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 & Sketch Animation: One Squiggly Line

I added this quick animation to my Services page. Unfortunately, many sketch animations are confidential, created only for internal company use, so they can't be shared. But they're a great way to bring training materials, sales presentations, product highlights, or any other information to life.

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.

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 & Lettering: Use What You Have!

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There's a myth floating around that creative people are not so practical. Truth is, the most successful creative people are really highly practical. They think about what can be accomplished with what they already have. And then use what they have in new ways.

One of those things is time. The great thing about visual thinking is that it doesn't take much time. It's quick and simple. And that frees up your time to really accomplish things.

Even one little picture makes a huge difference. And there's no need for it to be fancy. Just keep in mind: The simpler the drawing, the more you'll have time to draw. And the more you practice, the faster you'll 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.