Reading time: 4/5 minutes!

Trying to come up with ideas for a new creative exercise, I started doodling some random shapes on Procreate, as my art teacher has always suggested to me. When you have no ideas, she said, doodle some random stuff and your eyes will magically see something.

Psst.. We already talked about the influence doodling has in stimulating creativity here!!

Everyone Can Draw: Exercises to Improve Your Drawings

If you think that only “gifted” people can draw, you are totally wrong!! Everyone, even you, can start learning how to draw with a daily routine and the right attitude 🙂

Why shouldn’t I share and explain the same process that was helping me to find inspiration?

And that’s how basically today’s topic was born; I’ll try my best to explain how you can create illustrations from random shapes to train your creativity, let some time pass and focus on something fun!

Our brain is good at recognising things, completing shapes and using imagination. We can see things ever when they’re not there! We are not crazy; humans are just animals equipped with imagination. But how throwing some shapes without any sense can help us?

| Random doodling can help your creativity

The drawing process is relatively fast and easy; what requires more time and focus is to recognise characters, objects and meanings in the shapes you draw. Don’t worry: no particular skills are needed here! Everyone can try this exercise at school, work or home, alone or with friends, do it in a few minutes or dedicate a lot of attention and time to it.

What will help your creativity is the effort required to fit drawings in the shapes you randomly created. Also, the fact we’re not going to use references makes us think a little bit more, and imagine instead of looking at pictures. The more you do this exercise, the more you’ll become a pro in using your imagination and getting inspired more easily.

| What you’ll need:

The materials you’ll need depend on the type of illustration you decide to realise: traditional or digital? Generally, for both techniques, the materials required are a few and easy to find in your house. Also, you won’t necessarily need any fancy or expensive professional art tools, but if you already have some, take advantage of them! The quality of the result will be higher, but always keep in mind that’s not the whole point of this exercise. 

To create a traditional illustration you need a blank sheet of any colour, a pencil, a pen or ink and some colours – crayons, coloured pencils, watercolours.. the choice is totally up to you. You can also decide to use the collage technique, cutting with scissors different pieces of paper (or other materials such as fabrics, recycled plastic, and so on) and combining them to build something out of shapes! 

In my case, I just used my iPad and Procreate. I feel it’s more comfortable, because it allows me to use different colours and imitate different traditional techniques, and I can do I wherever I am!

| Create some random shapes

This step is the simplest one but you also have to take into account that you could complicate your future-self life a little bit. Whatever, this is a problem that we will address in step 2.

Basically, you just have to make instinctive lines, circles, shapes or whatever you want to do.

For now, what I recommend is just to use a different colour from the one you’re going to use in the doodling and inking step. For example, I used a red brush to make the random shapes, and a black pencil for the drawings, as you will soon see in the next steps, to distinguish them and do not lose the initial shapes, making them part of the illustration. 

I took this decision because I think it’s fun to be able to see the very initial step in the final result. It helps to immediately understand the process and also to explain the work behind (I mean.. it’s a sort of tutorial so I need to explain every step!)

But, your work your choice: you can also prefer to use them only as a guideline, a sketch, and completely cover them so you cannot see them anymore in the final result.

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| Doodles!

Here is where I struggled a bit. What can I draw on those… things?

The game here consists in giving yourself timetrying to imagine what could fit in the shapes you created. Have you ever seen anything similar to that in your life? In all the cartoons and movies you watched, places you visited and things you saw? Most likely, you have. You just need to strain for a few minutes.. you can’t even imagine how many things will come into your mind! Go crazy, accept any hint your brain gives to you and start building something. Later you’ll have all the time to refine, but now it’s just a matter of thinking and sketching.

Ok, my result is pretty random, but somehow I actually like it! I mean, something it’s really out of context, but it’s not important.

I think that at this point we just achieved the most “difficult” step of this exercise – even if some people are so trained in doodling and stuff that they are probably laughing at me right now. I’m sorry, I struggle with imagination and sometimes I’m really slow lol. The ideas are on the paper, the worst has passed and now you can relax: from the next step it will all be easier. Beginning at step 3, it’s now all about giving our style to the doodles we just made!

| Inking and defining

The inking step is the one I actually like the most, since it allows me to define the shapes and give more personality to the lines (I swear it makes sense!). I usually work with some pencil-like brushes in order to recall the effect of traditional techniques. After all, I still like to draw with traditional materials; I just feel it’s more practical and efficient to use an iPad, especially for this type of posts.

In this step I generally spend chill time to set black contours and add some white hatches on the points I consider as highlights; this helps me to define the depth of the object, even if just superficially, to have a base for the colouring stage.

| Colouring and adding lights

Why didn’t I use a pure white blank sheet? I think that it’s more useful when it comes to colouring! It feels like a contradiction, since white is a really pure colour, but it confuses me a lot. Probably because of its brightness it makes me struggle with setting light colours. Instead, using a delicate coloured background allows me to manage better colours, shades and lights as well!

This step is just a redefinition, a stage that allows you to give sense to anything you did until now and in which you have total control of the piece. Here I have no specific advices: it’s totally up to you to chose colours, contrasts, style; do you want a realistic illustration? Or more cartoonish? You’ll leave them as sketches or define them into proper complete illustrations?

Colours and lights have the power to take single items and connect them. How? In my case I used a common detail: the yellow light. Thanks to that, it kinda feels like they’re all under the same sunlight! Of course, the composition doesn’t makes sense anyway (you can see a carrot under a head and a piece of paper in the middle) but somehow the same light that touches them all gives something in common to any piece of the design, and makes us feel like they’re together!

In conclusion, from today you are able build an enormous amount of illustrations even if you’re not really inspired. All you’ll need is a bunch of random shapes and some imagination to help you 🙂


Enjoy, and if you decide to follow our creative exercises, share with your friends, we would love to see your results!!

You can send us your artworks on our instagram page or email address ☺️


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