Drawing Curriculum 3: Prompts

This video is part 3 in a Drawing Curriculum designed for self-taught artists. (Watch Part 1 & Part 2) This video is an overview of a diverse range of drawing exercises and prompts that you can use to foster your drawing skills. Quick warm up exercises, drawing prompts to get you started, and more challenging prompts that require more content driven thinking are all included. Discussion led by Art Prof Clara Lieu and Teaching Artist Cat Huang.

Video Walkthrough

  • Prompts can be a launching pad for your artwork.
  • Prompts are an opportunity for experimentation for artists.
  • Writing a prompt is challenging.
  • An effective prompt is a balance between providing inspiration with plenty of space to make the prompt your own.
  • When a prompt is too vague, it’s not helpful.
  • Warm up prompts are helpful to put you into a mindset to draw, but also as a place to play around and not feel the pressure to finish a drawing.
  • Experiencing a wide range of prompts will help you build versatility as an artist.
  • Prompts can get you to step outside of your comfort zone.
  • Without prompts, it can be easy to fall into tropes and stereotypes.
  • People are often quick to
    “blame” a prompt for their lack of inspiration.
  • It’s up to you to take the self-initiative to bend the prompt towards your personal interests.
  • People assume that open ended prompts are the “easiest,” but actually they can be the most difficult because there are infinite possibilities.
  • Many drawing prompts are about the experience of drawing, and the final product is not important.
  • Prompts can isolate a specific skill or idea so that you can hyper focus on honing that skill.
  • You can see prompts as artistic “push ups” you’re doing for practice.
  • There are a lot of correlations with prompts and working professionally; freelance illustration is basically a series of prompts.

Drawing Prompts

Warm up Prompts
Gesture Drawing Prompts
Interior & Exterior Space Prompts
  • On site linear perspective in an interior space.
  • Draw your living space
  • Draw an interior space with a specific mood.
  • Draw a window that shows both the landscape outside the window and the interior space.
  • Find a window and create depth within the window with atmospheric perspective.
  • Remembered Space: create a drawing about a space that you visited in the past, that you no longer visit.
Composition Prompts
Lighting Prompts
  • Draw an interior space and articulate the space with light.
  • Draw a night scene that shows the use of artificial light in some way.
  • Set up objects with a light to create very long, dramatic cast shadows.
Portrait Prompts
Figure Prompts
  • Drawing a skeleton inside a figure
  • Figures in space: lighting
  • Draw a close up of part of the human figure to show physical tension in the muscles and skin.
  • Draw a part of the human figure that shows compression of skin and muscle.
Format Prompts
  • Create a drawing that is an unusual shape (not a standard rectangle)
  • Create a drawing that is a scroll format: either very tall or very wide.
Content Driven Prompts
  • Write a 1 sentence “confession” and then embed that sentence into a drawing.
  • Draw a scene of a crime that you fabricate yourself.
  • Interpret the phrase “The long wait.”
  • Pretend you are a “fly on the wall” in any situation.
  • Find a statistic and create a drawing inspired by that statistic.
  • Draw yourself as a physical space.
  • Draw what you imagine your future self, at 114 years old will, could be, or might be like.
  • Create a drawing that shows the feeling of claustrophobia.
  • Create a drawing based on one of your routines; it can be an old routine or one you have currently.
  • Draw a visual map of your brain, start by building a sculpture out of any materials, and then use that sculpture as the reference for your drawing.
  • Create your interpretation of the Wong-Baker FACES pain chart.

Artists Mentioned


Full Curriculum

Overview · Drawing 1 · Drawing 2 ·  Drawing 3

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