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Sketchnote Lessons: How do you want to grow as a sketchnoter?

This entry is part 11 of 11 in the series Sketchnote Lessons

20131002 How do you want to grow as a sketchnoter

It’s good to think about how you want to grow, collect examples, break down those goals into specific skills you can work on, and practise. You can see how I’ve been practising and sharing different skills in my sketchnote lessons. =) Focusing on one skill at a time makes it easier to try different variations and learn more.

By the way, if you would like to practise by making your own sketchnote lessons, please feel free to share your work with me and I can link to it or repost it in this series.

Enjoy!

Series Navigation« Sketchnote Lesson: Metaphors

Sketchnote Lessons: Adding Emphasis

This entry is part 3 of 11 in the series Sketchnote Lessons

If you emphasize parts of your sketches, you make it easier to review and “read.”

20130925 Sketchnote Lessons - Adding Emphasis

Color, weight, spacing, contrast, underline, depth, highlighter, size, all caps, lettering, reverse, layout, boxes, banners, arrows, icons, stick figures, and other drawings… Have fun!

Like this? Check out the other sketchnote lessons and learn more. Feel free to suggest topics, ask questions, or share your own tips!

Series Navigation« Sketchnote Lesson: Adding colorSketchnote Lessons: Having fun with words »

Sketchnote Lesson: Adding color

This entry is part 2 of 11 in the series Sketchnote Lessons

Color is a great way to add visual interest and guide people’s eyes to what you want them to focus on. Here’s Kevin Dulle’s sketchnote lesson on adding emphasis with shadows and color:

using-color

Reposted with permission – check out his blog for more tips!

If you’re starting out with sketchnotes, you don’t have to use color right away. Go ahead and draw with whatever you feel comfortable with, whether that’s a black technical pen, a 4-color ballpen, or a digital stylus.

You can always add color afterwards. On paper, you can use crayons, colored pencils, highlighters, markers, and so on. Make sure you test it in an inconspicuous area (maybe on a separate piece of paper) because your coloring method may interact badly with your drawing.

You can also add color on the computer. I prefer this way because then I can easily change my mind about what colors to use. Erasing is easier. Learn how to use the software tools that are out there. Here is a quick video I put together on how to use the free GIMP tool to add color by either replacing the ink that’s there (as if you changed pens) or adding color on top (as if you used a highlighter).

Okay, so that takes care of the mechanics. What about the styles?

Develop your personal style by looking for inspiration and experimenting with ideas. In addition to checking out people’s sketchnotes, look elsewhere for interesting color combinations: nature, art, product designs, and so on. Try different techniques and colors.

Here’s a sampler of different coloring styles I’ve played with in my sketchnotes:

image Highlighter
I like this because it’s super-easy to add quickly if you’re drawing digitally – just add a new layer below your text.
Visual Book Review: The First 20 Hours: How to Learn Anything… Fast
image Color as accent for images
You can add this while drawing by switching between pens (on paper) or between colors (if digital), or you can use the Color layer trick in the video to add it afterwards.
How to use Evernote to improve your visual thinking
image Colors with meanings
Here I used red to indicate the path of my mistakes and blue to indicate what I could improve.
An embarrassing failure is the result of a series of unfortunate decisions, and that’s a good thing.
image Emphasis
Red is a great color for drawing attention. Coloring your headlines helps set them apart.
Visual Book Review: Running Lean – Ash Maurya
image Extra information
You can also use gray or lighter colours to include extra information that people don’t need to focus on.
Visual Book Review: The Start-Up of You – Reid Hoffman, Ben Casnocha
image Depth
You can use a lighter colour for shading or depth.
Visual Book Review: The Sketchnote Handbook
image Branding
Pick up colors from company logos or event materials to make your sketchnotes look more like part of the event.
Sketchnotes: #INNOTalkTO Innovatively Speaking
image Lots of colors
This is fun to do when you have more time. In this case, I colored in my sketchnote while waiting in line for an “autograph.”
Sketchnotes: How to Live an Amazing Life – C.C.Chapman

Sketchnote Army has a wide variety of sketchnoting styles. Flip through it, see what you like, and try playing around with those ideas. Have fun!

Like this? Check out the other sketchnote lessons and learn more. Feel free to suggest topics, ask questions, or share your own tips!

Series Navigation« Sketchnote Lessons: Quick LetteringSketchnote Lessons: Adding Emphasis »

Sketchnote Lessons: Having fun with words

This entry is part 4 of 11 in the series Sketchnote Lessons

In addition to drawing icons, you can also play with the forms of words in order to make them more fun or visually interesting. Here are some examples. Click on the image to view or download a larger version that you can trace or doodle on, and feel free to share this with others. (Creative Commons Attribution License)

20130909 Sketchnote Lessons - Playing With Words

See http://sach.ac/sketchnote-lessons for the other tips in this series, and check back next Thursday for more!

Series Navigation« Sketchnote Lessons: Adding EmphasisSketchnote Lessons: Arrows and Connectors »

How I prepare for professional digital sketchnoting

imageCaroline Chapple was curious about how people prepare for sketchnoting events. I focus on digital sketchnoting, and here’s the workflow that allows me to cover a conference while publishing sketchnotes within 5-10 minutes after the end of each talk.

Before the event

  • I confirm the agreement, invoice, copyright, and publishing arrangements. Sometimes I take care of publishing right away, which gives clients the full benefit of working digitally. If the client wants to integrate the images into their branded website, I can also e-mail the high-resolution images to a specified person. I can also CC a specified person when publishing links on Twitter to make it easy for them to retweet the talks. My standard agreement retains copyright, grants clients various rights, and places the work under Creative Commons Attribution license for wider distribution.
  • I confirm the order of the talks and the spelling of speaker names and talk titles. It’s better to get this in written form before the day of the event, as sometimes getting it on the day of the event itself can introduce errors. If speakers are hard to find or confirm on Twitter, I ask about Twitter usernames as well.
  • I confirm event URL and hashtag. Sketchnotes tend to get shared widely, so I like including a short URL where people can find more information. To facilitate conversation during the event itself, I can also include a Twitter hashtag.
  • I collect event and sponsor logos, official speaker photos, and more. One of the advantages of digital sketchnoting is the ease of adding other images. See http://experivis.com/collection/tedxocadu-2013/ for an example of  sketchnotes that used event-specific speaker photos for a consistent feel.
  • Collect speaker presentations if possible. This gives me a sense of the presentation flow and key points. It also lets me start thinking about how to
  • Get other background information. My consulting work means I’m familiar with large corporations, technology, and the financial industry. Other interests give me familiarity with entrepreneurship, personal finance, personal development, and so on. I speed-read, so getting through a stack of background information is no problem.

Prepare the sketchnote template

For events with multiple talks, I create a Dropbox folder in order to make sharing easier. If the event has a single talk, I save it in my sketchnotes folder in Dropbox. Here’s how I set up my Autodesk Sketchbook Pro template from the bottom up:

  • Dot grid: A light dot grid to help me write letters in straight lines and consistent sizes.
  • Event information: Name, date, URL, hashtag, etc. Does not vary between talks.
  • Sponsor logos, if any: This makes sponsors extra happy.
  • Talk titles and speaker names, pictures, and Twitter usernames: If there are multiple talks, I use layers instead of separate files to make it easier to switch during the event itself or make any modifications I need to the base layers.

See “How I set up Autodesk Sketchbook Pro for sketchnoting” for more details, including resolutions and brush sizes.

Other setup

Palette colours: If the event or organizer has specific colours, I use those in order to visually brand the images. If not, I use black with yellow highlights and possibly red or blue accents.

  • Filenames: I use Save As to set up all the filenames beforehand so that I can overwrite them during the event instead of retyping them. This is handy when in tablet mode when I don’t have access to my keyboard. My naming convention is YYYYMMDD – Event – # – Title – Speaker.png.
  • Tweets and ClipMate: If I’m in charge of publishing, I prepare the tweets beforehand so that I can tweak them to fit within the character limit. The tweets should include the title, Twitter username of speaker (or name if they’re not on Twitter), collection URL, hashtag, and any CCs I need to include.
  • Clear disk space for recording: As a backup and a potential bonus, I record my screen and the audio. This allows me to fill in the gaps in case something goes wrong, and I can also create speed-drawing videos if things work out. The audio quality isn’t very good, but it’s enough to fill in the gaps or allow me to synchronize in case the organizer publishes an official recording.
  • Shared folder: If a conference includes multiple talks, it’s easier for me to share a Dropbox folder with the organizer than e-mail them all the files and worry about e-mail bounces. In that case, I’ll confirm that they can accept the invite and access the files. (Some company intranets block access to Dropbox.)
  • Visual vocabulary: I dig into my Evernote-based visual library and look at how other people have drawn abstract concepts I’ll probably run into. I also use Google Image Search to look for ideas. I flip through my past sketchnotes to get a sense of what I liked and what I want to improve, too.

Gear

I carry a lot of gear. In addition to a fully-charged Lenovo X220 tablet PC, I also carry:

  • an external battery that lets me cover an entire conference day
  • a charger
  • a backup stylus in case I drop mine
  • a cellphone with unlimited Internet to allow me to tether, if the event doesn’t have usable WiFi
  • a backup battery for the cellphone
  • a tablet in case my computer suffers catastrophic failure
  • a notebook and a technical pen in case my computer suffers catastrophic failure and the tablet isn’t as convenient to use
  • business cards or print-outs of sketchnotes, because people always ask me for contact information
  • USB drives (I always carry two in my belt bag, and they’ve come in handy for transferring files)
  • water bottle, energy bars, nuts, dried fruit: Some fast-paced conferences barely have time for bathroom breaks, especially if you’re trying to cover as much as possible. My concentration wavers if I get hungry, so I keep snacks and water handy.

I usually manage to cram all of these into a backpack, although I switch to a rolling suitcase if needed. I usually bike to events, although sometimes I’ll take transit or hitch a ride if the weather is bad or the event is far (or there are lots of hills and other biking annoyances).

When I get to the event

  • I check in with the organizer and find my seat. Because I work digitally, I don’t need easel space or a wall, and I can sit anywhere in the audience. I prefer to sit near the front: more leg room, it’s easier to see speakers’ faces, and you can often get speakers to autograph the sketches. For conferences with short breaks and multiple rooms, I may sit near the back to make it easier to go to the next room. For long events, I look for a spot near a power outlet (sometimes the organizer can arrange this), or I use my extended battery and then recharge it in the staff room during breaks.
  • I get the WiFi information if the event provides it. Uploading is much faster over WiFi compared to my phone, so I use that if it’s available. Most events that offer WiFi require some kind of login. If there’s no WiFi, I set up tethering on my phone.
  • I close other apps. This declutters the recording and reduces the chance of things going wrong.
  • I start the screen recording and any backup audio recording if needed. I use Camtasia Studio to record my screen, and I sometimes record backup audio on my phone or on a voice recorder.
  • If I’m worried about battery power, I turn off WiFi. I use my phone to monitor Twitter during breaks and slow parts, so I don’t need wireless access on my laptop for that.
  • Finally, I convert to tablet mode and switch to the appropriate layers in Autodesk Sketchbook Pro. If the speaker is around, I might start sketching them.

After each talk (~5-10 minutes)

  • I do any last-minute clean-ups. Working digitally means that I can quickly rearrange things if the talk included less information than I expected, or I can work with multiple layers if the talk included more information.
  • I hide the grid layer. Tada! It looks like I just happen to have really neat handwriting.
  • I save the main file. Good to have the layered PSD.
  • I use “Save a copy” to save a PNG, overwriting the file that had already been set up with the talk information.
  • I turn on WiFi and upload the image, if I’m publishing each talk as it comes out. For one talk, I’ll use Windows Live Writer to publish it directly to the company blog. For multiple talks, I’ll upload it using WinSCP to the NexGen Gallery I set up, refresh the gallery, and copy the talk information from the filename. If the organizer wanted per-talk e-mails, I e-mail the file to the organizer.
  • I tweet the link. I use my prepared tweets or write one quickly.

At the end of the event

  • I post the talk collection and tweet the URL if I’m in charge of publishing. This makes it easy for people to see everything.
  • I e-mail the organizer with the details on where to find the files. If they asked for e-mail instead of publishing, I attach the files. If there are a lot of files, I split it over several e-mails or upload the files to Dropbox and send them a note once the files are available. I thank them for the opportunity to be of service. =)
  • If there were a lot of talks, I might put together a PDF or PPT of the slides, following the agenda order. This is another handy bonus.
  • If I didn’t receive payment on the day itself, I schedule a reminder to follow up.
  • I schedule social media follow-ups. These are really useful too: “Missed last week’s ____? Check out these sketchnotes: _____ #hashtag”. The organizers usually monitor the hashtag for a while, so it also nudges them to spread the links to their networks.

Wrap-up

So that’s how I can publish sketchnotes a few minutes after the talk itself. Sketchnoting a full-day conference with lots of fast-paced talks can be a real scramble (see my sketchnotes from Lean Startup Day – 33 sessions with hardly any breaks!), but it’s exhilarating. A streamlined workflow makes it easier to focus on capturing and sharing ideas instead of fussing about with tools.

Working digitally means minimal post-processing, faster publishing, better branding and visual coherence with the other event materials… Digital sketchnoting isn’t as immediately impressive as large-scale drawing on a four-foot sheet of paper taped to the wall, but it’s great for getting things out there while the talk is on people’s minds.

I’m keeping my sketchnoting commitments minimal because I have another high-priority project that has an unpredictable schedule, so I’m not currently accepting new jobs. Instead, I’m focusing on creating my own content. Still, this was an awesome workflow, and I hope someone picks it up and improves on it. When I get back into sketchnoting, I’m sure I’ll find it fun and awesome. =) Hope this workflow helps!

Sketchnote lessons: Stick figures

This entry is part 9 of 11 in the series Sketchnote Lessons

Stick figures are fun to draw. Click on the image to view or download a larger version that you can trace or doodle on, and feel free to share this with others! (Creative Commons Attribution License)

20130904 Sketchnote Lessons - Stick Figures

See http://sach.ac/sketchnote-lessons for the other tips in this series, and check back next Thursday for more!

Series Navigation« Sketchnote Lessons: Drawing EmotionsSketchnote Lesson: Metaphors »