Visual Thinking: How to Create Sketchnotes to Capture and Synthesize Content | Catherine Madden | Skillshare

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Visual Thinking: How to Create Sketchnotes to Capture and Synthesize Content

teacher avatar Catherine Madden, Information Designer, Artist, and Doodler

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.

      About the Class


    • 2.

      Class Project


    • 3.

      What are Sketchnotes? Why should we do them?


    • 4.

      All About Handwriting


    • 5.

      Basic Drawing Techniques


    • 6.

      Listening and Capturing Content


    • 7.

      Bringing it All Together


    • 8.

      Paper App Features for Sketchnoting


    • 9.

      Digital Sketchnotes Demonstration


    • 10.

      Closing Thoughts


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About This Class

Join data designer and doodler Catherine Madden for a one hour class demonstrating techniques for creatively and visually summarizing content in a way that helps you process and retain the information. If you have been in a classroom, on a conference call, or watched a TED talk that has interesting content, but you can’t seem to remember the key points, visual note taking (also known as sketchnoting) can open up your mind in new and exciting ways.

This class doesn't require any special materials, but we do walk through ways to create digital sketchnotes using the Paper app by FiftyThree for iPad. 

For those of you looking for some of the articles, websites, or books I reference in the class, you can find them here! 

Here is the digital sketchnote I reference briefly in the intro section:





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Meet Your Teacher

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Catherine Madden

Information Designer, Artist, and Doodler


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1. About the Class: I'm Catherine Madden, and I'm a designer and visual thinking consultant. You might know me from my first Skillshare class, which was visual thinking, drawing data to communicate ideas. That course we focused on how to generate and communicate your own ideas. I'm here today to introduce another aspect of visual thinking, and that is listening and synthesizing the information you hear from others. Research has proven that if you write things down instead of typing them, you can understand and remember them more effectively. But many people aren't writing things down. I think the biggest reason for that is fear. We might be afraid that our handwriting isn't clear. Our drawings aren't perfect or super professional looking. That's what this class is about. I'm going to teach you how to do sketch notes, how to write clearly, how to draw pictures, and how to tie it all together, to communicate a very clear message that you heard someone deliver. Visual note-taking is a skill that you can develop over time, and you don't need any special materials to start. I will demonstrate a lot of the activities on paper and pencil. Then I will also show you how I like to do this, digitally with a stylus and an iPad and the app Paper. This is a skill that you can develop over time. Ultimately it's going to make you a better listener, synthesizer, and communicator. 2. Class Project: The primary project for this class is to submit at least one page of sketchnotes and you can get content from a TED Talk online or perhaps another Skillshare class that you're interested in learning. We're going to do a few warm up exercises along the way. So what I hope you do is create a project and work at your own pace and add the different exercises as you go. I want to address some of the fears or concerns that you might have about drawing and posting it on the Internet for others to see. The first thing is, sketchnotes should be in no way considered an artistic endeavor. It's more about visual thinking and becoming better listeners, synthesizers and information organizers. It doesn't have to look pretty. It might be the case that if you google sketchnotes online, you find a lot of really beautiful sketchnotes, but there's plenty of people who do this just for their own benefit and don't post them on the Internet. The second thing is that many people believe drawing and creativity is an innate talent, and you might be afraid that you don't have that and that is something that you can actually learn and improve upon over time. Also, you don't even need drawings in your sketchnotes to make them effective. All they really need to do is contain the content and the message and be organized effectively. Finally, if you're worried about your handwriting, I have an entire section of this training dedicated to handwriting and penmanship, so we will work through those issues that you have. 3. What are Sketchnotes? Why should we do them? : The only hard and fast rule about sketch noting is that you can't be typing the information that you're hearing, you have to be writing it down. Whether it's with a pen and a piece of paper, or a marker on a whiteboard, or a digital stylist and a tablet. As long as you're not typing the information, you're doing a good job. It's an added bonus if you add some extra contextual drawings and diagrams to help move the reader's eye around the page. But as long as you have the words and the content and the key messages, you're doing fine. The reason that it's better to draw on your paper as opposed to typing on your keyboard is that when you're typing, you're just flowing through and trying to basically capture every single word, which means you're not really attentively listening, you're just processing information. When you're writing it down, there's no possible way you can get every single word that people are saying on the piece of paper. You're forced to switch into a more active listening mode and really listen for the keywords and only capture those. Keep in mind that when you're sketch noting, it's okay to paraphrase, you don't have to get every single word in a sentence. Another thing to keep in mind is that there is no artistic talent required. This is not an endeavor for artists and creative types only. This is something for people who just want to get better at listening and organizing information. Don't be afraid if you've never drawn, or you don't know how to draw, or you feel like your handwriting is illegible, because those are the things I'm going to help you with in your sketch notes. There's a ton of information online, but one of the biggest resources that I've used in the class to come up with some of the exercises is this book, The Doodle Revolution by Sunni Brown. If you do nothing else, you should watch her TED Talk, which is called Doodlers Unite. I'm going to demonstrate a little bit later how I just sketch notes on the iPad using that TED Talk. 4. All About Handwriting: Now, we're going to move into the exercises. Before we get started, what I want you to do is make sure that you have a pen, a piece of paper, and a flat surface to write on. You can also use a notebook, just make sure that the page lies flat, and there aren't any curves in the page. The pens you use, whatever you have on hand will be perfect, I just found this one at my house. It's helpful to have something that's a little bit smoother, but it's not necessary. Use whatever you've got, and we'll go ahead and get started. This first exercise is all about handwriting. You might be nervous about this, if you don't feel like your handwriting is super legible, that's totally natural and normal because we're so used to working on our cell phones, and typing on keyboards that we've probably gotten out of practice. It's something they don't really teach in schools anymore. I'm here to help you get back to the basics, and relearn some of those things. The great part is, this is all about muscle memory. The same as learning how to swing a golf club, the more you do it, the more natural it becomes, and the less you have to think about it. There's going to be three exercises so just get comfortable with your sheet of paper, and we'll get started. All right, so I've got my piece of paper prepared with lesson 1 handwriting, and three areas of the page allocated for the different three exercises that we'll do for handwriting. This is something that I would love to see you guys post in your project pages as one of the basic exercises that build up to sketch notes at the very end, but I'd love to see your progress along the way. I really hope that you use this as a starting point to create a project and just get this posted, and work at your own pace for the rest of the exercises. The first one thing we're going to do is find a comfortable handwriting that you can write legibly and fast. What we're going to do is we're just going to start by writing a sentence. It can be any sentence as long as it's relatively long, but something you can write in maybe 30 seconds or less. We want to write the same thing three or four different times but in different scripts. The first time you write it just write in your natural handwriting, as fast as you can, and take a look at what it looks like. The sentence I'm going to write down is just one that is well known for having every letter in the alphabet, it's the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog. You can go ahead and watch me. This is what my handwriting looks like when I'm just writing for myself, and no one else needs to look at it. I can definitely tell that it needs to get a little bit cleaner crisper. What I'm going to do now is choose a completely different way to write it. The second time I write it, I am going to write it in all caps. That one is much more legible, but it took me a longer time to write it. This time I'm going to try writing something that is lowercase, but it's a little bit clearer, and maybe slanted a little bit. The last one, I'm just going to try something completely different, and see how it looks. Now I've got four different ways of writing the same sentence, and I can clearly tell that one or two of them were more comfortable to write, and more legible to read when I go back and look at it. I'm probably going to try to use my default handwriting. What is, think of it as like your Times New Roman 11.0 font that you use when you are doing all of your content, and your core texts that you're writing down in sketch notes. I have on this page some tips and tricks that you can consider if you're looking at what you've written so far, and you're not really in love with it. The first thing I would recommend is to fix your pencil grip. This might be hard to do if you've been writing the same way for your whole life, but there's two good ways to hold your pencil. One is with one finger, your pointer, and your thumb, and the other is with two fingers supporting, but the whole idea is you don't want to have to move your arm to right. You just want to be able to compress your fingers and just use your hand to write. If you're holding your pencil like this, that's probably has a lot to do with why your handwriting doesn't look great. If you fix your grip, the next thing you want to do is start all of your letters from the top, and write them down. I can demonstrate that if I write my name, even with the curvy letters, always start from top, and you work your way down. This forces you to go a little bit slower. It forces you to pick up your pen between each letter, which is another thing that helps make the letters look more clear and legible. You can see that in a lot of my sentences, when the letters run together, they get a little sloppy. If you want this to look clean and easy to read, try and just make sure that you don't run your letters together all that much. Another thing to remember is the guy that we learned when we learned how to write in school. You've got three lines. The one in the middle is a dotted line to guide you to make sure that all of your humps of your letters and everything ends up at the same height, and then all of the ascenders go up to the same height on the top line, above and below. That'll help your handwriting look really clean. If you're still having trouble, try slowing down a little bit. I know that you're going to try and write fast when you're doing sketch notes, but as you're just getting better at handwriting, it helps to slow down, it helps to, if you need to, write even bigger. Step away from the small container of a piece of paper, and maybe grab a fat marker and go on to a flip chart paper or a whiteboard to get more practice. Trace the alphabet if you need to. You can print out the alphabet on a sheet of paper like this, and then put another piece of paper on top, and trace the letters, especially the ones that you're having trouble with. Sometimes people can't get one or two letters to look quite right so just do it over and over again, and it'll come naturally eventually. Then the last thing to do is look out for things that really help bring it all together in the end when you try and bring your sketch notes together. These things are; consistency, making sure that you're using the same font or handwriting style throughout. Spacing, making sure that there's the same space between the letters, and the same space between all the lines, and alignment. Some things you can do to make sure that you're not writing on an angle are to turn your paper in whatever way that helps you, and just to make sure as you're writing, to just check back at the beginning of the line to make sure that you're still tracking to that. The next exercise I want to walk through, I got out of this, Steal Like an Artist journal by Austin Kleon. There's a lot of fun creative exercises than this, and a lot of them involve writing. What you want to do to get started is just draw a long rectangle, and then cut off the rectangle at the end with a little line, draw circle and another diagonal line, and you've got a search box. The next thing you want to do is pull out your phone and Google any search term, and start with one word, if the word you want to start with is what. The part of this creative exercise is to go in and read through all of the different Google recommended auto-completes. Not only is it a good way to practice repetitive drawing and build up your muscle memory, it creates some really funny social experiments because you can see what the auto-complete for certain Google terms are. The one that I did earlier I wrote what do, and then there are five auto-complete options, and you just write the same word over and over again, and then copy each line that Google shows you. This one has, what do you mean, what do you mean lyrics, what does the fox say, and what does bae mean. These are kind of funny, and you can do this as many times as you want just to build up practice in writing the same thing over and over again, writing lines and consistent text. This third exercise is about establishing a font system. Think about when I mentioned finding your Times New Roman 11. We also want to find your header styles and your title styles. There's so many different ways you can draw headers, and titles, using bubble letters or 3D effects, but really what is the most important thing to do is make sure that your header is slightly bigger and bolder than your text style, and then your title is slightly bigger and bolder than your headers. What I want you to do is just create a bulleted list of objects or whatever you want, categories of something, and start with a title that's the biggest script on in this section. The title for me, I'll do foods. I'm going to make it big in all caps, and I'm going to put a box around it. Just to note, if you're ever putting a box around a word, it's definitely best to write the word first, and then the box because sometimes you won't be able to fit the word if you do the box first. Then the next thing we want to do is create three categories of food. This is going to be in my header style. All right, fruits, and it's going to be slightly smaller than the title, veggies, and I'm doing this in all caps, and junk. Then just underline or differentiate these in whatever way you like, and then underneath each one of these, just list out alongside a couple of bullets, different actual objects for that category. For fruits I'll write apples, pears. For veggies I'll write, spinach and cucumber. For junk I'll write oreos and cheetos. You can play around the different styles here as much as you like. The goal is to find something that is easy for you to remember and draw, so when you're doing sketch notes and you think, "This is a good category header style," you won't have to think about, "How do I draw this?" You can just draw it right away. 5. Basic Drawing Techniques: This next lesson is about drawing and I just want to re-emphasize that the most important thing is text and handwriting and content. This is just nice to have for your sketch notes if you want to add some extra emphasis or extra illustrations to help clarify any concepts. Another reason you would want to draw a lot in your sketch notes is if the content that you're recording is very visual in nature. If a speaker is talking about the same framework and they refer back to it repeatedly throughout the talk, you want to make sure to draw that down so that when you go back and look at it you remember exactly what that framework was. There's two caveats I want to mention briefly before we get into drawing. The first one is if you're doing your sketch notes and you start to decide you want to draw something but you don't know exactly what it looks like or how to draw it, you're going to stop listening and before you know it, the speaker will have moved on to a different topic and you're still trying to sit there and think about, how do I do this? How do I draw an elephant or whatever they say? The best thing to do is just leave space for that and then you can keep writing and go back to it at the end. You can always pick up your iPhone, look at photos of elephants, and then use that to draw at the end. The second thing is other people aren't going to be able to make as much sense of your drawings as you can. It's not cheating to go in and add a label to something. When you draw an elephant but the context is that there's an elephant in the room, you can just write the elephant in the room below it. The combination of words and pictures is really powerful. If you want to draw things live and do them quickly, all you have to do is build a muscle memory. It's cool to see how everything is just built off of a few basic shapes. I'm going to show you those and what they're called is the visual alphabet. We're going to do this on a new sheet of paper. I've labeled it lesson 2 drawing; icon, shape, connectors. This is something that I would love to see posted like the handwriting activities to your project pages. I definitely want to see how you progress and see where you take this fun activity with drawing. For the visual alphabet, there are a few basic shapes that you can turn into any other more complex drawing. They start with a point, a line, an angle, an arc, a spiral, and a loop. These are all open shapes. Then the closed shapes that you would want to draw are an oval or a circle, an eye, which is two arcs, a triangle, which is the same as an angle disclosed off of the bottom, a rectangle, a house shape, and a cloud. There's different varieties of the visual alphabet. This is the one I got out of Sandy Brown's book and I think it's perfect for what you need to do sketch notes. Now that you've drawn the visual alphabet, I want you just to play around with these shapes and draw different ideas that you might have. I'm looking at this eye shape. If I draw it again and I draw a circle on the inside, and then another circle, and then a bunch of lines. We've got an actual eyeball. If I use the angled shape and then I draw two parallel lines and then I connect right angles to the parallel lines, I've got an arrow. I use arrows all the time in sketch notes, so this is a good one to practice. Let's see. If I draw a rectangle and I want to make it a building, all I have to do is draw the letter L in a couple of rows to show there are many stories of a building. The L's look like windows. If I want to draw an iPhone, I could do another rectangle and then a circle on top and a little bit bigger circle on the bottom. Then I'll draw two lines along the side and then connect them along the top and the bottom. The key to making an iPhone look real is to try and get those rounded corners. It's hard to draw, but if you do a little practice, it'll turn out. Other things in addition to objects that show more dynamic movement is if you took the arc shape and draw three of them outside of the phone, that means the phone is either ringing or you're talking on it and communicating. Let's see. I'll do one more. If you want to draw a house, you can just do the house shape, which is the combination of the angle and then lines or a rectangle. I'll put a door in this house. But then you can just create a nice little setting if you do a couple of curved lines that go behind it and then another curved line over here. If you want to draw a half-circle and some lines, you've got a pastoral house in a field. Take some time to play with these shapes and turn them into whatever drawings you want and just pay attention as you go to how small different lines and marks can build into a nice picture at the end. The second exercise we're going to do is all about people. Now, you don't have to draw people when your sketch notes by any means, but it's fun to do and I learned one of these great exercises in Sandy Brown's book. It's the face matrix. The first thing you need to do on your paper is draw nine circles in a grid. The second thing you need to do is on each face, each of these circles is going to turn into a face, draw eyes, and put them in different places on the faces. You can use lines, you can use the eye shape. Go back to your visual alphabet and try out some different things. Keep in mind that, when you're drawing faces or anything in sketch notes, you don't need a lot of details. Just get the basic lines that you would need, but don't worry about things like individual strands of hair or patterns and stuff like that. Now that I've got my eyes, I'm going to put in noses and go back to your visual alphabet and choose a few different types of noses and go in and add them. Then we're going to go across the top here and we're just going to draw a frown, straight-across line, and a smile, and then along the side do the same thing, a frown, straight-across line, and smile. Across the top, these are going to be your eyebrows, and then across the side, these are going to be your mouths. For the top-left, I'll take the two frown shapes which I've got and just add in the eyebrows and the mouth. Then for this one, I do a straight-across eyebrow and a frown. This one is a smile eyebrow and a frown. Just go in and fill out this grid of your shapes. I think this exercise is great to show you how basic shapes can create really expressive faces. The next thing you might want to do is add a body to a person to make them look like they're doing some movement or gesture and some activity. There's a bunch of different ways you can draw people as well. What I want to show you is just the four ways that I have tried them out and then I want you to think about which one is easy and comfortable for you to draw people and practice that one. The first one I'm going to show you is a star person. All of these just start with a circle for the head. For a star person, the idea is you never take your pen off the paper, you just do one fluid movement of a body shaped like a star. We're starting from the neck, you go up to the arm, down to the foot, up to the groin, down to the other foot, up to the arm, and then connect it back on the head. You can do star people doing different gestures. You can see how it's pretty quick. These are definitely abstract and not super detailed, but that's totally fine. The next type of person is a UVO person. Those are three letters that you can use to make that person. So start with the O, then the U is upside down, which will be the body, and then Vs for the arms and legs. Same thing, you can do these in different gestures and they look pretty simple and pretty great. The next type of a person is a rectangle person. For this one, you do an O for the head and then the body shape is just a rectangle or a square. You connect the arms and legs at the corners. They don't have to be straight. This person can be saying, "Hey, what's up?" For ORL people, same concept you're using letters of the alphabet. This is an O and then for the shoulders down to the bottom of the arm we'll do an R and then an L for the feet. It messed up here, I'm going to do this one again. An R for the shoulders and the arms and then L's for the feet. You can see how, with just these simple ways of drawing people and faces, you can get a lot of expressive and movement action in your sketch notes. The last thing I want to go through is concepts and words. There's a great way to communicate something that's not actually an object and that is by combining words and pictures. There's some things like an abstract concept like growth. If you want to write that word in a way that illustrates growth, it's really effective. What you can do is a straight line at the bottom and then a line that's angled up, similar to how a chart would look and then write the word inside of that space. What about something like trouble? That would be a nice one to write in a slanted, italicized text. It makes it seem a little anxious, but then you can put it inside of a cloud and create some driving rain underneath. Another one, if you're going to say there's direction of movement, or you want someone to look in a certain way, you can say, move or whatever the word is, and then you can continue with an arrow. You can also make this look like a road sign. If you want, you can just add two little posts and then some grass underneath. Let's do one more. We'll just do the future. If you're talking about where you might want to be as an individual or as an organization in a couple of years, you can write the word inside of like a sunshine shape. We'll do a little arc and I'll write future. Similar to how we did over here, I'm just going to create a little pastoral scene with two hills and the sunset. Then I'm going to draw a road that gets closer together in the distance and expands further out to where we are now. These are all ways that you can incorporate words and pictures into your sketch notes to make it more visually fun and appealing. 6. Listening and Capturing Content: Here's when the rubber hits the road. We've learned how to write clearly. We've learned how to draw basic pictures, and the next thing we're going to do is actually listen and synthesize information. We're going to do that by listening to a TED Talk and writing it down. Now just so you know, after this video and exercise, we're going to go in and complete it and polish it. But for now, we're just going to choose a TED Talk, listen to the content, and try and capture as much as possible. There's three things that are going to really help you succeed in this activity. The first one is preparation. What you want to do is make sure that you have a space cleared out, you have a flat piece of paper, you've got your pen ready to go, and you know what you're going to listen to. If you've found a TED Talk, make sure that you write the title and the author of that on the page. You can write that anywhere on the page, depends on how you want to capture it. But I've written mine in the middle. Another thing about preparation is if there's anything in the title that reveals the structure of the talk, if it says, "Four things that you learned from this." Then you know there's going to be four things that you need to capture on the page, and that'll give you a strategy for how to do so. Another thing that you need to do to prepare or plan, which is the next thing that's key to success, is to think about how you want to capture it. There's different ways you can do it. The first one will just be, if this is your sheet of paper, you can just capture it pretty traditionally from top to bottom and left to right. Normally I would just start at the top and maybe do some bulleted lists with some titles or headers, and walk my way down like that. If you don't really know how much content that is, you run into a challenge where you might have too much space or too little space when you get to the end of the talk. The next thing you could try is popcorn style. This is where you write the title pretty much anywhere you want. Let's say this is the title, and then you basically just create little spaces of texts around the page. Then at the end you can go in and create containers around them, and it just looks like popcorn randomly all around the page. The only trouble with this one is that it might be hard to navigate and know where to start, but we can help connect those in the next exercise. Another way to do this is to start from the middle, with the title in here, and then build out each of the key topics and concepts in a mind map format. You would have, lesson 1, 2, 3 and then all of the subtopics growing like tree branches out from each of those mind maps sections. This is something I demonstrated in detail in my first Skillshare class. There are other ways to do this, but we'll just keep these three in mind and then move into the recording. The more that you do this, the more that you'll find what works for you. The last thing I mentioned is flexibility. As much as you plan and prepare, things aren't going to go exactly how you hope they do. Just keep in mind that you need to be prepared if you lose your place or if they talk for shorter or longer than you think, it's okay. You just need to be able to either let go of whatever frustrations you're feeling and keep going or if they've talked for two seconds, and you know that you're already going to run out of space. Just come up with a way to respond to that and be flexible in the moment. The next thing you need to do is just pick a TED Talk and write down the title and the author on your piece of paper. The one that I've chosen is Matt Cutts talk. It's very short and it's called Try Something New for 30 Days. Once you've got the title on the page before you hit play, I just want to remind you of a couple of things. The first thing is this takes practice. You're not going to get it right on the first time, and that's totally okay. It might not look great, and the one that I'm going to do, I promise you won't look great either. But just keep in mind this is a learning experience. The second thing I want to do or to remind you of is to do the best you can to stop your brain from thinking and just allow it to listen. These are very different things and if you find yourself thinking about how to draw something or thinking about where to put your next content, that means you're not listening as attentively as you need to. Just try and switch that off and go back into listening. The third thing I want to remind you to do is use only words at first. Don't really try to draw pictures and connect things unless you feel really comfortable doing that. If you do decide to draw something and you get stuck, just let it go, leave space for it and move on. The last thing I want to let you know is that it's really okay to paraphrase. You're not going to be able to write all of the words in a sentence, so just write the three keywords that really summarize the key point. I'm going to hit Play. I might hit Pause once or twice. That's okay for you to do too, but challenge yourself to just listen to it and draw one time through. A few years ago, I felt like I was stuck in a rut. I decided to follow in the footsteps of the great American Philosopher, Morgan Spurlock and trying something new for 30 days. The idea is actually pretty simple. Think about something you've always wanted to add to your life and try it for the next 30 days. It turns out 30 days is just about the right amount of time to add a new habit or subtract a habit, like watching the news from your life. There's a few things that I learned while doing these 30-day challenges. The first was, instead of the months flying by, forgotten, the time was much more memorable. This was part of a challenge I did to take a picture every day for a month and I remember exactly where I was and what I was doing that day. I also noticed, that as I started to do more and harder 30-day challenges, myself confidence grew. I went from desk dwelling computer nerd to the guy who bikes to work, for fun. Even last year, I ended up hiking up Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa. I would never have been that adventurous before I started my 30-day challenges. I also figured out that if you really want something badly enough, you can do anything for 30 days. Have you ever wanted to write a novel? Every November, tens of thousands of people try to write their own 50,000 word novel from scratch in 30 days. It turns out, all you have to do is write 1667 words a day for a month. So I did it. By the way, the secret, is not to go to sleep until you've written your words for the day. You might be sleep-deprived, but you'll finish your novel. Now is my book the next great American novel? No, I wrote it in a month. It's awful. But, for the rest of my life, if I meet John Hodgman at a TED party, I don't have to say, "I'm a computer scientist." No, if I want to, I can say, "I'm a novelist." Here's one last thing I'd like to mention. I learned that when I made small, sustainable changes, things I could keep doing, they we're more likely to stick. There is nothing wrong with big crazy challenges. In fact, they're a ton of fun, but they're less likely to stick. When I gave up sugar for 30 days, day 31 looked like this. Here's my question to you. What are you waiting for? I guarantee you the next 30 days are going to pass, whether you like it or not. Why not think about something you have always wanted to try and give it a shot, for the next 30 days. Thanks. The talk just ended and you can see I've got some words on my page, but not a lot of illustrations and it's not altogether yet. In the next exercise, we're going to bring it all together. 7. Bringing it All Together: Now that the talk is over, we have all the time in the world to bring it together and make it look like a good final product. So the first thing you want to do is take a look at your sheet and see if there's anything that you left blank that you wanted to go back to. I definitely have a couple of those, so the first thing I'm going to do is go back while the memory is still fresh and write all the things that I want to fill in. Remember here you said 30 days equals the perfect amount of time. Next thing, we're going to do is check for any major mistakes and see if you can fix them. You can either just cross it out and rewrite it or find white-out or use a little piece of paper and put it over. It doesn't really matter. You just don't want any like big spelling errors or anything like that. Next you want to think about how things are related. So take a look and think about where you want people to start and how you want the item move around the page. Then you can start to create containers around things, and group them. He started out with this idea that he was stuck and it was a memory. I'm going to contain that and some cloud and do some circles to make it look like he was thinking it. I'll do the same thing for the second thing that I wrote down. Because he decided to do something about being stuck in a rut. I might also go back and draw out a little illustration of what it looks like to be in a rut, but I won't do that now. Then I'm going to create a circle around this. It's like the aha moment and do some exciting lines around it, 30 days, is the perfect amount of time. So then he mentions that he learned three things, and I haven't labeled this in any place. So I'm just going to say, or four things actually, so the four things I learned. Some people are going to start at the top of the page and then they're going to move down here, and I'm just going to do some brackets alongside this. Then I'm going to do brackets around each of these sections. Then he finishes the talk with what are you waiting for, give it a shot. So I will just draw maybe some fun loops around it as its own container, and you can see the page is starting to come together in a fun way. After you've done some of the containers and thought about the flow, you can go in and add some illustrations and icons with the different areas. For time is more memorable, he talked about taking a picture every day. So there I'm going to draw a camera. Up here, I'm going to draw of being in a rut, and over here, I'm going to draw something that illustrates the idea that small changes will stick, but trying to give up candy for 30 days was really hard. Now, I'm just going to draw and no talking. Maybe this part could be like fast-forward it or something. These are my sketch notes, I'll post them to the class page, and you can check them out and see what you like about them. 8. Paper App Features for Sketchnoting: The same fundamental skills required to do paper sketch notes, also work for when you're doing them digitally. I did paper sketch notes randomly before I got an iPad, but I do them all the time now that I have one because it's so much more fun and easy when you have an app like the one that I use. I use an app called Paper, it's made by a company, Fifty Three. There's plenty of other iPad apps out there. But this one, it makes it really easy to use and there's a lot less decisions that you have to make so you can move quicker throughout the sketch learning process. It's all about speed and not having to think about the tool itself. It's rather that you can focus on listening instead. I have an iPad Pro, but any size iPad will work and the stylus I'm using is an Apple pencil. There's other pencil or styluses out there, including Fifty Three's pencil stylus. But this is the one I have today and I'm trying it out. When you're in Paper, there are a bunch of different tutorials online and I think there's another Skillshare class that I'll refer to in the references page for all of the basic features. But just to show you how I use it for sketch notes, if you open a new page and select this calligraphy pen, that's what I used to do with my handwriting. It has varied thickness for the letters, and it depends on the angle of the pen and how much pressure you put on it. You could write really detailed and really small, and zoom out, and see it clearly. If I'm writing bigger, thicker text like headers and stuff, I'll use this fat marker. You can see this one is a little bit thicker and bolder. You should just play around with the ones that are available to you and see which one feels most comfortable and makes your handwriting look the best. The next thing I really love about Paper is these three tools on the side here called Think Kit. It's pretty amazing what they can do, and I'll just walk through them one by one. The first one is the diagramming tool. It helps you make basic shapes, and think of it like autocorrect for drawing. If you do a circle and it's not perfect, it will make it a pretty close to perfect circle. Likewise, for a square and a triangle, and I think it does diamonds and other irregular shapes. Then you can use the second tool over here to fill those in with color. Another thing that's really cool about the diagramming tools, if you want to make connections between things, it knows where that one shapes starts and the other shapes starts and helps you clean up those lines a little bit. Then the cut tool is my favorite one because you can just tap a shape, move it around, or what I do all the time when I'm doing sketch notes in Paper is, I take a group of texts and I move it somewhere else on the page. You can imagine how much easier now it is to do sketch notes because one of the things that's most challenging about doing sketch notes on real paper is that, once you've written something down, you're stuck with where it is and you're stuck with how it looks. The danger of using this Paper app for sketch notes is that, you can continue to update it and iterate it and make it perfect as long as possible, and it's so fun that you might just spend all day playing in it. There's one more cool thing that I want to show you, and that is the background image. You can take any picture. If you don't know how to draw something, put it in the background. I have this picture because one of my clients mentioned, White Glove Service, and I thought it would be fun to draw. I've got this picture of a white glove and a tray. I'm just going to trace the picture, pretty rough, and then just delete the image. You can see, it's something that I don't really know how to draw, but because I have a picture of it and I can trace it, it looks pretty good. For the purpose of sketch notes, that's all it needs to look like. One thing for you to know is that, with any technology, they're probably going to introduce new features and maybe change around the interface a little bit. But I expect all of these pen tools that I walked through to remain the same and it's probably only going to get better. 9. Digital Sketchnotes Demonstration: So now I'm going to demonstrate how I do digital sketch notes and I'm going to use a quick five-minute TED Talk. It's Sunni Brown, Doodlers Unite, which I mentioned earlier, and you can see on my paper notebook, I've already drawn the title and the speaker. So all I'm going to do is hit "Play" and I just want you to be able to see how this happens live and watch how I do a lot of the drawing or a lot of the writing upfront, but then I do a lot of the drawing and connecting after the talk is over. I just want to tell you my story. I spend a lot of time teaching adults how to use visual language and doodling in the workplace, and naturally, I encounter a lot of resistance. Because it's considered to be anti-intellectual and counter to serious learning. But I have a problem with that belief because I know that doodling has a profound impact on the way that we can process information and the way that we can solve problems. So I was curious about why there was a disconnect between the way that our society perceives doodling and the way that the reality is. So I discovered some very interesting things. For example, there is no such thing as a flattering definition of a doodle. In the 17th century, a doodle was a simpleton or a fool as in Yankee Doodle. In the 18th century, it became a verb and it meant to swindle or ridicule or to make fun of someone. In the 19th century it was a corrupt politician, and today we have what is perhaps our most offensive definition, at least to me, which is the following. To doodle officially means to dawdle, to dilly dally, to monkey around, to make meaningless marks, to do something a little value, substance or import, and my personal favorite to do nothing. No wonder people are averse to doodling at work. Doing nothing at work is a masturbating at work, it's totally inappropriate. Additionally, I've heard horror stories from people whose teachers scolded them, of course, for doodling in classrooms, and they have bosses who scold them for doodling in the boardroom. There is a powerful cultural norm against doodling in settings in which we're supposed to learn something. Unfortunately, the press tends to reinforce this norm when they're reporting on a doodling scene of an important person at a confirmation hearing and the like. They typically use words like discovered or caught or found out as if there's some criminal act being committed, and additionally, there is a psychological aversion to doodling. Thank you, Freud. In the 1930s, Freud told us all that you can analyze people's psyches based on their doodles. This is not accurate, but it did happen to Tony Blair at the Davos forum in 2005 when his doodles were of course discovered and he was labeled the following things. Now, it turned out to be Bill Gates' doodle, and Bill if you're here, nobody thinks you're megalomaniacal. But that does contribute to people not wanting to share their doodles. Here is the real deal, here's what I believe. I think that our culture is so intensely focused on verbal information that we're almost blinded to the value of doodling. I'm not comfortable with that. So because of that belief that I think needs to be burst, I'm here to send us all hurdling back to the truth, and here's the truth. Doodling is an incredibly powerful tool and it is a tool that we need to remember and to relearn. So here's a new definition for doodling, and I hope there's someone in here from the Oxford English Dictionary because I want to talk to you later. Here's the real definition. Doodling is really to make spontaneous marks to help yourself think. That is why millions of people doodle. Here's another interesting truth about the doodle. People who doodle when they're exposed to verbal information, retain more of that information than their non-doodling counterparts. We think doodling is something you do when you lose focus, but in reality, it is a preemptive measure to stop you from losing focus. Additionally, it has a profound effect on creative problem-solving and deep information processing. There are four ways that learners intake information so that they can make decisions. They are visual, auditory, reading and writing, and kinesthetic. Now in order for us to really chew on information and do something with it, we have to engage at least two of those modalities, or we have to engage one of those modalities coupled with an emotional experience. The incredible contribution of the doodle is that it engages all four learning modalities simultaneously with the possibility of an emotional experience. That is a pretty solid contribution for behavior equated with doing nothing. This is so nerdy, but this made me cry when I discovered this. So they did anthropological research into the unfolding of artistic activity in children. They found that across space and time, all children exhibit the same evolution in visual logic as they grow. In other words, they have a shared and growing complexity and visual language that happens in a predictable order, and I think that is incredible. I think that means doodling is native to us and we simply are denying ourselves that instinct. Finally, not a lot of people are privy to this, but the doodle is a precursor to some of our greatest cultural assets. This is but one. This is Frank Gehry, the architect's precursor to the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi. So here's my point. Under no circumstances should doodling be eradicated from a classroom or a boardroom, or even the war room. On the contrary, doodling should be leveraged in precisely those situations where information density is very high and the need for processing that information is very high. I will go you one further because doodling is so universally accessible and it is not intimidating as an art form, it can be leveraged as a portal through which we move people into higher levels of visual literacy. My friends, the doodle has never been the nemesis of intellectual thought, in reality, it is one of its greatest allies. Thank you. So the talk just ended, and what I'm going to do now is pull it all together. You can see my sheet doesn't look super great right now, but I'm going to try and use the features of paper to organize into group and to add extra pictures. She talks really fast. I've finished these sketch notes. They're not perfect, they're messy, but that's great. I just want to show you how paper was used. If I had more time or if I could just spend all day doing this, I probably would go in and add some pictures and illustrations, but you can see how I tied it together by using clouds to contain sections of information. I added some illustration with arrows and movement, and then I used the fill tool a lot to highlight specific words in different colors, and then I moved things around all over the page. 10. Closing Thoughts: Now that you have your sketch notes, so your first ones completed. Great job. Give yourself a pat on the back. If you're thinking about things to do to bring it to the next level, maybe think about adding color. We didn't use any color in the ones that I demonstrated today, but just make sure that you use it wisely. Just find areas that add extra emphasis and choose one or two colors that can bring it all together, and make it look a little bit more visually appealing. The next thing is taking photos. To get a really good picture, something that you want to post to your class page or share on Twitter or whatever, is to make sure that you have good lighting. Natural lighting is best. As long as it's not super direct, you should have a very clear picture without too many shadows. If you're getting a lot of shadows, just tilt up your paper, either put it on your computer screen or get it on an angle so that the shadow from your hand and your phone taking the picture isn't in the actual paper. Again, as long as it's smooth and flat and on a good clean surface, you shouldn't have any problems. But you can go in and edit in the phone app to make sure the lighting and the contrast looks good. So if you're looking to learn more, I mentioned before there's a lot of resources. There are many books and different websites that you can go to, to see more sketch notes, learn how to draw different things, and to get more information on visual thinking. One of the best websites for sketch notes in particular is called This was created by Mike Rohde, who has a couple of different books specifically on sketchnoting. I think there's some video tutorials there as well, so definitely check that out. Another thing you can check out is my Twitter page, I am at [inaudible]. I post all of the digital sketch notes that I do, plus those of others that I find really interesting and I want to remember. If you're looking for other ways to practice, think about all of the different points in your everyday life that you could be writing things down instead of typing. If you're a student, try this in class. If you are in business and you have a job, or you go to meetings a lot, put your computer away and write things down. If you're on a phone call with your mom or your grandma and you're just trying to stay occupied, grab a pen and a paper, and write it down. I also think it would be really fun to see you guys posting notes that you've taken from other Skillshare classes. As subscriber, you have access to amazing courses. If you really want to remember and learn the content, doing sketch notes is a great way to do that.