Tips For Drawing Inspiration From Everyday Life and Creating Better Artwork

Tips For Drawing Inspiration From Everyday Life and Creating Better Artwork

Tamlyn TeowThis article is about how I draw inspiration from everyday life and use it to express my inner thoughts, to create stories and communicate with like-minded souls through art. I’ll talk about how this illustration titled “A Dancer’s Dream” was done and its influence on story creation.

Good day fellow earthlings, my name is Tamlyn Teow and I am in my second year of Masters in Production Design for Screen. Previously, I completed a double degree in Commerce and Economics for my undergrad and worked in the banking sector for a year before deciding that passion was what had and will keep me spiritually alive.

Hence, here I am embarking on a new adventure and hope that my next chapter after graduation would be in an internship at Animal Logic (Sydney, Australia). It’s a long shot with all these talented candidates but never hurts to try! …Unless you’re trying to drink hot soup on the go.



My process commences with picking out elements in reality that interest me. It can be something as simple as a crack in the wall or something as deep as an epiphany during a painful experience. In this case, I was walking down an alley in London until a shop window display caught my attention. I stopped, stared and begun to imagine that the shoes came to life and performed just for me. While travelling back to Australia, I saw a poster of ballerinas at my stopover in Dubai and knew that this had to be a sign!****

If you’re a Kim Kardashian kind of person, buy a tiny notepad to fit in that small handbag

Sketch, everywhere at any time when it strikes

Bring your sketchbook along everywhere you go. If you’re a Kim Kardashian kind of person, buy a tiny notepad to fit in that small handbag; if you’re those kinds of people who drag luggage around then bring a table easel and A3 sketchbook. Whatever it is, you have to draw or write when inspiration strikes. This is a page of sketches that I did of the inspirations:


Research and collect reference images

While developing your ideas, research. For this painting, I looked at Edgar Degas’ series of dancers, watched videos of ballerina performances, finally had an excuse to watch Black Swan (2010) again, collected an image archive of costumes and dancers in motion. It’s important to engage in this exercise because not only will you be inspired ; further, you’ll learn loads more about your subject matter.


Composition, colour, and contrast

Once you have your subject matter, the narrative and references images, it’s time to think about the composition. Who or what in this image do you want to draw attention to; how do you feel about it and in turn, what emotions do you want to bring on in your viewer; what is the theme and meaning behind it?

Related Link:  The Key to Design is Exploration

By asking yourself these questions, you can then think about how you’re going to frame your subject matter. In this case, it’s about the girl’s vision which is lighted in contrast to the darker and gloomier atmosphere. Take into consideration the classic rule of thirds, possible framing devices, and tools used to distinguish or contrast (such as light versus dark, Black versus white).



A Dancer’s Dream was done on A3 Watercolour paper. I drew it in HB pencil as a guide of where I wanted all the elements, then outlined it with a waterproof ballpoint pen. After this, I used watercolour paint then blew it dry with a hairdryer. I outlined the painting with a black fine liner and shaded the artwork with a black colour pencil. Following this, I took a photo of it, uploaded it to the computer and edited it in Photoshop. I adjusted the saturation, selective colours, and levels, masked the brightness to enhance certain areas and sharpened it. This is a before and after edit of the painting:


Creating a story

I started this process by looking up storyboards of popular films that were done by animation studios and downloaded storyboarding templates. Based off the illustration and archive of reference material I had collected …I just let my imagination go wild (you should too and together we shall rule the world)! So without further ado, I shall leave you with these storyboards for A Dancer’s Dream. Hope you enjoyed this article, have a great day and life… and life after death. GOOD LUCK!