What is Sketchnoting and How Do You Start?
You may have seen these intricate visuals during or after conferences, capturing the essence of a speech. Or, perhaps you noticed an increase in videos making use of words and images interconnected with arrows and doodles. We are talking about sketchnoting - the creative art to combine text and drawn elements to visually record the key message of a speech, lesson or story. In a world full of information, visual communication is a great skill. You're not only making it easier for the audience to understand the content - it is also a very effective way to understand and remember things for yourself.
Sketchnotes are a way of enhancing the memory of the material presented through visual cues. They help you to improve your understanding of the material because you are actively working to connect the things you hear and the things you see. Usually sketchnoting consists of text, images and elements that give structure. The structure part is most important when you start applying sketches to your own notetaking. You will be using elements that are personalized to your history, your preferences and of course your sketching skills. This doesn't mean though that you need to draw particularly well at all, it rather means that you will find your way and choose a format that suits your thoughts best.
You have various options for the format of your sketchnote.
With written text, you are distilling the main points and applying hierarchy, weighing some points more prominent than others. Images translate what you hear into your own language, your frame of reference. The same is true for structure symbols. Do you prefer arranging your thoughts top-down? Or rather clustering elements that belong together? These initial thoughts are important - you are doing things your way.
The picture above gives you some basics on variables you can easily explore and finetune. You probably have a way of interpreting various styles of bullets. Use them to weigh items in your sketchnote. What frames do you prefer and what connotations do they carry? Try them out.
If you're interested in trying sketching notes for yourself, taka a look at the Bamboo Stylus fineline - it's designed for writing and drawing on an iPad. To read up on sketchnoting we recommend the introduction by Kevin Thorn on LearnNuggets as well as Tom Russell's InkyThinking page for inspiration.