• Wait, wait, I think I can add a little more secondary action!

Review: 642 Things to Draw


In order to improve, you have to practice. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again. At this point no one is a stranger to this age-old advice. If you’re like me, though, sometimes you need a gentle kick in the pants to get moving and actually DO the practicing. That’s where 642 Things to Draw comes to the rescue.

Let’s start off by talking about what this book is NOT, because it is important to understand that first.

  • This book is not a “how to draw” book. It offers you zero instruction on the process.
  • This book is not a resource of images to draw from
  • This book will not improve your artistic skill through osmosis if you put it under your pillow at night while you sleep

What 642 Things to Draw IS, however, is a spark plug of sorts to get you motivated to practicing. Inside you will find mostly blank pages with textual cues of things for you to draw. The list of items and situations is varied, from “a rolling pin” and “a hammock” to “head in the clouds” and “a celebration.” Some are literal, and some are much more open to interpretation.

There are two ways to look at a book like this. One is “A list of words to draw? I can find that on the internet for free!” You would be correct in that. You COULD simply dip into free resources to find a list of things to draw.
Then the question becomes: “Will you?” That is a question only you can answer.

I can tell you in all honesty for myself the answer is “no.” Despite how much I know I should practice, I need tools like 642 Things to Draw to get me moving (and that is perfectly okay, I think many artists do). So from the other perspective (the one I share) I see the book as “A great tool for making sure I have something in front of me to keep me on track every day.” In that way, 642 Things to Draw is invaluable as a motivational method to get my pencil on paper each morning.

Perhaps look at it this way: Most people know you should eat right and exercise in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle, yet sometimes we need books or personal trainers to make sure we keep moving forward in that regard. This book is like a personal trainer for your art. It can’t do the work for you, but it can help you achieve your goals.

If I have one complaint about this book, it is that the space allotted to some of the drawings is too small. A few pages are broken up in half, or even fourths. That is just not enough paper-real-estate to get the most out of your time. Here is my own simple way around that: Use the book as a springboard, but draw elsewhere.

A large sketchbook allows you to draw many attempts!

By dedicating a whole page (or pages) in a sketchbook to one of the subjects, you can build a “Mental Library” of images to call upon any time you want. You will have more than one small image to pull from. On top of that, your 642 Things to Draw book will remain clean and pristine, so that years down the road you can revisit the pages and see how much you’ve improved by trying them all again. Practice never goes out of style.

The Verdict

642 Things to Draw is an excellent addition to your personal library, as long as you know why it exists and how it will help you. If you get a copy and use it diligently, you will gain a wealth of “Mental Library” images to call upon in your future work, and that can be more valuable than anything to an artist.

Read more about 642 Things to Draw and buy a copy of the book today from Amazon here:

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7 comments

  1. Oakley says:

    Seems interesting, I’ll check it out.

  2. amy says:

    I have this book and it is as great as what you said! It helps to get me to sit and draw and the subjects are all so different that you don’t get bored. Acept that some of them are SOOOO complex! Like there will be “a deserted island” and how do you fit that on one little page??? I will try your method I think and do some on separate paper! :)

  3. [...] because the game is still going on. Anyway, while listening I decided to tackle some drawing from the 642 Things to Draw book. The current subject was "an ottoman" which I started on Friday but it seems I didn't save and the [...]

  4. Mike P. says:

    Appreciate you sharing, great blog.A friend sent me the link to this review because I talked to him about wanting to draw more. Think I’ll pick it up. Thanks Again.

    -Mike

  5. recon says:

    “case closed!”

  6. Robin says:

    I just started this book!

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