3 Easy Tips for Learning to Doodle

Hi friends! Happy Monday! Today I wanted to share a quick little tutorial on how to start learning to doodle.  Doodling seems deceptively easy to many people – seeing someone make a beautiful doodle by scribbling and drawing freely without any previous thought on what was going to be made.  Drawing like this can really spark creativity and give a feeling of freedom, but what do you do if you just don’t know where to start?

how to doodle

Staring at that blank page can be really intimidating, so here’s my three tips on learning to doodle to get you started:

Have a Reference Library of Doodles

This is my biggest tip, and that’s having some kind of resource you can look to that’s filled with doodles, patterns, shapes, etc. that you can look to for inspiration and ideas when your brain goes blank.  As time goes on, and as you practice more and more, you’ll have more doodles and patterns memorized that you can simply use whenever you want, but in the beginning it can be really tricky, and you can end up feeling “not creative enough” in your doodle attempts.

So have an arsenal of doodles ready to be used whenever you need them! This can happen in two ways, though I suggest doing a mix of both (which is what I personally do).

1- a reference sheet in your sketchbook/art journal/etc.  Building your own reference sheet of your favorite doodles is an excellent way to keep them at hand whenever you need them! Simply draw some boxes on a piece of paper and fill them in with your favorite doodles, Zentangle patterns, etc. Then you can refer back to them when you need to, and you can constantly add more doodles to your personal library as you discover new ones.

how to learn to doodle

A little collection of some of my favorite Zentangle patterns I keep in my small sketchbook.

2 – doodle related books and other reference materials. A good book can go a long way, and there are tons of doodle and Zentangle books on the market with the sole intention of teaching new doodle patterns and images. So grab a good book, start reading and practicing, and add the ones you really love to your own personal collection from step 1.

Here’s a couple of my current doodle-related favs:

One Zentangle a Day – this is the book I always recommend to anyone looking to learn how to Zentangle.  Its patterns are easily digestible and the book is full of inspiration and ideas.

20 Ways to Draw a Tree – this book is full of nature-related doodles from trees to animals, birds, owls, acorns, leaves, you name it! It’s set up so each page is full of different doodles of the same subject, then there’s blank space in the book for you to practice your own way of doodling the subject. It’s perfect for adding any real subject to a doodle instead of just abstract objects.

Doodle Art Handbook – this book is perfect for beginners to doodling because it’s full of beautiful and easy to understand doodle patterns and ideas. It’s not an official Zentangle pattern book, so it’s full of other creative doodles to add to your mental library. I’ll be doing a full review of this book soon, but it’s worth mentioning in this post, so here it is!

free doodle patterns list

I also have a free doodle reference sheet you can download here!

Start Drawing Your Doodles Separately, then Fill in the Spaces

Now that you’re ready to get doodling, the best way to start is to simply begin drawing your “main” doodles first. Any doodle that can stand on its own, and not part of a pattern can be drawn anywhere on your paper.  Put them all in, then use patterns to fill in the gaps.  You’ll have a completed doodle in no time!

If you need a little more guidance, you can take a note from Zentangle, and drawn some organic shapes or lines to fill in first.  Fill them in with patterns or stand-alone doodles, then fill in any gaps with smaller patterns or shading. For more information on the Zentangle approach, see this video I made on the basics of Zentangle.

No matter what way you decide to doodle, you’ll always be placing your main elements first, then filling in the gaps, then shading.


how to learn to doodle

Of course my last tip is going to be to practice your doodling. The more you draw and doodle, the easier it will come to you.  So don’t worry about having to look at a book or your sketch notes in the beginning, soon you’ll have patterns and doodles memorized, and it’ll come to you much more easily.  Then you’ll be able to make your own doodles without having to look at anything else.

And finally, as an extra tip, if you’re still not sure how to get your mind around doodling (it really is more of a mental block issue than an artistic skill issue) then I suggest taking the CreativeBug course, Creative Doodling.

Pam guides doodling noobies through the basic elements of doodling in a 4-part video course that explores the basic mark-making techniques of setting up your doodles, exploring pens and artful lettering to enhance your doodles and take them into the next level, working on different types of paper, and filling in your work with color!

So if you’d like to learn more about the class, click here to check it out! You can buy it outright on its own, but what’s cool about CreativeBug is that you can sign up for a membership of $4.95 per month, and have access to all of their classes! You can keep one class (like this doodle one!) forever even if you cancel your membership, and you even get your first 14 days for free! Check it out here!

Do you have any extra doodling tips you’s like to share? Leave me a comment below, and till next time, keep creating!

-Ashley <3

***Please note that this post contains affiliate links to Amazon and CrativeBug, and I will receive a small portion of any sale resulting from clicking those links.  I only link to products I love and believe will truly add value for my readers, and it’s no extra cost to you.  This helps me keep this site running and the free tutorials coming, so thanks for your support! <3

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