Sketchnotes: Tips and Tricks
From just doing it to working with the inner critic
Sketchnotes are visually designed notes that can also make meeting reports much better. If you’ve never worked with sketchnotes before, we recommend that you read our introduction to the topic, and if you want to know what materials are most useful, we’ve also got an overview for you. Here in the third part of the series, Anna (Frank) offers some additional tips and tricks. Enjoy!
Just do it
Don’t think about it too much, just start sketching!
It’s not about making a work of art, but simply about recording information. If you don’t have a visual idea for something right away, don’t worry, you can also just use words to get the job done. Keep it as short as possible. If you think of something later on, you can add a drawing afterward, or else just keep it in mind for next time. Your visual ideas will increase with time.
Forget about perfectionism
A sketchnote need not be perfect, let alone artistic. It should simply convey information or connections. Above all, your sketchnote is for you! This doesn’t mean you can’t also show it to others, but just remember, you’re making it for you, not anyone else. With a sketchnote, you’re simply recording a particular idea for your own reference, therefore it should be understandable primarily for you.
Less is more
It’s better to use only a little color, so that your sketchnote doesn’t get too complicated or distract you from the main idea.
As a main color for text and symbols, black is best.
For highlights: a color of your choice, but remember that it should contrast with the main color. For example: You’ve chosen to write with a black pen. Then it’s better to take a brighter color for highlights, one that stands out from your writing and thus works as an accent. A dark brown would tend to blend in with your main color, blurring distinctions instead of highlighting them. A vivid yellow, one that’s not too pale, makes a good highlight.
For shadows, use gray. Here too, make sure it contrasts well enough against your main color. Shadows give your sketchnote that “finishing touch.”
Be inspired by others
Have a look around! On the street. Around the internet (blogs, Instagram, Twitter, Flickr, etc.). At your favorite restaurant. Visual ideas can be found everywhere! Go through life with open eyes and let yourself be inspired. Try a little experiment: go for a walk and pay attention to whenever you recognize a symbol. Take a picture of each one, and then draw it later at home.
Tip: Start by drawing it slowly a couple of times. Then try drawing it faster and faster. If there’s time, play with each symbol 25 times. At least. If it’s nice out, go sit on a park bench or in a cafe, pull out your sketchbook, and draw the symbols you’ve photographed.
Mistakes are okay
Is there a mistake in your writing or drawing? Don’t worry about it! It’s no big deal. Really! Despite minor mistakes, the basic idea will still be clear.
Another tip: Improve it with a little joke. You can even point it out explicitly. Be creative with your mistakes, don’t hide them!
Practice, practice, practice
Practice makes perfect! Draw each new symbol as often as possible (again, at least 25 times), so that it becomes second nature and you can call it up at any time. The less you have to think about how to show or draw something for a sketchnote, the faster you’ll get.