How to Doodle Beginner Course

How to Doodle course outline

I hope you're ready to pack your bags on an incredible journey through the wonders of your own imagination. This journey will break the boundaries of what you thought was possible. And if you didn't think you could draw, then we're about to put that belief to the test. Yes, we're about to jump into the world of the doodle.

Welcome Aspiring Doodler

I would like to congratulate you for taking the first step towards becoming a better doodler and visual thinker. This first step is probably the hardest step for most aspiring visual thinkers. It's, of course, a step that involves breaking boundaries and stepping outside our comfort zone to learn how put our thoughts down on paper in creative ways.

It's, of course, perfectly okay to feel a little apprehensive about this process. After all, if you are like most people you probably haven't indulged in the act of doodling since childhood. It's a shame that schools don't encourage us to doodle our thoughts and lesson notes. There are just so many things we could do if we just kept on doodling. 

Doodling can, for instance, help expand our creative capacity. It can help us to solve problems. It can assist us with expressing our ideas, with clarifying our thoughts, with brainstorming, with information management, with note-taking, and so much more. The only limits are the limits of our own imaginations. ????

My hope is that as you work through the next 40 lessons of this course that you will once again find that passion for doodling that you once had as a child. Over the next 40 days I will take you through an incredible journey that could very well transform your life. And I'm not kidding. ????

What to Expect

Here's what to expect over the coming 40 lessons of the Beginner Doodle Course. 

First, you will receive an email from me once each day with a new course module. Each module provides you with a short introduction to each topic. Reading through this information will provide you with all the details you need to work through the daily doodling tasks I set. And these are simple tasks. I demonstrate things in my videos, and then ask you to have a go.

Because we are working through this course step-by-step, each exercise will build on the previous day's exercise. We will, therefore, begin very slowly as I introduce you to the process of doodling and visual thinking. However, over time as you continue to make progress through this course expect that I will raise the bar.

As your skills improve, you will become a better doodler and the lessons will, therefore, become more challenging. And that's, of course, okay. It's okay because by that time you should be fully ready and primed to tackle any challenges I throw your way. ????

Also, keep in mind that each of the exercises I give you won't take too much of your time. They are short exercises that might only take you a few minutes to complete. However, feel free to expand on what you are learning and put in a little more time and effort into this process.

The more you commit yourself to this process, the greater value you will gain in the long-run. ????

The Course Outline

Below you will find our course outline and lesson plan. I hope that this outline will help provide you with more information about what you can expect over the coming 40 lessons.

Day 1

Introduction to the visual alphabet and the 12 basic shapes we will use for doodling.

Day 2

Simple doodling skills using the visual alphabet and reverse engineering techniques.

Day 3

Using the visual alphabet examples. How to doodle simple things around your home.

Day 4

More examples of how to quickly use the visual alphabet to doodle all sorts of fun stuff.

Day 5

Your first doodling creative challenge: Turning combinations of shapes into pictures.

Day 6

Using the visual alphabet examples. How to doodle simple things around your home.

Day 7

Using the visual alphabet to doodle cute animal faces with surprisingly little efforts.

Day​​ 8

Working with frameworks to help you doodle everything more effectively and quickly.

Day 9

The importance of developing an ever expanding visual vocabulary of your doodles.

Day 10

Practical ways to doodle stick, box, blob, star, and triangle people in a very simple way.

Day 11

Doodling active people walking, running, jumping, resting, falling, sitting, crouching and more.

Day 12

More doodles of active people crawling, splatting, spinning, thinking and more.

Day 13

Testing your skills with doodling active people dancing, swimming, stretching and more.

Day 14

Learning how to doodle human facial expressions using the facial expression matrix.

Day 15

Turning random squiggles into faces just like Mr. Squiggle did it back in the 1980’s.

Day 16

Doodling a variety of human facial features including the eyes, mouth, nose and hair.

Day 17

Doodling more involving and complex human emotions and facial features just for fun.

Day 18

Doodling human heads of all shapes and sizes, then giving them life through expression.

Day 19

It’s all in the nose. Working with the nose to direct your character’s focus and attention.

Day 20

Doodling faces on random inanimate objects to help give them character and life.

Day 21

Doodling human hands and feet. Moving from simple to complex representations.

Day 22

Doodling scary monsters with no rules or boundaries. Let your imagination run free.

Day 23

Understanding the rules of how to show movement and direction within your doodles.

Day 24

Step by step instructions on how to doodle three common three dimensional shapes.

Day 25

Understanding the rules of how to show depth and distance within your doodles.

Day 26

Understanding the rules of how to use three kinds of perspectives within your doodles.

Day 27

Learning how to doodle metaphors and play with abstract words in creative ways.

Day 28

Using your imagination and your doodling skills to turn abstract words into doodles.

Day 29

Doodling is all about ideas and not artwork. Try your hand at the doggy doodle activity.

Day 30

Explorations into standard forms of note-taking versus visual note-taking practices.

Day 31

IQ Doodle Technique: Using fonts, titles and word pictures to express your ideas visually.

Day 32

IQ Doodle Technique: Using diagrams and doodles to express your ideas visually.

Day 33

IQ Doodle Technique: Using handwriting and captions to express your ideas visually.

Day 34

IQ Doodle Technique: Using dividers and separators to express your ideas visually.

Day 35

IQ Doodle Technique: Using arrows and connectors to express your ideas visually.

Day 36

IQ Doodle Technique: Using bullets and icons to express your ideas visually.

Day 37

IQ Doodle Technique: Using frames and bubbles to express your ideas visually.

Day 38

Presenting the IQ Doodle cheat sheet and a couple of activities to test your doodle skills.

Day 39

The various ways to structure your IQ Doodles and a couple of examples for inspiration.

Day 40

Tips and guidelines for capturing notes visually and final thoughts moving forward.

Guidelines for Working Through this Course

As you work through this course you will no doubt be doing a lot of doodling, drawing, sketching, or whatever you might like to call it. Whether you do these sketches on a tablet or on paper doesn't matter. Whatever is most convenient for you. However, what I would suggest is that you keep all your doodles in one place for easy reference.

You could, for instance, have a designated notebook you use as you work through each lesson. Having a designated notebook will keep all your doodles in one place and will also allow you to track your progress.

I would also recommend working together with a partner. Of course, this partner doesn't necessarily need to be an adult. If you have kids then get them involved. Maybe they will help inspire you a little. ????‍????‍???? No matter who it is, it's always of great value to work with someone who also has a passion for doodling.

As you will see, day 1 of the course jumps straight into the process of doodling. I don't provide any background information about visual thinking or the value you will gain from learning how to doodle. If you're curious, you can, however, learn more about the science behind the doodle and the value of visual thinking by reading through the following resources:

  • What is a Doodle : This article describes what a doodle is, what is required to become a proficient doodler, and the distinction between a doodle and an IQ doodle.
  • Hardwired to Think Visually : This article discusses how we are hardwired to think visually.
  • Visual Thinking in Education : This article analyzes the state of the current education system and why visual thinking skills must be taught at schools.
  • Doodle Studies : This article looks at three studies that showcase the value of doodling and how it can be used to improve learning and comprehension.
  • Visual Thinking Through Time : This article walks you through examples of how visual thinking has been used and how it has evolved over time.
  • Visual Thinking Magic : Here you will find a few dozen articles that introduce you to the process of visual thinking and the value that it can bring to our lives.

Above all, have fun and enjoy this process. Remember that when it comes to doodling that there is no right or wrong. It's rather about just getting started and experimenting a little with what you think you're capable of. ????

When it comes to learning how to doodle, it's not so much about your doodling skills but rather about getting your ideas across in the most effective way. You don't need to become the next Leonardo da Vinci. You just need to be "you" and make the most of this process. ????

A Top Secret Look into My Doodle Lair

Below is a top secret look into my doodle lair/office. 🙂 

As you can see there is no chair in the picture. I actually do have a desk chair, but I do spend a lot of time on my feet. I have a standing desk that I can raise and lower at the push of a button. Very convenient, and I would highly recommend getting one. I of course don't stand all day, but I also don't sit for too long either. Sitting and standing throughout the day definitely helps take the pressure off my back — allowing me to doodle for much longer. 🙂

Please click on the images to enlarge.


On the desk I have two monitors and a Wacom Intuos tablet that I can use to doodle with. However, my preferred doodling device is a Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 tablet (pictured above).

On the Samsung tablet you can see the stylus is very thin, but I actually don't mind it. It's something you get used to. In the photo you have probably noticed something unusual. Yes, it's a cotton glove with the thumb and four fingers cut off. The only finger left intact is the little pinky finger. This is of course done on purpose. I wear the glove while doodling and having the pinky finger of the glove intact prevents my hand from getting in the way of my doodling. It also allows my hand to glide over the surface of the tablet far more easily. Highly recommended. 

Working with the Wacom tablet is a little bit awkward because I need to look at the computer screen while doodling and I just find it very difficult to work with (it's a disjointed experience). The Samsung tablet allows me to look at my hand and the screen while I'm doodling (just like doodling on paper). This is much easier, and the fact that it's portable is a bonus.  In fact, all the doodles you see on the IQ Doodle blog where created using the Samsung tablet. But the videos... well I use the Wacom tablet to doodle in the videos, and as you can probably see it's quite an awkward experience.  Oh, and I use Camtasia Studio to capture my doodles on video.

On the right hand monitor you will see some doodles created using ArtRage. I highly recommend this software. I've used a variety of software applications on the PC, and ArtRage is by far my favorite.

When I was first experimenting with doodling I launched the Visual Thinking Magic website. To create the doodles you see on the site I used DeviantArt Muro online drawing software. It's free and I highly recommend it. It's packed with features and it's very easy to use.  Head over there now, try it out, and let me know how you find it.

And if you're after a very simple doodling tool, then I would highly recommend Simple Diagrams (thanks Gilles). It's certainly not packed with ample features, but for simple doodling it's ideal. It's also not too expensive to purchase. They do however offer a free trial. Check it out, and let me know how you go.

On the Samsung Tablet I use Sketchbook Pro to create all the doodles for this course. I've found Sketchbook Pro the most well rounded app for creating doodles. Although it's certainly not without its flaws, but it's well worth looking into. I believe it's available on all major mobile platforms including AndroidApple and Windows.

Recently, I've started using Concepts. What I love about this app is the interface and its infinite canvas. It's also available to download on multiple platforms. Definitely work checking out. It's the app I would recommend for 2020.

Of course, below the table is a convenient resting place for a fury four legged family member. 

On the other side of the study I have a whiteboard. Within this photo you will see an example of my early doodling attempts when I was first getting started with doodling. As you can see, my doodles are very raw and rough along the edges. But you can probably tell what they represent. And that's really all that matters.  I will of course provide you more examples of my early explorations with doodling in future lessons.

Here are four other recommendations:

  • Mischief: I love the endless canvas feature and zoom.
  • Krita: I haven't personally used it to a great extent, but I've heard good things.
  • Livebrush: Has very customizable brushes that give you plenty of flexibility.
  • SmoothDraw: Free doodling app. Recommended by a doodler.

For those who prefer the old fashioned doodling method (the Da Vinci approach to doodling), I would recommend getting yourself a Moleskine and some fine line pens. Visit the Moleskin website for more information. But of course if you're worried about either losing your creations or your dog eating them, then you can always backup your doodles for safe keeping using Evernote.

I hope that this quick look at my home office/lair and the technology behind the doodles has provided you with a little inspiration to help you get started on the right track with the How to Doodle 40 Day Course. 🙂 

Latest Update... Here is what I'm using now...

I am now primarily using a Microsoft Surface Pro 3. The Samsung Note was very good, however the Surface Pro 3 is my "go-to" device for doodling. The kickstand at the back allows me to get the perfect angle for doodling whether I'm standing at my desk or lounging around on the sofa.

The image below shows the Microsoft Surface with the detachable keyboard and accompanying pen.

microsoft surface pro 3 doodling

Because Microsoft Surface Pro 3 is a tablet/computer I can run any drawing software applications on the device as I would on a regular computer. I have Sketchbook Pro and ArtRage installed. However, I tend not to use these programs. I only use them for specific purposes. For instance, coloring my doodles using Sketchbook Pro is still my "go-to" software app. However, when it comes to doodling, I  use Bamboo Paper app and Mischief.

Bamboo Paper App: This app is owned by Wacom. Wacom has put in a great deal of thought into this app. It's certainly not feature rich, but it has just the tools you need for doodling and writing notes. What I absolutely love about the app is that you can organize your doodles into convenient notebooks. You can then export your doodles into PNG or PDF formats. Very quick and easy. The app is free, however there is an upgrade available that gives you more drawing tools, notebook covers and various paper backgrounds. And I absolutely love the eraser. Such a simple idea to expand the eraser the faster you move your pen. Bamboo paper is available for Android, Apple and on the Windows Store. Click here to visit the Bamboo Paper website.

Mischief: Mischief isn't an app, it's rather a software application that you install on your PC. What I absolutely LOVE 🙂  about Mischief is the infinite canvas. There are absolutely no edges here to speak of. You can zoom-in and zoom-out as much as you like, or as far as your PC will allow before it runs out of memory. 🙂 This is ideal for brainstorming ideas. Also as you zoom-in there is no loss in resolution. Your doodle lines get thicker but the images are as crystal clear as ever. Finally, another neat feature of Mischief that's ideal for doodling is that you can select an option to have the brushes automatically readjust size as you zoom-in. For doodlers this is ideal because it means that you don't have to mess around with selecting various brush sizes. Just zoom-in for finer lines, and zoom-out for thicker lines. Mischief isn't free, but they do offer a free trial. Compared to some other software applications it's also quite affordable. Click here to visit the Mischief website.

It's All About Working on the Fundamentals...

When I first began my doodling journey I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. I couldn't doodle, and I definitely couldn't draw. However, I progressively took the time to master the basics of doodling.

Over many weeks and several months, I gained more confidence and expanded my skills. I eventually reached a point where I actually felt comfortable doodling. By that stage I was avidly taking visual notes of the books I was reading, of podcasts I was listening to, and even of random stuff. I was also experimenting with more advanced drawing techniques. See examples below.

I'm showing you the above cartoon doodles not to impress you, but rather to give you a little inspiration that if you work on the fundamental principles of doodling, that you too can create drawings like this in less than 3 months. However, you must apply yourself and practice, practice and practice to gain most value from this course.

I want to mention that when I started along this journey, I was probably where you are right now. I had no clue or idea what I was doing. However, by working through the fundamental principles of doodling I eventually developed the confidence I needed to gain a level of comfort and proficiency in this area. And I'm sure you will too. ????

I'm of course no Picasso. And there are plenty of people who doodle and draw much better than I do. However, my goal wasn't to become an artist. All I wanted was to learn how to doodle so that I could express myself visually through visual note-taking. And that I suspect might also be your goal too. ????

As you make progress through this 40 Day Beginner Doodle Course, I will actually show you examples of how I started my doodling journey. You will see some of my early doodles and what they looked like.

Remember that over several years we have had thousands of doodle submissions from people just like you who were just starting along their doodling journey. You will, in fact, see all their submissions. You will see how each doodler got started, and how they evolved and grew their doodle skills over the 40 lessons.

These are people just like you with a passion for doodling. And some of them have even used this doodle course as a platform for transforming their career path. You too can do the same. I guarantee. ????

But even if you don't want to use this course as a career changer, you can still make the most use of it by learning how to represent your ideas visually. This is great for teachers, educators, or avid note-takers. And whether your in business, a student, or just want to learn how to express yourself more visually, then this course is for you.

And, with that said, get ready to immerse yourself in a world of unbridled imagination and endless creative possibilities. Your doodling journey awaits. ✍