Last week I shared some ideas for building your visual vocabulary by focusing on one topic at a time. This week we’re going to do some post-sketchnote reflection to look back on a visual note taking session and see if there are new objects or ideas that you would like to develop quick sketches for to use in the future.
Here’s a three-step process for building your visual vocabulary in this way:
Step 1: The Warm Up
It’s a good idea before any visual note taking session to do a bit of warm up to get the hand and the mind ready for the work ahead. I like starting by simply writing out the alphabet and doodling random shapes. If you’ve been following along with Visual Vocabulary Month here at the site, then you’ll already have a set of easily-sketchable icons related to the topic you’re sketchnoting, so in addition to writing out the alphabet you could also draw each of those icons out so that they are fresh in your mind in case they’re needed during the visual note taking session.
Step 2: The Sketchnote
Try to go into the sketchnoting session with some structure in mind – an idea for how you’ll fill the blank page in front of you with ideas as they flow from their source. Since we’re already focusing on visual vocabulary, it might be a good idea to intentionally incorporate icons into the structure of your notes. One example is shown in the sketch above – bullet points on the left, diagrams on the right.
Pick an approach that sounds good to you, then give it a go.
Step 3: The Follow-Up
Once you have finished your sketchnote, take a look back and consider these questions:
Were you able to use any elements of your already-established visual vocabulary?
Did any objects or idea come up during the session that you wish you had a quick sketch for?
Take your response to that second question and spend some time developing new icons for those objects and ideas, and then add those new elements to your visual vocabulary using the organization tool of your choice.
As you continue sketchnoting form various sources but around the same topic, I imagine that you’ll find similar ideas at the core of those discussions, and before long you’ll find yourself more and more prepared to sketch out the ideas that come up, which will free up your mind from worrying about the sketching aspect so that you can give more focus to the ideas themselves. Which, after all, is the whole goal of breaking out the sketchbook in the first place – to capture interesting ideas.
I tested out this process as I watched Ken Robinson’s latest TED Talk on education. Here’s how it went. I was able to use a few of my go-to icons, and also had the opportunity to develop a few new ones.
How did yours go?