We’ve all created a project at some point that just feels sparse! Whether you’re working on a sketchbook page, an envelope, or even a blank wall, it’s good to know a few artistic ways to fill in space. You can use the ideas in this article to enhance both your paper projects and your home!
1. Add an Illustrated Tile Motif
Illustrated tiles add beauty and visual interest to anything you’re working on! I’ve used it for everything from walls (see my workspace tour) to mail art and sketchbooks.
I even love using illustrated tiles to fill up space on my walls! In the timelapse video below, you can watch me finishing up a tile motif on a piece of furniture that we use as a room divider. I walk by these tiles several times a day, and they catch my eye every single time:
I currently have two illustrated tile tutorials on the TPK site:
- Hand-Painted Tiles Illustration Tutorial
- (Seriously Gorgeous!) Talavera Mexican Tile Mail Art Tutorial
2. Draw Branches and Leaves
When you’ve got a large expanse of blank paper in front of you, you can go back to basics and draw branches and leaves. If you really want to get rowdy, you can add in a few gold dots, too!
“Branches” are easy … they’re just curved lines. Then, leaves are almond shapes that connect to the lines. You can use any writing instrument to make them!
3. Illustrate Roses
When I have a good amount of space to fill up and I want to give my piece a vintage and pretty feel, I draw roses.
Roses might look intimidating, but they’re easy to draw if you use a template.
I recently wrote a tutorial over how to draw vintage roses yourself. If filling in space with a rose motif appeals to you, you can read that tutorial here.
4. Add Miles of Flourishes
Place cards, envelopes, bookmarks, and general artwork can all benefit from a bit of flourish. When I use flourishes, I tend to go overboard, and I’m never sorry about that!
Besides the intermediate course, there are a few free resources that will teach you how to flourish here on TPK. They include the following articles/printables:
- Calligraphy Flourishing for Beginners + Free Worksheet
- Simple Calligraphy Flourishing Tutorial
- Free “Macbeth” Calligraphy Flourishing Worksheet
- Octopus Calligraphy Art Tutorial
5. Paint with Coffee or Tea
There have been a few occasions where I’ve made a sketchbook page that’s missing something. The white background just isn’t quite right, but adding too much color will throw off the balance of the whole page. In that case, I make (extremely strong) coffee or tea, and I use it to layer on subtle color.
I especially love using my beverage to add spatters to the page. You can enhance the spatters by outlining them in black ink.
The How to Add Color to Your “Day in the Life” Sketchbook Layout tutorial details how to use coffee or tea to enhance your artwork. I also used this technique for the Coffee Stained Autumn Greeting Card Tutorial.
6. Do A Bit of Decoupage
If you’re in a rush (and even if you’re not), decoupage is an amazing way to add visual interest to your pieces. Just find a subject or photo that you like, cut it out, and glue it on to whatever you’re working on.
Just a word of warning: if you plan to use decoupage on mail art, be sure to glue down the edges of your artwork very well! Otherwise, postal machines may tear the artwork off of the envelope.
For fun decoupage subjects like the adorable fox above, take a look at the The Letter Writer’s Complete Resource.
7. Draw a Wreath
Illustrated wreaths usually look best with some sort of text or calligraphy inside. I usually begin by writing the text/calligraphy, then I center the wreath around whatever I’ve written.
I’m a big fan of using wreaths to fill in black space, so you’ll find several illustrated wreath tutorials on TPK:
- Botanical Watercolor Wreath Tutorial
- Simple Illustrated Wreath Worksheet
- Watercolor Cactus Wreath Tutorial
- Watercolor Holiday Wreath Tutorial + Free Printable
- Woodland Watercolor Wreath Tutorials: Part I (and Part II and Part III)
- 10 Ways to Draw Laurel Wreaths
Keep an Eye Out for Inspiration!
Honestly, I could go on and on with ideas for filling in blank space. In scrolling through the TPK Instagram feed for ideas about what to include in this article, though, I found too many to include here! From drawing lace to making postage stamp collages to adding loose floral illustrations to your pieces, there are so many things you can do to add interest and balance to your pieces.
Here’s what I would recommend: if you’re on Pinterest, start a board where you can “pin” your space filling ideas. Then, next time you’re stumped about how to fill in blank space, reference your board. Chances are an idea will jump right out at you!
If you have any go-tos for filling in blank space, please contribute them in the comments; I always appreciate suggestions and ideas. Thanks so much for reading, and happy creating!