Doodling vs Drawing: How do They Differ and Which is Better?

Doodling vs Drawing: How Do they Differ & Which is Better?

Maria used to draw in class. She would decorate the edges and covers of all her notebooks with whimsical patterns, cute characters and winding, twisting marks and shapes.

Every once in a while someone would ask her “what are you drawing?” and she would reply – “Oh these? They’re just doodles.”

Maria felt as though her doodles weren’t anything special, there was nothing important or skilled involved in their creation and she didn’t see how they applied to anything else.

But what Maria didn’t know is her doodles were the beginning of an art craze that swept the nation 10 years later called Zentangle.

Who’s tangled now?

Some people think doodling doesn’t have the serious implications drawing does. When we think of a drawing we think of a nicely shaded, accurate and realistic representation of something we can name.

But doodling doesn’t follow those rules. Zentangle and doodling are free form versions of drawing and often don’t have any sort of realistic-looking output.

Does this make doodling any less or make it not a serious creative activity?

They’re not “just” doodles

The effort put into creating a tangle (as zentangle pieces are called) is not to be taken lightly. Just because it may look and feel different than what we’re used to identifying as a drawing, doesn’t make it require any less effort or skill.

Let’s take a look at the main differences between drawing and doodling to see how they stack up against one another.

Tools or supplies needed

Drawing requires essentially only one tool – a pencil. In it’s basic form, drawing is attributed to pencil and graphite renderings. Other tools used may include erasers and torchons for blending. Drawing in pen or ink would require pens or dip ink as well as your basic pencil tools.

Paper used for drawing range from standard sketching paper to thicker bristol board but usually the smooth surface the better for pencil or pen.

Doodling is most often done strictly in pen and embraces the uncertainty and permanence. Zentangles and doodles are designed to build off mistakes and turn them into purposeful creations. Some creators will used coloured pens and inks but for the most part they are done with black ink, the most popular being archival quality ink pens such as microns.

Paper for doodling can vary from sketchbooks to notepads to computer paper and doesn’t have such a strict need for a smoother surface. The whole point of creating the official Zentangle movement was to make it fun and accessible to all. Keep this in mind if you take up the practice, since the tools don’t make you any better.

Special Considerations with Drawing and Doodling

The barrier to entry for both drawing and doodling is quite low – of all the creative practices, they are the easiest to get started with and the quickest to see immediate results from.

There’s not much you need in terms of supplies or setup but you do of course need to have a comfortable spot to sit or stand in while you do your drawing or doodling.

More similar than different

Drawing and Doodling are pretty much the same in terms of technical needs and output created. You use much the same tools and supplies, create in a similar manner and and have a finished project at the end.

So why the fuss about doodling not being a ‘serious’ creative form? What is it about Zentangle or doodle art that evokes responses of “Oh it’s just doodles”?

Let’s take a look at art created primarily in the doodle or Zentangle style that is most certainly not just doodles.

Examples of amazing doodle art

Nima Talo

Nima’s excellent tangles have a lovely flow to them and going through her Instagram feed is absolutely delightful.

#zentangle #zendoodle #zenart #drawing #painting #art #kunst #creative #kreativ #diy #nimatalo #doodleart #doodle #mystaedtler

A photo posted by Nima Talo Art 💚💙💜💖 ( on



Miyaluv’s feed is full of zentangle hearts and they are so gorgeous to look at. She seems to be prolific when it comes to challenges and almost all of her pieces are part of a series.


Martine Mai

Martine creates mandalas as her primary type of doodle and they are stunning to look at. Her creativity when it comes to switching up layouts and incorporating many different types of Zentangle elements are a joy to look at.


Its up to you to take your creative pursuit seriously

Feel good about your creative pursuit as a doodle artist or Zentangle practitioner. There’s absolutely nothing separating it from the fine art of drawing and it most certainly is not just doodling.

When we feel good about our creative practice, we stand tall and we tell the world – we don’t hide it or belittle ourselves. Be proud of your amazing doodle art and fantastic Zentangle creations – they take a lot of work and an infinite amount of creative energy.

The way you view your creative endeavours is going to have a major difference on the way they affect the rest of your life. If you’re embarrassed or feel as though your creative activity is somehow not good enough, it will tint the way that you view your creativity as a whole.

Let’s make sure we stand loud and proud about any sort of creative activities we undertake! Your activities and hobbies – wether they are doodling with a pen or painting with a brush or knitting with needles – are worthy of admiration and awe for the level of skill and creative thinking they require.

You’re pretty much a superhero for doing this whole creative thing – so don’t you ever forget it.

Keep doodling and keep creating!

Do you create doodle art? I’d love to see what you’ve been creating lately! Share your instagram account or social media account below so we can check out what you’re making!

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