How to make a 'don't look' doodle

No Peeking

Did you ever play that game where you closed your eyes and someone lead you around for a ‘trust walk’? They had to make sure you didn’t bump into anything or trip or fall down a manhole. Well, I’ve been playing this game lately with myself where you do something similar on paper (no risk of bodily injury- promise) and I’m going to share with you how to make a ‘don’t look’ doodle.

Aside from benefits of training your hand to draw what you see with your eyes, sometimes the results are like something Kandinsky would have made with those wax sticks (if he would have debased himself enough to use that sort of media). Officially called ‘blind contour drawing‘ this creative break is a heck of a lot of fun. Check it out:

Let it Go

How to Make a Don't Look Doodle

Coffee Cup #1

I did this activity with my 5 year old daughter (who loves that Let It Go song) and she said, “It’s not a good drawing.” I had to explain that it isn’t supposed to be good.

The challenge is to let go of what you expect it to look like and work on accepting what it does look like. And when you have truly come to peace with that, you find joy (and sometimes humor) in what you created.

(Is that song stuck in your head? It’s stuck in mine. Sorry…)


How to Make a Don't Look Doodle

Coffee Cup #2

For this fantabulous fun activity you’ll need:

I focused on drawing my coffee cup, which had a few raised embellishments on the side. Other good subjects could be your computer, a park bench, a cactus, your dog … anything that you can see completely.


How to Make a Don't Look Doodle

Coffee Cup #3

I can get really stuck in the need to have everything look realistic, so in order to loosen up a little, I like to draw without looking at what is happening on my paper.

Some people are really good at this- connecting their visual input with minute hand movements.

I’m not. What I create looks ridiculous.

And I kinda like it.

How to Make a Don't Look Doodle

Coffee Cup #4

  1. Start by orienting yourself with your subject. Look closely and remember the basic shapes that it is made of.
  2. Take a gander at your page and envision how your subject will fit there.
  3. Place your pen where you want to start your drawing on the page.
  4. Look at your subject again, and then don’t look back at your page.
  5. Start your drawing. Watch the edge of your subject as you draw. Think about the angels of the lines you are seeing and do your best to translate that onto the page with your hand.
  6. Experiment with different levels of detail. On some of my drawings I included the embellishments I saw on the side of my coffee cup. On others, I just drew the basic lines I saw.
  7. Wrap it up. Do your best to bring your pen tip to the spot where you started your drawing to make a complete shape.
  8. Now the fun part- look at your page again. Giggle and find joy in the absurd (if it looks silly to you) and praise yourself for being able to let loose a little.
  9. Do it again and again. Connecting (or disconnecting, as the case may be) your senses of site and touch in this way helps you use parts of your brain that most of us rarely do.

To Lift Your Pen or Not To Lift It

How to make a don't look doodle

Coffee Cup #5

I like to experiment with lifting my pen on some drawings, and then not lifting it on others. You’ll find that when you lift it and you aren’t looking at your page, it is hard to remember where your lines end and begin. Makes it challenging, fun, and messy.

Coffee Cup #5 turned out to be my favorite one. It reminded me of someone with a big nose or a huge underbite. Someone who never takes them self too seriously.

The Recap

  1. Take yourself on a trust walk… without the walk.
  2. Connect your senses of site and touch/orientation on a whole new level.
  3. Letting go of control for each line makes a creation original and whimsical. Roll with it!

I’d love to see some of your creations in the comments below! Post them along with what your subject was.

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