Hey Planning Mashers!
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!
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Ok, confession time! ever since I started my very first Bullet Journal, doodles were 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. But also, I took a lot of help and inspiration from very amazing and talented people.
Well, I’m here today to share with you what I learned during my own 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 every day myself. But I think if I could improve my drawing skills (more like developing drawing skills!) so can you!
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!
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.
“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 persons. The idea of there was never any talk of other doodling options in my arsenal.
Two years into Bullet Journaling and 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.
What happened? A lot of learning and practice. Like everything, doodling skills are just a muscle and all you need is to train it.
I’ll share with you a big secret – all doodles are actually a collection of basic shapes, so as long as you can draw square, circle, and triangle you absolutely can doodle!
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
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.
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.
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 square.
An ice-cream cone is obviously a triangle with a circle.
A coffee cup can be simply divided into just 4 rectangles.
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!
- 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 to 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.
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:
I always recommend starting with a pencil because you can erase and fix things you don’t like. Of course, you want pencils and erasers of good quality, which would definitely be needed. As for pens – you’re of course free to use any you like, but I’d personally recommend you using 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!
If you’re just starting, I’d recommend you to 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 loved it.
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 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.
Add variety to your practice – try out different pens, different colors and different line thickness. It’ll also help you to figure out your favorite materials and colors.
The next exercise is to do the same thing, but with shapesThink of the basic shapes and fill out a piece of paper with it.
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.
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 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.
Refining Your Doodles
Start from creating 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.
Now that you can see the head, make sure you add two small triangles for ears on the side and a larger one for horn right on top.
Next – add the lines and circles for the legs.
Finally, it’s time to refine the doodle and add details, such as mare and the face. As you can see, it’s also just a collection of simple lines and dots.
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 more clear example on how to divide a doodle into simple shapes and work from it.
Styling 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.
Another way to make your doodles stand out is by using different thicknesses of the 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.
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 in a different way. 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.
Where To Learn How To Doodle
Practice is good, but there is also a lot of learning involved in improving your doodling skills, so here are a few ways you can do it.
You can find all my doodling related posts here.
Instagram and Pinterest. The 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.
- How to Draw Almost Everything An Illustrated Sourcebook
- Miyata, Chika (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
- Dean, Peggy (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
- 224 Pages - 07/24/2018 (Publication Date) - Watson-Guptill (Publisher)
- Nguyen, Angela (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
- 128 Pages - 06/13/2017 (Publication Date) - Sterling Children's Books (Publisher)
- Paige Tate & Co. (Producer)
- English (Publication Language)
- 120 Pages - 09/12/2017 (Publication Date) - Blue Star Press (Publisher)
Online education. When it comes to online courses, no better place to learn than Skillshare. It’s a fantastic learning platform that kind of was my gateway to a lot of things, including my creativity.
The Petite Planner courses. 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 not being able to doodle anything.
The classes are informative, 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.
And remember: Keep Bullet Journaling and Don’t Be A Blob!