Sketches and Doodles

You know, journaling has always been a personal journey, a way to capture thoughts and experiences. But lately, there’s this exciting trend where people are mixing words with sketches and doodles. It’s like giving your journal a personal makeover!

Why Sketches and Doodles are Game-Changers:

  1. Boosting Creativity: Adding sketches and doodles to your journal isn’t just fun; it’s a creative power-up. It lets you express ideas and feelings that words alone can’t capture. Trust me, there’s something magical about seeing your thoughts take shape in colors and lines.
  2. Locking in Memories: Doodles do more than just decorate your page; they help you remember better. I’ve noticed that when I sketch something from my day, it sticks in my memory way more vividly. It’s like those little drawings are memory anchors.
  3. Making It Uniquely Yours: The best part? Your journal becomes a reflection of you in every scribble and sketch. Your style shines through in every doodle, making your journal as unique as your fingerprint.

So, if you’re thinking of jazzing up your journal, why not give sketches and doodles a try? You might just be surprised at how much life they can bring to your pages. Plus, it’s a fantastic way to see your memories and ideas in a whole new light. Happy journaling with a dash of art!

As a long-time journal keeper, I’ve found that adding sketches and doodles to my journal is not just a creative outlet, but a way to capture moments and ideas in a unique and personal style. Let’s delve into understanding the basics of sketching and doodling in journaling, highlighting their differences and the spontaneous joy they bring to the pages.

a journal open to a page filled with sketches and doodles

the Basics of Sketches and Doodles Journaling


  • Purposeful Art: A sketch is more than a random drawing; it’s done with intention and purpose. When I sketch, it’s often to capture a specific idea or scene that’s caught my eye. It’s a more formal approach to drawing in my journal, a way to crystallize a thought or concept in a detailed manner​​​​.
  • Foundations for More: Often, these sketches serve as preliminary representations. They might start as simple outlines or ideas, but they can evolve into more refined artwork or even inspire entire journal entries. I’ve often found that a single sketch can become the foundation for a deeper exploration of a theme or experience​​.


  • Spontaneous Creations: Doodles are the more casual cousins of sketches. They’re often created absentmindedly, without a specific goal. I find myself doodling when my mind wanders, or when I’m processing thoughts on a subconscious level. These simple drawings can range from abstract lines to more concrete shapes, capturing the spontaneity of the moment​​​​.
  • Mindful Meanderings: What’s fascinating about doodles is that they often happen while my attention is elsewhere. Maybe I’m listening to music, or on a call, and my hand just starts moving across the page. These drawings might seem random, but they often reveal a lot about my mood and thoughts at that moment​​.

Incorporating both sketches and doodles in journaling offers a rich tapestry of visual expression. While sketches bring a deliberate, detailed aspect to my journal, doodles add a layer of spontaneity and subconscious exploration.

Together, they make my journal not just a record of my days, but a reflection of my inner world, filled with both focused intent and whimsical meanderings.

Let me share some insights and personal experiences on the essential tools you’ll need and some tips on picking the right journal or paper. Trust me, the right tools can make a world of difference!

 a page filled with sketches and doodles, placed on a kitchen table

Essential Tools for Beginners

  1. Quality Drawing Pencils: A range of graphite grades from hard (9H) to soft (6B) helps create diverse marks and shades. Each artist finds their favorite brand through trial and error. I adore the range these pencils offer, allowing me to experiment with different styles and techniques​​.
  2. A Trusty Sketchbook: An “active sketchbook” is a must. I find that a hardcover sketchbook stands up to daily use and keeps my doodles and sketches crisp. It’s like the gym for an artist – a daily practice ground for creativity​​.
  3. Quality Drawing Surfaces: Paper texture (“tooth”) and weight are crucial. I prefer medium tooth paper like Strathmore for its versatility with various drawing media. Acid-free paper is a plus, as it ensures your artwork stands the test of time without yellowing​​.
  4. Variety of Erasers: Different erasers like rubber, kneaded, gum, and vinyl or plastic play unique roles in creating and refining your sketches. Kneaded erasers are particularly fun to manipulate into various shapes for specific erasing needs​​.
  5. A Good Pencil Sharpener: Both electric and manual sharpeners have their place. I lean towards the simple, handheld metal sharpeners for their portability and ease of use, especially when I’m on the go. Remember, not all sharpeners are suitable for colored pencils due to the wax build-up they can cause​​.

Choose the Right Journal or Paper

  • Paper Texture: A smoother texture is great for fine details, while a heavier texture suits broader, more expressive strokes. It’s like choosing the right dance floor for your dance style.
  • Durability: For those of us who journal daily, a durable sketchbook is a true companion. A hardcover not only protects your pages but also provides a stable surface for sketching.
  • Size Matters: Consider the size of your sketchbook based on where and how you like to journal. I adore a medium-sized sketchbook that’s easy to carry but still gives me ample space to express my thoughts and sketches.
  • Acid-Free Quality: An acid-free journal ensures your sketches and doodles won’t fade or yellow over time. It’s like preserving your thoughts and creativity for the future.

Simple Techniques to Get Started

  1. Practicing Constant Sketching:
    • Keep a small sketching kit handy – in your purse or by the door.
    • Use free moments for sketching instead of scrolling through your phone.
    • Sketch whatever is in front of you, no need to search for the perfect subject.
    • Utilize nap times, lunch hours, or even a bird on your windowsill as excuses to sketch​​.
  2. Easy Doodle Patterns:
    • Draw circles in rows, filling the space, then stagger more circles in the gaps.
    • Start at the bottom of the page with small arcs, then add mirrored lines in the spaces created.
    • Section the surface into four parts, add large “Xs,” and fill with web-like and arced lines.
    • Divide the page into squares, put a dot in each center, and create wave-esque lines from the dots​​​​​​​​.

Integrate Sketches with Written Journal Entries

  • Combining Art and Words:
    • Treat your journal as a diary and illustrate your entries. Or, focus on a keyword and let it inspire a whole page of art.
    • Your journal can be used daily or once a month – it’s all about personal benefit and expression​​.
  • Art Journal Prompts:
    • Botanical themes, finger painting, contrasts, or something you love.
    • Use prompts like a photograph, vertical lines, the seasons, or patterns for inspiration​​.

In my experience, blending sketches with written words in a journal isn’t just about making it look pretty. It’s a form of self-expression, a way to capture moments, thoughts, and emotions in a more vivid and personal way. So, grab those pencils, and let’s turn those blank pages into a canvas of your life stories!

Sketches and Doodles

Advanced Tips for Seasoned Journalers

Advanced Techniques

  1. Expand Your Mediums: Step beyond pencil and pen. Embrace watercolor washes, acrylics, and a variety of inks. Mix up mediums and try collaging for added texture and depth​​.
  2. Embrace Exploration: Make mistakes and learn from them. Your art journal is a safe space to experiment, make messes, and discover what resonates with you. It’s about the journey of self-expression and growth​​​​.
  3. Experiment and Reflect: Try different techniques and materials. Look back at past entries to identify patterns and recurring themes, as they are hints of your evolving artistic voice. Remember, imperfections add authenticity to your work​​.
  4. Play with Styles: Don’t hesitate to use different materials. Maybe the vibrancy of acrylics or the subtlety of watercolors speaks to you. Explore mixed media like collage, ink, and pastels for unexpected textures and effects​​.

Digital Options

  • Embrace Digital Tools: For those who keep digital journals, various apps and digital tools offer endless possibilities for sketching and doodling. These tools can mimic traditional techniques or offer entirely new ways to create art.
  • Mix Traditional and Digital: Consider combining traditional sketching with digital enhancements. You can scan your sketches and use digital tools to add layers, colors, or effects, creating a unique blend of analog and digital artistry.

Incorporating these advanced techniques and embracing digital options can significantly enrich your journaling experience. It’s all about pushing boundaries, experimenting, and finding joy in every stroke and scribble. Remember, every page in your journal is a step in your creative evolution.

Wrapping up our journey of incorporating sketches and doodles into journaling, let’s reflect on the joy and depth these creative expressions bring.

Here’s some encouragement and resources to inspire your continued artistic exploration:

Final Thoughts,

As a seasoned journal keeper, I can attest to the transformative power of adding art to your journal. Sketches and doodles aren’t just about creating pretty pages; they’re a personal voyage into self-expression.

They add layers of meaning, color, and emotion to your written words. Remember, your journal is a unique reflection of you. It’s a space where mistakes become part of your growth and where every page tells a story of your creative journey.

Sources for Inspiration

  1. Photos: Incorporate photos into your art journals. They can capture moods or memories with loved ones, adding a personal touch to your pages​​.
  2. Poetry: Don’t be shy to pen a poem in your journal. It’s a creative way to express your thoughts and feelings​​.
  3. Themed Journals: Focus on a theme, like gratitude, and let it guide your creations. It narrows your focus and sparks ideas​​.
  4. Positive Affirmations: Fill your journals with positive affirmations. It’s uplifting and changes your mood for the better​​.
  5. Gratitude Pages: Embrace the power of gratitude. Making art with a grateful heart can shift your perspective​​.
  6. Vision Boards: Create vision boards in your journal. It’s a fun way to daydream and record aspirations​​.

Additional Resources

List of Recommended Tools and Apps

Day OneEasy entry, reminders, photo integrationIdeal for Mac and iOS users, user-friendly
DiariumMultiple media types, speech recognitionGreat for Windows users, versatile media options
PenzuSecure journaling, WYSIWYG interfacePerfect for privacy-conscious users
Grid DiaryTemplated journaling, customizable headersSimplifies journaling, offers structured prompts
Five Minute JournalTimed prompts, simple interfaceBest for journaling beginners, fosters daily habit
Dabble MeJournaling over email, easy remindersConvenient for those who prefer email communication
DaylioMood tracking, activity loggingSuitable for non-writers, visual journaling focus​​​​.

Gallery of Sketches and Doodles

Finally, don’t forget to check out galleries of sketches and doodles for inspiration. Seeing the creative work of others can spark your imagination and give you new ideas to try in your own journal.

Embrace your artistic journey in journaling with these resources and remember, there’s no right or wrong way to create. Your journal is a canvas for your thoughts, emotions, and creativity.

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