fountain pen doodles circles cover

Doodling With Fountain Pens: Circles Pattern

John BosleyHow To 6 Comments

The next pattern in my Doodling With Fountain Pens series is one that is quite easy to draw, but has a lot of variations that are possible. I’m calling this one Circles. If you’re ready, grab a pen and some paper and let’s get started!

Thoughts On This Pattern

I don’t think there’s anything original about this pattern and you’ve probably seen something like it fairly often. I have no idea where I first saw it. The pattern is really quite simple. It consists of sets of concentric circles that overlap and can create a pattern with some depth to it. Similar to the Starburst pattern, I feel that this pattern is accessible to pretty much anyone, regardless of your artistic talents.

fountain pen doodles circles example

Here’s a small example of the Circles pattern

How It’s Done

To get started drawing this pattern, draw a small circle. This will be the center of your first set of circles. Now continue drawing increasingly larger and larger circles around the center circle. I like to stop at five circles, but have also done four or six circles before. To keep the overall circle size fairly small, I wouldn’t do more than six concentric circles.

fountain pen doodles circles start

Start with a small circle

fountain pen doodles circles 5 circles

Draw 5 circles to start your doodle

Now move off to the side of that first set of circles a little bit and draw another set of circles. If you’re far enough away, they won’t overlap. If you’re close enough, they will overlap. If they overlap, you’ll want to stop drawing each circle as it runs into the first one.

fountain pen doodles circles new circle

Start a new set of circles near the first

fountain pen doodles circles overlap

You’ll want some circles to overlap

You’ll want to draw some far enough away from other circles that they don’t overlap. This will ensure that you have more than one complete circle in your doodle.

fountain pen doodles circles far away

You don’t want all of your circles to overlap, though.

At some point in your doodle you’ll want to start filling in your circles. In order to get the pattern to look right, you’ll always want to leave the outer circle open (uncolored). This will allow each set of circles to remain separate and not blend in with the other circles. I like to start from the outer circle, leave it blank, then color in every other one.

fountain pen doodles circles coloring start

Start coloring your circles before it gets too confusing.

fountain pen doodles circles colored

It’s starting to look good!

I find it a lot easier to color in every few sets of circles that I draw. This helps keep confusion and mistakes to a minimum. If you leave the entire sheet uncolored until the end, you’ll find yourself staring at a bunch of circles and it can be tricky trying to figure out which ones to color in and which ones to leave open.

That’s just about all there is to this pattern. Keep drawing sets of circles and filling them in. Eventually, you’ll have a page full of circles and will be done! One last thing… if I have any small gaps between circles, I like to fill them in with color instead of trying to fit circles in there.

fountain pen doodles circles gaps

These small gaps between circles can be filled in.

fountain pen doodles circles done

Soon you’ll fill up the entire page.


This pattern has a few variations that you can try out. Of course, this isn’t all of the possible variations you can do, so feel free to experiment and see what else you can come up with!

Wavy lines: Your circles don’t have to be perfectly smooth. I like to make my lines wavy, which almost looks like flowers when used throughout the pattern.

fountain pen doodles circles wavy lines

Using wavy lines can change the look of your circles

Black circles: I like to add a bit of contrast and differentiation to my circles by using a waterproof black ink for the circles and a different color for filling them in. My black ink of choice is Platinum Carbon Black, but any waterproof black should work. The reason for a waterproof ink is so that it doesn’t bleed into your colored areas when you color them in.

fountain pen doodles circles black outlines

Outlining your circles in black makes the doodle look a lot different

Ovals: When circles get boring, try drawing ovals instead. This isn’t any different than circles, you’re just stretching them out a bit.

fountain pen doodles circles ovals

In this doodle I used ovals instead of circles

Even using a shading ink can make your doodle look a lot different.

fountain pen doodles circles shading ink

In this doodle I used a shading ink

Wrapping Up

I find this pattern to be an easy go-to when I don’t know what else to doodle. It doesn’t take a lot of planning or concentration and always looks nice. It also has a lot of variations you can try out, which keeps things fresh. Even changing from a darker ink to a lighter, shading ink can make it look completely different. I hope that you give it a try and experiment with different sizes, colors and shapes.
fountain pen doodles circles variation

Comments 6

  1. Bubbles, spirals, circles and teardrops are my go-to’s but I haven’t tried filling in the circles, not on purpose anyway, haha! I filled four B6 pages the other day by drawing long random lines across & down, then each smaller section got different patterns and colors, like a quilt. I think I’ll decorate my next plain softcover journal this way 😄

    1. Post
  2. Hello John:
    I posted links to your five Doodling posts on the Slack communications board for the Orlando Pen Club. It got some members very excited. Maybe it will get you a few more followers.

    Do you have more coming?

    1. Post
  3. John,
    I love your doodling series.
    This is the best set of blog posts I have read that make me want to use my fountain pens, ink & paper instead of just want to buy the newest pen/ink etc.
    Thank you.

    One question for you on shading inks (i.e. the beautiful image 14 of 15 on this post). Do you use any techniques or have any advice on how to fill filled regions of doodles with shading ink to either (1) increase the shading you see or (2) control how the shading shades (like if I want the shading all on the right side)?

    My first attempt at your style of fountain pen doodling (petals) didn’t shade even though I was using R&K Alt-Goldgrun on Rhodia. I’m guessing my pen was to wet and my petals were to small to allow the shading to kick in. This combo shades in print writing decently.

    Thank you for any thoughts you have! -Matt

    1. Post

      Matt, I’m so glad to hear this series is inspiring you to use the pens and inks you already have! As for shading and doodling, larger areas will definitely have more shading. I’d say your guess is correct about having too small of petals to really have any shading. The most shading will result in where the ink pools on the paper, so you’ll want to end any fill color at the point you want the shading to occur.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.