Visual Journaling to Build Your Sketchnoting Skills

If you’re looking to build your visual vocabulary (the number of objects that you’re comfortable drawing quickly), there are plenty of ways to go about it.

One way is to do a Google image search of the object you’re interested in.

Another is to use a site like The Noun Project where you can find a whole library of simple icons to learn from.

But if you’re up for something a bit more personal and a bit more adventurous, just grab your notebook and walk outside!

I did that recently in the St. Johns neighborhood of Portland, Oregon.

Here’s how my sketches turned out:

I encourage you to give this a try yourself, both in your own neighborhood and anywhere you might be traveling.

Here are a few tips if you decide to give it a go:

  • Don’t try to include all of the lines that you see! What makes a sketchnoted image different that an illustrator one is the level of detail. So feel free to simply (the fewer lines the better, in my opinion).
  • Draw the object first, then fit a few words around it to describe something about what you’re seeing or experiencing. You’d be surprised how little it takes to build a mini story with a simple image/phrase combo.
  • Be playful! (This is just for fun and practice anyway, right?)

By stepping away from the desk and out into the fresh air, I think you’ll find yourself becoming more and more comfortable with drawing, and soon the things you capture in your visual journal might start making their way into your notes!




Want To Dig Deeper?

To learn other techniques for developing and using your sketchnoting skills, here are a few of our courses that you might find useful:

An Introduction To Visual Note-Taking


Sketchnoting In The Classroom


You can also find our full course library here.