How to Create a Nature Snapshot Sketchbook Page

Have your ever wondered how to create a beautiful sketchbook page that tells a story of where you have been and what you saw?

I like to call these types of studies nature snapshots. A nature snapshot consists of things like illustrations of found items, spot illustrations and landscape vignettes or panels. Using a combination of different type of illustrations really brings your story to life! And then you will want to add some notes about where you were and what you observed on your outing. 

Here is a more detailed breakdown of each element.

  • Found items: Single items that you find on your outing that can be painted on their own or in a group.
  • Spot illustrations: An illustration that takes up only a small portion of the page that is more of an complete scene (the rabbit in the grass).
  • Landscape panels: A small rectangle or square showing a snapshot of the the landscape you observed, like the one shown on this page of the marsh with the lily pads.
  • Notes & Observations: Little notes and labels of what you saw and heard and any other observations you made. (ex. date, time, weather, what's in bloom, birds and animals you saw/heard, how you felt that day, common and Latin plant names, facts about plants or the place you visited).
  • Text Blocks: Create some visual interest on your page by creating a color block to put some of your text in. Simple paint a light color of watercolor into a square and then write some text over top when it is dry, or paint a square of color over top of waterproof ink.

How this page came together:

Here's a secret … I didn't actually take my sketchbook out with me, I gathered reference material and then put the study together once I got home. And I did not have time to do it all in one sitting, I did the drawings and notes first and then later I came back to add color.

First I went out for a walk at the marsh, while I was there I took in all the scenery and also took pictures of things that interested me.

Then I went back to the studio and looked at all the pictures I took and made some pencil drawings of the things that really stood out to me. I made my observation notes in pencil as well.

Later I came back add watercolor paint to the illustrations and wrote over my pencil notes in waterproof ink.

You can check out even more sketchbook layout ideas here.