How to Draw a Tape Measurer

When taking visual notes, how might you convey the concept of “to measure”?

Well, let’s go with the object that has measure in its in name!

In the video above and images below I share with you how to draw a tape measurer.

Let’s start with the simple line-drawn version. After some experimentation, here are the minimum number of lines that I think are needed to represent a tape measurer:

A simple line drawing of a tape measurer.

I think that having the tape extended makes it extra clear what the object is, and also creates some nice space where text can go to add some details to the idea you’re capturing.

For example, the improvised visual metaphor that I came up with was using a tape measurer to measure compassion:

Turning the tape measurer into a visual metaphor, here one that measures compassion.

Does your compassion extend just to your family and friends, or also to your neighbors and colleagues, and maybe even further than that?

What I’m doing here is using the tape itself as the x-axis for a diagram. If you abstract it a bit, it could look something like this:

Treating the tape as an x-axis could lead to some interesting diagrams.

That could be a helpful organizing structure for a set of ideas connected by some form of measure.

As an experiment, I tried sketching the tape measurer from a top-down perspective as well:

Drawing the tape measurer from a top-down perspective, but is it different enough from a ruler to be useful?

Though I can imagine times when that sort of visual reference might be helpful, it seems to me that a simple ruler might do the trick, with less lines.

Have you ever drawn a tape measurer before?

Have you ever used it within a sketchnoting session?

Here’s an opportunity to add it to your visual vocabulary!


Free Sketchnoting Guide

Want to give sketchnoting a try but not sure where to start? Check out this sample of The Verbal To Visual Notebook:

That 100% hand-sketched notebook includes a set of prompts to help you put pen to paper and start sketching out ideas yourself.

You can get the free guide here.