Illustration Exercises to Encourage Imagination

August 18, 2022

Be sure to encourage your imagination with these exercises that will surely be very useful when creating illustrations.

For illustrators, it is not enough to have a mastery of techniques and an arsenal of materials, including having adequate space and time to devote to creating. Sometimes, they need something beyond their control that is essential to start working on any design: imagination, creativity, inspiration or ideas.

Indeed, imagination is an intrinsic attribute of artists and an essential part of the personal stamp on their creations. However, there are times when producing ideas and capturing them on paper or through an electronic device is a challenge. Fortunately, there are illustration exercises that help to break those blocks and encourage the development of creativity, here are some of them.

1. Creating from a simple stain

In this exercise the first thing you have to do is to put on the table all the materials you have available. Colored pencils or paints of different types are welcome, as well as brushes, markers, pieces of fabric and sponges or any other object that can be used to create textures.

Then, create a stain on the paper without much thought. In this case, using acrylic is recommended at first, then you can continue combining techniques and materials. From there start making strokes, as you go along, ideas will emerge that will allow you to take the next step until you give the shape you want to your design.


2. Choose an object and draw it in several ways

When you don’t have a specific theme in mind, this is another exercise that can help you generate ideas and get you in the mood to open your imagination.  You can start by looking around you, fix your attention on an object such as a corner of the space where you are, a window or perhaps a vase.

After you have chosen something to focus on, imagine it in different scenarios, backgrounds or parallel worlds, and instead of doing one drawing, do 10.  Change colors, style and perspective. Have fun with your sketches and you will undoubtedly get delightful results.


3. Let yourself go with the chaos

If what you want is to give free rein to your imagination, there is nothing better than letting chaos prevail over control. This is a good exercise to get out of your comfort zone and go a little further. Try drawing with a different pencil in each hand. Look at an object and start representing it on paper with both hands at the same time, without trying to control and without thinking too much.

The result doesn’t have to be perfect, although you can make touch-ups to give it the final look. In fact it doesn’t even have to be an exact drawing of the original piece, maybe it will give you an idea to use it as a base for another design. In this way, what should be a cactus in a pot could become a medieval castle, among many other things.


Other recommendations to encourage imagination

Indeed, the development of imagination arises from different elements, among them: play, chance, limits, freedom and even error.  In fact, any way is valid for the illustrator to find inspiration and his own style. That is why the following recommendations are not superfluous when using tools and strategies that help to encourage creativity.

Prepare cards or cards of different colors classified by category, for example: characters and scenarios, mix them and randomly choose one of each. This game of chance will give you an idea for your next illustration, it could be an unimaginable combination.

On the other hand, a snippet of a song, a message from a movie or a post on a social network can give you the inspiration you’ll need later on. Even opening a book anywhere and reading just a page can open up a world of possibilities.  Likewise, don’t rely too much on your memory, take notes of those phrases that catch your attention and save them for when you want to transform them into drawings.

Although it may seem contradictory, in certain contexts limits are often liberating. If you’re faced with a blank page and can’t figure out where to start, place plastic tape in various locations and at different inclinations. Use the divisions to imagine what might fit in those spaces.

Finally, try to draw in such a way that the right side of your brain, which is the one that governs the creative part, is at work. To achieve this, it is advisable to make quick and light strokes on the paper, which also encourages ideas to flow freely.

If you have other ways to encourage imagination, don’t hesitate to share them on our social networks. Let’s get to work!