What is Doodle Illustration?

Learn how the scribbles we make when daydreaming can become art from a master in the craft: Mauro Martins

Illustrator Mauro Martins (@mauromartins) stood out as an art director in advertising and later established himself as a creator, applying a refined and personal version of doodle style artwork. His characterful work has secured him commissions from companies like Absolut, Domino’s Pizza, Amarula, and many more.

He believes in the ability to tell small narratives through a style of drawing we typically call doodling, drawings that can grow in complexity as we improve. Below, he explains the characteristics of this playful and attractive style of illustration.

Mauro Martins
Mauro Martins

For Mauro, "the doodle style is generally freehand and free of perfectionism. It’s the type of drawing you do without any real commitment, while you’re distracted and with whatever pencil and paper you have to hand.” In his Domestika course, however, he decided to propose a digital version, made from vectors, to achieve a more elaborate illustration.

Mauro’s influences are varied and not always from the world of doodling, such as in the case of Where’s Waldo: “Martin Handford’s collection influenced me in the sense that it contains various little stories in one composition, and also for the playful power of creating something that entertains the viewer by making them search for things and find new elements every time they look at the illustration.”

Mauro Martins
Mauro Martins

While the doodle style is more typically associated with a younger audience, Mauro says that “if it’s done with more sober colors, better finished lines, and more figurative drawings that are closer to reality, it’s possible to achieve a more adult result.”

A good example of the doodle style for adults is the packaging for Tastillery:

Mauro Martins
Mauro Martins

You can often doodle without any preliminary sketches. Mauro says that when doing an independent illustration, with no commercial objective or for an exhibition, he likes to improvise: “It gives a more authentic result, with imperfections that give the flavor of the piece. This was the case for the elephant I painted for the Elephant Parade, for example.”

Mauro Martins
Mauro Martins

On the other hand, when creating for a brand, “it’s necessary to follow a brief and be able to respond to possible change requests. In this case, a plan is welcome.”
However, some clients have let Mauro draw without a preliminary sketch: “that was the case for this coworking space that let me draw whatever I wanted on the wall. I didn’t plan anything. I simply started to draw and kept improvising.”

What is Doodle Illustration? 10
What is Doodle Illustration? 11

For those starting out in doodling, Mauro suggested experimenting with paper and pen and trying to tell doodled stories with visual narratives.

"I suggest doing this without judging if the line is well done and without worrying too much about the result. The important thing is being able to tell stories through drawing. Once you’ve got the story drawn, you can enrich it with details, graphics, and whatever element that brings a more interesting shape and language to the composition.”

What is Doodle Illustration? 13
What is Doodle Illustration? 14

Want to take your doodles to the next level? Sign up to Mauro’s course, Doodle-Style Vector Illustration, and learn to create compositions with different elements from the first sketches to the post production.

English version by @harry_davies.

You may also like:

- 5 Essential Courses to Get Started in Illustrated Storytelling
- Simple Exercises for Drawing Perspective
- 5 Essential Courses to Start Your Sketchbook Habit

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