How to draw better sketchnotes

 

early sketchnote

Here’s what my sketchnotes looked like when I first picked up Paper from @FiftyThree, tow years ago.

Here’s what I’m doodling these days

dinolove

I’m sharing this for two reasons:

  1. To show that anyone can learn to draw. When I run a sketchnote workshop a number of people will say to me, “You can sketchnote because you can draw.” Well, that’s true, but it is a learned skill. The most liberating thing I did was to start posting my drawings on social media. I had to get rid of a vicious internal editor, you know, that voice that says, “You’re not good enough,” “She’s better than you.”  It wasn’t until I trashed that troll that I could start to get better at drawing.
  2. To show the value of keeping a journal of some sort. I have a shelf of paper journals and diaries (I currently carry two everywhere, one  for logging my day and one thinking) and a growing collection of material archived on the web, such as the Simple Diary of My Days, my Wunderkammern and, for my sketchnotes, my Pinterest board. The timescale of day-to-day is too short to see changes that come incrementally, like skill development. So it’s satisfying to open a diary, analog or digital, and see that maybe I’m not great but I am certainly better than I was two years ago. A diary is good insurance against being too hard on ourselves.

Oh, and if you were wondering how to draw mechanically speaking, get a copy of Mike Rohde’s, Sketchnote Handbook, Even without my troll I still certainly needed some instruction and Rohde’s book was the one I found most useful. I return to it often.

sketchnote handbook

7 Comments

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    […] “How to Draw Better Sketchnotes” […]

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    […] Here's what my sketchnotes looked like when I first picked up Paper from @FiftyThree, tow years ago. I'm sharing this for two reasons: To show that anyone can learn to draw. When I run a sketchnote workshop a number of …  […]

  3. Reply
    Plne July 1, 2014

    You first try is far more inviting. Rohde’s book is full of sketchnotes that are too busy and hard to read. I suspect that sketchnoters enjoy the process so much they fail to realise how poorly they may be communicating to anyone besides themselves. Now, if you are just taking notes for yourself. Great. If not…. Seriously, I have no idea what your second ‘exemplary’ note is trying to say. Dinosaur love is important? And these people are involved/agree? How?

    • Reply
      Braddo July 2, 2014

      Thanks for the comment. I hear you point, and as far as I know, sketchnoters are mostly making notes fro themselves. Oh, the dinosaur love thing? That page is just a sampler, not notes from anything. I put it there to compare it to my earlier drawings to show that with practice you get better. Not surprise there–I just wanted to encourage people to have a go.

      • Reply
        Plne July 2, 2014

        Fair enough, Braddo. I like sketchnoting so I guess it’s up to me to find a style for myself I really like.

  4. Reply
    jplgough July 4, 2014

    Brad, Thank you for this post. We should all be more willing to show progress instead of only final products. Your post resonates with me on several levels.

    As Shelley indicated in her tweets yesterday, we are fledgling sketch noters and appreciate your collection.

    Isn’t this what we want learning to be like no matter the topic or project? I had to get rid of a vicious internal editor, you know, that voice that says, “You’re not good enough,” “She’s better than you.” It wasn’t until I trashed that troll that I could start to get better at ________. You said drawing, but it could be anything. We constantly discuss progress for every child not comparison from child to child. It’s a very hard habit (tradition) to break. As a learner myself, I want to know that I have made progress. I want to celebrate my progress. I also want to celebrate the progress of others.

    At school, we are in our third year of portfolios to show progress over time and teach (and foster a habit of ) reflection. So it’s satisfying to open a diary, analog or digital, and see that maybe I’m not great but I am certainly better than I was two years ago. A diary is good insurance against being too hard on ourselves. In the short term, it is often hard to see progress. I love that you use your journal as a way to work on self-assessment.

    I appreciate your comments and the encouragement over Twitter. I am inspired to practice and model by publishing. Thank you.

    jill

    A last note:
    Interesting…I started with Mike Rohde’s book and stopped; it seemed overwhelming. I found Sunni Brown’s work an easier start. Don’t get me wrong, I am now using the Sketchnote Handbook as another step in the process. I agree with you; it is very helpful.

    • Reply
      Braddo July 8, 2014

      Absolutely! That internal editor is a terrible troll. I have a suspicion that we cultivate it in our schools, actually.

      I have Brown’s book, too. Don’t get ME wrong–I think it’s excellent. :) And I think you’d enjoy Austin Kleon’s Show Your Work. Here’ are my thoughts as I read through the book.

      Thanks for taking the time to post a comment. And have fun drawing.

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