Doodle Your Own Ceramic Designs

Use your doodle drawings to create unique, one-of-a-kind ceramic pieces.

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courtesy of Quarry Books

In New Ceramic Surface Design (Quarry Books, 2015), Molly Hatch helps you take your ceramic project to the next level with easy ideas for drawing, printing, painting, and stenciling on clay surfaces. Each project is outlined with step-by-step instructions, along with hand-drawn illustrations and inspirational photographs of Hatch’s finished pieces. A faculty member at the Rhode Island School of Design, and an internationally shown ceramics artist, Hatch introduces innovative techniques using a variety of materials.

Doodling on the ceramic surface can be as satisfying as doodling on paper. Drawing from your imagination and responding to the form you are drawing on can have fantastic results and lead to new artwork ideas. Doodling on clay is a great warm-up exercise, but it can also become a large part of your work. If you find that you doodle in your spare time with paper and pen, then this project will come naturally. Doodling is a great way to work on a surface a little at a time. You can put it down and return to it later–consider doodling on clay a work that progresses over time rather than trying to complete your doodle in one sitting. Remember, there are no mistakes in doodling–so this is a great place to start, and with exciting tools like the underglaze pencil, you can even achieve the look of pencil on paper but on the clay surface!

paper with floral doodle, ceramic cup, brush, sponge, and pencil sharpener on a blue background


• bisque ceramic surface
• 400-grit sandpaper (optional)
• damp sponge
• underglaze pencil
• pencil sharpener
• clear glaze


person using sandpaper on a ceramic cup

1. Start with a clean bisque ceramic surface. If you find that your bisque surface is a bit rough, consider sanding it with a fine-grit sandpaper (400 grit would do it!). Sanding the bisque will create a nice smooth drawing surface. Wipe the sanded surface with a damp sponge to remove any dust before starting your doodle.

person drawing a flower on a ceramic cup with a pencil

2. Drawing from your imagination or from gathered sources of inspiration, use an underglaze pencil to start your doodle, beginning with the center point of the piece or a focal point. Keep in mind that the focal point can be off-center. Another good place to start may be at the edge of the form. If you are stumped, try starting with a geometric shape or a simple line and build your doodle from there. You can’t go wrong when doodling!

person doodling on ceramic cup with flowers leaves and stems

3. Trust your intuition about where to doodle and what to doodle. Continue adding lines and marks until the piece feels “done.” If doodling is new to you, try starting with basic shapes (circle, square, triangle) and repeat them free­hand until the surface feels finished. Don’t forget that you can doodle inside and on the bottom of your piece, too! If you choose to doodle on the bottom of your piece, wax the bottom before dipping it in clear glaze.

person using a brush to paint glaze on to the bottom of a ceramic cup…

4. Finish your piece by dipping it in clear glaze.

Try It!

ceramic plate with floral doodle designs on it

Adding points of interest can make for fun variations in your doodle–like adding color to stripes or dots and filling in parts of the drawing but not necessarily all of the doodle. You can fill in areas of your doodle with your underglaze pencil or add color to your doodle lines by painting on underglaze in sections using a small detail brush. Try doodling on a bisque ceramic surface with a no. 2 pencil before tracing over it with your underglaze pencil. You can erase the no. 2 pencil and actually shift your drawing a bit before committing to the final image. You can also try adding color to fill in areas of your no. 2 pencil sketch before finishing off the doodle surface with an outline of the underglaze pencil.

For more easy ceramic design techniques check out:

Creating Ceramic Designs Using Tape
Using Stickers to Create Ceramic Designs
Rubber Stamping Ceramic Surfaces

book cover with ceramic tableware on a white background

Reprinted with permission from New Ceramic Surface Design: Learn to Inlay, Stamp, Stencil, Draw, and Paint on Clay by Molly Hatch and published by Quarry Books, 2015.

  • Updated on Nov 5, 2021
  • Originally Published on Apr 18, 2016
Tagged with: ceramic, crafts, doodle, drawing
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