Need Inspiration for Drawing? Listen Closely…

Need Inspiration for Drawing? Music could be the answer!

“Where words fail, music speaks.”

~ Hans Christian Andersen

Need inspiration for drawing? The answer could be right there in your music collection.

It’s no big secret that music can be extremely inspiring.聽However, there’s a聽certain type of music that I’ve found to be far more effective for enhancing聽your creativity…

  • This type of music usually has no lyrics
  • Its tempo can range from the slowest of the slow to the fastest of the fast
  • It’s music that is often created to enhance emotional response to visual聽images

Can you guess what type of music this is?

The answer is soundtracks. There are actually a few other types, but聽soundtracks is the big one…

When you listen to a powerful soundtrack you can’t help but feel something聽inside your body.聽And, when you listen to them without watching the movie they聽were created for, you can use this to tap into a deeper level of creativity.

Why Listening to Music聽Will聽Give You Inspiration for Drawing

Because we’ve all watched many movies, or at least seen some television聽programs, we already have a connection between music and what we see.

Even if you’ve never thought of it before, you already have a huge library of聽situations in your head that you associate with certain music.

The cool thing, however, is this:

When you are listening to soundtracks, it may聽be difficult for you to remember the exact scene the music was playing聽on. And, because of this,聽your brain will come up with new images associated with the music. Basically, you’re drawing inspiration from what you hear!

You may want to create a happy drawing, so you can find some happy music聽to go with that. 聽Or maybe you’re looking for deep emotion and sadness…

It’s as simple as choosing a song that speaks to you.

Or you may not even have any idea of what you want to sketch when you聽start…

In this case, you can just start listening until something really grabs you.

Soundtrack Thumbnail Sketching Exercise

This exercise is great for both thumbnail sketching as well as storyboarding.

You can listen to the music and come up with a series of quick sketches聽showing what kind of pictures could accompany the music.

Take out your sketching tools…

Listen to the song below聽(This is one of my personal favorites):

Sketch out at least 10 thumbnail sketches while you are listening to the聽music.

(If you need help with making your thumbnail sketches we have a full聽storyboarding and sketching class聽here)

That’s it! 聽You can use the above聽exercise with any song to come up with all聽kinds of new and interesting thumbnail sketches that you can then use to聽create your full drawings.


Music can be a great source of drawing inspiration

Using this Exercise to Tell Stories With Your Drawings

First you can listen to the music once just to get a feeling for the song.

Then listen to it again in 20-30 second ‘chunks’ while drawing what kind of聽action would be happening during this part of the song.

While you are working like this,聽think of yourself like an animator or a movie聽maker who is聽going to show exactly what’s on screen to go along with聽that certain section of music.

Once you are finished, you should have 1-2 pages of quick thumbnail sketches聽that tell the story of the song.

You can use this with characters… but you could also use it with聽environments or objects.

I think characters is the easy one, but if you wanted to draw environments…

How about thinking about how you could show a really interesting space through the聽use of creative angles, close-ups and faraway shots of different areas of the聽environment…

Or, if you wanted to use this to illustrate an object, think about how some car聽commercials play out. 聽The car is never just sitting there, and the main focus聽of the commercial is always the car.


Listening to music is just one of many inspirational drawing ideas for your sketchbook

What to do Once you Have a Bunch of Thumbnail Drawings

Once you’ve been inspired by the song and have a bunch of thumbnails, you聽can look at them all and see which one you would like to work on to create a聽more finished piece.

The cool thing is that these thumbnails have all been infused with a deeper聽level of emotion through the songs.聽So, hopefully, you can tap into those聽feelings and try to bring them through in your finished work.

Or maybe you find that you don’t really like any of the thumbnails you聽came up with…

That’s totally OK – simply choose a new song and repeat the聽process for more inspirational drawing ideas.

If you’re working quickly, it should only take you the length of a song聽to come up with a whole new batch of drawings.

Another Big Benefit to Listening to Music Without Lyrics

Listening to music can help you find inspiration for drawing, but it can also help you in many other ways.

I’ve personally found that listening to music without lyrics can really help聽your聽concentration.

This could mean drowning out the noise of聽chatty co-workers so you can focus…

It could mean really getting in ‘the zone’聽while you are drawing or painting…

Or it could even mean feeling like a聽superhero while you walk down the street… (seriously, have you ever tried聽listening to the soundtrack from one of the recent Batman movies while going for a walk?! Try it sometime!)

Four聽Other Genres of Music to聽Help Your聽Creativity:

Soundtracks are great, but you may want to find something that fits your聽style more.

Just keep in mind to limit the lyrics, and experiment with different聽things.

You never know what may come from listening to different music and all the聽new things it may enable you to create when you start mixing music聽with your own existing library of mental images.

Try listening to some of these:

World Music (Explore instrumental music from around the globe)

Trip Hop (Downbeat hip hop beats)

Yup, we know some of tracks on聽this playlist actually have lyrics, but it’s the best mix we could find for you on Soundcloud!)

Electronica (Techno etc – but just remember to keep it with minimal or no聽lyrics)

Classical Music (I’m loving anything by Nils Frahm right now!)

I hope this article has helped you find plenty of inspiration for drawing.

When you give this a shot, I’d love to hear how it worked for you in the聽comments below!

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