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Vectortuts+ Assignment: Create a Vector Doodle

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We're adding more community features to Vectortuts+. In addition to larger community projects, which launched this week, we'll also regularly have assignments for you all to do. This week the assignment is to get everyone to pick up their pencil and draw a bit, then vectorize your imagined doodle creations.

Assignment Based Learning

These assignments will take on a different structure, than tutorials, quick tips, or larger community projects. In many cases these mirror assignments you might get in a university classroom environment or in some cases even kindergarten. We'll start out with basic assignments and build as we move forward, while working to incorporate your feedback and requests.

What I'd like to start with are basic illustration assignments, which will get us all working on fundamental drawing skills. We'll then take the results of our analog work and vectorize it, so we're building experience in working with traditional tools and combining those skills with vector software. We're also focusing on solving visual problems and doing so with our own unique results.

A big part of becoming a successful vector illustrator is building a solid technical and artistic foundation. We'll start with many drawing exercises and work our way up to solving fictitious client briefs.

Of course, drop in any ideas you have though, or anything you'd like to see done with these assignments. Your feedback will help to shape future assignments!

Today's Assignment

For our first assignment we'll start with something that is easy to get going with, but it's something you'll want to continue to do throughout you're illustration career - and that's doodling. I think we all know what a doodle is, if you want a primer though check out what Wikipedia has to say on doodling.


The focus of this assignment is to get your pencil moving, draw for the fun of it, doodle anything that comes to mind, or doodle on a topic of your choice. You could try listening to some music or drawing while doing another task like talking on the phone, as doodling can happen while our mind is focused on tasks that take up another part of our brain. It's not necessary to have a tight brief with this assignment, but I'll narrow this down so you can have a more targeted doodling session:

  • Doodle with pencil or pen on paper for around thirty minutes.
  • Let the music, story, or conversation you're listening/having inform the subject of your doodles, or just let go.
  • Take the results from this drawing session and vectorize them.
  • Then upload them to the Vectortuts+ Flickr group to share with the community.
  • Be sure to mention the song you were listening too, situation you doodled in, or anything else meaningful to the work.
  • Comment, critique, and learn from other's work in the Flickr group.
  • Ideally complete this assignment within one week, though feel free to move at your own pace.

Leaving the results as black and white vector linework is fine, or feel free to shade, or color your work. It's up to you.

Skills You Will Learn in this Assignment

  • Learn to have fun and enjoy drawing.
  • Improve your abstract visual thinking.
  • Help you capture visual ideas rapidly.
  • Push you to draw anytime and anywhere.
  • Encourage you to experiment.
  • Develop your expressive drawing ability.
  • Learn to bridge the gap between your sketchbook and vector tools.
  • Teaches you not to let perfection get in the way of developing good habits.

Share Your Vector Doodle

Once you have a doodle you're happy with vectorize it, export a final JPG, and then share it with the community by uploading it to the Vectortuts+ Flickr group. Be sure to tag your upload as "vtassignment-doodledo" so we can see everyones uploads together, which will make it easier for everyone to comment on each other's work. You're welcome to link to your work in the comments below as well.

Here are a few tutorials that show various workflows you can use for vectorizing your doodles, but feel free to follow any workflow you're most comfortable with. Two useful workflows are to either Live Trace your line work after cleaning up a scan in Photoshop a bit, or use custom Illustrator brushes to trace over the scan. You could also take inspiration from your doodle and use Illustrator's tools to build upon the doodle you worked out on paper.

Related Resources

If you find the subject of doodling interesting and would like to follow up on additional doodle inspiration, articles, and resources, then follow the links below:

  • Why should you doodle? by Von Glitshka. Great article about the ongoing benefits of developing a doodling habit for creatives.
  • Study: Doodling Helps You Pay Attention by John Cloud. This Time magazine article discusses a study that shows how doodling improves cognition, showing that all those characters you draw in the margins actually help you retain information during a lecture.
  • Doodlage is a doodle dedicated site. It's defunct now, but there are still loads of awesome archives to pour through.
  • Disciplined Doodle Art. This is an interesting take on doodling. By creating a few rules for your doodling you can make a game of it and focus your style and results a bit.
  • Freedom of Doodles by RaShell. This article over on Inspiredology shows some great examples of doodles used in commercial projects, super inspiring.
  • Doodle and Creativity
    A Working Team
    . This article discusses the carefree and playful spirit of a doodle and how connected to creativity that is.
  • Squidoo Lens on Doodle Art. This is a massive repository of links on this subject.
  • Core Art Skills: Part 1, Welcome to the Course by Ben Mounsey. This is the first part in a six part series here on Vectortuts+ where you can take further introductory steps into illustration.
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