There’s something really cathartic about doing very simple line/shape designs. They build on themselves very easily, so they can end up looking very complicated, but really they are just a series of tiny little line strokes with little to no active thought involved. I have pages and pages of images like this in my sketchbooks. When I’m bored and don’t really have any ideas, this is my go-to. They begin with a simple design, sometimes just a random shape and then build and build and build. Here’s one in pen of some turtles.
This was an old school project that I used the exact same technique on. The project was to illustrate a word and mine was “Trivialize”, so I did something so graphic and detailed above the word that it’s completely overwhelmed. It looked great next to all of the other projects in the class that were very focused on displaying the word.
I created a mock up of the image with pen on 11×17 paper to get the idea of the amount of detail to go into it, then I created the final image in Illustrator. It took me hours and hours to do, but I just put on music or a movie in the background and let my hands do all the work.