I hear from so many people who want to try sketchnoting, that they are jealous of my skills. Besides the ego boost (appreciated), there’s nothing magical about sketching. I have practiced and made little sketches for hundreds of hours and several years, but that’s not an unattainable commitment. It’s in the doing.
What if you are asked to sketchnote something for the first time? A friend of mine asked this week how he should sketchnote a sermon, because he had never done it before.
When the day comes that you want to sketchnote a talk, a process, or a whatever, here’s what to say to the feeling and emotion of creating something.
That’s nice Matt, but I need to know what to do.
Right, here’s what you do…
Realize that you have done this before. Any little doodle or stick figure you’ve jotted in the margins is the beginning of a sketchnote, even if the last stick figure was in middle school.
Swipe your phone open and pull up the emojis. These little faces and scenes show us how much we are drawn to a visual representation of emotions and subjects. With a little practice and a careful eye you could recreate almost any emoji. Which leads us to the first mini-lesson.
Draw your most popular emojis.
On iPhones, they’re all the way to the left. Here are mine.
Now sketch 5 non-facial emojis, and try to pick items that you use or interact with daily. I picked these.
Good, now you’ve drawn 5 emotions and 5 every day items. All in 10-15 minutes! Now we’ll talk about sketchnote structure.
Two Popular Sketchnote Structures
I create most of my sketchnotes using a standard Story Structure. Meaning that one sketch, idea, or quote comes ater the other. Like a story. Here’s a recent sketch I created from Derek Sivers’s Q&A on Tim Ferriss’s podcast.
Another structure I use is The Hub. To use it, write the talk title in the middle of your page. Make little sketches and quotes around the hub of the main idea. When a part of the talk really stands out to you, circle it and create a 2nd tier hub, and so on.
The Hub works really well for sermons and other talks where you have a good idea of what the topic is about before it starts.
Pay Attention to What Moves you
This is the most important part. Don’t be so caught up in the sketch that you stop listening or taking in the content. Sketchnotes aren’t about taking copious notes and getting everything on the page. The process isn’t about making great art either.
Sketchnotes are about noticing what matters to you, and helping other people see those things clearly.
Visual cues make a difference in how we remember and process information, so developing a “visual vocabulary” is a helpful no matter what you’re doing.
For the final mini-lesson, I want you to visit TED.com and sketchnote the titles of three TED talks. That’s right, just the titles. Here’s one mine.
What to Sketch
Sketch what feels comfortable to you. I don’t do many sketches of full people, because they take too long. Facial details are as simple as 0-0-7-C. See?
If you’re getting bogged down by details or making something prettier than it needs to be, reset your mind to the current moment, and come back later if you need to.
The easiest way to share is snap a quick picture with your device. Then share with whoever needs or wants it!
What I do the most is use the Scannable app for digital capture. You should still be in good room light for best results, but Scannable does a great job of leveling out light and balancing colors.
I guarantee if you take the time to create a sketchnote and share it, people are going to appreciate it and compliment you! Then they’ll want you to do it again!
Take a little time over the weekend to complete one of these lessons, hit reply and share it with me if you like!