The Sketchnote Skill Builder

I am interested in hand lettering because of its applications to the skill of sketchnoting, a hobby of mine that has taken on a life of its own in the past year. Sketchnoting is a way of taking visual notes to capture information that you'd like to remember. I've been experimenting with sketchnoting for a while now, and documenting my experiments on my website. Now I'm putting together a set of activities for people who want to develop the skill of sketchnoting but might be afraid of drawing or the other challenges involved. I'm calling this little book of activities The Sketchnote Skill Builder, and if you're interested you can read the post I wrote introducing that project.

I am planning on producing this book of sketchnote skill building activities using Scout Books, an awesome company in Portland, Oregon (where I live!) that helps you bring cool little pocket notebooks to life. For Scout Books to be able to print my book, they need an InDesign file that contains the layout for each page. That's where this course comes in. Each page of my book will be fully illustrated (i.e. no text other than what I handwrite in). My illustrations start in my moleskin notebook and need to make it to digital form.

In this course I'll be focusing on the cover of my book. After working through the course I will then apply the skills I have learned to all of the other pages of The Sketchnote Skill Builder. Here's the scanned version of the cover sketch:

I recognize that my hand lettering is nothing to brag about, and I'm okay with that for now. My main goal with the course is to get the sketch to vector process down. I also want to keep things intentially a bit rough with this whole book to encourage people to put pen to paper without worrying about how polised their own work is.

Here's how the image looked after some tweaks in Photoshop:

With those initial adjustments, you can see that I pulled out the black text and drawings using the levels adjustment tool. I also added a white layer and a black layer on top of the original image (per Sean's suggestion) to make a few small edits - removed the coil inside the ligthbulb, cleared the binding of the book and added page lines in to the bottom, touched up some of the letters in the title (check out the 'D' before and after), and a few other small things. A faint hit of the grid lines remains in this image, but I was able to care take of that in Illustrator.

Here's the final image in full vector form:

When I traced the image in Illustrator, I set the noise level high enough to ignore the residual grid lines still showing post-Photoshop. Once in vector form, I made a few small adjustments. The most noticeable might be the spacing of the title - I shifted things so that 'The' and the diamond are in the center of the image, and also shifted some of the letters to make the spacing a bit more pleasing. I also rotated a few letters (the 'O' is probably the most obvious). Finally, I switched the order of the arrows and the subtitle, just because I like the look of that better.

So overall, nothing too fancy either in my initial sketch or in the digital adjustments I made. But simply being able to get in to touch up a few things and make those small layout adjustments, and then having a clean digital file to send off to printers - that makes a big difference for me in my work. I'm looking forward to applying this process throughout the development of The Sketchnote Skill Builder, and for future projects as well!

Constructive criticism and other feedback is welcome!

Thanks Sean for putting together a very useful course.


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