All posts in Visual Communication

Visual Notetaking 101

sketchnotesI’m becoming a visual note-taking junkie. Now in addition to registering forĀ Alphachimp University’s Rockstar Scribe course, I’ve signed up for Sunni Brown’s Visual Notetaking 101 online webinar.

The former is more of an asynchronous online class with a forum and exercises, and the latter a series of videos, both aiming to teach writers and communicators how to use iconic illustrations and handwritten typography to express information visually (here is a particularly amazing version of what this looks like, but you don’t have to be an artist to do it). I already posted about Sunni Brown on Strikethru a bit ago; in that post you can get a glimpse of the kind of material covered in her webinars.

Types of sketchnoting

Apparently there are graphic recorders, who visually interpret meetings on the fly, in large scale, by way of a profession, and then there are sketchnoters, simply people who incorporate sketches into their notes.

I’d like to do yet a third thing with the form: use sketchnote techniques to present information to an audience. Not capture it on the fly, in a live meeting setting, but use it as documentation that persists online or elsewhere to explain things in a more interesting way, a sort of graphic novel version of static web pages with those smiling idiots in the banner across the top, you know the ones I mean?

I’m convinced by the argument most sketchnote luminaries make, that we process most of our information visually, a channel that is hugely wasted by all the talk and writing that we currently lean so heavily on to communicate (oddly this does not appear to be changing, despite the fact that it would be a snap to incorporate more visuals into our now-ubiquitous screen-based communication tools).

Some of this thinking is behind my other site Strikethru and the whole concept of typecasting (posting typewritten documents) – that reading is a visual experience, and we crave something beyond Ariel 10 pt and smiling people banners- but I think it has professional application as well as artistic, and I’m hoping all of these sketchnoting classes get me closer to figuring out what that might look like.



Learning to sketchnote

Sketchnoting is the act of drawing to convey ideas. I think it has great potential to distinguish concepts from the glut of nondescript information online, and as a writer it’s a skill I want to learn.

There are endless links and personalities in the sketchnote world. I’ve attempted to create a Twitter list to keep up with it. Austin Kleon’s blog is my favorite on the topic, and this 2010 Web expo talk by Eva Lotta-Lamm is probably the best introduction out there:

Eva-Lotta Lamm: Visual Note Taking / Sketchnotes from webexpo on Vimeo.

So great is my interest in sketchnoting that I’ve become a student in Alphachimp Studio’s inaugural learn to scribe course online. Alphachimp is a longstanding visual learning company with much wisdom to impart on the subject of using art to convey ideas. I’m hoping some of that wisdom will rub off on me by the end of the course.

Here’s my first assignment, a ‘visual introduction’ of myself that’s supposed to answer a few personal questions (such as my greatest fear, one of which is dying in a burning DC10 over open water).