#9 Instagram Aesthetic Trend for School Marketers – Designing With Doodles

This is the ninth installment of a series on Instagram aesthetic trends for 2020. Here are the links to the previous posts in this series:

Doodles on Instagram graphics are super popular right now! This trend is like a fun, creative younger cousin to the fine-line sketch graphic look.

I’m seeing more and more brands and schools use this appealing graphic edit as a way to stand out. Instagram is the most popular photo-based social network so it can be difficult to get your posts seen by your target audience. Millennials and Gen Z love edited photos and doodles are especially popular.

There are several techniques or apps you can use to add doodles to your photos. Here are 9 of them to get you started.

1. Instagram App

  1. Open your Instagram app and click on the camera icon on the top left.
  2. Take a photograph or upload one from your gallery.
  3. Click on the squiggle icon at the top right of your screen.
  4. Now you can choose the type of brush, width size and color you want to use. You can choose between a:
    1. Felt-tip marker
    2. Flat-tip marker
    3. Glow magic marker
    4. Eraser
    5. Chalk
  5. You can use your finger or try using a stylus to hand draw your doodles. See a stylus I recommend below.
  6. You can add text, effects, stickers, animations, emoji, and other effects to your image.
  7. Save and download your graphic.
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2. Canva

You can use Canva to easily create doodle art.

  1. Choose an Instagram Stories or Post template
  2. Find one that has the basic layout you want to use or choose a blank template.
  3. Make your selected changes just like you would a regular template.
  4. Be sure to use the Position feature to place your images in the right layer
  5. To find already-made doodles search the Elements feature or upload png doodle files to use.
  6. Drag your doodles to your graphic. Recolor, resize, and layer them as you please.
  7. Save and download your graphic as you normally would when your graphic looks the way you want it.

Canva is available as an app for smartphones and tablets too, making it easy to edit your photos on the go!

3. Photo Editing Apps

If you really want to get creative try using doodle features on a third-party app. Here are some of my favorites.

  • Adobe Photoshop Sketch

Adobe Photoshop Sketch is available on the App Store for iPhone and iPad. Adobe offers easy-to-use templates, a “Get Started” course, and tutorials. Use the Draw feature to add doodles to your images. I recently discovered the acrylic brush and am enjoying playing with this feature.

Adobe Spark is available on Android.

  • PicsArt

PicsArt, the app that gives us the fine-line sketch feature, offers awesome doodling features too. This app is one of the most creative, fun, and innovative photo editing tools available. There are just so many editing features to play around with and combine to make truly original graphics. The acrylic brush adds the perfect look to your graphics. This is a popular app with many Instagrammers.

  • Start with a template or image
  • Try removing the background
  • Add a solid background if desired
  • Start drawing doodles on your image using the Draw feature
  • You can choose from various brushes, line widths and colors
  • The Magic Effects are a lot of fun to play with – and are a super-easy way to give your image a “sketched” look
  • PicsArt offers great tutorials on their YouTube channel
  • A Design Kit

A Design Kit is only available in the App Store for iOS. But for those of you using a Mac, iPhone or iPad, this is a wonderful app. It’s rated 4.8 out of 5 for good reason; it’s easy-to-use, offers amazing realistic brushes and markers, includes metallic and gradient textures along with cool fonts and design elements.

A Design Kit offers a pro version at $3.99 per month but there are plenty of free features and options without needing to upgrade.

  • Procreate

Procreate is a paid app (one-time fee of $4.99 for iPhone and $9.99 for iPad). Procreate is one of those apps that is worth every penny. The amount of brushes and effects is ridiculous! There’s definitely a learning curve with this app at first but it’s pretty easy to pick up once you get started. Procreate offers a YouTube channel with free tutorials that are very helpful. I searched for “doodles” and several videos came up with different effects.

This app is a little more challenging but offers a lot of possibilities.

  • VSCO Cam

VSCO Cam is popular among creative professionals and amateurs alike because of its editing controls and filter features. Produced by Visual Supply Company, VSCO Cam is available for iOS and Android and offers a free or paid version.

You can find a free tutorial on the VSCO YouTube channel, but I didn’t find any specifically for doodling. If you would like instructions, try looking for videos on drawing, layering and adding special effects.

  • You Doodle

You Doodle is a simple, very easy app for drawing on photos. It offers basic brushes, colors, widths, text, frames and collages and stickers. You can also create custom stickers right in the app (most photo editing apps offer this feature). You Doodle is available for iOS and Android.

4. Adobe Photoshop

You can also use traditional graphics editing tools like Adobe Photoshop to create graphics with doodles.

  • Choose your image.
  • Choose doodle vector graphics. These can be found on most stock image sites like iStockPhoto, Shutterstock, or DepositPhotos (I’m not sure if free stock photo sites offer them).
  • Cutaway any elements of the image you don’t want to use (i.e. the background).
  • Add a background if so desired.
  • Upload your doodle graphic and ungroup them (how you do this depends on your software).
  • Change the size, color, and layout of the doodle graphic and add it to your image.
  • Keep adding and arranging your doodles until your graphic looks how you want it.

Adding doodles to your images makes them noticeable, especially by younger viewers who are enamored by these photo editing techniques. Using the above apps will make the process easier and innovative.

Need inspiration? Try one of these hashtags to find lots of doodle art examples:

  • #doodle
  • #doodles
  • #doodleart
  • #doodlesketch
  • #doodlelove

Some of the photo editing apps have communities of doodlers too. Try PicsArt or VSCO. An influencer that does a lot of doodle art is MalloryOnTheMoon; I find her upbeat, colorful, and quirky style fun and full of great ideas.

Use your imagination, have fun, and enjoy the process. Adding doodles to your images can take some time at first; I recommend finding an afternoon where you won’t be rushed. Put on your favorite playlist, relax, and enjoy your time doodling.

Have you created graphic doodles (since doodling on your notebook in middle school, I mean)? What apps do you recommend to other school marketers? Please comment below.

About the author 

Brendan Schneider

Hey, I’m Brendan, and this is my blog. After 28 years working in private, independent schools in mostly admissions, enrollment, marketing, communications, and fundraising roles, I decided to make SchneiderB Media my full-time job, where I help schools get more inquiries through my Fractional Digital Marketer program. I also started the MarCom Society, a membership created expressly to help, support, and train marketing and communications professionals at schools.

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