One Squiggly Line Blog

Hand-drawn pictures can make things clear, simple, and fun in blogs, too!

Graphic Recording: Color & Lines Create Movement


People will often come up to me on live Graphic Recording jobs and say, "Wow, I sure wish I could draw like you!" That's a really nice compliment. But the truth is, most people really can draw most of the things they're looking at. The "wow" factor comes from the design.

Take the graphic recording above. There aren't many pictures here - some simple faces, a few dollar bills (rectangles with dollar signs on them), and a bunch of mosquito type things that could be any kind of flying insect. Nothing fancy!

What grabs people's eye and draws them in is the design itself. In between the bold lettering on the top and bottom are a bunch of powerful lines and strong colors. The bold lettering frames the page and keeps it grounded. The powerful lines direct your eye around the page so you're sure to look at everything. The strong colors direct your eye, too. They also organize the information so you can more quickly understand how it's related.

If you only look at the pictures, you know the talk had something to do with bugs, people, and money. The design itself is what invited you to dig a little deeper and make sense of it all.

This graphic recording was done as an experiment, using only a black marker and crayons. I discovered crayons tend to disappear when you make the background white. That's why I left the image as is - with a blotchy gray background. That doesn't happen with markers!

Graphic Recording: Experiment!


Most of my work is done with markers. I thought it would be fun for a change to try something new, so I used crayons to add some color to this graphic recording. This was an experiment done with a Ted Talk, not live with a client! And I'm very glad I experimented first.

Crayons look great in person and they're easy to use, but as you can see, they don't photograph as well as markers. This image is not "cleaned up", meaning the background is evenly white. With the background evenly white, a lot of the crayon disappears. This doesn't happen so much with markers. If you just want the actual physical graphic recording and no digital images of it, then crayons might work for you.


Graphic Recording: Get 'em Engaged, Keep 'em Engaged


Here's a picture from one of my kindergarten classes when I was an art teacher. The dozen or so kids visible are working on a great big thank you banner for the fire station they just visited. (I drew it and they colored, following guidelines from our lesson in color theory.) As you can see, they're all engaged and working hard to see the finished picture!

Large-scale graphic recording has the same effect on grown ups. It gets them engaged (even thought they're just watching) and keeps them engaged in the content. Even when minds wander, the subtle movement of the graphic recorder and the curiosity of what the finished picture will look like draw them right back to the content - just where you want the focus to be!

Timeline: Golden Gate Bridge


Timelines are by nature visual, but that doesn't always make them so visually inviting. I did this one a while ago for practice and to learn a little about a Bay Area landmark, too. Even from a distance, you can clearly see it is about the Golden Gate Bridge, it's foggy, and there's a blimp in the sky. A successful visual creates a very simple, yet clear, first impression like that.

This timeline was created on a 4'x8' sheet of paper and colored with crayons...which I quickly discovered are hard to photograph well. So, this one remains a cropped snapshot, not a bright and shiny digital image like I usually send my clients.