In spite of what you may have been told in high school history class, drawing in doodles is not a bad thing. In fact, quite the opposite. According to a well-received TED Talk by Sunni Brown, doodling can have a profound impact on the way we can process information and figure out solutions to problems.
What does that mean, exactly? Basically, with every little line you draw, it’s like untangling knots in your mind, freeing you up for better and clearer thinking. But in addition to being a problem-solving method and a stress buster, it can also can help make you a better artist.
Photos and illustrations via CakeSpy, unless otherwise noted
Doodling: what it is and is not
Don’t bother looking up “doodling” in the dictionary, because the definition in the Oxford Dictionary is dismal: “to scribble absentmindedly.” This is a decidedly dismissive way of describing doodling.
The definition of doodling offered in the aforementioned TED Talk is superior: “To make spontaneous marks to help yourself think.” Have you ever felt like you listen better while doodling? Well, there’s a science to it. To retain information, we need to engage at least two of the following four sensory skills: visual, auditory, reading/writing and kinesthetic. Doodling engages some, if not all, of these sensory skills, allowing doodlers actually retain significantly more verbal information than non-doodlers. It might take some time for the memo to reach your boss, but basically, it’s not a bad thing to be doodling in the board room.
Note: Is doodling a view into the psyche? While some will analyze doodles for meaning and insight to our personal issues or leanings, they don’t necessarily have to carry emotional significance. Ideas may come to you randomly while you doodle, or you can make specific decisions about what to doodle.
Doodle drawing ideas
On the one hand, doodling is a deeply intuitive thing. It’s accessible to everyone because it’s a non-threatening method of creating art, with no pressure for the finished piece to be “good.” That having been said, if you need some inspiration to get started, here are some fantastic doodle drawing ideas.
Hearts. Stars. Circles. Squares. Cubes. Geometric shapes are an ideal doodle subject — they’re accessible for all levels of artistic ability and easily recognizable. You can combine shapes, or simply explore one shape over and over in different sizes and forms.
Geometric shapes can become very interesting when applied in a linear fashion, and you can even create mazes or unique, sculptural looking forms.
Scribble doodle via mooforever
Lines and marks
Experiment with different pen or pencil strokes in your doodling, and you may find yourself putting together unique forms and shapes. The above doodle is a fantastic example: hatching and cross hatching, as well as scumbling, come together in a unique character study.
Wolf print via sneezerville
Intricate prints within a simple outline
By creating a simple outline, you can give yourself a finite space in which to experiment with intricate line work. In the example of the above drawing, a simple wolf print is filled in with intricate shapes and patterns which become even more interesting within the confines of a simple shape.
Some people like to draw little characters as a doodle technique. To add some fun and structure, create a series of doodled characters which are variations on a general theme. For instance, the above doodle features little characters doing yoga poses with desserts. Perhaps an unusual theme, but it creates a fun parameter for the doodling.
Just about everyone has doodled in words at some point in their life, whether it’s pairing their drawn initials with a possible sweetheart’s or simply experimenting with a signature. Doodling words or letters can be an easy way to enter the world of doodling. As an added bonus, it can help improve your penmanship.
Cat doodle via blondy
Sometimes, your daily surroundings can provide ample inspiration for doodling. Where to start? Why not start doodling whatever is closest to you? Or, doodle things you love, such as foods, pets, people or objects that you hold dear. Not only will they make you happy while you doodle, but it will teach you all sorts of things about spatial relationships, proportion and form.
Doodling: what can happen?
Once you’ve started doodling, you might be amazed by where it takes you. This method of “drawing fearlessly” can unlock ideas and concepts you didn’t even know were kicking around in your brain. You can take any concept you’ve explored in doodling and work at it further in a more finished piece, branching out to different media.