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10 ways to overcome artist's block, get back creativity!

10 ways to overcome artist's block and get your mind back to creative spot. It’s very common, but devastating moment for an artist to feel they’ve lost their inspiration, to encounter a creative block. But suffering from artist’s block doesn’t mean you’ve lost your imagination or ability to execute cool stuff. Good news is, over years of working in professional concept art environment I found that there are many ways that you can beat it permanently. :)

There are 10 simple ways that I usually do to beat artist's block and kill the beast once and for all.
1) If you cannot think of what to draw or paint, try study or copy from master artists. This is a good opportunity for you to challenge yourself and you will discover new things along the way copying the work of artists you like and admire such as John Singer Sargent, Frank Frezetta, or any great artists. There is no shame, all the great artist study or copy the master artists before them, it's true! :)

2) Life drawing session, just go draw from live models or go outside and do some landscape sketch, composition, study trees, leaves, building, people. Just draw!
This one is easy. But I often choose life drawing session because there are people there and it motivate you to draw faster and more. (thanks Luca for reminding me) :)

3) Change mediums. If you draw with tablet, start random doodling with pencil in the sketchbook. If you use pencil, try markers, charcoals, brushes, ect. Explore with new materials and use new tools. You can just doodle random shapes to get your frustration out, it doesn't need to make sense. Though you might find some cool shapes randomly that will give you idea to develop further.

4) Go for a run! That what usually works for me, get sweat and you will be rejuvenate. Believe it or not, your brain will function so fresh after a good long (at least 20 minute) sweat. If you don't run, get into the habit! It's good for your health and cheap. Or you can punch the bag or any exercise you might long as you get sweat you will get the same result. Slow walk does not count!

5) Find new inspiration pieces, I do this a lot. Internet is a HUGE collection of information. I usually visit,, or cghub and look for something cool. Or to avoid the computer, go visit to a local gallery or museum often helps. Or go through art books and magazines. Take the pressure off of yourself and just enjoy other artists' work.

6) Take a new direction with your approach. If you usually start using lines, try start using shapes. If your approach is realism, try cubism. If you start with monochrome, try using color right away. Anything that get you away from your habit or comfort zone.

7) Studying anatomy, just draw random part of the body as studying, something you don't usually pay attention to. Make it a mission of studying just hands for a few days or feet or hair, ect. It's always good to do some review and study.

8) Read cool stuff that will stimulate your visual cortex. I usually go read Greek mythology, Hindu's god, goddess and deities, Chinese mythology and ancient tales like "Journey to the West" or any contemporary science-fiction like Cthulhu, Dune, any zombie story. Then make your own vision of whatever that might be creatures, demons, etc. Watch some visually kickass movies also works.

9) Re-design old cartoons, comics, Manga, or Anime, movies you like. Look at them again, read, browse, then recreate them as your own vision. It's all for the good fun and it can be long and challenging. Kinda similar to #7

10) Sleep, maybe you should get a good sleep possibly. You might be working too hard and your brain don't function anymore. So give it a break. :)

If these 10 tips do not help, it is possibly that you are burnt out. could do #11

11) There are times that the pros called it, "burn out"! If that is the case, it's not your creativity. It's your fire that is slowly going out of flame. It's time to take a break from art totally for at least 3-7 days. Go do something else. If art is your profession, you will have to find a hobby, for real. If not, then it's easier for you. If you are an art student, well this one doesn't apply to you because you have not earn this batch yet. Don't even draw, browse art forum or do anything that relate to what you do everyday art wise. You will come back with all the new idea and possibly OVERLOADED that you cannot wait to get it out of your head.

Hope this information are helpful :)
Art is coming soon. Cheers!!!

PS: if you have any tips that you do to help get a rid of artist's block, feel free to share on the comment. Thank you guys.

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pokepetter said…
Whenever I don't know what to draw I usually think back on a game or motion picture I've seen and borrow some ideas. I also have some techniques where I layer pictures on top of each other until I see something new. Additionally I get a lot of ides when I'm tired.

As you say, going outside really helps as well. Especially for environments. If you simply scale up what you see, it'll become epic instantly.
Nathan T said…
You're the first artist I've ever heard say "quit drawing for a while"! I hear the phrase "draw every day" so much that it's begun to sound tedious, like a chore that you have to do or you'll never be great. The advice on hobbies is good too.

Some of the best advice I've heard on keeping motivated was that you have to start working first - motivation and inspiration will come afterwards. Tough to do, but I've found it's pretty truthful.
idrawgirls said…
Pokepetter> Good addition bro, outside helps a lot...and scale up is also a great idea. Possibly one should take a camera with, take some shots that will be another way of finding inspiration. :)

Clean3d> Did you notice that it was the last option? Slacker!!! (just kidding) Also you probably should earn the batch, like working in professional environment for say over 3 yrs. It's a yes but a no, you should still draw everyday until you are really sure for after 3-5 yrs, you are actually burn out. You cannot get burn out if you aren't doing it 10 hrs a day years after years. :)
Nathan T said…
I stand corrected :)

Guess I should start with 1), then.
Bryan Tenorio said…
These are some great ideas to try! One thing that usually gives me ideas is to listen to music, and just let the visuals come to you. Now if only I had time to actually apply these ideas!
Chris Reeve said…
Woo! Dune! It's odd you mention that as I've just started trying to draw how I see the characters and places from those books.
Chris Reeve said…
Off on a tangent here, but isn't this one of the most badass space suit designs?
Luca said…
Well written Xia. I normally do a Still life study when I don't know what to draw or cannot pull things from imagination. It helps observation and the study of life - which is the MOST important thing in drawing afterall (especially in Fine Arts). Through Observation we've learned how to draw and paint the real shapes, volumes and values of natural environment - including human figures.

Another thing you can do if you cannot even get a proper mindset to paint/draw is to read interviews or biographies. I have found it really motivational to study the life of my heros - like Caravaggio, Sargent, DaVinci and many other old and present masters. Reading their lives and knowing how they managed to succeed in life drives me to get back in line and get going.

Finally I would say to take a break like you said Xia. Go hang out with some friends, have fun and let your mind relax. Whenever we keep on pushing ourselves we'll end up getting tired and if we keep on going, we'll eventually get frustrated... so take your time to enjoy your surroundings, relationships and the beauty of nature.

Sorry for taken this long :)

D. A. Pecos said…
Hahahahah, ironic, I´ve been watching your blog some time ago, and precisely now I´m a little broken. In my case that´s not the lack of ideas, but the big amount of things to learn, draw, watch... Maybe sleeping eight hours some day and relaxing could work.
Jparked said…
awesome work here! thanks for all the tutorials and inspiration.


ROS said…
Ima gonna post this on my wall XD
idrawgirls said…
Clean3D> Oh yes!

Bryan> Yes, that too...mostly I would listen to motion picture's sound tracks, especially epic ones.

Chris Reeve> Yes, Dune!!! Metroid is always awesome!

Luca> That was a good feedback, I just put the life drawing one addition in my post. How did I forget that? Maybe it becomes so norm to me that I never really think about it.

David> LOL, that happens sometimes...better jot down you idea as quick scribble in your sketchbook keep it for when you lack of inspiration then open it up.

Jparked> Thanks man!!!

ricardosa> You should. Also BIG one said "It's time to draw for 2 hours, NOW!!!" so every time you see it you would draw for two hours :)
Mikhairon said…
I'm not having one now, but i remember my first one (block) i was thinking that i was the only one out there, so it was very comforting to know afterwards that even professionals have blocks like that!

Another thing is this is the first time that i see tips on how to overcome the block, and u r awesome for doing this, if only i had this a long time ago, it would've been much less frustrating, the good thin though is that i actually overcame the block by finding out on my own of pretty much all f the stuff u mention here, including some stuff that others mentioned.

the only thing i have to add is, besides reading books and listening to music, watch movies and series u like! That always helps me! There was one vacation that i was at home for 2 full months, and i would watch a movie with my brother every night, and during the movie i would always be bursting with ideas, and would stay up for hours sketching stuff!

cheers Xia, keep up the awesome work!
idrawgirls said…
@Traveler Yes! Movies, how did I forget? Just update the post, thx. Yeah I especially love old movies and imagine re design them from time to time.