What is a Doodle sketchbook?

Using your sketchbook #2

First let me give you my definition of a doodle and a sketch.

A doodle is a very quick sketch you do while your attention is on something else. It can be of anything, but it is not done precisely and without too much accuracy. We’re not talking about Zentangles here, we’re talking about making pictures, but not what I would call a sketch or drawing. Sunni Brown, the author of The Doodle Revolution, says a “doodle engages the mind is a way that helps us think.” But unlike the doodles you did in your high school notebook, these doodles will help you engage in sketching and drawing.

A sketch is a drawing you do while concentrating on your subject.  You take your time with it, capturing details precisely and as accuracy as possible.

You might do a doodle while on the phone, or in a meeting, while waiting for dinner or a movie to start, watching TV or listening to podcasts.  There has even been research that proved that you remember more of meetings when you doodle (see https://getsolid.io/blog/science-doodle-in-meetings/ ).

But what are the benefits of doing doodles to improve your drawing, and why would you keep a sketchbook full of them?

I use my doodle sketchbook for small quick sketches.  I like to do them from real life objects, whatever I see around me, not from pictures.  I try to keep them small and not spend much time on them.  I don’t really judge them, if the perspective is off, or I drew a circle instead of an ellipse so be it. They are nothing fancy, but basic contour lines, but I do learn from there.  I have had some of my best breakthroughs, especially with perspective, with my doodles.  Occasionally when I look back at them and I can see how I have progressed in many areas.

But really, what value can these quick sketches bring? Just the processing a sketching helps me improve. Practice, practice, practice!  I take this sketchbook everywhere and I pull it out every chance I get so I doodle things I wouldn’t normally draw. If I doodle the same subject over and over, that’s okay, I’m still drawing and learning.

I do it to relax my mind, because I’m not trying to make it a sketch I often let my mind wander. This has helped me work out little details that would normally drive me nuts.  It has also helped me to identify the things I repeatedly do wrong. Because I don’t judge the doodle, I often look at what I have just completed and think “Well you got that perspective wrong, it should be a flatter ellipse” or “the angle of that building’s roof is wrong.” But then I move on, not biggie, get it right next time!

For example, I know the principles and how to draw a building in perspective, I LOVED taking hand drafting classes.  Give me a T-square and a triangle and I’m good to go.  The fundamentals are there, I understand the horizon/eye level line, and the fact that most vanishing points will be on it.  But, for some reason when I free hand buildings I’d have a lot of issue getting their roof lines right.  It was through doodling that I had a break through with this.  If I am looking up at something, the roofline will angel down to my eye level line, regardless of what it looks like, the fact remains that it comes down to me.  It was only after doodling a building outside my desk window on my lunches that it finally dawned on me.  The reason all my buildings look off is because I try to draw what I think I see, not what it actually does. Further, it may not look like the line would be as steep as it should be, but regardless it must angel down to my eye level. Within 9 pages of my new doodle sketchbook it finally dawned on me!

As I stated above, I only do contour line drawings right now, I really don’t do any shading, so I don’t concern myself with where the light is, or making something look three-dimensional, it’s just there, sketch it and move one.

I also draw with my non-dominate hand every 6 pages.  First let me tell you, I’m rather impressed with how good some of those doodles are! But WOW, how much better my other doodles and sketches get right after doing that.  Sketching with my left hand take much more concentration, I have to look at my subject more. It’s at those moments when my brain gets very quiet, it’s all about getting the lines on the paper.

Finally, doodling helps as a type of “muscle memory”. In addition to blind contour drawings, I use doodling as a way to teach my hand, eyes, and brain to work together, it’s like “making notes” to myself.  After I’ve doodles a subject enough times, like the building at work, I really start to understand what my eyes see, what my brain translates this to and how my hand responds to that translation, done enough times they are all speaking the same visual language.

My big tip for you if you want to try doodling, do them in pen.  First, there is no erasing, you have to deal with your mistakes.  You can either leave them, finish your doodle and move on, leave them and just move on, or figure out how to incorporate them into your doodle.  The big thing I’ve found with doodling, don’t judge.  Learn from them but know they weren’t supposed to be perfect to begin with, they just are.

This is not a sketchbook you show anyone unless you’re trying to explain the process to them. I very rarely look at my old doodles.  Right before I turn the page I look over them, think about what was right and what was wrong, then I turn the page and forget about the. I do keep my old doodle sketchbooks, and once in a while I’ll look at them but it’s just to see my progress.  They aren’t pretty, they might be interesting for a minute, but that’s about it.

I’ve found a lot of joy in doodling, It’s fun just to sit down and sketch, not worrying about mistakes or issue, just the putting of the pen to the paper and draw whatever you see and then move on!

Give it a try, find that sketchbook that you never finished or get one just for your doodles, you’ll be surprised how much it actually improves your other sketches.

A couple pages of my doodles sketchbook



This is a page of left hand doodles.



One thought on “What is a Doodle sketchbook?

  1. Pingback: Getting back into the habit of sketching. | Adventures In Sketching

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