Art Sketchbook Ideas: creative examples to inspire students

Last Updated on December 5, 2021

This article provides tips and guidance to help you produce an outstanding high school This article contains a collection of sketchbook pages from art students around the world, including those who study IGCSE / GCSE Art, A Level Art, VCE Studio Arts, NCEA Level 3 Scholarship, and IB Visual Art. Many of the sketchbook pages shown below are from projects that achieved full marks. These examples illustrate the wide range of possible approaches to sketchbook content, annotation, and page layout.

You may be interested in our new book: Outstanding High School Sketchbooks. This book has high-resolution images so that fine details and annotation are clear, making it an excellent resource for students and schools. Learn more!

Examples of great art sketchbooks

This sketchbook page collection includes work from students specializing in drawing, painting, mixed media, and Fine Art. The examples cover a wide range of presentation techniques and layout styles. It is worth remembering that these represent only a fraction of what is possible.

Still life - GCSE sketchbook pages
These International GCSE Art sketchbook pages were created by Nikau Hindin, while at ACG Parnell College, Auckland, New Zealand. This page includes first-hand observational drawings of a still life arrangement and a handmade flax (harakeke) flower, made by Nikau. You may wish to view Nikau’s full A* IGCSE Coursework project (98%) or her AS Coursework project (awarded 100%). Larger file sizes of Nikau’s sketchbook pages can be viewed in our publication: Outstanding High School Sketchbooks.
Best A Level sketchbooks
This A* sketchbook was completed by Emilya Swan, while studying A Level Fine Art at Godalming College, Surrey, England. The left-hand page includes a copy of work by Leonard Baskin; the right-hand page contains experimentation with a wide range of media, including pencil on tracing paper and old book pages, Quink ink and bleach, spirit markers, ink and pen, fineliner and oil pastel. Emilya’s sketchbook pages can be viewed in our publication: Outstanding High School Sketchbooks.
Kate Powell sketchbook pages
These sketchbook pages were produced by Kate Powell, while studying at North Halifax Grammar School, West Yorkshire, England. Kate gained A* in OCR GCSE Art as a Year 9 student (two years younger than is expected) and A* for A Level Art in Year 12 (one year younger than expected). She achieved full marks (100%) for A Level Photography, in Year 13. You may wish to read about how Kate launched her career while at high school.
GCSE Art and Design Edexcel
This sketchbook page was completed by Annie Loh, while studying Edexcel GCSE Art and Design at Sha Tin College, Hong Kong. This page references the work of artist Stephen Conroy. Annie gained 100% (A*) for this qualification.
figure drawing sketchbook
These sketchbook pages exploring the human figure were completed by Chloé Zinn, while studying National Senior Certificate at Rustenburg High School for Girls, South Africa. The right-hand image is a mixed replica of an illustration by Kaethe Butcher, completed using masking tape, gouache paint, tracing paper, fine liner, and crumpled magazine paper. A larger file size of the left-hand sketchbook page can be viewed in our publication: Outstanding High School Sketchbooks.
Bernard Meadows artist study
This A Level Art sketchbook page contains drawings of visual analysis of a sculpture by Bernard Meadows. This project was completed by William Govoni, Bedford School, England. More of William’s artwork can be viewed in our guide to preparing an art portfolio for college or university.
Paper drawings - AS Level sketchbook
These graphite paper drawings were part of a sketchbook exercise completed by Jenny Ha, while studying AS Level Graphic Design (A*) at ACG Parnell College, Auckland, New Zealand.
Jim Dine artist study - GCSE
These two International GCSE Art sketchbook pages by Rhea Maheshwari, ACG Parnell College, Auckland, New Zealand, analyzing the work of Jim Dine. Rhea achieved an A* grade. More of Rhea’s sketchbook pages (larger file sizes) can be viewed in our publication: Outstanding High School Sketchbooks.
A Level Fine art
This A Level Art sketchbook page is by Daisy Wrigley, completed while studying AQA A Level Art & Design (Fine Art) at St. Mary’s Catholic High School. Investigating the work of Crystal Neubauer, this sketchbook page explores a wide range of media, including ribbon, maps, book pages, parcel tape, corrugated cardboard, tissue paper, fabric, paper towel, charcoal, stitching, and acrylic. Daisy gained 98% (A*) for her final A Level Art grade. More of Daisy’s sketchbook pages can be viewed in our publication: Outstanding High School Sketchbooks.
IB process portfolio example
This is part of a Process Portfolio by Enrico Giori, completed as a part of IB Visual Arts at St. Louis School of Milan. Enrico was awarded Level 7, obtaining full marks in all three components of the course. You may wish to view more of his IB Visual Art project or his CIE IGCSE Art exam or IGCSE Coursework project (A* Grade). Some of Enrico’s sketchbook pages can also be viewed in our publication: Outstanding High School Sketchbooks.
A Level sketchbook - mixed media
This Edexcel AS Level Textile Design sketchbook page is by Halima Akhtar, completed while studying within the Woldingham School Art Department, UK. Halima achieved 95% for her AS Exam and 100% for her AS Coursework (A*). She also gained 100% for A Level Fine Art. This sketchbook page references the work of Naum Gabo and contains drawings in pencil and fineliner pen, photographs of a paper sculpture and a polyprint carving. You may wish to view more from Halima’s outstanding AS/A2 textiles projects. Some of Halima’s sketchbook pages can also be viewed in our publication: Outstanding High School Sketchbooks.
Figure drawing sketchbook
These A* A Level Art sketchbook pages were created by Nettle Grellier, St. Edward’s School, Oxford, England. Nettle currently runs workshops for art students while travelling around Europe in her studio on wheels.
A Level Art sketchbook layout
A sketchbook page by Louis Trew from Bideford College, Devon, England. Louis achieved the best equal result in 2011 for his exceptional A Level Art submission (AQA). In this sketchbook page (exploring the work of graphic illustrator Russ Mills) every splash of paint, every pen line and every torn piece of background material is placed with care. Even in a page that contains multiple elements, the composition of the page as a whole is important. Louis demonstrates superb technical skill, with the ability to place, balance and integrate items in a harmonious layout.
Sketchbook ideas - mixed media
An A Level Art sketchbook page by Ruth Beeley, St George’s School, Hertfordshire, England. Using ‘modrock’ (a plaster of paris bandage) and glue to create raised areas, with other mixed mediums such as wire, ink and Biro pen, Ruth adds detailed drawings over a chaotic ground. The piece is not a finished, resolved image: rather, it is a competent exploration of ideas. You may wish to view more of Ruth’s 100% A Level Art Coursework project.
VCE Studio Arts sketchbook examples
Sketchbook pages completed as part of a VCE Studio Arts folio by Australian high school student Heesu Kim. Heesu writes about the project: “I want to create a narrative-like line of work that illustrates the process of birth and innocence to slow corruption and finally death of soul. For me, the ‘death of soul’ is when our minds are shaped to fit the norms of society and cut to think only in the values that it presents. This process both starts and finishes at high school. Ultimately the conclusion is thousands of machine-like individuals, fresh and ready to become slaves to the system. I talk to my friends and see peers that conclude their whole lives and future based on how high their ATAR score is, who adopt dreams that their parents decide for them, dreams that make more money, instead of following their real passion. I’m aware of it but accept it myself as there is no other choice but to. So subtle and complete is the control over us that we embrace it, actively acknowledge to it, and at the same time still suffer emotionally under it.”
IB Visual Arts portfolio
These sketchbook pages by Samantha Li were completed as part of the IB Visual Arts Diploma, while studying at West Island School, Pokfulam, Hong Kong. You may wish to view Samantha’s Edexcel GCSE Art exam and coursework project, for which she was awarded full marks, gaining 100% (A*) overall. Samantha also has a sketchbook page in our publication: Outstanding High School Sketchbooks.
Francis Bacon artist study
This Francis Bacon study was completed by Stefan Iyapah, while studying A Level Art at Beal High School, Redbridge, England. In his own words, Stefan “broke out of a timid and controlled way of working and became heavily influenced by the emotion-filled paintings of Francis Bacon which encouraged me to use color experimentally and loosely”.
Shells and weaving: IGCSE sketchbook
These two A* sketchbook pages were completed by Rhea Maheshwari, as part of her IGCSE Art Coursework project at ACG Parnell College, Auckland, New Zealand. This section of work was derived from observational drawings of a still life arrangement of shells in flax (harakeke) bags. The sketchbook page on the left features composition studies created from digital manipulations of her own scanned drawings. More of Rhea’s sketchbook pages (larger file sizes) can be viewed in our publication: Outstanding High School Sketchbooks.
A Level Art sketchbook examples
These rich, textural mixed media pages are part of an A Level Art project by Ellie Green, while studying at Graveney School, London, England (awarded A*). The work shows clear first-hand sources and a personal response to local environment: shells, feathers, rope, and coastal landscapes. The pages include drawings and collage using a range of mixed media, with the repetition of blue and brown colors visually linking different parts of the page together.
A Level Art still life
These sketchbook pages are by Hojeong Bonnie Park, completed while studying Edexcel A Level Art and Design at Colombo International School, Sri Lanka. Bonnie explored the exam topic, ‘Inside, Outside, In Between,’ using a still-life theme, analyzing the artwork of Juan Sánchez Cotán. Bonnie gained 100% (A*) for her final grade. More of Bonnie’s beautiful sketchbook pages can be viewed in in our publication: Outstanding High School Sketchbooks.
Andy Warhol sketchbook
This GCSE Art and Design sketchbook page is part of an exam unit by Alisha Khanna from Highclare School, UK. This sketchbook page analyzes the work of Andy Warhol, and includes a range of media including colored pencil, crayon, and corrugated cardboard. Alisha gained 94% for her GCSE Art exam. More of Alisha’s sketchbook pages can be viewed in our publication: Outstanding High School Sketchbooks.
artist sketchbook dogs
This sketchbook page was completed by Heather Louise Thomas, while studying Edexcel GCE Art, Craft and Design at St Edmund Campion Catholic School, UK. This page analyzes the artwork of Terry Flannery and contains highly detailed colored pencil replications of Flannery’s work. Heather achieved A* overall. Some of Heather’s sketchbook pages can be viewed in our publication: Outstanding High School Sketchbooks.
masking tape sketchbook
These A Level Art sketchbook pages by Luke Dash include observational drawings using graphite, charcoal, pen and ink. The masking tape provides a great aesthetic effect as well as functional purpose: adhering different paper types to the sketchbook and providing a clear surface for annotation.
Sketchbook exploring movement
This A Level Art sketchbook page contains pen drawings from life at a string ensemble practice in a music hall, exploring ways of capturing the movement of the violin. This project was completed by William Govoni, while studying at Bedford School, England.
NCEA Scholarship printmaking workbook
This NCEA Level 3 Scholarship Printmaking workbook exemplar by a high school student in New Zealand. It provides a great example how second-hand imagery can be seamlessly integrated with your own photographs, written documentation and analysis. This student looks at architectural abstraction and references the work of Gordon Matta-Clark and Young Ae Kim. More information about this project can be viewed at NZQA.
IGCSE sketchbook - fish, weaving, seaweed
These sketchbook pages were completed by Manisha Mistry, as part of her A* IGCSE Art Coursework project, ACG Strathallan, Auckland, New Zealand. You may wish to view more of Manisha’s 98% IGCSE Art project, which explored natural forms, such as shells, seaweed and fish.
Sketchbook portraits
These sketchbook pages are by Elliswg, a high school student studying at a Sixth Form college in Derby, UK. Exploring portraiture, the sketchbook pages contain a thorough and competent investigation of emotion and facial expression, sketched using a range of drawing mediums.
A Level sketchbook mouths
This A Level Art sketchbook page was completed by John Hui, while attending St John’s College, Portsmouth, England. The page includes detailed investigation of eyeballs, mouth infections and diseases, working from a combination of first and second-hand images.
painting sketchbook artist study
These sketchbook pages are by Sabrina Syed, completed as part of her IB Visual Arts Diploma, at the International School of Geneva, ISG La Châtaigneraie, Switzerland. These pages analyze the work of Leonardo da Vinci and Auguste Rodin and contain a variety of media, including collage, ink pen, felt pen, graphite pencil, water-soluble colored pencil, and tracing paper. Sabrina was awarded the highest grade (level 7) for IB Visual Arts. Some of Sabrina’s sketchbook pages can be viewed in our publication: Outstanding High School Sketchbooks.
A Level Art sketchbook ideas
An A Level Art sketchbook page by Lucy Luu. At its essence, a sketchbook page should provide insight into a student’s ideas and intentions, as well as revealing the influence of other artists. This A Level Art sketchbook page is beautiful in its simplicity: devoid of all superfluous decoration, it shows a dedicated and committed student learning a technique from artist Jonathan Yeo and then carefully applying this to original artwork.
Claude Monet artist study
This A* sketchbook page was completed by Hania Cho, while studying A Level Painting at ACG Strathallan College, Auckland, New Zealand. This page examines the work of Claude Monet. You may also wish to view Hania’s A* IGCSE Coursework project.
IB Art process portfolio
These sketchbook pages are part of an IB Visual Arts project by Wing Yung Ng, completed while studying at Sha Tin College, Hong Kong. Wing Yung Ng gained the highest grade (level 7) for this project. Wing Yung Ng is one of many students from Sha Tin College with work in our publication: Outstanding High School Sketchbooks.
Sketchbook layout ideas
An A Level Art sketchbook page contains beautiful mixed media exploration by Lisa Jiang.
plants and hands: sketchbook
These sketchbook pages were created by two different students. The image on the left was created as part of a Higher Level Investigation Workbook (IWB) by Naomi Ng, completed as part of the IB Visual Arts Diploma Programme at Sha Tin College, Hong Kong. You may wish to view more of Naomi’s IB Visual Arts project, which was awarded Level 7. This right-hand AS Art sketchbook page by Charlotte Taylor shows the visual investigation of hands: drawing from a range of angles and in a range of different mediums. Charlotte has worked over scraps of lined note paper (some with maths equations left on them) with meticulous, detailed pen drawings, developing familiarity with the human form.
A Level Art sketchbook help
This A Level Art sketchbook page is by David Wasserman from Monks Dyke Tennyson College, Lincolnshire, UK, integrating artist work with student photographs and observational drawings.
Art sketchbook layout - Robyn Yeang
This A Level Art sketchbook page by Robyn Yeang from Queen’s College London, UK, commands the attention of the examiner, without superfluous decoration, enlarged headings or busy page layouts.
International GCSE shell drawings
This is part of a 98% A* IGCSE Art and Design Coursework project by Sarah Loh, completed while studying at ACG Strathallan College, Auckland, New Zealand. In this sketchbook page, Sarah has produced observational drawings of shells, line drawings and printmaking experiments. You may wish to view Sarah’s AS Coursework project.
Artist study Ian Murphy
These sketchbook pages by Allison Ho were completed as part of IB Visual Arts at Sha Tin College, Hong Kong. These pages include composition development and critical analysis of work by Ian Murphy. Allison achieved the highest grade for IB Visual Arts (level 7). Larger file sizes of some of Allison’s sketchbook pages can be viewed in our publication: Outstanding High School Sketchbooks.
A Level Sketchbook - archtecture
The sketchbook is a place for essential experimentation and research: creative exploration of technique, surface and materials. These A Level Art sketchbook pages by Evie Sudlow have purpose and intention: exciting exploration and development.
art sketchbook shells
This sketchbook page was completed by Heather Louise Thomas, while studying Edexcel GCE Art, Craft and Design at St Edmund Campion Catholic School, UK. Inspired by the work of Jessica Drenk, Heather created porcelain shells, decorating these with tissue paper and power towel soaked in porcelain slip. She then added patches of color to the textural surfaces, contrasting with the areas of satin and gloss glazes. Heather achieved A* overall. Some of Heather’s sketchbook pages can be viewed in our publication: Outstanding High School Sketchbooks.
GCSE Art sketchbook shells
A sketchbook is the place where initial observations are recorded: there is no need for compositions to be complete or pieces finally resolved. Here we have drawings of shells using graphite and white paint on a ground of watered down acrylic. This is an A* IGCSE Art and Design (CIE) sketchbook page by Rebecca BettsACG Strathallan College, Auckland, New Zealand.
Observational drawings A Level Art
An AS Level Art sketchbook page by Jack Broad. Here, accurate, first-hand drawings in a range of mediums are surrounded by brief annotation. This page is a reminder of what really matters in the initial stages of a project: competent observational drawing and visual exploration of subject-matter.
IB Visual Art sketchbook
These sketchbook pages by Allison Ho were completed as part of IB Visual Arts at Sha Tin College, Hong Kong. These pages include critical analysis of work by a range of artists, including Michael Shapcott and Zhong Biao. Allison achieved the highest grade for IB Visual Arts (level 7). Larger file sizes of some of Allison’s sketchbook pages can be viewed in our publication: Outstanding High School Sketchbooks.

Need more art sketchbook ideas?

This article is part of a series showcasing and celebrating outstanding sketchbooks by students, artists and designers. You may also be interested in viewing our other sketchbook resources:

This sketchbook collection is continually updated. Please bookmark this page so that you can return to it when needed! If you would like to submit your own sketchbook page for inclusion, please contact us. 🙂

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