iPad Sketchnoting: Creating Featured Image - Verbal to Visual - Doug Neill

iPad Sketchnoting: Creating Featured Images

For the past six months, I’ve created a new featured image every week for my podcast The Doug Neill Show.

The purpose of that featured image (which you see at the top of each blog post that contains the show notes for an episode) is to give folks a quick sense of what the episode is all about.

I’ve enjoyed using sketchnoting as way to create those featured images, and today I’d like to take you through my process, from drafting on copy paper to using an iPad and the app Procreate to craft the final image.

The Podcast

First, some background on my podcast.

I started it at the beginning of this year as a behind-the-scenes show, specifically related to the building of a sustainable creative career.

Want to hear stories each week about how I’m building my creative career? Check out the podcast!

That’s what I am building here at Verbal to Visual, and what excites me are the opportunities that are available these days for anyone who wants to use their creative skills to build an independent career that supports their life.

The podcast is a place for me to share one story each week about what I’m doing to build my creative career, with the hope that it might provide a bit of encouragement and a few ideas for those of you who are also building creative careers.

Three Layers of Sketchnoting

What’s been fun about creating that podcast is that for each episode I do three things that are connected to the world of sketchnoting.

I make a featured image that shares the title of that episode and has some visual related to that title.

Here’s an example of a featured image from a previous episode.

I also create a one-page sketchnote that summarizes the ideas that I share in that episode, as well as a visual template with prompts and blank space for you to follow-up on the ideas that I share in the show.

Rather than having ads to support the podcast, I’ve created a Patreon to support the show, and that’s where you can access the sketchnote summaries and visual templates for each episode.

The Drafting Stage

When brainstorming featured images, I find it helpful to first create a handful of boxes for me to fill in with potential ideas.

Drafting boxes to fill with ideas.

The title of this episode is Selling by Giving and within it I share the things that I give away here at Verbal to Visual, and how those giveaways are connected to the things that ultimately I sell here, which are the online courses that I’ve built.

I like the idea of having a gift as a primary image, not only because giving is part of what’s in the title, but also because I like to think of the products that I sell as a gift, one that I try to make as meaningful and impactful as possible.

I tend to move through the drafting process as quickly as possible.

This episode is also about selling, so I want to communicate the financial aspect of it as well, and I think that’s what I get at with a cycle between a gift icon and the dollar sign icon. It doesn’t feel perfect, but I like it enough to go with it.

Drawing on the iPad

Most of the time, my goal is to go from the copy paper drafting stage to the creation of the image on the iPad as quickly as possible.

So let’s break that out.

When I move over to the iPad, I start by creating the visuals.

I use the app Procreate to make my featured images, and I’ve been rotating through three different colors: orange, red, and yellow. Within each image I use one color and then a couple of shades of grey.

I tend to work on the drawn images before the written text, and do my best to fill the page as much as possible. I’ve been using the darkest gray to draw out images, the color for the text, and then a lighter gray as a helper color for things like arrows.

I use layers a lot, for any individual image or word that I know I might want to move around. That’s one of the benefits of using a digital tool – you can manipulate things after you’ve drawn or written them, by moving, rotating, resizing, even changing the opacity, just of that one layer.

I try not to shoot for perfection with these sketches. I want them to be good enough but I don’t want to try to make them perfect.

Writing on the iPad

Let’s see how the text might look within the space I’ve created in between those two arrows.

I like how easily you can play around with the location (and rotation!) of each individual layer of imagery or text within the app Procreate.

I think that’ll work! At this point, with the general spacing of the text in place, I get to zone out and make some bold letters.

Adding some boldness to the letters.

Up until this point it was mostly getting to a complete proof of concept. But with what I’ve done so far, I can tell that I like it enough to go with it as the featured image.

All it takes from there is a bit of fine-tuning, and we’re good to go!

Here’s how the (almost) final featured image turned out.

I hope that it was useful to see a bit of my creation process: the quick and rough drafting and then what it looks like to actually use a tool like Procreate to create a sketchnoted featured image.

Click on this image to go listen to this podcast episode!

When it comes to creating sketchnoted featured images, it really is just about making the title bold and adding a little bit of visual-ness to create some intrigue, give a little bit of an idea of what that podcast episode (or video, or talk) is all about.

If you go on to create featured images like this or you have done something like this in the past, I would love to see that so share it with me on Twitter or Instagram!

Dig Deeper

To explore more ideas about how to build your visual thinking skills and apply those skills to your personal and professional life, check out our sketchnoting courses, starting with An Introduction to Visual Note-Taking:

Reconnect to making marks by hand as you learn to use text, layout, imagery, and color to engage your visual brain.

That course will walk you step-by-step through the process of developing all of the individual skills that make up sketchnoting and then combining those skills as you create a note-taking system that works well for you.

You can also check out full course library here.

Good luck with whatever you choose to make next with your sketchnoting skills!