Secrets of a Designer Who Can't Draw

I promise you -- almost everyone who looks at the art journals on Pinterest feels artfully inadequate. It's true. Well, I know I do! I have my BFA in Graphic Design, worked as a Senior Designer for years, continue to do freelance design work, and guess what? I cannot draw (well)!

I fake it. Always have! Because, there's a big difference between an artist and a designer. A designer knows how they want their pages to look -- they don't necessarily have to be able to create all the pieces to get there. That's why I always had the luxury of hiring illustrators at my design jobs!

But, in the art journal world, as long as we're using images that are free for personal use, we can use other people's work in our journals too -- we can print them out, trace them. We can also use stickers, stencils, and magazines cut-outs.

To add a hand-drawn element, do this:

Start Small

Like, Post-It-sized small, or like 4" x 4" small. Just plan to first create one little element for your journal page. Use a piece of printer paper or even a Post-It -- that's thin enough that you can see through to trace.

Ask Yourself: What Do You Want on Your Page?

Ask this question BEFORE you tell yourself, "Well, I can't draw THAT." Take a mindful moment to imagine your page completed. What does it look like? What's on it? A mountain? A butterfly? A city scene? For the purposes of this example, I'm going to settle on something that I don't think I could ever draw: a rabbit. Yep, that's right, folks, I'm going for it -- a RABBIT! I'm already having doubts, but I'm going to follow through with this below.

This site (here) is my go-to for free graphics for personal use. I found an image of a rabbit I liked right away! (They didn't pay me to say this, promise!)

Trace It!

Tracing has never been easier with new technology! You can put your paper right on the screen (computer, tablet, or phone). Just make sure to trace lightly with a pencil -- you don't want to get ink or scratches on your screen. I actually used a Post-It, so it would stick to the screen better!

Ink It In

Any pen will work, really, but I like Precise V5 pens and Faber-Castell waterproof Pitt artist pens for drawing over the pencil. Folks, brace yourselves for what I'm about to tell you... It won't be perfect. My rabbit kind of looks like a mangy were-rabbit from a horror movie, but it took me 5 MINUTES. That's it! I can try again or find another rabbit to draw if I don't like it.

Add Color

I found a blue colored pencil under my desk so decided to use it to shade around the outside of my drawing, which I call, "Doom Bunny" (he's a post-apocalyptic orphaned rabbit, so... yeah).

Cut it Out and Paste it Somewhere!

I put mine on this random journal page I made last night. The tree in it is another traceable I found, and the circles are a stamp that I traced over... and the watercolor, I lit-ruh-lee splashed Crayola watercolor paints on the page.

Why This is a Big Deal

So, why am I so super passionate about Doom Bunny and a watercolor splish-splash? Because this represents a weird dream I had the other night, in which I felt the bunny was symbolic of luck and simple joys, and I wanted to capture a moment -- even if it's not perfect or perfectly pretty. And sometimes, the best way to do that with your spirituality (your visions, your dreams, your signs) is to sketch what you see. And I want you to feel empowered to do it!

Want more printables/traceables? Check out our Free Downloads page. And here's another post about tracing Tarot cards into your journal!