Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Alison Hertz is the Doodle Queen

Alison Hertz is the fantastic organizer of Doodle Day. This event started in May of 2013. What was meant to be a one month challenge soon became a year - round event. Alison not only runs Doodle Day, but she lives it in her everyday life. She has committed herself to the daily sketch. Alison is an inspiration to hundreds of artists. Doodle Day is a safe Facebook environment for doodlers of all levels. I highly encourage you to join Doodle Day even if you don't see yourself as an artist!

Dani: How important is it to sketch and how often should Artists sketch?

Alison: I think it is very important to sketch everyday. I started Doodle Day, an online daily drawing challenge with over 500 participating doodlers world-wide, to encourage people (not just professional artists) to draw every day. The more you draw, the more you improve your skills. Doodling before sitting down to work on an important illustration (or writing a book or even working on a business proposal) is like an athlete stretching before a workout. It warms up your hand and arm as well as getting your creative juices flowing. If you’d like to join Doodle Day (daily prompts are provided with new themes each month), click on this link:

Dani: What is your favorite thing to draw?

Alison: My favorite things to draw are animal characters. I tend to get hung up on people having to look properly proportioned but with animals and made up creatures, I can just put together different features that I like and see what happens. When I’m not drawing animal or creature characters, though, I love to Zentangle on canvas. I do an under painting with acrylic and then add detailed patterns on top. This summer, I started getting into Hand Lettering because I see more and more picture books using it in the interior illustrations as well as on the cover.

Dani: What's one thing you'd like to achieve?

Alison: I’d really love to illustrate another book whether it be a picture book that I have written or someone else’s or the interior line art for a chapter book or middle grade in my current cartoony style.

Dani: Do you have any art regrets?

Alison: I guess my biggest art regret is that I didn’t take painting classes in college. I earned a double major in Architecture and City Planning for my B.ENVD and then a BFA in Toy Design so I took many drafting classes and drawing classes for presentation art, industrial design, and marketing products but I didn’t get to take painting classes until I was out of school and older. Juggling a family, volunteer work, doing school visits, hosting Doodle Day, and writing and illustrating leaves little time for painting classes but I squeeze them in anyway. I love painting and feel that I missed out on years of enjoying this form of expression.

Thumbnail Template
Dani: Share one thing you think people in Smart Dummies should know.

Alison: I think it’s important to know that when you are creating your dummy, you should start with thumbnail drawings that totally lack detail. Use blobs or geometric shapes to first establish the layout of each page and make sure you have enough scenes and perspective changes to keep the reader interested. Wait until you like the layout of the entire 32 pages before you draw any details and then just double the size of the thumbnails – maybe 2” x 2” or so which still isn’t room for much detail but enough to establish positioning of the page elements including characters and text. See attached thumbnail template I use to start laying out the scenes in a book dummy.

Ways to keep up with what Alison is working on are:
Website and Blog:
Instagram: AlisonHertzDoodles
Twitter: @AlisonHertz


Use the thumbnail template and draw thumbnails of each of your spreads. These should be loose drawings and shouldn't take you more than a few minutes for each drawing. They only need to make sense to you! If you are working with text, then determine where the words are going now.


  1. Thanks for the excellent doodling advice and the thumbnail template, Alison! :)

    1. You are welcome, Doreen. The template just reminds me that I don't need any details to start the layout. I hope it helps you, too.

  2. Alison is so right about "Doodling before sitting down to work on an important illustration (or writing a book or even working on a business proposal) is like an athlete stretching before a workout."! I have to remember that. :) I admire Alison's dedication to daily drawing.

  3. Thanks Alison. I like your template too. I doodle sometimes on my iPad, but rarely do pencil to paper. I should try to stretch for that too.

    1. Stacy, I doodle digitally, too, but there is something more satisfying for me to doodling in my paper sketchbook. I also like having the books to flip through. Try it out. Print out the template and try some thumbnail sketches for layout.

  4. Thank you for the template- I think many get lost in the details and this will help edit and inspire the composition first!

  5. Your words of encouragement to doodle and sketch every day are appreciated, Alison. Time to *doodle noodle*!
    ~Suzy Leopold

  6. Alison, Doodle Day is a wonderful community! I really like your post, I try to draw as much as I can!

  7. I do not know how Alison gets so much doodling done! Such great advice. I printed out several copies of this template. Not just for dummies either. I have a bunch of illustrations I have to do in the next month, so I'm using the templates for this too. So useful!

    1. The more you doodle, the more you'll want to doodle. It's pretty addictive.

  8. Hey, Alison and Dani. I think the blobish thumbnail drawings are important for all writers. Even the ones who don't illustrate. Great tips. Dani, sorry I didn't make the challenge. Too much on my plate. It looks like fun!

  9. Thanks for posting this. I need to not only do thumbnails, but maybe even another size up, so I can see more of the flow of detail. Thanks for your post...