One Squiggly Line Blog

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

Creativity: You can do it!

Keep it Simple.

No artistic experience is needed to draw!All you need is a pen, paper, and your observation skills. Believe it or not, how the drawing turns out really doesn't really matter.

That's why it's great to draw with pen or marker. That way, you must use every mark that ends up on the page, which requires creativity. So you get to exercise and strengthen your visual thinking skills along with your creativity and the same time.

Don't know where to start? Try just drawing the outline of things.No need to be perfect.Most of the time, close enough is actually more interesting!

This quick and simple drawing was done in my travel sketchbook while on a job in New York City. I didn't want to carry by big markers around with me, so I just used a think black pen and a small gray marker for shading.

Visit One Squiggly Line's Services page for samples of each type of work, or to book a job, ask some questions, or set up a workshop — no drawing skills required!

Visual Thinking: Get it! Grab it! Go for it!


While visual thinking makes things simple, it certainly does not dumb them down. Part of the simplicity comes from removing unnecessary parts, leaving behind only what you need to work with. That allows you to really see exactly what it is you do have to work with. This often leads to that, "Oh, now I get it!" moment when everything finally seems to fall into place and make sense.

Once you can see things more clearly, you are able to make better decisions. Sometimes, things become so obvious it doesn't even really feel like you're making a decision at all. The right choice just jumps right at you. Or if you do need to think about it for a minute, it's much easier for you to grab it and run with it.

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

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.

Visual Notes: How to Choose Between Graphic Recording and Sketchnotes


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.

Visual Thinking & Graphic Recording: Is Bigger Better?

Part of the power of graphic recording is that it is done live and at a large scale. The most common size is eight feel long by four feet high. Even when given the dimensions, most folks don't realize how large that is. A Smart car is about nine feet long by five feet wide - roughly a foot less in length and width than the average graphic recording surface!

Obviously, working at a scale that large is not the best option for a small meeting space. But just because the event venue is humongous doesn't meant a ginormous board is the best option. There may not be enough space to display those great big visuals for people to discuss later. And that's where a lot of the magic happens!

The image above was created on foamcore board roughly the size of flip chart paper.  It's large enough for a small group to look at and discuss. Yet small enough to be easy to carry and display afterwards.  

Visual Thinking Template: Evaluation Matrix


Visual thinking helps to make things clear. It's really important to see all options clearly when it comes time to make a decision. A matrix is a great (and easy) way to make it clear how your options stack up.

To use, write the names of four books at the top (by each of the four books!). Write your criteria in the boxes on the left. For example, "Is the topic interesting to me?" "Do I understand most of the words?" Use a happy or sad face to answer each question about each of the four books. Then it's easy to see the book that best meets the criteria - it has the most happy faces.

This evaluation matrix was created for use in elementary classrooms but can easily be adapted for adult use.

Visual Templates: Visual evaluation and group consensus


Most people think coming up with ideas is what creativity is all about, but evaluating them is just as important. And it's equally important evaluation waits until you're trying to decide which one of your many ideas to use. If that final decision is made in a group, consensus can be hard to reach.

A simple visual like this one can make the whole process much more simple, enjoyable, and engaging. Everyone can see at a glance how bright the group as a whole thinks that idea really is.