I took advantage of the opportunity to try my hand at a two-day sketchnoting marathon. Check out what worked and didn’t for me, and then give it a try yourself!
…for me, and what might help you out, if you want to give sketchnoting a shot.
Kit: Right now my kit is simple, no more than I can handle.
- Papermate black felt tip pen
- Rhodia dot grid notebook (6″ x 8.25″)
- Masonite clipboard (6″ x 9″)
- Small binder clip (to hold back completed pages without folding them)
Next changes may be to have a shading pen on hand, and to eventually switch to unlined paper.
Titles: Before each talk started, I would write the presenter’s name several lines down my dotted paper. I could use the time when bios are read to get the majority of the title down, and embellish it as the talk continued.
Fancy lettering: I have many years of doodling to thank for the lettering styles I have built into my brain (or hand?). If you don’t have a history of letter-doodling, just start by varying the size of your normal handwriting. Something like what I used to write “Serious Games” might be an good first embellishment.
Page use: Each non-keynote presentation fit (relatively) neatly on one page. I think this is because I kept track of the time throughout each presentation, but there may have been some spidey-sense involved, too.
Speaker portraits: I found sketching a speaker portrait to be a fun challenge, and some folks even commented positively on one or two of them. Go for it—they can be as simple or complicated as you feel comfortable.
Imagining before drawing: When an illustration turned out to my satisfaction, it was often because I had imagined what I would put where—before I put my pen down.
Make no apologies: I’m a fan of Julia Child, and I tried to follow her advice in my sketching. There are some sketches that didn’t turn out quite how I liked, but I left them in, and posted them regardless. Bonus: I get to see sketchnoting growth, and Double Bonus: I don’t waste any time cutting and pasting in real life or Photoshop.
What I Hope to Improve
Completeness: As I expected, I would occasionally miss a point out of five, for instance. I need to improve both my “mental cache” (as mentioned in “The Basics of Visual-Notetaking“) and my writing-before-drawing technique.
Handwriting: Some of my writing isn’t legible to folks who aren’t used to it. (For instance, I smear “ing” together in this way that you might recognize if we were pen pals, but can be confusing otherwise.) I need to work on “drawing 52 shapes impecibly” (as Brandy Agerbeck says in this “Essential 8” video).
I’m not sure when I will next be sketchnoting a UX event, but I am looking forward to it. Sketchnoting is definitely addicting.
Only question is: When will you try it out?