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 & 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!

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 & Creativity: Use Things in New Ways

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When it comes to innovation and creativity, it's common to think you need more. More ideas. More resources. More people. More money. More, more, more!

Truth is, more is not always better. In fact, the more you have, the more confusing things get. Striving for more can prevent you from taking a good look at what you already have. And putting it to good use.

When you pull apart what you do have and look at each part individually, it helps you see things in new ways. When you see things in new ways, you think in new ways. Use things in new ways. Do things in new ways. And that's what leads to creative and innovative breakthroughs.

Visual thinking can help you get a clearer picture of what you already have to work with. And think about how you might use whatever you have in new ways. Because there's always more than one way to build a snowman...or anything else!

Visual Thinking & Graphic Recording: One Main Image

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Graphic recording involves taking notes with a lot of pictures. Sometimes, especially with shorter presentations, there's simply no time for a lot of pictures. A lot of pictures may not be needed, either. One large central image can be mighty powerful. And it may be all you need.

There's more than one picture in the graphic recording above. There are some musical notes, a couple of light bulbs, and some simple people at the bottom. Then there's a big face in the center, towards the top. Notice how that face really grabs your eye?

If you're pressed for time, pick one thing to draw. Draw it big and bold. That alone will make your notes or poster much more visual. That one drawing will catch people's eye and bring them into the content more than just words alone.

Visual Thinking & Lettering: Design, Don't Write!

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Fancy lettering is great. Simple lettering can be great, too. If you think about each letter as a part of a design instead of just a plain old letter.

One way to turn simple letters into a design is to switch up the sizes. Make some of the letters bigger than normal. Make others smaller. Switch up upper and lowercase, too.

The only rule here is that whatever you end up with is visually interesting. And you'll most likely want to be sure people can actually read the message, too!

Visual Thinking & Drawing: Label It!

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There's a huge difference between drawing to create great art and drawing to think or communicate better. But there's a lot of overlap, too.

Some of those overlaps have to do with the way the brain works. Like when it comes to labels and titles of things. Your brain likes to keep things neat and tidy, so it matches up new information with something similar it's already seen. That helps your brain to keep track of things better.

When abstract things are labeled, your brain has a better idea what to do with them. Take the drawing above. Right now, it's untitled. It's ambiguous. But what if I told you it's a picture of 2 chairs? Then your brain immediately sees the chairs. But if it was titled something like "My Sleeping Cat" or "Flowers at Sunset", your brain would wonder why. The image looks nothing like those things, so your brain will search the image for clues, trying to believe it really is a picture of a cat or flowers.

So when drawing to think or communicate, labels can be very helpful. If you draw something that doesn't quite look like what you were trying to draw, just label it. Then there's no doubt people will know exactly what it is.

The picture above was created in a college drawing class. It's an abstract representation of two chairs.

Graphic Recording: What to Do With Your Boards After Your Event

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One of the great things about graphic recording is that it's big. Really big. Often 8 feet long by 4 feet high. To put that in perspective, a Smart Car is almost 9 feet long and about 5 feet wide. That's just about a foot bigger than a lot of graphic recording work!

Graphic recording literally gives you the big picture. So why not make the most of it! Like the creative folks at Tech Liminal in downtown Oakland, CA. As you can see in the photo above, they hung their boards right on the wall. That way, every one who comes in can seen what they've been up to. And for those working there, creative inspiration is just a glance away.

The two graphic recording boards above were created live at The Product Summit a few months ago. Each board is 8 feet long by 4 feet high.

Visual Thinking: Creative Lettering Design

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Visual thinking is about communication. It's not about art. But sometimes, visual thinking and art do overlap a bit. Especially commercial art or graphic design.

Sometimes, whatever you're thinking about may not be so visual. Or you may not have time to draw something that truly conveys the message. Or it might take a more complex image to get the real meaning across. Or you may be working with others who didn't understand the picture you first drew. That's where lettering comes in.

Most people think visual thinking is all about pictures. And lettering doesn't really matter. But every mark on the page becomes part of the visual. That includes the letters! If you draw the letters, instead of just writing them like you usually do, they take on a whole new meaning. And look. They become as much of the message as the words themselves.

Whether your message is big and bold or soft and dainty, make it obvious with your letters!