One Squiggly Line Blog

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

Visual Thinking & Creativity; Visualize it richly & colorfully

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Visualizing things richly and colorfully leads to more creative thinking. You probably visualize things more than you realize, without really thinking about it. So you already have some visual thinking skills. But how do you become better at visualizing things on purpose?
Try this:

Go to a hardware store or someplace that sells paint. First, pick a paint sample color card that matches your shirt. That's a warm-up, starting with something very concrete and right in front of you — your shirt.

Then, look for a paint sample color card that matches something at home. It could be a different shirt, a piece of furniture, your walls. Whatever you choose, you will need to picture it very clearly in your mind so you can "see" the color.

Paint sample cards are usually free, so you can take home the ones you think are the closest and see how well you did. The more you practice, the better you get!

Check out One Squiggly Line's About Visual Thinking page to learn more.

Visual Thinking: Simple as 1-2-3!

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One of the most powerful things about visual thinking is that it makes things simple. When things are simple, they're much easier to remember. And the more often you see something, the more likely you will be to remember it, too.

That's why simple posters are so powerful when working in person. And why simple online visuals are so powerful before and after events, or when you can't be face-to-face.

A super simple way to keep your visuals super simple is as easy as 1-2-3. Choose 1 central image. Use no more than 2 colors. And limit yourself to only 3 words. That's it!

That formula doesn't always work for everything, but it's a great place to start. Even if you have to sneak in an extra word or two, your visual will still be pretty simple.

Visual Thinking & Creativity: Keep it Posted!

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When people look at things, they generally think about whatever they're looking at. So if you want to be sure people focus on certain things during your meeting or presentation, visuals can really help.

Posters are a great way to keep that info front and center in everyone's mind. Your posters don't need to be fancy. But they do need to be clear. Very clear. So clear people can get the info in a glance.

The poster above was created for a workshop I taught about thinking styles. It was used during a hands-on group activity to remind each group to try out all four thinking styles. The thinking styles are color coded, so it's easy to focus only on one square at a time. Yet, it gives a clear picture of the whole process. That way, people can move about the process at their own pace and see how they're connected.

Visual Thinking: Graphic Recording

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There's more than one school of thought when it comes to graphic recording. Some say to use as many pictures as you can. Others say to capture as many words as you can. I tend to fall somewhere in the middle, I think. Well, really, I don't think about it too much. I just do what makes the most sense. Whatever captures the idea best. And visually makes the most sense.

This is a graphic recording I did for practice quite a while ago. It's pretty heavy on the words. Not so many pictures. How the words are arranged on the page and the different colors and sizes make it much more visually interesting than regular writing.

As you can see, amazing drawing skills aren't needed to create visuals with impact!

Visual Thinking & Drawing: There's Power in Numbers!

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This is by no means the most exciting drawing out there. But it's a great example of how simple shapes and lines can turn into something far more powerful.

The entire city is made of rectangles. Simple lines make up the windows. The stars in the sky are just the letter x. That's it!

The way everything is put together is what makes those simple lines and rectangles turn into a city. They fill the page. That creates far more impact than one building alone. And the dark colors make it clear it's night time.

Next time you want to make a simple drawing more powerful, try filling the page with the simple things you do know how to draw.

 

Graphic Recording: Great Drawing is not the Secret!

Graphic Recording is all about communication. There's definitely an art to it. But it's so not about art! Knowing a few things from the art world can certainly help, though.

Look at the graphic recording above. There's barely any drawing in it - some generic buildings, a few arrows, and a star. That's it! This image is mainly text. And some of that text is even a bit sloppy.

Yet, the image has impact. The impact comes from a few bold words and the bright orange color. Even with a lot of text, there's a sense of movement and balance. Thanks to how things are arranged on the page (the composition).

Bad composition makes people uncomfortable. Good composition draws them in. That's why great drawing is not the secret to creating great visuals. Great composition is really where it's at.

This graphic recording was created while listening to a pre-recorded TED talk, using one black and one orange marker.

Visual Thinking & Creativity: 17 Umbrellas

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It's been raining a lot here lately (we need it!) so I decided to draw some umbrellas...and make them all a nice, bright sugary-sweet pink!

It's the same simple umbrella shape over and over again. But each one has it's own unique pattern. Some I like. Some I don't. But even the ones I don't like so much look OK mixed in with all the others. That's because they're unified by the basic umbrella shape.

When you take one idea (like an umbrella) and change one thing about it (like the pattern) you can come up with a lot of ideas super fast. Just be sure to keep all the ideas, including the ones you don't like. Those icky ideas often lead to good ones later on.

Graphic Recording: Color & Lines Create Movement

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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: Mr. Sketch Markers

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There's no denying it, Mr. Sketch Markers are just plain fun to use!

Each marker smells like either a fruit or spice. They're pretty easy to get your hands on, too. Most office supply stores carry them, as well as places like Walmart or Target. And they're a lot less expensive than fancy art markers.

They have a chisel tip that lets you draw thin or think lines, depending on how you hold the marker. Bold lines are great because people can see them from across the room. Thin lines are great, too, because they let you add some details for people to see when they're closer.

Back to the bold lines for a minute...

Working with big, bold lines is a great habit to get into. Whether you're working alone or with a group, bold lines make it much easier to see things. If you're planning to send pictures of any sketches electronically, bold lines will actually let people see what you've drawn. And that's the whole point, right?

Graphic Recording: Experiment!

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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.