Ideas For Deciding What to Draw

Ideas For Deciding What to Draw

September 5, 2021

By Jedida Okonkwo

Art and drawing are pretty enjoyable. However, there are times when an artist may struggle to develop new ideas about what to draw. It’s common knowledge that when you draw more often, you get better at your craft. An artist needs a regular influx of ideas and inspiration to improve steadily. But what do you do next when you seem to have exhausted all of the ideas in your portfolio? Take a look!

One of the best things about being an artist is the feeling of rush and excitement when you come across a new idea. You’ll find yourself running to your easel or sketchbook very often to put down the ideas that have come to your mind. The goal of any artist should be developing tactics and strategies to make sure that they can regularly come up with a barrage of ideas. 

Have you considered learning how to develop a state of mind that is constantly churning out ideas? Did you know that you could come up with ideas and feel the rush of discoveries at any time? In this post, we’ll be looking at a list of exercises that you can use to boost your creativity and generate unlimited unique ideas anytime you want. These exercises are not a one-size-fits-all solution. Instead, they require personal effort, drive, and commitment from individual artists to get the best ideas for them. Consider them to be internal guides to help you discover an inner source of inspiration. 

Top Exercises to Help You Generate Unlimited Ideas

The best way for any artist to stand out is to generate unique ideas consistently. Instead of only recreating the ideas of others, it’s a better idea to illuminate your inner self and find out precisely what you want to explore or create. Artists can learn to generate stellar ideas by regularly carrying out any of these exercises. They include: 

Build On What You Previously Have

It’s easy to assume that when we have to come up with new ideas, we look outside everything we already know. But in reality, the reverse is the case. Finding something “new” or “thrilling” may be based on building up old ideas. It may come as a surprise when we learn that we have been sitting on a gold mine of ideas for so long. In fact, by going through your daily life, you come across a trove of ideas. The crucial thing is identifying them. 

Each person or individual has been through several experiences, culminating from their background, education, family, childhood friend, etc. As we grow every day, certain topics or themes have become more special to us than others. These topics and themes could serve as the foundation for your next drawing idea or inspiration. Every artist should be concerned about searching deeply within themselves to locate these core ideas and find the best means of expressing them. To unlock a chest of unlimited ideas, you may need to refresh on all of your previous thoughts. 

Make A List Of Your Old Ideas

Create a list of your old drawing ideas. Start by listing out all the ideas you have drawn – including physically available ones and those that aren’t. This will not be a short list and may be made up of as many as 50 – 100 different ideas. Search through your previous work and note all the ideas you see. That would be an excellent place to start from. Make sure that you do not rule out any ideas or strike them out completely. At this stage, everything is helpful. There will be a point when you hit a block and don’t have anything more to write down. It doesn’t matter if this comes when you have 10, 20, or 50 ideas. What’s important is that you break through this block.

Turn off any internal filters or doubting voices. Some ideas may sound ridiculous, but it would all sum up at the end. When you feel stuck, review the old ideas you have written and see if you can combine them. This could lead to combinations that you never thought possible and even offer new perspectives. You may also decide to look around to see what ideas you could pick up from the environment around you. 

Ask Yourself an If/Then Question

Ask yourself questions that force you to think outside of the box. When artists run out of ideas, it may be because they have begun to restrict themselves to a specific school of thought. You would need to break through this to get a fresh influx of ideas. For instance, you could ask yourself, “If I could be more creative, what would I draw?” or, “what would a more creative version of myself draw?”.

Well, they may sound like simple questions, but these would spur you to unlock any ideas you may have hidden away. 

Identify and Alter Your Regular Way of Doing Things

Think deeply about the images and concepts that you usually draw. What are the creative decisions that generally lead you to these concepts? What is the traditional way you enjoy doing things? Look through your previous work and do your best to identify any similarities in the creation process. 

For instance, you may realize that you often draw models of a particular body type or focus more on gender, use a similar value range, draw similar components, or any ideas you find yourself repeating on different drawings. Recurrent thoughts are sometimes referred to as the artist’s tendencies. 

These tendencies are not harmful in any way, but they can keep us in a creative loop before we eventually run out of ideas. Getting too comfortable with a particular way of doing things is the real danger. An innovative breakthrough is bound to occur when you can destroy this creative loop and identify unique concepts to work on. 

The purpose of this exercise is to identify all of our artistic tendencies. When you have identified this tendency, you may choose to make a list of them. Then, think of an alternative way of doing things. If this new tendency aligns with the message you are trying to communicate, a new idea has been unlocked. 

Build the Image that you want to see

Yes, you can build the image that you would love to draw. This approach is entirely different from what many of us are used to, but it’s functional and convenient. Think of an image that gives you a whole deal of satisfaction. What are the qualities that you can picture about it? To do this, you would need to answer the following questions:

  • What does the image look like?
  • What is the image’s medium?
  • Is the image colored?
  • If yes, what is the color scheme?
  • Are they bright or dull colors?
  • What is the subject matter of the image?
  • Is it a positive image? Or more one?
  • How does the image make you feel?
  • What emotions do you feel from looking at it?

When answering these questions, do your best to be specific and as deliberate as much as possible. These answers would go a long way to determine the result of the image you are putting together. You may not get the perfect shot on your first try, but you would be one step closer to developing another drawing idea. 

Create a Library of your Favorite Work

Compile images of your favorite artwork and compress them into a folder. These are some of the works that you have done and ended up captivated. It can be hard to impress yourself, but you will find some of your art pieces more appealing than others.

When you are done with this, go through the content of the folder like a single entity. Do you notice any ideas returning to you? Or do you see some improvements that you can make to previous works? You can modify some of these returning ideas to create new ones. It may seem like these new ideas are simply derivatives, but keep in mind that ideas originate from somewhere. When you can create these derivates, you can refine them to come up with something unique.


By now, you should be filled with enough ideas and inspiration to take on new projects. These exercises have been explained in detail and were chosen to help artists improve their core skills. If you’re wondering where to get started, pick any of the exercises and follow the guides. Scan the list and choose any of the options that best appeals to you. The effectiveness of any of these exercises in helping you generate ideas depends on the amount of effort you are ready to invest and your skill level.