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The Sketchnote Handbook fever!

Hi all!

If you are here reading this, I want to wish you a very Merry Christmas, a Happy New Year, & a very happy Epiphany Day or as we call it, Happy Three Kings Day!

Today I will be writing my impressions about the book The Sketchnote Handbook written by Mike Rohde. Back in August, when my article I Draw Pictures All Day was published in Smashing Magazine, Mike and I started tweeting back & forth and he mentioned his, then in process, book about sketchnoting. I was naturally very interested & after pre-ordering a copy, Mike sent me a desk copy as well. I anticipated his gesture very much. It finally came on December 15th & between grading projects, and holiday travel, I have been reading it & doing the exercises in the book.

When I got the book I could not believe how nicely it was bound & put together. The design is of course beautiful but also the book itself is beautiful to hold, to look at, to read.

The Sketchnote Handbook by Mike Rohde

The Sketchnote Handbook by Mike Rohde

There are several reasons why this book should be on your bookshelf. The topic itself is very interesting to me. But more than that, this book is not just showcasing great sketchnotes from designers but it also breaks down the sketchnoting process step by step. This makes it a good book to teach from and to learn from. The book is great because it is accessible. The topic is written in such a way that a 9 year old can read it but at the same time it is not dumbed down. The content and design fit together to create a reading experience with the goal of enticing the reader to adopt its subject as a matter of practice.

The book is great because it is accessible.

One of my favorites quotes from the book is found early on:

This visual and holistic approach to note taking engages your mind so you can understand the ideas you’re hearing while activating your hand to turn those ideas into concrete, visual notes.

Because your mind and body act together, you can recall more of what you hear and draw.

To me this is the cornerstone of the book. Skecthnoting and/or visual note taking is about the connection that exists between the act of receiving data and the body responses to it; the physical response. I strongly believe that learning is and should be kinesthetic. That does not mean of course, that to learn something we must be jumping or running all over. However, it does mean that passively listening to a lecture or class, or meeting is not enough to recall the information because in some measure, we need to “own” that content.  As a former dancer, I would sit down and study, observe, analyze, and even trace with my fingers dancers movements from which I wanted to learn. But then I had to get up and do it, practice it, do it again, move to it, try to replicate what I wanted to learn. One can’t learn to dance by only sitting and observing or listening to the theory of movement. This principle also works in other subjects and areas.

Skecthnoting and/or visual note taking is about the connection that exists between the act of receiving data and the body responses to it; the physical response.

I used to draw all the time. I did not care how it looked, I just filled notebooks after notebooks with my drawings. I would doodle in class by making marks either on the back of my notebook or my desk. I would need to erase it because as one classmate told me one day, they will know it was me. :-) But eventually I traded my drawings for conventional note taking and never being satisfied with them because they were either not complete or enough. In 2010 I took a turn after reading about visual note taking. I discovered that there was a whole movement out there and I slowly started to build my note taking into a visual form. And that is the beauty of sketchnoting. They are all unique and different and even our own sketchnoting changes over time.

…that is the beauty of sketchnoting. They are all unique and different and even our own sketchnoting changes over time.

The book has exercise pages to practice or get started. I did them because I am always looking to learn from others and/or practice ways to do it differently to improve my own. I wanted to learn from Mike, the Gray Method of drawing figures. I loved it! I find it is easier for me to do lettering or type in the page than the figures. Below are some of my practice sheets on my sketchbook. (As I am writing this post I am thinking I will start sketchnoting half in ink and half in pencil. It is easier for me to draw figures in pencil than in ink).

Chapter 7 Drawing Faces and Type Exercises ©Alma Hoffmann

Chapter 7 Drawing Faces and Type Exercises ©Alma Hoffmann

 

Chapter 7 Drawing People Exercise ©Alma Hoffmann

Chapter 7 Drawing People Exercise ©Alma Hoffmann

Chapter 7 Drawing the 5 Basic Elements Exercise ©Alma Hoffmann

Chapter 7 Drawing the 5 Basic Elements Exercise ©Alma Hoffmann

I loved this book! I think it is well written, well explained and it breaks sketchnoting— which can seem daunting to some— in smaller steps or pieces for people to get started with it. What are you waiting for? Order the book here! And you know, after reading this book, I got encouraged to practice hand lettering and sketchnotes more! So, tomorrow I will start posting one quote a day or something like that handlettered or a TED presentation or other sketchnoted! I am very excited! And Mike thank you for giving us such a great book!!

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