. Pretty much finger painting, it is terrible!
Of course, back then I didn't understand how much WC paper costs... Oh we'll, I can always paint on the back and make bookmarks or something...

I miss high school - unlimited art supplies in art class :)

01-24-2013, 10:19 PM
You're going through a process we all go through :clap:

There's no particular reason to start off with good paper unless you are refining your skill with particular effects. For example, in pastel or watercolour, the paper influences the effects you can create in a profound way; you can't get smooth washes or as many layers on cheaper paper. If you're practicing washes or pastel layering, that's relevant. If you're practicing rendering forms on paper, it's not.

As long as you are still refining your technicals skill when it comes to drawing, or learning muscle control over things like blending, it doesn't matter so much. If your ovals are wobbly on crappy paper, then they will still be wobbly on nice paper, it makes no difference.

You'll naturally reach a point where you are satisfied with your ability to render what is in your mind, and nine times out of ten, you will keep what you draw. THEN it will seem natural to you to switch to better paper, because it won't be wasted anymore. Your skill level will have improved, and it will be pleasant to keep your drawings to look at.

Keep throwing out the crap as long as it's crap (We all produce a lot of crappiness. I'm drowning in it!:lol: It's part of practicing. Even Leonardo daVinci threw out his crap. That's why there's no evidence of it in existence!) And by crap, I mean "stuff you're not satisfied with". Only YOU know when your skill level is satisfying to you...and that's when you'll start wanting to keep things.

Now, if you want to play with effects like washes and things, that's different, and you might want to get a notebook specifically to experiment with water media. You simply can't learn to make a wash on paper that falls apart- you will not learn the skill that way. Try the "academic" paper for that- it's not as expensive or awesome as artists's grade, because it's made to be thrown away by people who are still learning. That's why it's cheaper.

And also, like everyone else said- use what you like, keep the stuff you like in binders or folios, and don't make yourself move on to something that makes you feel so uncomfortable. If you're too intimidated to draw regularly, than the book isn't doing you that much good, is it?

Lastly- if you DO want to get over your fear of the Sketchbook of Doom, I've found it helps to assign a subject to the book. Like..."This fancy paper blanks daVinci book will help me explore plants in my area. One plant on each page, so by the end of it, I'll be better at plant anatomy".

Or "This big black book will be dedicated to exploring the use of colour in whatever medium I choose. So by the end of it, I will have improved my colour mixing".

Or " This yellow book will be dedicated to following all of the exercises in this very good book on perspective". Or whatever.

When you set it up that way, as a process, it gets you thinking about how much better the last page will be compared to the first. And since you were just focusing on one thing, your progress will be noticeable and encouraging.

A sketchbook is usually not a product. (Well. it doesn't have to be, anyway.) But it usually is a record of your improvement over time.

And as someone, somewhere said, (vaguely...) "We all have to write 10 000 pages of crap before we write anything good, so write them as fast as you can and get it over with". Or something like that. That was the sentiment, anyway.

Having fun is the most important thing, so don't do anything to spoil that!:thumbsup:

Garden Maker
01-25-2013, 11:32 AM
I find myself feeling rather passionate about this topic, enough to come out of hiding for once. :)

Amy, I can completely relate to what you are feeling. I have a Stillman & Birn Alpha hardbound sketchbook that I adore - takes pencil, colored pencil, light watercolor, you name it, without flinching. I can write in it, sketch, draw, paint, any old thing at all.

You know how many pages of it I have used? Maybe 6. I've had it since last August. :eek:

There is something about good stuff that is completely intimidating. I try to reason with myself that I could have spent the $20 on a movie and snacks with the spouse and only gotten 2 or 3 hours of entertainment instead of months worth. I yell at myself "It's only PAPER, for crying out loud!" My resistance merely thumbs its nose at me and continues to resist. :smug:

The really funny thing is I have no problem WRITING in it and I find myself not doing that either because it's supposed to be a sketchbook. You know, for DRAWING.

Damifino what to do about it. I should probably put the thing on a shelf and go back to my cheap, 100 page, $6, wirebound monstrousity!

I love your descruiption, Jasmine - Sketchbook of Doom. Maybe I'll put that in the S&B as a title! I do like your idea of dedicated sketchbooks, too - I hadn't thought of doing that.

Best of luck, whatever paper you use, Amy! Keep drawing, though - that's the important thing! :clap: :clap:

01-25-2013, 12:13 PM
I used to have a problem with drawing in sketchbooks. I think I didn't have the confidence in my work to do so. BUT, I finally realized that they are meant for SKETCHING, learning, experimenting, MESSING UP, etc. In my opinion they aren't made for producing final images. However, I will say that when I made this realization and started using it for actual experimentation, my work improved a lot. Sorta like being unshackled creatively. Also, sometimes little gems are produced by mistake and you might want to cut it out and frame it. If it's worth taking your time to draw or paint it, its worth doing on decent materials. Just my 2 cents