One Squiggly Line Blog

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

Visual Thinking & Visual Notes: Live Graphic Recording

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 Hand-drawn visuals are far friendlier than standardized fonts and stock photos. And hand-drawn visuals are even more inviting when created live, right there where everyone can see.
The drawing above was created during the opening remarks at the Women in Cyber Security conference the end of March. It was then displayed near registration to welcome late-comers. Not a high resolution file shown here, just taken with my iPhone in the moment.

To see the whole set of visual notes from the Women in Cyber Security conference, check out this Flickr album.

Visual Thinking & Visual Notes: Live Graphic Recording

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People often think I do a lot of drawing while taking live visual notes. If you really look at the image above, you'll see there's really not much drawing there at all. Just some squares, a couple of circles, and an arrow. That's it!
When you write words inside simple shapes, those simple shapes start making your own notes a bit more visual. They become more dynamic. More interesting. The image and the message become more unified. And far more powerful. 

A great way to make your own notes more visual is to write some of your words inside simple shapes — circles, squares, triangles, arrows, etc. Give it a try!

The image above is a close-up of a 4'x8' drawing, created live, in real-time during a Design Thinking workshop. Be sure to check out the entire image!

Visual Thinking: Webinars, Social Media & Real-Time Drawings

A lot of information and ideas that used to be shared in person are now being shared online. Surprising to some, hand-drawn visuals can still be created in real-time, even when the entire interaction is taking place through a screen. Hand-drawn visuals are especially powerful in these situations because they give a very personal touch.

Webinars are a great example. Most webinars have an accompanying slide deck, chat room, and Twitter hashtag to follow. While the slides may have some visuals, the are generally seen in a completely different context than the chat room or Twitter stream. And with a lot of people interacting through chat and social media, it's really easy for comments and insights to get lost.

When hand-drawn visuals are posted in real-time during your webinar, they immediately grab people's attention. They keep the conversation alive, even after the webinar ends, thanks to your webinar hashtag. And hand-drawn visuals allow others to interact with core nuggets of your content, even if they missed your webinar. That can make them want to learn more and lead them to join you at your next event.

Be sure to watch this 15 second video to see what I mean. It shows 12 visuals that were drawn and posted to social media in real-time during the main 45 minutes of a webinar. The last 15 minute were devoted to Q and A, which I did not cover, but certainly could have, if needed.

To take a closer look at the visuals and see them all at once, check out this Flickr Album.

Please keep in mind, these were all drawn and posted in real-time. That means there was only about 4 minutes to draw, photograph, and post each picture!

Visual Thinking: Grab-n-Go Graphic Recording Supplies

A big part of visual thinking involves organizing information. Laying it all out so you can see the big picture. Then, you know exactly what you have to work with. If anything is missing, that becomes obvious, too. And when you need to find something fast, you know just where to look. The same is true with supplies.

 

Choose your markers

I have tons of drawing supplies - I've been collecting them pretty much my entire life! But when it comes to my visual thinking work, I know exactly which markers to use. I made my decision a while ago and stick with it every time. With that decision out of the way, I can get to work much faster. Sticking with the same core drawing materials also gives your work a more unified and consistent look - a big branding bonus!

My Markers of Choice

For most client work, I use Nueland Big One markers. I only use the permanent black ink so it doesn't smear when I color over it. I also use their round-tip Outliner and FineOne markers in black and only in black. When I need an even bolder line, I put the Nueland ink in a thicker paint marker - I love a big, bold line, especially for lettering! 

Simplify Your Color Palette

I've also streamlined my color options quite a bit. I settled on about seven core colors that photograph well. I often carry two of each with me so I don't have to refill so often. No need to bring the refill ink for shorter jobs - so much easier! I usually throw in a few extra colors each time, like for the client's logo. Since I know I won't use those colors much, there's no need to bring the ink for those colors.

Storage and Organization

To store and carry my markers, I love these little mesh cubes from the container store. They're the perfect size for both markers and ink. For local jobs, I have one cube with markers and one with ink. If traveling by plane, I put the markers in a ziplock bag in my carry-on and the ink goes in my liquids bag. The mesh cubes fold up in my suitcase. Whether traveling or not, I always group the black markers together so they're easier to find.

Grab and Go!

The mesh cubes fit perfectly in this clear plastic bag, with room on top for a towel, tape, camera, water bottle, and iPad, if needed. And I love the added bonus of toting my logo around! Since the bag is plastic, if any ink spills, I just wash out the bag. Far worse would be if ink ended up on the client's carpet! So I always bring a towel with me to put all my supplies on.

So that's my grab-n-go bag for graphic recording and visual thinking work! Hopefully, you discovered a few things that will work for you. If so, please share in the comments below. If not, please share what works best for you.

Graphic Recording: Welcome!

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Friendly visuals can set the tone for the day! This graphic recording was created during the welcoming remarks at the CompCloud event last month here in San Francisco. This represents about a half an hour of content on one 40"x60" board. As you can see, there's some white space and the writing is fairly large.

The next blog post will show another visual from the same event created during a much longer session. As you'll see, the length of the session and amount of content covered impacts the overall look of the resulting graphic recording image.

Visual Notes: How to Choose Between Graphic Recording and Sketchnotes

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Graphic recording. Sketchnotes. Visual notes. The terms are often used interchangeably. But there are some distinct differences. Graphic recording is usually done on flip chart or larger paper, foam core board, or white board, with the graphic recorder standing in front of the group. Sketchnotes are much smaller (think printer paper or a notebook) with the sketchnoter sitting down - mine are usually black and white, but they can also be in color, too. Visual notes is an umbrella term including both graphic recording and sketchnotes. At least that's how I define things.

If you're looking to hire someone to create visual notes for you, how do you know if sketchnotes or graphic recording is best for you?

Generally, if you're going to bring someone in to work in person with your group, graphic recording is the way to go. Part of what makes graphic recording so powerful is that everyone in the room can watch the image unfold along with the conversation. This continually draws people back into the content and keeps them engaged. When displayed after, the images allow people to literally see the big picture of the content and discuss it with those around them. This would happen on a much, much smaller scale with sketchnotes, simply because only a few people can look at them at the same time.

If you're looking for visual notes of a video or audio file, then sketchnotes would probably work best. Sketchnotes can be just as powerful as large graphic recording images when displayed online. If nobody will be around to watch the notes unfold and you're only interested in digital files, it really doesn't matter what size the original notes are. 

The sketchnote above was created from an audio file for the online course The Business Soul Sessions.

Sketchnotes: Make online learning much richer!

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Sketchnotes keep people engaged with your content in a whole new way. They can literally give students the big picture of each lesson or the course as a whole. Presenting information in new ways allows people to think about that information in new ways, too. And that's often when real learning takes place. 

The sketchnote above was created from an audio file from one lesson of The Business Soul Sessions by Beth Kempton and Kelly Rae Roberts. They packed a lot of info into a very short talk! With the sketchnote displayed where students can look at it while listening to the file, students are much more likely to remember much more of what they just heard.

Visual Thinking & Creativity: Nine Ways to Draw a Handshake

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Hands can be hard to draw sometimes. Handshakes can be even harder. Mainly because you can't shake hands with yourself to see what a handshake really looks like! When doing live graphic recording, there's no time for that anyways. You just have to draw!

Here are nine different ways I tend to draw handshakes when graphic recording. I've found it really helps to have a number of different ways to draw something - some super simple, some more complex. That way, if you only have a few seconds to draw something, you've already found a way that works. 

It's also good to do experiments like this behind closed doors, instead of waiting until you're standing in front of a big bunch of people or on stage!

Graphic Recording: Use those visuals after the event!

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Graphic recording happens live, in real-time and on a large scale right in front of everyone. That's part of what makes it so powerful, engaging, and memorable. But those images can be quite powerful, engaging, and memorable after the event, too. So how do you put them to good use? Shop.Org had a great idea, as shown above in this Twitter screenshot. 

Graphic Recording: TEDxBerkeley ~ Steve Wozniak

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Graphic recording is full of surprises. You never know who you're going to run into or what they're going to say.  But no matter the speaker or the topic, the process remains the same - listen and draw! 

This image was created just a few days ago at TEDxBerkeley by the last speaker of the day, Steve Wozniak, the co-founder of Apple Computers Inc. He had a lot of great stories to share about his times on the Cal campus as a student. He talked about all kinds of random things - shaving cream, pay phones, saltine crackers, and typing, to name a few. All great stories in and of themselves, but far too many for me to capture visually in such a short time. But that doesn't matter. His overarching message was crystal clear - find happiness.

That's what graphic recording is all about - making the big picture clear for everyone, even those not in the room.