• A Foolproof “Day in the Life” Sketchbook Layout Formula

    If you love the idea of sketchbooking but you aren’t sure what to draw, you’ll love this tutorial! In it, we’ll go over a foolproof sketchbook layout with a “Day in the Life” theme. You’ll learn how to make each element of the layout step-by-step to result in a personalized and eye-catching page! Once you…

    A Foolproof Sketchbook Layout Formula
    Today’s tutorial hones in on teaching you how to make this sketchbook layout. In the next TPK tutorial, I’ll show you how to bring this all to life with watercolor and some tea spatters!

    I think that more people would keep a sketchbook if they had ideas for content to put in it! With that in mind, I decided to come up with a sketchbook layout formula for today’s tutorial. We’ll talk about what to draw and write, where to orient it on the page, tricks to fill up space, and helpful supplies to have on hand! Today’s layout will take you an entire afternoon to create, so we’re just focusing on doing that for now. Then, next week, we’ll add watercolors, some gold, a smidge of decoupage, and tea spatters to make the page pop!

    Supplies Needed

    You can use any sketchbook for this sketchbook layout tutorial, but in case you’re curious, I use a Shinola sketchbook. I absolutely love that thing! It’s the perfect size, the paper is a nice weight (heavy, but not too heavy), and it tolerates many mediums quite well.

    A Shinola Sketchbook
    I am in love with my Shinola sketchbook!

    To make the perfect watercolor-ready layout, you’ll also need:

    The Layout Formula

    Before we begin, let’s take a look at the finished layout. The idea is for you to be able to use the image below as a quick reference as you’re making your own “Day in the Life” page. You’ll find a quick explanation about each number below the image!

    A Foolproof Sketchbook Layout Formula

        1. Banner with date (and description of day: “New Year’s Eve”, “My Birthday”, “An Unusual Friday”, etc.)
        2. Clock showing a significant moment in the day
        3. Quote of the day
        4. Illustrated element the complements the quote of the day
        5. Food eaten throughout the day
        6. Cup with beverage that was drunk at some point in the day (tea, coffee, beer, wine, water)
        7. Blank space for beverage spatters (we’ll cover this in the next tutorial)
        8. List tree

    1. Banner with Date

    Begin by using your pencil to draw a slightly wavy banner in the middle of the page. Make the banner pretty long, and try your best to center it!

    Drawing a Banner
    If you don’t know how to draw a banner, check out the How to Draw a Banner tutorial!

    Next, draw two faint pencil lines inside the banner. One should sit around 1/8″ (3 mm) below the top of the banner, and the other should be around 1/8″ above the bottom of the banner. Both of these lines should be parallel to the banner’s wave! Use the lines as top and bottom guidelines to write out the date in George Style lettering. If you still have space left on the right, use Sans Serif lettering to write a description of the date, like “New Year’s Eve” or “An Unusual Friday”.

    Drawing a Banner
    I like to use all-caps George Style lettering to write in the date because you won’t run into spatial issues when you encounter letters that have tails (like “y”). Every letter and number is exactly the same height!

    Once you’ve made the draft, use a dip pen and waterproof ink to trace over everything. After you finish tracing, wait for a couple of minutes until any “wet ink” shine has disappeared. Then, use a good eraser (I like Staedtler Mars Plastic) to erase the pencil guidelines!

    Drawing a Banner
    It’s super important to use a waterproof ink (I like Ziller Soot Black) because we’ll be going over all of this with watercolor next week!

    2. Clock

    Now, you’re going to flesh out the space around your banner by drawing a clock. To do that, use your pencil to draw a circle about 2.75″ (70 mm) in diameter, then draw a slightly smaller circle inside of that. Draw two additional smaller circles on the inside, which will serve as guidelines for the numbers on the clock.

    Drawing a Clock
    If you have a compass, you can use it to complete this part of the layout. If not, it’s perfectly fine to free-hand draw!

    Next, draw the numbers on the clock with Roman Style lettering. Put the hands of the clock at a significant time of the day, and wherever you have negative space left inside the clock, explain why the time matters. My significant time of the day here was midnight (since that’s a biggie on New Year’s), but you might depict what time you woke up day, what time you went to dinner with a friend, when someone arrived at your house … whatever!

    Drawing a Clock
    I drew stars to fill out the space in my clock and emphasize that we were up late. You could also draw stars if your significant time occurred at night, or you might draw a sun if it was during the day.

    Just like in the previous step, you should go over your pencil draft with waterproof ink. Then, once the ink has dried, erase any pencil guidelines.

    Drawing a Clock

    3. + 4. Quote of the Day + Illustrated Element

    For the quote of the day portion, use a pencil and Kaitlin Style calligraphy to draft out large “Quote of the day” calligraphy on the left. Then, on the right, use Sans Serif lettering to write out the quote. It can be anything! Once you’ve written the quote, fill in the negative space beside it with a graphic element that complements the quote. In my case, that’s lemon slices.

    Quote of the Day
    Your quote of the day doesn’t need to be anything special. In my case, it was just a tidbit of cooking wisdom from a friend!

    Then, use your pen and ink to draw over the quote and the illustrated elements. Don’t cross your t’s yet! We might incorporate those crosses with another element of the layout.

    Quote of the Day
    Don’t worry if your illustrated elements aren’t immediately recognizable. When we add color to the page, it will really help everything to make sense!

    5. Food

    For this part of the layout, you’ll draw out (most) of the things that you ate throughout the day to fill out the top of the page. If you can’t draw your food items from memory, conduct a Google Image Search to find photos of them to sketch out! Label each item with George Style lettering, and fill in any remaining space with flourishes.

    Drawing Food for a Sketchbook Layout
    Don’t fret if you can’t draw the food that you ate from memory … I looked up photos of all of these things in order to draw them!

    Once you’ve drawn the food in pencil, use your pen and ink to trace over everything. Again, wait for the ink to dry, then erase the pencil guidelines.

    Drawing Food for a Sketchbook Layout

    6. Beverage Cup

    Think back to what you drank during the course of the day. Did you have tea or coffee in a teacup? Maybe just water in a water bottle? No matter what it was, use your pencil to draw the vessel in the lower left part of the page. Then, draft out an explanation of when/why you drank the beverage using Kaitlin Style calligraphy. If it was a hot beverage, you can draw flourishes coming out of the top to fill up space (and signify steam). If it was a cold beverage, leave that area blank.

    Teacup for Sketchbook Layout
    I bought the cutest little animal mugs in San Francisco’s Chinatown! If your cup isn’t as visually stimulating, don’t worry about it: anything will look good here.

    Go over your cup with ink. If you’d like, you can add shading to the cup with tiny crosshatched lines.

    Teacup for Sketchbook Layout
    I didn’t draw a tag for my tea string because I plan to decoupage one onto the page next week.

    7. + 8. Blank Space + Tree

    Now, fill in the space on the right side of the page with a tree that serves as a list. My tree lists the people who I spent New Year’s with, but you could use the tree to list people you interacted with, emotions you felt, or places you went. The tree should feature calligraphy (I used a modified Janet Style), flourishes, and a few leaves.

    Tree of Positivity for Sketchbook Layout
    Use the lower right corner to describe what the words on the tree mean. I used Kaitlin Style calligraphy and George Style lettering for this part of the layout.

    Once you finish the pencil draft of the tree, you’ll notice some leftover space in the bottom center of the page. Leave that blank! We’ll fill it in next week with beverage spatters. Then, go over your tree and lettering with ink.

    Tree of Positivity for Sketchbook Layout
    Try to add some dimension to your tree with shading. If you don’t know how to shade, try to echo what you see in this image!

    Add Additional Contrast to Your Sketchbook Layout

    Finish up your sketchbook layout by adding a little bit of additional contrast. For example, you might fill in the frame around the clock or add a bit more ink to the lettering inside of the banner!

    A Foolproof Sketchbook Layout Formula
    I added contrast to my page by filling in the frame around the clock and reinforcing some of my strokes. The page is now ready for some color!

    Once you’re pleased with how the page looks, give yourself a pat on the back and set your sketchbook aside until next week! I’ll teach you how to bring these graphics to life with watercolors, metallics, decoupage, and beverage spatters then.

    Breaking it Up

    I initially planned to present everything to you in one tutorial: the sketchbook layout, the coloring, and adding finishing touches. As I worked on this, though, I realized that I should explain how to make the layout, then move on to the color portion in another post. I was conflicted about breaking the tutorial into two, but then I realized that breaking it down makes the project more approachable — and realistic. After all, very few of us, myself included, have a block of 8-10 hours to devote to making a single sketchbook page!

    A Foolproof Sketchbook Layout Formula

    I encourage you to follow this tutorial to make your own “Day in the Life” sketchbook layout this weekend. Then, check out the How to Add Color to Your “Day in the Life” Sketchbook Layout to learn how to bring the page to life with tea, watercolors, and a bit of decoupage! This is a project that it’s best to make over a period of 2-4 days so you can benefit from a couple of breaks. In my experience, the sketchbook pages that take the longest to make end up being the best pages.

    Thanks very much for reading TPK, and I hope that you enjoy a weekend of creativity that includes this sketchbook layout!


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