Let The Big Draw introduce you to Andy McNally, freelance illustrator, full-time artist, and lead design consultant in UX/UI.
Andy has worked for many brands and companies over the years, including Cardinal Health, FedEx, AutoZone, Fujitsu, Pfizer, International Paper, Hilton Hotels, and The Marketing Arm. His strong design sense, imagination, and user-centred design approach have helped create both beautiful illustrations and useful products.
Andy is the next featured guest with The Big Draw and Concepts App as part of our Events series exploring creativity and playfulness in drawing.
Andy’s love of visual thinking makes him an illustrator and a dedicated sketchnoter, and his creative process is integrated and intertwined with his sketchbook. This article from Andy explores the core ways he develops his creative process, finds inspiration and returns to his sketchbook.
I was looking at some drawings and illustrations a few weeks back as I waited for a cup of hot chocolate in a local cafe. Each rough sketch either flooded my brain with the light bulb glow of an idea that needed pursuing or the knowing smile of a familiar insight or joke. The sketches and drawings felt both familiar and occasionally foreign. This delightful book of sketches and drawings was not just any book, but rather my very own sketchbook. That’s right, I was flipping back through my sketchbook. As I turned the pages, ideas, and inspiration were washing over me. Armed with pencils and pens, it was time to add more to this magical book. A happy cup of hot chocolate on a chilly day is just the sketch for this blank page.
Drawing and sketching in a sketchbook is a great way to record ideas and thoughts. Your sketchbook can also be a source of creativity to motivate and inspire you in the future.
Not convinced yet? You might be wondering why you should keep a sketchbook in the first place. Here are just a few reasons why you should start keeping a sketchbook to record your sketches and drawings.
Reasons to sketch and draw in a sketchbook:
Sketchbooks are a place to collect your visual ideas.
Sketchbooks are great for reflecting on the world around you.
Sketchbooks are a place to experiment and explore creative ideas without judgment.
Sketchbooks are a place to practice drawing, sketching, lettering, and doodling.
Sketchbooks are a place to discover your style and voice.
Here is a two-step process to get started with your sketchbook.
The first step is to commit to drawing in your sketchbook as often as possible. How often you choose to draw is up to you to decide. It can be difficult to draw frequently. Here are a few tips to help you create regularly in your sketchbook.
Be kind to yourself.
Draw when you can, but if you are not able to draw for a while, remember that it is ok to miss days. Start drawing again when you can. The most important part is to start drawing again.
Set aside time in your day to draw.
It is easy for life to get in the way. Many things in life will need your attention. When you set a time to draw, you give yourself time and space to create.
Draw even when you do not feel like it.
The artistic muses are a fickle bunch and may not visit you every day. It is best to put your pen or pencil on the page and just start drawing, even if it is just a line. Don’t wait on the muses. Take a look at the drawing prompt ideas below when you are at a loss for ideas or something to draw.
Your sketchbook is for you.
You do not have to share your drawings with anyone else. Draw what makes you happy. Draw the world around you as only you can.
Once you have started creating drawings and sketches in your sketchbook, remember to look back at your work. Looking back at your previous drawings in your sketchbook, not just your current sketchbook, look at older sketchbooks. You will find drawings that you may want to redraw or ideas that you want to explore further.
Back to the Future.
Once you have started drawing remember to review your sketchbook regularly. Reviewing your previous drawings is a way to remind yourself of things that you drew before and the fact that you can draw them again. Think of your sketchbook as a love letter from your former self, aka the past, to your present self, aka the future, reminding you that you can draw. It is amazing to see your past drawings affirm and inspire your current drawings.
Analog or Digital? Both!!
There are many types of sketchbooks. Sketchbooks can be analog or digital, or even better both. Don’t be precious about the medium. It is not a question of analog versus digital. The important part is to draw and sketch. Carrying a sketchbook with you throughout your day is a great way to capture sketches and drawings on the go.
We can all get stuck and not know what to draw from time to time. The world around you is full of things to draw. Here are a few drawing prompts to help you get started.
12 Ideas to help you start drawing when you are stuck:
Use words and images to sketch and draw
Listen to music.
Watch your favorite shows or movies for ideas.
Draw a scene or character from your favorite book.
Draw something in your kitchen.
Draw your food.
Draw a happy self-portrait.
Pretend you are from Mars. Draw curious Earth objects in your “space journal.”
Draw your best friend.
Draw your pet, real or imaginary.
Draw an imaginary creature.
Draw your own list of drawing prompts.
Whether you are in a coffee shop or in the comfort of your own home, I hope that you create time and space to draw in your sketchbook. Draw as often as you can and don’t forget to look back through your sketchbook from time to time.
Andy McNally Instagram Live Interview with The Big Draw
Curious about creative processes? Come and learn more about Andy's approach!
The Big Draw + Concepts App are excited to chat with illustrator and character designer, Andy McNally about creative inspiration, the creative process and Andy’s work in character design and illustration. Join us for an hour of Instagram Live conversation on 22 February 2023 at 12:30pm CST / 6:30 pm GMT as part of The Big Draw's Drawn in Conversation Series.
To join the IGLive:
- Follow @thebigdraw, @conceptsapp or @andymcnally - we'll be streaming on all three.
- When the time hits, find the channel's "LIVE" story at the top of your IG feed. Tap the story to watch and listen in! Join on your mobile device or Instagram.com.
- Make comments throughout the event and like the post!
- To catch it afterward, tap the Videos tab on @thebigdraw or find it on YouTube (links).
We look forward to seeing you!
Looking for more suggestions from Andy McNally?
If you're interested in exploring more about character design, Andy suggests taking a look at these artists. See what you think of their work in the search to find your style!
Designed by TopHatch, Concepts is the first app to explore and redefine visual thinking and design for touch on mobile devices. TopHatch team members are based in seven countries with creative epicenters in Silicon Valley, California and Turku, Finland.
Concepts is a vector-based sketching tool with a whiteboard-like canvas and popular with note takers, visual thinkers, architects, designers and illustrators. The Concepts Community is a space for news, interviews and tutorials featuring Concepts App, sharing challenges and material from excellent creators TopHatch work with. The app’s endless canvas enables boundless idea exploration, while the realistic pencils and pens make drawing feel natural and genuine. The app’s vector-based drawing engine lets you powerfully edit and organize every element of your sketches, designs and illustrations, and gives you flexibility to work with other software.
Head to their website