How to draw dot-to-dot

The Sparkle Experiment small creative play equals connection
Pattern created with black and blue felt tip pens

This fun line drawing experiment is easy to get started and has endless creative outcomes. As an art-making beginner it can be hard to know where to even start. Setting rules and constraints gets you to go from being paralysed by choice, to taking clear action immediately. Making something is always a better than making nothing when it comes to your creativity.

Scott Barry Kaufman and Carolyn Gregoire in Wired to Create explain “Because of our natural adversion to uncertainty, there are very few things in life that we enjoy more than a sure thing or a tidy solution! But in order to think differently, the fear of uncertainty has to go.” This experiment is great because it starts you off with a clear objective, which will keep your mind from being paralysed about what to do next. But once you start drawing lines, there’s no one solution so you start to tap into your creativity. In a way it’s a safe kind of uncertainty.

You will need: paper, pen or pencil. Optional: felt tip pens, crayons, coloured pencils and ruler.

  1. Add dots randomly on your paper. Do this quickly, don’t overthink it.
  2. Join the dots using a pen or pencil freehand.
  3. Optional: use a ruler if you want a straighter line.
The Sparkle Experiment small creative play equals connection
Left: using pencil lines. Right: red pen creates a more minimal outcome

Ways you can approach experimenting:

  • Change the quantity of dots: make lots or a little to get a different starting point.
  • Change the quantity of lines: make lots of a little.
  • Change quantity of colours: use multiple colours to draw the lines.

Let your instincts guide you where you draw your next line. There is no ‘wrong’ line you can make, only 100’s of possibilities. In a 1991 speech on creativity, John Cleese suggested, “it’s also easier to do little things we know we can do than to start on big things that we’re not so sure about.” Start with little and as your confidence grows with practice, you can gently push yourself to create more ‘complex’ or unusual patterns if you wish. Or continue to keep things simple and enjoy the process of making patterns from the random dots.

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.” — Steve Jobs