SKETCHNOTING: An article written by author Mike Rohde
Let The Big Draw introduce you to Mike Rohde of Sketchnote Army, author of The Sketchnote Handbook and all things related to Sketchnoting! Sketchnotes are ideas drawn as simple sketches that help you to understand key information and remember the notes you take.
This article offers Mike's core ways to create better sketchnotes. Read on to find out more.
Hello, I’m Mike Rohde. I’m an author, visual thinking teacher, book illustrator, and designer.
Back in 2007, I coined the term “sketchnoting” and began practicing this new visual approach to capturing ideas by using drawings, lettering, handwriting, icons, and other simple visual shapes.
Through my journey, I’ve helped found a sketchnote community, started a website to showcase sketchnotes, wrote two bestselling books, and currently teach sketchnoting and visual thinking for students around the world.
In my years of practice and experience, I’ve noticed 5 keys for creating better sketchnotes.
1. Keeping an open, positive mindset
More than drawing ability, an open, positive mindset is foundational to sketchnoting.
An open, positive mindset means there’s always something new to learn and ways to improve yourself. Being a lifelong learner is one of the joys of being alive.
It also turns mistakes into opportunities to get better by knowing what not to do next time. My dad always said “what have you learned?” after I made a mistake — now I ask myself that same question in a positive way.
Change your mindset, free yourself to be open and positive.
2. Believe you already have what it takes
Wherever your drawing quality is at, it’s good enough to start. It may not be as good as you want it to be, and it can always improve. But it’s already good enough.
I use the phrase “Ideas, Not Art” because it reframes your perspective from “I can't draw gallery-ready artwork” to “I can draw in a simple way that communicates ideas.”
We tell ourselves stories about what we can and can't do. One of those stories is how we can or can't draw, and that’s something we control by changing our perspective.
You can draw simply and that’s enough.
3. Listening is the secret weapon of sketchnoting
You might think sketchnoting is all about drawing, or color, or layout — I believe the true heart of sketchnoting is listening.
Active, curious listening is the engine that helps you notice ideas to then capture visually. Listening feeds your Brain’s analysis of information which drawing visually is based on.
This is great news if you are new to sketchnoting and your drawing skills are limited, because if you listen and capture with the abilities you have, however basic, the sketchnoting process still works!
Listening is your secret weapon.
4. Sketchnotes are for you first, then for others.
Sketchnotes are first for you, then for others. What you capture creates connections in your mind that others do not have access to. This means there’s always a degree of meaning lost between your understanding and anyone else's.
When we know our work will be shared publicly, being judged for our work is an unavoidable part of the deal. This can be a positive pressure, but it can also make you clam up as you worry about making mistakes the world might see.
You don't have to share everything with the world! Keep some things just for yourself.
5. See each sketchnote as an experiment
Every time you sketchnote, you’re running an experiment. It's an opportunity to learn and play with new approaches. You win when you push yourself a little, and learn something new.
If you're too focused sketchnoting as a performance—to be seen and judged by other people—it can freeze your flow. You can lose spontaneity and start worrying about failing and messing up.
If everything is an experiment, failure is a learning opportunity. Mistakes are often where I learn the most.
When you think in experiments, everything is an experiment!
Mike Rohde Instagram Live Interview with Kate Mason
Intrigued about sketchnoting? Come and learn more about it with Mike Rohde!
The Big Draw + Concepts App are excited to chat with Mike Rohde of Sketchnote Army, author of The Sketchnote Handbook and all things related to Sketchnoting! Join us for an hour of Instagram Live conversation on 16 February 2022 at 6:30pm GMT/ 12:30pm PST, as part of The Big Draw's Drawn in Conversation Series.
To join the Instagram Live:
- Follow @thebigdraw, @conceptsapp or @rohdesign - we'll be streaming on all three.
- When the clock strikes, find the channel's "LIVE" story at the top of your IG feed. Tap the story to watch and listen in! Join on your mobile device or Instagram.com.
- Make comments throughout the event and like the post!
- To catch it afterward, tap the Videos tab on @thebigdraw or stay tuned to watch again on The Big Draw's YouTube channel.
We can't wait to see you!
Looking for great links and resources from Mike Rohde?
If you're a beginner and interested in learning about Sketchnoting, start with Mike's Sketchnote Mini Workshop.
Check out Mike Rohde's intro to Sketchnotes and how he got started in "What are Sketchnotes"
Learn more about Mike' Rohdes Sketchnote community with helpful resources to get you started Sketchnoting with the Sketchnote Army
Check out Mike Rohde's podcast where he interviews other visual note takers on the Sketchnote Army Podcast
Want to learn more about using Concepts App for Sketchnoting?
Read Graphic Recorder Tobey Busch's tips for creating simple visual images and Sketchnotes with Concepts in Sketchnoting Tools and Techniques
Visual thinker and Sketchnoter Jonny Daenen shares techniques for drawing and organizing graphic presentations and sketchnotes for ideas you are passionate about in Visually Minded: Drawing and Presenting Ideas as Sketchnotes.
Designed by TopHatch, Concepts is the first app to explore and redefine visual thinking and design for touch on mobile devices. TopHatch team members are based in seven countries with creative epicenters in Silicon Valley, California and Turku, Finland.
Concepts is a vector-based sketching tool with a whiteboard-like canvas and popular with note takers, visual thinkers, architects, designers and illustrators. The Concepts Community is a space for news, interviews and tutorials featuring Concepts App, sharing challenges and material from excellent creators TopHatch work with. The app’s endless canvas enables boundless idea exploration, while the realistic pencils and pens make drawing feel natural and genuine. The app’s vector-based drawing engine lets you powerfully edit and organize every element of your sketches, designs and illustrations, and gives you flexibility to work with other software.
Head to their website