The Art of Doodling: Exercises to Boost Memory and Creativity | Cathy Wu | Skillshare

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The Art of Doodling: Exercises to Boost Memory and Creativity

teacher avatar Cathy Wu, Freelance designer & illustrator

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.

      Introduction: Why Doodling?


    • 2.

      Project: Doodle with Shapes, Slogans, Stories & Sounds


    • 3.



    • 4.



    • 5.

      Speed Doodle Demo


    • 6.

      Part 1: Shapes


    • 7.

      Part 2: Slogans


    • 8.

      Part 3: Stories


    • 9.

      Part 4: Sounds


    • 10.

      Words of Encouragement


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About This Class

Did you know there are benefits to doodling? Studies have shown that doodling can help improve memory as well as spark inspiration and foster creativity. In this course we will go over tips to get your doodle muscles flexing, then apply those methods in four different practice exercises. We will learn how to draw inspiration from shapes, slogans, stories and sounds. At the end of the course, you will have completed four sets of doodles, one from each exercise and be equipped to tackle further creative endeavors. No previous experience is needed to participate!

Meet Your Teacher

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Cathy Wu

Freelance designer & illustrator


Cathy Wu is a freelance designer and illustrator based in Seattle, WA. Along with working as a UX/visual designer for tech startups, her passion for illustration has spurred on many independent ventures such as her etsy shop, Itscathywu ( You can also find more of her work at

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1. Introduction: Why Doodling?: I'm captain. Welcome to the art of dealing exercises, Boost memory and creativity. As a designer heels, I'm a huge. I truly believe that it helps to make us sharper for me, not only have to serve a source of inspiration for product for a profit, it's also kept me focused through many long help. Me become more observant and has many quicker and spontaneous. Do is often thought of creative outlet, but you might be surprised to learn that dealings also very effective studies have shown that doodling helps us focus. Listen more actively, remember more fully and be more efficient, something for creativity and learn how to brought expression different types, since doodling also helps us to better, our fourth and final exercise will be to put all of these techniques together into practice by doing wild are getting smart whether you feel very fall in all their little 2. Project: Doodle with Shapes, Slogans, Stories & Sounds: Hi, Thanks for joining to start off. I just want to give an overview of what we're going to be going through in this class and a little more about the project. This class is basically split into two parts. The first will be some tips to prep your mindset and give some doodling strategies in case you get stuck at any point. And the second part is where we'll put those ideas into practice with the exercises that make up the class. Project in the first project will be taking random squiggles and shapes, and drawing animals out of them will be able to practice finding forms and things that appear to be abstract. In the second exercise, we will be choosing a word or short phrase, and drawing in as many different ways as possible will be able to get better at seeing the same thing in many different ways. In the third exercise, we'll be choosing something around us and using it as a prompt to tell a story on paper. It could be a person, animal or even just an object. We'll be able to get in the habit of creating stories and imagine beyond what we see. Finally, we will be doodling while listening and learning from a talk. I'm going to be choosing a ted talk. You can also choose a Ted talk that interests you or another form of learning through hearing, such as a podcast audio book or a lecture for each of these sections, I will be doing a demo and talking through my thought process as well. When you're ready, let's dive into some tips and techniques, starting with our mindset and then moving into some doodling strategies. 3. Mindset: mind set. There are a lot of situations in our lives where we feel pressure to be perfect or to compare ourselves with other people. But this is not the place. Take this chance to ditch that mindset. For now, the very definition doing it's a scribble absentmindedly, so there's no right or wrong way before to turn out. And it's really a process. It's a chance to experiment. It's a chance to explore the thoughts that you have your head. Each person's thoughts will have expressed themselves on paper in a different way. Number one. Remember to relax and take easy number. Two. Don't worry about anything. You draw being a steak or mess up. Number three. I encourage you to use a pen so you're not tempted to erase anything and kind of forced to make a bold line or nothing at all. Number four he has experimental is can. If something's not turning out the way that you had wanted it to just over a couple inches on the paper, try again. Just something. See if it turns out differently. Just remember that doodling is not finished product of any kind. It's thinking tool. It's a way to sort through observations and ideas and just think of it is like the drawing version of stream of consciousness writing. Whatever comes out spontaneously is what you drop. You feel like your mind is in the right place. Let's go over some strategies. 4. Strategies: okay, I'm going to go over some techniques and processes that are helpful to me while I'm doodling and hopefully will be beneficial to you as well. First of all, I always tried to draw as continuously as I can, um, always drawing or writing something and in my mind, searching for the next thing that I can put down on paper. And I want to keep my mind on my hand active at all times. It's kind of a challenge to yourself if I have to draw something right now, what will it be? And by continuing to draw even when you're not sure what's going to come out, it's kind of like improv. Being able to make something up is you go. And if I don't know what to draw next, sometimes I'll draw the same thing over and over again with some variation. So, for instance, um, with this penguin, I can draw him from the front and then maybe think about what he would look like from the side, or what he would look like if he was trying to fly. And maybe I'll draw him, try and be really cool with some shades and, um If you get stuck, it's always helpful to try and add variation or change up some aspect of what's already existing on your paper. Next, I try to use both words and drawings when I'm doodling. Doodling is not just about drawing pictures, and sometimes words are more impactful or memorable, or just more concrete for showing abstract thoughts on paper. And it's really just more options for conveying your ideas. And, um, words can also be drawn as if they were pictures. Another one of my favorite techniques is to personify things on doodling this mug, for instance, before it was just a plain mug. But once you add, um, an element of humanness to it, it opens a whole range of possibilities for this mug. It can have expressions story to tell personality, and you can pretty much take anything and personify it and kind of see what happens, including letters. And another helpful tip is to use patterns. You don't always have to be doing something that's concrete or tangible or even riel. Sometimes making lines and shapes, Um, and making patterns that way is, you know, just is effective, and the most important thing I would say is to be able to combine different ideas, and that's where the really interesting things can really come out. You can combine letters and pictures together to create a scene, or here I'm combining letters and personification or letters and patterns. And with each, um, combination of ideas, you try. It'll be something new, and you'll have, um, a creative result that you didn't have before. So feel free to practice some of these. Try them out. Um, take your time, and when you're comfortable, you can continue on to the next video. 5. Speed Doodle Demo: Here's a quick video to kind of show the spirit of doodling. It should be fun, casual, like parted And everyone has a different style which is always really fun to see way now you're all set to get started. 6. Part 1: Shapes: Now we're starting our first exercise of drawing animals out of abstract shapes. These are the shapes that I will be using, and I provided a couple of templates in the class description to download if you would like , but you can also create your own shapes to start with. Just make sure that you take a picture before and after drawing in the animals. So here we go. I'm going to start with this upper left loop, and I decided it looks like a face. And so go ahead and add some teeth there. Color it in a little and kind of go from there. I've decided that is going to be a lion. And as you see, I'm not being Subaru. Careful necessarily with my lines. Um, it's kind of less about making the perfect lion than just getting the ideas out there and kind of seeing where it ends up. So here's my lion, a body. It's the legs and a tail and done. We're gonna move on to this paperclip looking thing in the middle now, and I think it looks like in upside down elephant trunk, so adding some water drawing in the elephants face and, you know, since it's upside down, um, might as well be doing something. I think this will be a circus elephant, because why else wouldn't elephant Beyonce back? Right. So I'm gonna add some beach balls that it's balancing on its feet and it will be a circus elephant. And this is really fun, cause normally I would not think to draw an elephant upside down. Um, but because of the shape that kind of looked like enough sound trunk, it was able to lead me to this picture. In the end, we're just kind of cool. So these five dots like dice dots, um was looking like a fox and very conveniently, um, became the foxes feet. So at a few more dots for its back legs and big, bushy tail. Pretty straightforward on Fox, I actually never thought of drawing a fox like that before. Maybe that's how drop boxes from no one. So the triangles here looks like a face and looks like a kangaroo. And conveniently the second triangle, I think kinda looks like a pouch. So I'm going to out a baby in there and eyes and make a job again. I normally would not start out drawing a kangaroo this way. But because of this exercise, that kind of discovered a new way to draw Kangaroo. And finally, um, this is this is looking like it's gonna be a lizard. And so I'm kind of connecting the lines together and letting that middle line kind of be the spine of this lizard and filling in outline around the rest of it, adding face and a tongue, some pattern ISS spots and a resting place. Nice leaf. And that's that. So, um, now it's your turn. Go ahead and get started on some animal shapes and I can't wait to see what us come up with . Make sure to post them in the project gallery. 7. Part 2: Slogans: time to choose a word or short phrase for a second exercise. Ideally, your word or phrase should be about three words or less, and that's something that can be conveyed with visuals. Then that's even better. We're going to be coming up with at least 10 different ways of writing the word or phrase that you've chosen five that are focusing on type and five that are focusing more on illustration, which I will be explaining in my example. So the type approach involves writing the word in different letter styles, kind of like in different fonts. It doesn't necessarily have to do with the meaning of the word, and it's more just playing with the appearance of the letter forms and trying to create variety in that area. So I'm starting off with, um, some block letters and then some cursive, and usually when you first start off doing something, um, the most obvious ideas come to mind first. And, um, that's why it's cool to try and create as many variations as you can because you're most obvious. Ideas will come out first, and as you keep going, you will kind of force yourself to think of alternative ways and more interesting ideas will come out of that. And so now I'm kind of thinking about different ways that I have seen the letter w rather than kind of the sharp edges, the rounded edges. And so I wrote it out in a more rounded way, adding some three D block lettering for fun. And if you get stuck on what else to try, you can always, um, look around you and see what kind of writing styles are in magazines or on the Internet and kind of draw inspiration from those. If there's something you see that you like, you can always try imitating it or putting a spin on it. So here I'm kind of testing out a Serra fee. We have reading water and then, of course, personifying because it's my favorite. My W looks like a mountain, raising its hand in the air and experiment with letter forms The way you see them. OK, moving on to the illustration approach with this one. It is, um, kind of thinking of images associated with your word and trying to convey the meaning of the word using related drawings or pictures. So I'm starting out with water writing water using kind of puddle looking shapes and also anything of water. I think of how it travels. So I think I'm trying to write water in a single continuous line so that it could be like a pipe that leads to a water faucet. I don't know how well this idea is working, but this is also just part of the process, some of your ideas, which turned out better than others. And that's totally okay, because it's just a discovery process. And Sonam thinking of, um, the letter W is kind of looking like a wave. So I made the W of water into a wave and then added some, um, fish and boat to kind of further emphasize that it looks like the ocean. And, um, I'll start out different shapes that I says he was Water at water droplet is one that comes to mind. And so now I'm going to try and fit the letters of water into this water droplet shaped, and I think, as a kind of got more ideas out. The later ones tend to be more more interesting, a little more creative, and then finally, other ways anything of water. I think of it coming out of the sky from an umbrella. So that's what I'm going to you drawing next, with water being spelled down, spelled out in water droplets falling from an umbrella so doodle at least five of each type . But I challenge you to create as many as you can come up with until you're all out of ideas . So have fun with this, and I'm excited to see your work in the class gallery. 8. Part 3: Stories: for this next exercise. We're going to choose something that we see around us to be subject for a series of doodles to build a character and tell a story, and you can choose a person or just a thing, an object, whatever or whoever might be nearby. I'm going to choose this book. The purpose of this exercise is to practice getting in the habit of imagining beyond what we see, since that's often what being creative is about seeing past what's given at face value. And we'll be doing that by creating character from a prompt of something or someone around us and imagining the story of what this character's life is like in various situations. We're going to create our character. What we imagine would make this character happy. What would make the upset and three scenarios three unique scenarios that they may find themselves in being there. So here I've created my book character, and I'm trying to imagine what would make him happy. And I'm imagining him being really happy to kind of be with his his friends. We have a notebook, some coffee, uh, book market, a pen, and they're all together in a coffee shop, ready to accomplish something important. And I imagine this is where my book character would be the happiest. So it's good to think of situations that are unique to your character and an example of how to do that. If you've chosen a person, um, what would make that person unique and what might be experience because of that? So let's say, um, you've chosen a cat lady. She have 20 cats, and so what might she experience because of that? What's your life like? Does she take her cats on walks all the same time? Do they all sleep at the foot of her bed at night? Or if it's an object, like a pair of sunglasses, for instance, what might a pair of sunglasses experience? Maybe they enjoy being in the sun and are unhappy in the rain. And just imagining these scenarios and kind of doing them out, um, helps to develop. This character helps to develop this imagination. So I'm kind of moving into my scenarios now for my book character, and I'm thinking about how I usually see books to help me with this. I often see them stacked in piles on top of each other. So I'm imagining my character in this situation, and he's the top book of the pile about to topple over, and I'm imagining this would be kind of frightening experience. And so he is scared to fall off this pile of books. So that's one situation that is unique to a book taking my time with the details here and the second scenario. Um, I'm thinking what other ways that I have seen books, And I'm thinking of, um, you know, when a book is kind of laid out flat and for my character, I'm thinking, um, this could be how he sleeps kind of sprawled out and finally imagining, um, what would be like to be written in as a book? And so my book here is being written in, and I'm imagining that it would be kind of ticklish. So my book is kind of holding in a giggle in this scenario, and that's it for me. Can't wait to see what characters you come up with and what kind of stories they have to tell. And don't forget to post them in the project gallery 9. Part 4: Sounds: congratulations on finishing the 1st 3 exercises. Hope you had fun with them and have been able to get your creative juices slime. Now it's time to bring it all together and try to learn something new. While we doodle since has been shown to improve our focus and memory, it's perfect that we now get to experience that by putting all that we've discovered into practical use. I'm going to be using a Ted talk. I put a link to the site in the class description. If you would like to try using one as well, other types of media you can use our audiobooks, podcasts, lectures, even meetings if there's one that you can get away with. Doodling in any situation where you can listen and gather information with a pen and paper in front of you is ideal. The Ted talk I chose is called what our language habits reveal. So I'm going to pick something from title and make that the main centerpiece of my doodle. I'm going to choose the phrase language habits because I won the title in two. It's kind of also good summary of what the talk is about, and the reason I'm choosing. This is so that I could be thinking about the topic of the talk while I doodle. But I also don't need to think too hard assed. I'm not trying to capture every point that I hear in some form of drawing. Doodling, while listening is most effective when there's a good balance between being alert to the content you're listening to, as well as being a little absent minded to your drawing. So keep that in mind as you're doodling not to overcomplicate it or think too hard about it . And so the doodling should kind of be an aide to your listening. I find it really helpful to draw repetitive patterns while I'm listening, because I can repeat them easily without having to focus too hard. What you're drawing doesn't necessarily have to correlate to talk you're listening to, um, but it definitely can if that's helpful to you, to kind of draw inspiration from or come up with ideas for or even if it just helps you to remember what you're listening to better. I also really like to drop down any phrases that jump out at me while I'm listening, things that I want to remember or that I feel are impactful, and that helps to keep me engaged with the content and kind of check myself that I'm paying attention and that I am absorbing information. And this is basically what I ended up with. After my 17 minute Ted talk, I took it out of really relaxed, easygoing piece. Feel free to add more to your drawing to make it your own and put your own style in it in whatever way that you would like. I hope you guys find something to listen to that you're excited to learn about. And, of course, have fun with it. Don't forget to post your final product in the Project gallery, and I'm really excited to go through and see what you've created. 10. Words of Encouragement: that concludes the art of doodling. I hope you're able to learn something new after you post your product in the past gallery. Take a look at project with Your because it's really fun to see how everyone comes up with something a little different. Even if you're all using and take a look and appreciate how everyone's creativity, really, As you keep practicing, you'll become more observant, afraid to try. That will definitely help you to become more creative. I think a big part of creativity is turning your ideas realistically, and the more used to you get at going through a lot of ideas really quickly, the quicker you'll get bad ideas and get the good ones. And that's definitely something that I experienced. What I take on a creative project, dumping out all the ideas I can, sorting through them and finding you also have a new tool for focusing and remembering. So if you ever find yourself tired for having a hard time focusing, taking notes, you know what you can always try. And after doing, don't forget all the ways that simple activity is so good for your general. Mentally, it stretches your thinking and makes a more self aware of what you were thinking about emotionally, it can be very there who did. And physically you're you're fine motor skills so can grow.