The Power of Doodling

I love doodling. I find it to be a great activity that allows an artist to let thought flow more freely. Whenever I have the chance to doodle in prep for an illustration, I always find the end results to be richer and more detailed. Story elements also creep in. My visual language to express a character expands.

For cartooning, I think doodling is a valuable exercise. Kool Aid Gets Fired came from a doodle of Kool Aid having a moment of existential crisis. Many of my background characters come from doodles in sketchbooks. I doodle something that I feels really captures the visual essence of what you might think such a person looks like. When I drew the little guy down in the right hand corner, I thought he looked like an everyday background office worker, someone who pretty much comes in, does their job, and goes home.

His final incarnation in Kool Aid he had glasses. But the basic idea for what many of my office workers would look like came from this doodle. To me (and everyone is going to see different), it says, he’s been at his job not just years, but a few decades. Not fully beaten down, but definitely a corporate cog that knows his place.

As contrasted by this doodle, who I always thinking of as Ken Newman, bright, shiny, energetic, looking for ways to make a change and improve things. Often I will take a doodle and expand on it, working out how the character might look expressing different emotions.

Sometimes a character from a doodle ends up in a full illustration. I’m not sure if I specifically used the person on the left in the drawing on the right. The one on the left was a women who got onto the train with her chello and bags and insisted on squeezing into the space. I was trying out some new brushes in Painter for this. Clearly the way I drew the head stuck in my head for the crowd scene I drew.

When I worked in offices, often my meeting handouts would end up covered in doodles. Often they were of co-workers.

I think that moving forward, I’m going to devote some time to just doodling each week. No specifics, no goal, just a journey.

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