Doodling 101: What is Doodle Art?

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Exactly what is doodle art? Read on to find cool and fun doodle inspiration for beginners and well, anyone who likes to doodle (hand raised).

I am a rabid doodler. As a child, I would sit at my laminated counter, and watch my mom talking on the avocado-green wall phone, doodling away on a small white legal note pad.

Scribble scribble scribble doodle doodle doodle.

It was MESMERIZING. She usually just used a cheap ballpoint pen, but wow did that pen fly around the page, creating lines and shapes, going over lines to darken them or slightly change the shape.

The lines would turn into long, flowing vines traveling across the entire page (a long phone call), or they’d stop at a to-do item that was boxed in with a decorative rectangle.

Since then I’ve been doodling every time I’m at/on a meeting, class, workshop, making lists, anywhere I have a paper and pen, basically. Here’s what I know:

Doodling is easy.

Doodling is fun.

Doodling is majorly relaxing.

Anyone can doodle.

I like cookies.

loopy doodle hand drawn border

Exactly What is Doodle Art?

My definition of doodling is casually drawing or sketching on paper, usually without a finished product in mind. In that way, doodle art is similar to process art, where the act of drawing (doodling) is more important than the finished product.

So, while some doodle art looks cool when you are finished, this is more about being present and relaxing into the time you take to sit down and doodle.

In fact, I use doodling all the time as a way to focus better when I’m in a meeting or class. I find that if I’m listening to someone talk, I can concentrate much better if I’m not looking at them at the same time. Being a visual person, I get really distracted by all the other visual input, and the act of doodling focuses my eyes on one thing while I listen to another thing.

I guess doodling has evolved some from my definition, because as you can see below, I’ve included examples of Zentangle doodling and cute doodle art. Both Zentangle and cute doodles have exploded in popularity recently as more people are discovering how fun it is to sit and draw casually – without feeling like they have to create gorgeous finished pieces.

dot border doodle

Is Doodling Art?

Yep. You don’t need to do anything fancy to make art. While doodling may not be considered high art, I feel like any time you create for the sake for creating, you are making art. You are making marks and expressing yourself when you doodle, thereby making art.

What if I’m a Beginner?

If you are a beginner doodler, great! There are so many ways to start doodling, so just find a pen and paper and start making shapes.

I recommend if you are a beginner at doodle art to start simple. Practice doodling some shapes on your paper – like really basic shapes and lines – your everyday squares and circles and rectangles and ovals.

easy doodle example - beginner doodle of lines in lines going horizontally across
simple beginner doodle of small triangles, all connected

Here are some beginner doodle art ideas:

Play around with doodling any shapes you want to on the page – all touching at least one other shape. Stars, ovals, spirals, diamonds, undulating blobs, hexagons are all fun shapes to doodle!

Try doodling a circle with lots more circles of similar sizes overlapping each other and color in the overlapping areas.

Doodle a basic flower and then draw more and more and more petals going out from the petals.

Draw a bullseye shape with spokes and doodle different patterns inside of the spaces.

Draw one large triangle and see how many triangles you can draw inside of that one.

Draw cute borders all across your page. Here are a few to copy:

Cute hand-doodled borders as ideas for beginner doodle art
page in a dot grid notebook with hand-drawn border doodles
Doodle Borders by Appy Doodles
triangle border doodle

Give Me Some Doodle Inspiration!

Freestyle Doodling

This is my favorite way to doodle. My brain is always going a thousand miles a minute, and doodling for me is a type of simple (active) meditation. I doodle in my journal, when I’m taking notes, when I’m sitting at the table with my kids – they have totally picked up the doodling habit – and anytime I have a pen and paper, really.

I prefer to doodle over sketching or drawing, as it is less “important”, and therefore a hell of a lot less stressful. Doodling can be done anywhere, with any drawing supplies, and can look like anything you want it to! Have at it, doodlers.

To freestyle doodle, you can start anywhere, with any shape you like. You can even color in the little closed loops you make when you write, and go from there. I LOVE coloring in the closed loops.

Here are some more ideas to freestyle doodle:

  • Draw a bunch of little boxes on the side of your paper and doodle them in.
  • Draw a small triangle and keep adding small triangles to that first one.
  • Fill a page with lines of loops.
  • Draw a flower doodle in the center of your page, then keep drawing little flowers going out from the center.
  • Doodle your name in different styles: block letters, loopy, balloony, messy, robot-like.
  • Doodle as many leaves as you can think of.

Related: Asemic Writing, The Coolest Writing You Can’t Read

Zentangle

Zentangle® is a stylized form of doodling that consists of different doodle patterns put together to create a whole. It’s more thoughtful than freestyle doodling, in that you are paying more attention to making your doodles look cohesive and design-y.

I’ve seen Zentangle range from very simple patterns together, all the way up to super intricate patterns that are created and trademarked (!) by certified Zentangle teachers.

There are books, classes, special materials that are all attributed to Zentangle, but really, as is the case with all art forms, anybody who wants to can create Zentangles using whatever pens and papers they have.

Zentangle Examples and Ideas

zentangle patterns drawn in spaces made by wavy lines
Black and White Printable Art, Zentangle® Inspired Ink Drawing by JoArty Jo
zentangle doodle art drawn in a skull shape
Skull Zentangle Art Print by Riaora Creations
zenatngle doodle art patterns all over a page
Source: Mrs. Lundgren’s Art Room

Many people create Zentangle doodle art on tiles, or individual small squares of thick paper or card stock, like these by Viktoriya Crichton:

zentangle drawing pattern tiles

Cute Doodles

Hey, so you want some cute doodles?

I guess it depends on what you find cute, but I find these little doodle ideas extremely cute.

Kawaii

There are PLENTY of examples of cute Kawaii doodles online, or you can buy books that show you how to draw kawaii doodles.

Looking at Kawaii clip art can give you an idea of what to draw, and you can practice pretty much anywhere you are (part of the beauty of doodling.)

Tatyana Deniz has a great tutorial and ideas for Kawaii doodles here, and she has created this amazing image on Kawaii face ideas, and she has a YouTube channel if you want to watch her step by step Kawaii doodle tutorials!

doodle faces  drawn on a paper with words that read: 60 kawaii faces and fun expressions

Tardigrades and Axolotls

Tardigrades and axolotls are hugely popular right now, and I am not immune to their appeal. Strange, fascinating creatures make the perfect cute doodles, and I highly recommend drawing them as much as possible.

I Heart Crafty Things has a great tutorial on how to draw an axolotl, where she breaks down the 6 steps to doodle this adorable creature. Below that is a fun video by Shoo Rayner on how to draw a tardigrade, and you can stop before the coloring-in portion to make it more of a doodle, or follow the whole tutorial!

2 of 6 drawings showing how to draw an axolotl

More Cute Doodles to DRaw

Of course, there are zillions of cute things to doodle, and not-so-cute things that you can make cute by doodling them that way. There are all sorts of adorable food doodle ideas and tutorials on the site Crazy Laura.

food doodles - examples of cute little foods with faces in a dot grid notebok

More Cute Food Doodles!

a page of cute ice cream doodles in a dot grid notebook showing step by step how to draw the doodles
Ice Cream Doodles by Plans That Blossom
step by step drawings for how to draw food doodles in a sketchbook
Cute Dessert Doodles by Study Duoo
open dot grid notebook with simple lemon doodles
Lemon Doodles by Withkx

Cute Animal Doodles!

open dot grid notebook with visual step by step how to doodle dragonflies
Dragonfly Doodles: CynthiaBujo
sketchbook with how to doodle a cute little dog
Cute Dog Doodle by Artesco Oficial

Cute Flower Doodles!

botanical doodles in a sketchbook and how to draw them
Flower Doodles: The Bujophase
doodle drawings of how to draw a sakura flower
Sakura Doodle by Appy Doodles
doodled sketchbook cover with marker and doodle drawing on tabletop
Doodle on a Moleskine!

What Supplies Should I Use For Doodling?

Of course I’m going to say you can use anything that will make a mark on paper to doodle with. When I was in high school, I used blue Bic ballpoint pens, and doodled all over my paper folders, paper bag book covers, jeans, shoes, lined paper, and once in a while my hand.

Nowadays I am a pen and paper snob, so I enjoy spiral notebooks with thicker paper to journal in, and gel pens for their smooth glide across the page. They are super fun to doodle with, since I can get the ink out faster onto the page than ballpoint pens.

What you use to doodle will likely change as you play around with supplies, but here are some doodling materials to start with:

Freestyle Doodling Supplies

Random doodling calls for whatever drawing supplies you have on hand. I journal in pretty spiral notebooks, and keep lined paper on a clipboard because I find it fun to write on.

You can doodle in planners, sketchbooks, notebooks, with pens, markers, pencils, etc. Choose what looks fun to you and get doodling!

Here are some of the supplies I use to doodle:

Zentangle Art Supplies

If you are doing Zentangle as your doodling of choice, you may want to upgrade your supplies. Better-quality drawing pens and good drawing paper will ensure your Zentangle art lasts longer and looks better. Plus it’s just fun to use better art supplies.

Here are some Zentangle doodling supplies to try:

Supplies For Cute Doodles

If you are doodling Kawaii or other cute drawings, you can use whatever the situation calls for. Meaning, if you’ll be making doodles to keep, you’ll want to probably use better-quality art supplies. If you are doodling cute drawings in your Bullet Journal or planner, you’ll use the pens you are already using.

Practicing cute doodles calls for whatever you want to draw with, whether that’s a pencil or random gel pens, or the best-quality drawing pens you can find.

Here are some supply recommendations for when you are getting your cute doodles on:

More Doodling Resources

I hope you are sufficiently inspired to carry a pen and notebook around with you everywhere, now, and doodle instead of scrolling Instagram. By the way, help me find a better word for doodling. Please. It makes me clench my jaw. Whattaya got?

Eni Oken has gazillions of Zentangle courses of lessons that you can find through her site here.

I love this video on doodling ideas and motivation:

And these super easy doodle ideas:

You can also find books and courses on doodling if you want a little bit more structure or support!

Inspiration to Make Your Own Doodles

Once you start looking around for doodle ideas, you will see them EVERYWHERE. From patterns on products in your home to designs out in the world, you can turn pretty much anything into a doodle.

One of my favorite places to search for doodle and drawing ideas is online. Places like Creative Market and Etsy contain gobs of ideas for your doodles. Do a search for borders, icons, kawaii, or even doodles, and you’ll find drawing inspiration for days.

Another doodle resource is the library. Go poke around books on pattern, illustration, graphic design, product design, and, ooh! Nature books are amazing to find patterns and cool shapes to doodle, whether you’re looking for animals or plants.

Or even cool little microscopic creatures are very fun to doodle. These are pollen grains. Draw them.

photograph of pollen grains under a microscope - they are different sizes and shapes, all rounded, but some are smooth and some are textured.
source

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