The Art of Doodling: From Simple Lines to Complex Drawings

"Doodling serves as a means of keeping the hand or fingers limber so that they are always ready for serious work." - Charles E. Burchfield. 

Have you ever dabbled in the art of doodling? Sometimes, our minds and hands want to take a break from the pressure and seriousness of completing an artwork. Sometimes, we want to simply create without needing it to be another finished masterpiece. In these creative lulls and moments where we just want to explore new and random ideas, doodling is the answer. 

A form of Zentangle doodling artwork

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Others may think that doodling is just a mindless activity to pass the time. However, it does so much more than that, especially for artists like you! 

Doodling can be a form of art that can help you unlock your creativity and even reduce stress. From simple lines to complex drawings, doodle art has the power to express your imagination and feelings more freely! Today, we will explore the art of doodling, its benefits, and tips to take your doodling to the next level. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced artist, there is always something new to discover in the world of doodling.

What Is Doodling?

You may think, "Is doodling real art?" While many artists don't consider doodling as a serious form of art, it is still an essential art form that can enhance your skills, creativity, and prowess as an artist. It is a type of process art that emphasizes the creation part rather than the finished outcome. In doodling, you simply let your hands roam aimlessly on your canvas or paper, going with the flow of ideas as they pop into your head. Commonly, doodle art is made with pencils, markers, pens, and paint

In a way, drawing is not the same as doodling. Even though people use the terms interchangeably, they are not the same. Drawing is made with an intent, a goal, or an initial inspiration. On the other hand, doodling can occur randomly - even when you're doing something else! 

The key to knowing the difference between the two is in the meaning of the word "doodle." The origin of the word "doodle" is not entirely clear, but it is believed to have come from the German word "dudeln," which means "to play music simply," "or "to drone on." Today, doodling is considered a form of spontaneous and free-form drawing that is often done while the mind is occupied with other tasks. Simply put, doodling is to enjoy the act of creating without it needing to be something. 

Why Should You Try Doodling?

There are many benefits to doodling. From reducing your stress and anxiety to improving your creativity and productivity, the advantages of making doodle art are bountiful! 

One of the most significant benefits of doodling is its ability to reduce stress and anxiety. When you doodle, your brain enters a state of relaxation that can help you feel calmer and more centered. This is because doodling engages your brain in a meditative-like process that can reduce the levels of the stress hormone cortisol in your body. Additionally, doodling can provide a welcome distraction from negative thoughts and emotions, giving your mind a break and allowing you to refocus on the present moment! 

A Mandala Doodle Artwork, colored in with coloring pencils

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 Moreover, whether you're a professional artist or just starting, doodling can help you improve your skills, generate new ideas, and explore different techniques and styles. By regularly doodling, you can practice drawing simple shapes, lines, and patterns, which can strengthen your ability to create more complex compositions. Additionally, doodling can help you refine your sense of proportion, perspective, and shading, which are all essential skills for creating realistic and compelling artwork. 

 Plus, doodling can be a great way to warm up before starting a more significant project or to break through creative blocks. With doodling, you can let go of strict conventions and rules and just let your art be art. By allowing yourself to explore different ideas and experiment with various materials, you can stimulate your imagination and generate new masterpieces! 

5 Styles of Doodling and How to Do It

Doodling has no limits. Doodle art can be categorized as anything, from repeated zigzag lines to blobs and circles overlapping each other. However, did you know that there are different styles of doodling that you can try? Whether you prefer simple and minimalist designs or intricate and detailed patterns, there's a doodling style that can suit your interests and skills: 

1. Zentangle

Zentangle is a type of doodling that involves creating structured patterns within a defined space. Most Zentangle doodles feature repetitive tangle patterns that make up an image, shape, or letter. 

To start, draw a small square or rectangle and fill it with a simple pattern, such as dots, lines, or circles. Then, repeat the pattern in adjacent spaces, gradually building up a larger design. The key to Zentangle is to focus on the process of creating repetitive patterns and to avoid planning or judgment. By letting go of expectations and embracing the present moment, you can achieve a meditative state and produce beautiful and intricate designs.

2. Mandala

Mandala is a circular design that often features radial symmetry and geometric shapes. 

To make your own mandala, start by drawing a circle in the center of your paper and then dividing it into sections using lines or curves. Then, fill each section with a different pattern or design, using similar colors or themes to create a cohesive whole. Mandala doodling can be a relaxing and therapeutic activity, allowing you to tap into your inner creativity and express your emotions and ideas!

3. Cartooning

If you enjoy drawing characters or cartoons, doodling can be a great way to practice your skills and develop your own style!

A cute cartoon drawing doodle artwork


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Start by sketching simple shapes, such as circles and rectangles, and then add details like eyes, nose, and mouth. Experiment with different expressions, poses, and outfits to create unique and memorable characters. Cartooning doodling can be a fun and lighthearted way to explore different personalities and emotions and showcase your artistic flair without the pressure of making a perfect piece.

4. Lettering

Did you know that lettering is considered a type of doodling? It involves creating different styles of letters and words to which you can add patterns, shapes, and other fun designs!

Choose a favorite quote or phrase and experiment with different fonts, sizes, and decorations to make it stand out. You can also create your own font or alphabet by combining different shapes and lines. Letter doodling can be a great way to enhance your handwriting skills, express your personality and mood, and create personalized artwork! 

5. Abstract Doodling

Abstract doodling is all about creating spontaneous and free-flowing designs without any specific form or structure. This type of doodling is commonly known and practiced, as anyone can do it, even beginner artists or non-artists! So if you want to try your hand at doodling, why don't you play around with some abstract doodle art?

An abstract doodle of some cute fishes

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Start by drawing a few lines or shapes, and then let your imagination take over. Add more lines, colors, or textures as you go, building up a unique and unpredictable composition. You can take inspiration from your surroundings, warp an ordinary design into something unexpected, and play around with colors using markers, coloring pencils, and pens

As you continue practicing, you can even try your hand at making doodles into finished works of art over time! 

Doodle Art Prompts for You to Try

Need some inspiration to get you started on your first doodle art? Try out these fun doodling ideas!

  • Create a mandala doodle inspired by nature-themed shapes, such as leaves, petals, and branches.
  • Use the lyrics, melody, or mood from your favorite song to inspire your doodle. You can create abstract shapes or add elements that represent the song's themes or imagery.
  • Make a weird world by thinking about different landscapes, such as a city skyline, a forest, or a beach, and add surreal or whimsical elements to create an otherworldly scene.
  • Draw your favorite food as it is, or add elements that represent its ingredients or flavors. Experiment with different colors and shapes to capture the food's essence.
  • Use abstract patterns and squiggles to draw a portrait of your spirit animal.
  • Have a favorite book? Doodle an imaginary scene from the story and try to make rough sketches that represent the personality of the characters in the story.
  • Make doodles about the different feelings of different seasons: summer, winter, fall, and spring.

A lettering doodle artwork of the words, "Artistry by Altenew"

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Dabble in Hours of Doodling Fun With These Ideas! 

Have we convinced you to give doodling a shot yet? With the benefits and fun it would give you, there's no reason not to try it! Just always remember that doodling is a great way to express yourself and explore your creativity. Don't worry about making mistakes or planning your doodle in advance. Let your imagination guide you, and enjoy the process of making something unique and personal!

If you ever need more ideas for your next artwork, remember to drop by our Creative Corner, where art techniques and inspiration are a-plenty! As always, keep on creating art!

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