Seven #sketchnotes in one day: My UX Australia 10 minute talk

I was beyond chuffed to have my 10 minute talk voted in by attendees as one of the 12 they wanted to hear at UX Australia 2013. I took the UX Australia audience through my experience as an art student through to discovering sketchnoting and finished with my 7 tips for getting started as a sketchnoter.

My first UX sketchnoting workshop was a rediscovery for me as I got back in touch with my creative skills that I had abandoned as an art student who didn’t think she was good enough. Through sketchnoting I can apply Dual Coding Theory, combining words and pictures to better retain my notes, and make them more interesting to read and reflect on for myself and others.

For those of you who were not able to attend I have pulled together an overview of my 7 tips which provide the detail below my Seven sketchnotes in one day presentation. 

1. Choose your weapons

I like my A4 visual diary because it’s a good hard surface to draw on. I like to sketch with Artliners, Faber Castell textas and Copic markers. Other sketchnoters use tools like Moleskine notebooks, pens, pencils and they even record digitally on tablets. Choose paper and pens that you are comfortable with and enjoy. Importantly, always have spares so you don’t get caught mid-sketchnote running out of ink.

2. Do your pre-work

While some sketchnoters are purists and do all of their sketching during a presentation, I like to prepare. It’s helpful to research who you are going to sketchnote and their talk. I also like to do a portrait and title before-hand so I can maximise my time in the session. Just make sure you leave plenty of room to sketch.

3. Choose your seat

I am a chronic introvert and my natural inclination is to sit at the back of the room where I can hide. Really the best place to sit is close to the front where you can see and hear well. There also tends to be more light at the front, although have heard of sketchnoters who will take a book-light in case they are caught in the dark.

4. Pace and use your space

Before you start have an idea about the path your would like to follow on the page. This will save you drawing yourself into a corner mid-sketchnote. It also helps to keep an eye on the time. Either use your watch or phone to keep track of the time, if you get halfway through the talk and you haven’t filled half the space, speed up. Conversely if you get half way and are over half the space, slow down.

5. Outline first, detail later

I like to maximise the time during a presentation so I can be sure to capture everything I want. So I will do basic outlines of images or text, or even leave a placeholder and then during slow periods, or breaks, or when I am home I will add detail and highlights. I will sometimes even snap a picture of a complicated slide or image if I don’t think I will have time to finish it in the session.

6. Embrace your own style

What I love about sketchnoting is that every one is unique, like a thumbprint. It’s a particular persons perspective in their own handwriting and drawing style.  As long as your hastily drawn cat still looks like a cat you have gotten the message across.

Curation, not completeness – Matt Magain

Good structure regardless of art quality – Mike Rohde

A stick person is still a person – Rebecca Jackson (Me!)

7. Practice, practice, practice

Sketching is a skill, and like any skill it improves with practice. I practice typography, icons and portraits. I practice sketchnotes by watching TED talks online. I even know of people who sketchnote to podcasts and audio-books. What ever you like to watch or listen to you can sketchnote it and the more you do the better you will be.

What I really want to share with other people is that anyone can sketchnote. Even people who think they don’t have an artistic bone in their body can pick up the basics and begin recording their notes visually. Here are some sketchnoting resources that I recommend checking out:

My presentation is available on Flickr and on Prezi.

Audio of my session is available on the UX Australia Apple Podcasts channel.

Links to more UX Australia awesomeness:

Do you know of any other awesome sketchnoting resources? Please share them in the comments.

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