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How To Doodle: Beginner’s Guide To Bullet Journal Doodles

Want to learn how to doodle? Not sure if you have any creativity or talent in you but still ache to give it a try? You’re in the right place! 

In this guide, we’ll go through all the fundamentals and cover all you need to know to start doodling right away!

Even if you don’t have a creative cell in your body, after this post, you’ll be rocking pretty doodles all over your Bullet Journal.

Ok, confession time! Ever since I started my very first Bullet Journal, doodles have been my biggest challenge.

I’m not an artistic person at all, and all I could ever draw was a smiley face (with an option to add a tongue to the design).

However, I AM a very determined person, and once I set a goal, I become unstoppable! Of course, practice is the key. I kept working on my skills over and over to get my doodling game on a proper level.

Well, I’m here today to share with you what I learned during my little doodling development and to tell you where you can get some help and inspiration as well. Mind you, I’m not an expert, and I’m still learning myself every day.

But I think if I could improve my drawing skills (more like developing drawing skills!), so can you!

So let’s dive in and see how you can crush it with your Bullet Journal doodles.

This post may contain affiliate links. They will be of no extra expense for you, but I receive a small credit. Please see my Disclosure for more details. Thank you for supporting Masha Plans!

Why Doodling

Doodles are a great way to decorate your Bullet Journal; we all agree on that.

But it can actually bring so much more to your life!

How To: Stationery Doodles | Masha Plans

Doodling can help you reconnect with your emotions. Just like any form of art, doodling is very connected to your emotions and can have positive effects in this area.

Regularly practicing doodling can definitely calm you down and generally improve your mood.

Doodling can create those a-ha moments for you. While doodling, your brain is engaged enough to stay active but not enough to spiral in the same thought. You give it a whole new state to work, and you’d be amazed at what solutions it can come up with.

Doodling also helps you to stay awake and alert to a subject you lost interest in, so really it’s pretty useful for students as well. I don’t know about you guys, but I definitely needed something like that during my college days.

So, doodling is actually not just a mindless hobby but something that can help you with more than just developing your creativity.

If you want to read more about why doodling, check my post 5 Incredible Benefits Of Doodling And How To Get Started.

“But I Can’t Draw”

I hear a lot of “I wish I could draw like that” and “I’ll never be able to draw like that”.

But guys, all that couldn’t be further from the truth!

When I started my first Bullet Journal in 2018, I could only draw smiley faces or stick people. The idea of there was never any talk of other doodling options in my arsenal.

Two years into Bullet Journaling, my pages are decorated with doodles you guys seem to like (and I definitely love), and I even teach doodling on my blog and YouTube.

Cozy Doodles | Masha Plans

What happened? A lot of learning and practice. Like everything, doodling skills are just a muscle, and all you need is to train them.

There is, however, one secret that will help you learn to doodle in no time!

How To Doodle: the big secret

Doodles are just simple shapes.

It might not seem that way, but it’s definitely true.

Of course, the shapes are refined to make them look like the thing you try to doodle. But that’s really the next step; so far, we’re just learning to see these basic shapes so we can start doodling.

There are a few basic shapes:

  • Square and rectangle
  • Circle and oval
  • Triangle 

You learned to draw these at school, so don’t tell me you can’t draw! Now that you get the basic idea, it’s time to learn how to see it in the drawings.

Supplies To Draw Bullet Journal Doodles

Before we dive into doodling itself, let’s make sure we have all the supplies ready.

The good news is, all you really need is a pen and paper! Here are some recommendations to know where to start:

  • Pen

I always recommend starting with a pencil because you can erase and fix things you don’t like. You can get these pencils and erasers of good quality if you want something extra. But of course, you can start with any pencil you have.

As for pens – you’re, of course, free to use any you like, but I’d personally recommend you use some fineliner pens.

Among the popular brands are Sakura Pigma Micron and Faber Castell. Both are great quality pens and will be able to create vivid black doodles!

  • Paper

If you’re just starting, I’d recommend you get a cheap dot grid notebook and keep it as your doodling journal for practice. That way, you’d be able to see your progress over time.

Another option is to get a dotted notepad, which is what I did, and I loved it.

Rhodia Wirebound Notepad, A5, Dot - Black
  • A5 in size
  • Paper within the notebook is made from Clairefontaine 80 g superfine Vellum
  • 80 detachable micro-perforated sheets

If you’re looking for more pen recommendations, check my post 7 Best Pens For Doodling, Sketching, And Drawing

How To Doodle: Step By Step

We did all the prep work, so I think it’s time to actually start working on your Bullet Journal doodles.

We’ll start with this simple exercise that will definitely help you make doodling so much easier, and it’s connected to the big secret we talked about before.

Step 1: Seeing Doodles As Shapes

Let’s start training from some simple shapes and then move to more elaborate doodles.

A doughnut, a pizza, a button, what are those? Of course, these are circles; pretty easy to spot the shape here.

Master Your Bullet Journal Doodles: Learn How To Doodle | Masha Plans

Let’s think of more elaborate doodles that consist of several shapes.

A Christmas tree, for example, can be easily divided into two triangles and a rectangle.

Master Your Bullet Journal Doodles: Learn How To Doodle | Masha Plans

An ice cream cone is obviously a triangle with a circle.

It could, of course, be two circles if you choose to draw one with two scoops, but let’s start from the basics.

A coffee cup can be simply divided into just four rectangles.

Master Your Bullet Journal Doodles: Learn How To Doodle | Masha Plans

Now let’s talk about something much more difficult – let’s divide this sweet little unicorn into parts.

Ok, I really didn’t mean it to sound so murdery! 

Master Your Bullet Journal Doodles: Learn How To Doodle | Masha Plans
  • The ears and the horn are triangles
  • The head and body are also triangles with a top cut
  • Finally, the legs are simple lines and circles

Just like that, a cute little unicorn turned into a pretty simple doodle to draw.

A little note here – you might actually see some other shapes in play here. But it’s totally fine. We all see the world just a little bit differently.

I recommend you practice a lot, and the more you train your eye to divide your objects into shapes before you doodle, the easier it will be to doodle pretty much anything.

Always start from a basic shape and then refine it.

Let’s do a test run with that unicorn doodle.

Step 2: Warm-Up

Before you sit down to doodle, there are a few simple exercises that can help you to warm up and get your hands ready for the process. So, in the end, you’ll be better prepared to rock your doodles.

As we talked about before, doodles are just a combination of lines and shapes, so as a warm-up, try drawing these.

Start from lines, and there are 5 basic ones – a straight line. wavy line, dotted line, dash line, and zigzag line. Take a piece of paper and just start repeating these lines over and over again.

Master Your Bullet Journal Doodles: Learn How To Doodle | Masha Plans

Add variety to your practice – try out different pens, different colors, and different line thicknesses. It’ll also help you to figure out your favorite materials and colors.

The next exercise is to do the same thing but with shapes. Think of the basic shapes and fill out a piece of paper with them.

A few ideas of the shapes are – square, triangle, circle, and diamond. But feel free to add whatever other shapes you can come up with, like hearts or rectangles.

Master Your Bullet Journal Doodles: Learn How To Doodle | Masha Plans

Just like with lines, try different colors and different materials. With shapes, you can play around even more – draw them in different sizes, maybe inside each other or crossing.

Really let your creativity flow and give your hands the freedom to do whatever they feel like.

Now that you’re all warmed up and ready to rock, let’s dive into doodling that little unicorn.

Step 3: Refining Your bullet journal Doodles

Let’s start by drawing the basic shapes we divided the unicorn by – two triangles that stand for the head and body of the unicorn.

This will make it easier to work on all the other details. Be sure to cut off all the tops and smooth them.

Master Your Bullet Journal Doodles: Learn How To Doodle | Masha Plans

Now that you can see the head make sure you add two small triangles for ears on the side and a larger one for the horn right on top.

Master Your Bullet Journal Doodles: Learn How To Doodle | Masha Plans

Next – add the lines and circles for the legs.

Master Your Bullet Journal Doodles: Learn How To Doodle | Masha Plans

Finally, it’s time to refine the doodle and add details, such as the mare and the face.

As you can see, it’s also just a collection of simple lines and dots.

Master Your Bullet Journal Doodles: Learn How To Doodle | Masha Plans

And we are done! Good job, your cute unicorn is ready to rock your Bullet Journal pages.

Here is a video of me going through a few more doodles step by step, so you can get clearer examples of how to divide a doodle into simple shapes and work from it.

How To Style Your Doodles

Now that we covered the basics of doodling, let’s touch on how we can add a bit of extra flair to your doodles.

The first technique is by playing with the shadows. When your doodle is done, think of where the light source is and add the shadow to your drawing.

For adding the shadows, you can use stippling, simple lines, or maybe a grey marker.

Master Your Bullet Journal Doodles: Learn How To Doodle | Masha Plans

Another way to make your doodles stand out is using different thicknesses of a pen.

For example, if you use a thicker pen for the outer party of the doodle, it will make it stand out and look much more doodly.

Master Your Bullet Journal Doodles: Learn How To Doodle | Masha Plans

Finally, you can use the blackout technique, where you simply blackout parts of your doodles or maybe some doodles from the group.

That way, you make them stand out and create an interesting contrast.

Practicing Your Doodles

As I keep saying, learning to doodle is all about practicing.

Here I want to share with you some simple techniques you can use when you practice to get more creative results and challenge yourself to improve each time even more.

  • Have a non-stop doodling session. Set a timer for 5 minutes and just make yourself doodle nonstop. It can be doodles or letters or just some patterns but make yourself create something nonstop. This will help you push your creative juices. Important – don’t worry about the result or how the doodles look. This exercise is to get your creative juices flowing.
  • Doodle the same thing differently. Pick a simple doodle you’re comfortable with (like a coffee cup!) and challenge yourself to draw it 10 times, but a bit different each time.
  • Animate your doodles. If you’re drawing inanimate objects or even just letters – try to personify them and add some character. Just like that, your simple cup of coffee can become a cute character with a whole scale of emotions.

And, of course, I need to mention that the best way to practice doodling as a beginner is to follow a tutorial. But more on this later.

Doodling Tips

You probably already know most of these, but I wanted to condense it into a neat little list.

These are some of the basic tips you should consider when sitting down to doodle.

  • Warm-up. When you sit down to work those hand muscles, be sure to warm up, as we mentioned before. Don’t overthink it, though; just take a piece of paper and start drawing.
  • Think in basic shapes. Just like we talked about, start thinking of doodles in terms of basic shapes, and you’ll be able to doodle anything you want! It helps to get a reference picture so you can look at it and figure out the basic shapes for your doodle.
  • Use a variety of line thicknesses. One of the easiest ways to make your doodles stand out is to play around with line thickness. You can definitely do it by going over some lines or if you get fineliner pens that come in sets with different nib sizes.
  • Find your comfort place. It’s always more fun and inspiring to create in a place that you love and feel comfortable in. When you’re relaxed and enjoying yourself, you’ll see it reflected in your Bullet Journal doodles.
  • There is only your way. Everyone has their own perspective and sees (and doodles) things their own way. So if your doodles don’t look like mine, for example – it doesn’t mean that one way is wrong and one is right. It’s just that we are different people, so of course, we have doodles looking different.
  • Drop perfectionism. Doodling is a style of drawing that is more about being creative and expressing yourself rather than creating a perfect representation of the item. The goal is to let the creativity flow and see where it takes you. So always remember that!

What To Doodle

I mentioned before that the best way to get better at doodling is to practice. But here is a question – what should you doodle?

I remember when I started learning to doodle, I really struggled with that, so I’m here to help you out.

Participate In Doodling Challenge

This is probably the best way for you to practice doodling.

The way it works is that every day you’re given a prompt to doodle, and so every day, you have a little idea of what you can draw.

You can do the entire month in one day if you want to, or practice doodling one thing in different ways every day.

You can check out our Doodling club, where we have a monthly doodling challenge as well as monthly doodling tutorials!

To get started, check out the prompts below.

If you need some more ideas, be sure to check out my post with Doodling Prompts To Get You Working On Your Creativity.

Follow DOodling Tutorials

Following tutorials are the easiest way to learn to doodle and to take off the pressure of picking what to doodle.

Just find some random tutorials and work through them!

You can find all my blog posts with doodling tutorials here; going through these will take you months!

Where To Learn How To Doodle

Practice is good, but a lot of learning is involved in improving your doodling skills, so here are a few ways you can do it.

Before we get into more ideas, let me just mention a free doodling course I created that walks you step by step through learning to doodle.

It also includes worksheets and other materials to help you improve.

If you want to join, just sign up in the form below.

Social Media

Instagram and Pinterest. Social media are so full of doodling tutorials that you’ll have no problem finding any specific thing you’re looking for.

Plus, they are mostly pretty simple and beginner-friendly.

Books

Books are always a great help, and doodling isn’t an exception. I had quite a few books myself that really REALLY helped me to improve. Here are a few I can recommend.

Sale
How to Draw Almost Everything: An Illustrated Sourcebook
  • Miyata, Chika (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 224 Pages - 04/22/2016 (Publication Date) - Quarry Books (Publisher)
Sale
Botanical Line Drawing: 200 Step-by-Step Flowers, Leaves, Cacti, Succulents, and Other Items Found in Nature
  • Dean, Peggy (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 224 Pages - 07/24/2018 (Publication Date) - Watson-Guptill (Publisher)
Sale
How to Draw Cute Stuff: Draw Anything and Everything in the Cutest Style Ever! (Volume 1)
  • Nguyen, Angela (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 128 Pages - 06/13/2017 (Publication Date) - Union Square Kids (Publisher)
How To Draw Modern Florals: An Introduction To The Art of Flowers, Cacti, and More
  • Paige Tate & Co. (Producer)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 120 Pages - 09/12/2017 (Publication Date) - Paige Tate & Co (Publisher)

You can check my post with 11 Books On How To Doodle for some more recommendations.

Online Education

There are many amazing courses out there, but let’s be honest – a lot of them can be hit or miss.

So here I got some courses that I took personally and absolutely loved. So they are a guarantee to be worht you time!

Ever since Erin launched her first course I’ve been a fan and have been taking all of them. She’s a great teacher, and she started just like every one of us – from being unable to doodle anything.

The classes are informative and helpful and will definitely bring up your creative side. If you want to take any of them, be sure to use code MASHAPLANS to get 15% off any of her creative courses.

Skillshare is a learning platform that has thousands of classes in all possible areas, including doodling.

And if you use my link, you can get 2 week FREE access to the premium features.

Finally, my new favorite learning platform is Foxsy. It’s still growing, but they already have several amazing courses there, including my own “Floral Doodles 101”.

And I can get you a subscription 20%+ off if you use my link.

I love this platform because it was created specifically for creatives and people who Bullet Journal, so I really enjoy every course they release.

Also, be sure to check my post Free Resources To Learn Doodling.

You’re now ready to embark on your creative adventure. Be sure to tag me on Instagram and share your creations in our Facebook group!

I hope this post was helpful; if you find it so, please share! If you enjoy my content and want to show your appreciation, please consider supporting me with a cup of coffee.

And remember: Keep Bullet Journaling, and Don’t Be A Blob!

2 Comments

    1. But I’m not having the same problem, it’s all well. If there’s a cross option, just click on it; try reloading the page or restart your phone.

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