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Aquascaping with Sketches PDF Print E-mail
Written by Steven Chong   

No matter the art form, an artist would do well to keep a sketchbook.  Sculptors, photographers—many artists of many disciplines keep this trusty tool by them at all times.  An aquascaper is the same in this regard.  It is an incredibly valuable tool for visualizing pieces, tracking progress, and developing one’s ability overall.  Even if you have very little drawing experience, a sketchbook is incredibly valuable.



The Value of the Sketchbook

A sketchbook is not just a plaything to scribble around in.  Artists use them for a variety of tasks of the creative process.  A sketchbook is a visualization tool that helps every step of the way.  When you come up with ideas, you write them in.  When you can’t visualize something, you draw it in.  Even when you do visualize it, you draw it in so it will be there when you need it.

Especially with 3D arts such as sculpting and aquascaping, scribbles in the sketchbook are valuable for figuring out proportions, spacing and positioning that the actual piece will have when it is put together.  Sculptors like Michael Angelo have left many, many drawings—and many of stunning quality—that were never intended for the public eye.  These drawings though would be the foundation of the designs for the final sculptures of such artists.  From the vague form, to the specific proportions, to the tiniest details—drawings can develop in a sketchbook, and the total idea of the final piece will first be realized on paper.

This same process of visualization applies to aquascaping.  Taking the time to sketch, one will piece the composition together; but the sketches will continue to help with piecing together how colors should move, how textures should be placed, and how the entirety of the work will come together.  Or not.  The sketchbook does not have to be used in anyway an artist does not want to use it—no one sees it, no one judges it.  It is a place of refuge and freedom for the artist to do anything he wants.  Be crazy, stupid, put any line or any content.  The things one includes can be completely off topic or intensively focused.  The important thing is that the way we think and work has a place to develop that does not just disappear into the recesses of memory to be forgotten or left undeveloped or un-followed.

Speaking of following, the sketchbook is a great way to track one’s progress.  Whatever we do in it, the sketchbook reflects what we were doing/thinking/trying/following at the time where we worked in it.  Whether they resemble the finished pieces we make or not, the sketchbook shows the flow of our development.  This is valuable to an artist for a number of reasons.

First of all, confidence is important and it can be great when an artist can look back and see how he has improved.  In his development there will always be tough times, halts and slows where little will improve.  Looking back at the old times reflected in the sketchbooks can be a big help to remind us of how we have grown. But then again maybe not.

Sometimes we loose our way, and instead of looking back at old work to see how we have improved, we look back to see where we lost our way.  Though it is important to always keep moving forward, there are still many times when an artist says he wants to “go back to his roots.”  Sometimes we loose sight of the objectives that are important to us.  Sometimes we forget where it was we wanted to be, and what we wanted to achieve.  The sketchbook isn’t only drawings—its thoughts we thought, feelings we felt, and dreams we dreamt.  It ties us to our past, and can remind us of the places we still want to go.

Using a Sketchbook

How does one use one’s sketchbook towards his goals?  This depends from person to person, but for the sake of example I can describe my methods for sketchbook usage.

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