Often thought of as less serious than many other art forms, doodle art has long been underrated. Yet there’s something incredibly appealing about “freedom drawing”, as it’s sometimes dubbed, and we’re not just talking about the quirky end product. 

The benefits of doodling are manifold – calming as well as creatively fulfilling, doodling brings about clarity and reflection and encourages mindfulness. It’s also a whole heap of fun. Ready to find out more about how to doodle? Here’s our guide to introducing doodle art into your world, with tips and insights from the experts: artist Antony Makhlouf and designer and illustrator Andrew Harrison (@cult_de_sac).

The Benefits of Doodling

Doodle art may seem simplistic but it’s a huge part of professional art practice, according to Antony. “Doodling underscores a lot of my work,” he says. “It helps me to visually record concepts without being overly concerned about the finesse of the final aesthetic. Doodling also helps to organise, visualise and record my thoughts.”.

Studies have demonstrated the many cognitive benefits of doodling, such as helping your mind stay alert and focused during meetings, lectures and phone calls, which in turn helps you retain more information. There’s also evidence that doodling can act as an outlet for stress, with the gentle repetitive physical motions encouraging mindfulness and helping the brain and body relax. (Find more tips at Smiling Mind.)

It’s also a feel-good tool. A 2017 study by Drexel University discovered that doodling stimulates the parts of the brain associated with feelings of reward.

How to Start With Doodle Art

Keen to try doodle art? Start by simply putting pen to paper and unleash your inner artist.

Keen to try doodling for yourself? Getting started is easy – just pick up a pen, find some paper and you’re ready to roll. “My tip is to jump in and fill up the page,” says Andrew. “One doodle leads to another idea and then you're away! Off and drawing.”

To encourage daily doodling, Andrew leaves pens and paper in all the places where he sits, so his tools are always within arm’s reach. You can follow suit with a couple of well-stocked pen cups placed strategically around your home or office. 

Meanwhile, Antony suggests ‘blind drawing’ as a great way to kickstart your doodling practice: “This is an exercise where you draw with one continuous line and don’t look at your page until you’ve finished doodling. I’ve led this activity in workshops, and the results are always fascinating. Many beginners tend to draw small, fearful of taking up space on the page, or find it stressful because it ‘doesn’t look right’. But blind drawings sidestep these concerns.”

What To Try

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Tools of the Trade

To try your hand at doodle art, all you need is paper, fine-tip pens and sharp pencils.

“I like crisp paper, fine-tip pens and sharpened pencils for doodling,” Antony says. You could try drawing on loose paper, or invest in an art journal to keep your doodles organised and together. We like this portable visual art diary or, for something bigger, try this spiral-bound option

If fine-tip pens are your preference, you can’t go past Bic Intensity Permanent Markers, with their long-lasting acid-free ink and 1mm fine tip, perfect for adding small details and intricate designs. They come in a range of colours, or check out the pastel, rainbow or lagoon packs. 

Pencils are also great for doodling and don’t forget an eraser for mistakes or removing pencil lines once you’ve traced over them. When your doodles are done, add some finishing touches – a splash of colour with these coloured or watercolour pencils should do the trick.

What To Try

Doodle Art Ideas

Need some doodle art ideas? Why not try drawing animals, flowers, or hearts.

Doodling should be expressive and personal, capturing your own unique identity and style. “Usually I doodle little inanimate objects with enough room to slap a cute little face on them.” says Andrew. “Otherwise I draw a little skinny dude with a mullet going about his day having fun, playing table tennis, mowing the lawn, sorting out his tax receipts.” 

Antony says hair is a recurring subject matter for his doodles – “I do a lot of beards and braids. Drawing every strand of hair requires repeated linework, which is meditative for me,” he says. “It involves focus yet is simultaneously calming.” 

Try drawing whatever feels natural and appealing to you. It could be dogs, flowers, fruit, faces, stars or hearts. If you’re lacking inspiration or need a challenge, try googling ‘daily doodle prompts’ and tackle a different mini doodle project each day – it’s a great way to brush up on your general drawing skills. 

Remember, it’s not about creating “perfect” drawings, as doodling isn’t about aiming for a polished final product or capturing life-like likenesses. “When you’re doodling, don't worry too much about what it looks like,” says Andrew. “I like to get things down on the page and then I can always draw them again later until I like the way something looks.” 

Antony agrees: “For my own personal drawing, I let myself go. I liken it to ‘free writing’, in the sense that eventually unexpected images materialise on the page because I am not concerned with getting the drawing ‘right’.”

So, now that you’re well versed in Doodle Art 101, all that’s left to do is grab a pen and get started. You might be surprised by what takes shape on the page.

What To Try