Chapter 3: How to Come up with Ideas! – Drawing in Space Exercise

Chapter 3: How to come up with Ideas!

Why is it important?

There’s a process for coming up with artwork ideas, which you can use in 2D and 3D. First you have to be inspired and then develop that idea. Sometimes it’s challenging to even get inspired or think of one idea, but this Drawing in Space Exercise assignment teaches how to let your mind roam free, so you’re able to create even if the theme/concept isn’t groundbreaking. A great idea doesn’t pop up automatically all the time. But you can go through an exercise to develop an idea and concept that’s intriguing. You can start by writing down a sentence or paragraph of an idea. Then building upon that by making connections, comparisons and contrasts the artwork and concept becomes more complex and intriguing. The lesson from this assignment is that it’s ok to start from nowhere, but you have to start. As long as you start from somewhere such as the word “fork”, then the idea will snowball. For example, going off of a fork: spoon – drawer  – kitchen – food – family – busy – lonely. Now lonely is probably more interesting than fork, so how are you going to convey that in your art piece, and are you going to expand on that with the fork and kitchen idea? You see the ideas are endless as long as you start somewhere even with one word. So get out there and create! 

Assignment description: 

This is the assignment so that you can go through the process. Here you can access this link to get the directions in a PDF form, 6 ways to create Depth in Space Drawing 

6 ways to create Depth in Space Drawing                                      

Step 1.
Come up with a list of 6 groups of objects.  Be sure that each thing has a definite boundary (no rainbows, sky, rivers, fields etc (That’s right! No rainbows!)). This is what list of groups might look like this:
  1. Things that go on your feet
  2. Things we use in the kitchen.
  3. Items of war
  4. Stuff in my friend Gordon’s house
  5. Vegetables
  6. Lunch food

Step 2.

Now, list 7 things or items for each group.  Number them!  Seven for each! You should have a total of 42 things with all the groups combined.

Step 3.

Pick one item from each group thinking about how it contrasts (in form, size, texture, etc.) your other picks.  The goal is to have 6 objects that are very different from each other visually.  Play around with different combinations.  As you start picking you might realize you have too many long skinny forms so swap one object for another to contrast what you have.  Do this 3 times.  You will have three lists of six objects.  Pick the one that seems the most interesting visually and conceptually (i.e. causes the viewer to think about the new group of objects) .

Step 4.

Thinking about what makes a composition visually dynamic (not static), do 5 thumbnail sketches that use the objects you picked and 6 ways to create depth.  You can repeat an object as many times as you like.  These are quick studies where you are thinking about size, location and gesture (perspective) of the object.  There are only two limits:

  1. You cannot use the frame of the paper to crop an object.
  2. These objects cannot sit on a surface or ground.  (They are free floating in space. You can shade the actual objects all you like!)

Step 5.

Pick your most visually dynamic composition and use that as the basis for a large 18″ x 24″ finished drawing with the same two limits as before:

  1. You cannot use the frame of the paper to crop an object.
  2. These objects cannot sit on a surface or ground.  (They are free floating in space. You can shade the actual objects all you like!)

This assignment is how to make a dynamic 2D composition drawing, with 6 ways to create depth. But this process of growing your ideas can be used for making 3D art. Just take the elements of 3D which you learned in Chapter 1 instead of the 2D elements. Luckily, knowing how to create 2D artwork that is dynamic and has depth helps with creating a 3D object. To help the transition of learning how to create in 2D to 3D continue reading Chapter 3. 

Student examples: 

This is how one student worked through the assignment. This example will show you the process of coming up with an idea and the art piece from start to finish.

The goal here was to create a strong comprehension for drawing in space. Specifically six different ways. There is four initial steps that were designed to guide us to the end product. First, a group of six categories that had physical boundaries was made, which you can see in the first bold font list down below. Step two then asked us to produce a list of seven objects for each category ending with a grand total of 42 items. Each list is italicized. Then one item was selected from each list was to create a final set of lists. Each item was intended to be visually different from each other. Step three will then end with three separate lists. The final step is carried out through a process where five thumbnails were generated to create depth. They were fast studies where size, location, and gesture/perspective of the object was explored. The two limitations given to us included not using the frame to crop and object and these objects were not aloud to be drawn sitting on the ground. I am exited to see how a not grounded work will relate to the viewers, this will also challenge me, as I will still have to find out how to make it make since to said viewer. The overall intent is to work with depth and also generate strong components of the elements (8) we discussed in class.

list of 6 groups of objects :

  1. Objects that irritate me
  2. Food i miss
  3. Stuff I wear
  4. Things in my apartment
  5. Objects I see every day
  6. Food I normally eat

Step twoseven things for each category

  1. Objects that irritate me
    1. Keys that no longer have a purpose but I carry around anyway
    2. Pens that no longer work, but i..
    3. Socks with holes in them
    4. Crumpled dollar bills
    5. Airpods – what’s the big deal
    6. Trash not in a trash can, three inches apart
  2. Food
    1. Star fruit
    2. Mango
    3. Kale
    4. Fresh broccoli
    5. Dragon fruit
    6. Peaches fresh from the tree
    7. fresh spinach
  3. Stuff
    1. Work out shirt
    2. Workout pants
    3. Jeans
    4. T-shirt
    5. Button up
    6. Sneakers
    7. deodorant
  4. Things in my apartment
    1. Laptop
    2. Desk
    3. Pencil cup
    4. Pen cup
    5. Paint brush cup
    6. change cup
    7. closet with no door
  5. Objects I see every day
    1. coffee mug
    2. frying pan
    3. stool
    4. fan
    5. cup with a straw in it
    6. coffee maker
    7. window
  6. Food I normally eat
    Frozen veggies
    Frozen veggie meals
    Canned stuff
    Outshine bars and pasta

Step three, final lists

list one: keys, dragon fruit, t-shirt, coffee maker, desk, canned stuff

list two: peaches button up shirt, pen cup, laptop, frying pan, outshine bars

List three: Litter, dragon fruit, change cup, coffee mug, eggs work out pants

List four: star fruit, T shirt, desk, keys, fan, pasta (a list that I made a Marquette of, but later changed my mind. I decided to include it though because it was part of my process.

Step four, time to pick a list and draw:

sketch book photos:

The picture with the star fruit and closest to the caption really inspired the final picture, especially the way that I played with the pasta as a tool for depth.

Maquette photos and material studies

The first set was me failing to not know that there was not cropped photos aloud. However this helped me get thinking about what I wanted to do, was a part of my process and I felt fit best right here.

Here I wanted to created a dynamic with circular motion, but as I started I just couldn’t imagine how it would play out. I tried to force a drawing to produce itself but a very gestural nonsensical item exists instead.
similar to the first drawing both images failed to interest me, but even in their low dynamic state, I was able to pull a form of inspiration from each picture.

Final Drawing:

I created depth with six methods using volume, size, overlap, position/height, contrast/ details, and edges. I explain how I used it in the reflection.


Overall, I learned a lot about what it means to create depth and create a composition with lateral thinking. I created dept with composition first by thinking about how volume comes to play. In the closest pictures I used various shades to create a three dimensional set of figures (especially the can and dragon fruits) to create depth. I also played with distance, the further away something got from the major items on screen, the smaller I drew them. For example, the T-shirts show a variation in size as the approach the can and leave the can. The dragon fruit is the largest and closest, and the coffee maker is drawn small but as the cord approaches us, it becomes much bigger. The main biggest three objects (key, dragon fruit, and can) overlap each other, to create even more depth. Returning to the positioning of the items, those on the top of the paper were intended to look further away. Contrast is the sixth depth tool I played with in order to induce the desired affect. The high contrast areas came forward and as the objects fell back, they became low contrast. Lastly, I made edges that were seemingly closer come across as either sharper or more detailed while they became less noticeable or softer as they shrank away. Using the elements of design, I found that the use of color did not mater as much as its done in lead, Scale and size were already depicted, the forms and shapes were designed to appear soft for the most part, and some textures were created. There was no pattern really, the whole thing was very gestural with close or far proximity depending on where you looked, items were placed close together and then very far apart. It would have helped if I took more time on the texture and varied the location more. Also I should have made what I macaques more particular. Overall I think I am leaving with some helpful information towards future projects. In reality there are some things I would do differently, however. I would have spent more time softening the edges of the desk in the upper left corner and found a more interesting way to incorporate the coffee maker. Lastly, I would have cleaned up the paper more and generated a higher contrast between the key and the can. In the future I would also consider stronger textures that pushed the viewers comfort levels. I would also like to have done a material studies more thoughtfully.

Original Writing By:

Jasper Wilder, 

Drawing in Space


AR 1065 Design & Meaning Handbook Copyright © by Phil Lonergan. All Rights Reserved.

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