Sketchnotes seem to be more and more popular these days. I think Mike Rohde first coined the phrase and the practice of creating beautiful illustrated notes, but lots of others are getting on the bandwagon, so much so that the design website Core77 is introducing a regular feature on their site, focusing on various examples of sketchnotes. The ones below are by Mike Rohde, Craighton Berman and Austin Kleon.
In the long list of tools one could use for visual thinking, sketchnotes are one of the most exciting. Simply put, sketchnotes are visual notes that are drawn in real time. Through the use of images, text, and diagrams, these notes take advantage of the “visual thinker” mind’s penchant for make sense of—and understanding—information with pictures. Often these notes come out of lectures or conferences, and have gained a lot of attention and interest in the past few years when people post scans of their sketchbooks from events like SXSW or various design conferences for the whole internet to see….
Instead of recording what’s being said verbatim, good sketchnotes capture the meaningful bits as text and drawings. Better sketchnotes use composition and hierarchy to give structure the content, and bring clarity to the overall narrative of the lecture. The best sketchnotes express a unique personal style and add editorial comments on the content—entertaining and informing all at once.
I see notes like these and I can’t help wondering how they could create them in real time while following a presentation. When I’m at a conference, I’m scribbling away trying to capture major points and even then I sometimes can’t keep up. I have small handwriting which gets a little messy as I write fast. I sometimes incorporate little bullets and arrows and underlining, or even a rough graph or chart now and then, but my notes never seem very pretty or well-designed to me– they’re just functional. Nevertheless, at the last conference I attended, I was sitting next to someone who told me my notes were “beautiful.” I looked at hers, which were in much nicer penmanship and much less cramped, and I thought they looked just as good, if not better. I can only imagine what she would have thought of all these sketchnotes!
Read more about sketchnoting at Sketchnotes 101: Visual Thinking – Core77.