Buy my Books!

The Sketchnote Workbook is a fully-illustrated book and video, showing how to use sketchnotes in new ways, along with advanced tips and techniques.
Learn about and buy the book →
Download a FREE chapter →
Watch a FREE video sample →

The Sketchnote Handbook is a fully-illustrated book and video, designed to teach regular people how to create sketchnotes.
Learn about and buy the book →
Download a FREE chapter →

Mike Rohde (Color - Square)

ROHDESIGN is the website of designer Mike Rohde, who writes on design, sketching, drawing, sketchnotes, technology, travel, cycling, books & coffee.
Read more about Mike →

SIGN UP! Get the Rohdesign Newsletter.

« Why Robert Scoble Should Consider an Analog Journal | Main | Kula 1001 Icon »

Cafe Bag Sketchtoon

Cafe Bag

As you may know, my proj: exhibition Moleskine sketchbook is presently on its way to Hong Kong via airmail — so that series of sketchtoons are currently on hold until the book gets back from the whirlwind tour.

I had so much fun sketching those 28 pages in the sketchtoon style, I've decided to continue in my personal Moleskine sketchbook. This morning at the cafe, I hauled out my Moleskine and sketched my Cafe Bag as it sat on the table next to me.

By the way — I fall more in love with my Cafe Bag each time I use it. It's proven to be a perfect library bag, as I can pack in many more books and CDs than I ever thought possible. As a man-purse, it works well for hauling my Dana Wireless, Miquelrius sketchbook, personal journal, 2 pocket Moleskines, Kyocera Rave phone and Tungsten E. The more I use my bag, the more useful it becomes. Not bad for 12 bucks!

As for sketching this morning — It felt good getting back into the flow again. I see these drawings are coming more and more naturally, each time I sketch one out. I feel the control of my G2 pen improving each time I use it.

While familiarity with the G2 pen and Moleskine size and paper surface are part of this, I think the more significant impact on quality is due to the mindset I've had to adapt to. Because there are no pencil guides, drawing a sketchtoon feels somewhat risky. Once my pen hits the paper, there is no undo, no erasing, no retreat. It is what it is — if I screw up, there's not much I can do about it — unless I find a creative way to use an error.

Funny thing is, I haven't made many errors since adapting to this style. My mind must draw the image in my mental RAM cache, before letting my hand lay the image down on the paper surface. It is truly fascinating to see and feel this happening while I'm drawing.

Mike Shea's recent article on writers using pens, paper and longhand to write novels seems related to this phenomenon. Stephen King describes the 'caching mode' in this way:

"It slows you down. It makes you think about each word as you write it, and it also gives you more of a chance so that you're able — the sentences compose themselves in your head. It's like hearing music, only it's words. But you see more ahead because you can't go as fast."

I agree! There is something almost enjoyable watching a sketchtoon form on paper. I sense myself planning out where text might go and even the words I'll write before they go down on the page. It seems almost like exercise — for my entire self: mind and body.

I strongly recommend adapting some analog way to express yourself, especially if you rely on digital tools. Not to replace digital tools or methods, but to improve your thinking and coordination. Even if you can't draw, just doodle, or write. Something.

Besides, it's fun. :-)

Reader Comments (13)

Hi Mike

Nice toon. Nice bag! While I haven't done much real sketching in my Moleskine -- it's been mostly notes and thoughts and stuff -- I have done some pen-based sketching in a real sketch book in the last week or so. I can relate perfectly to what you say about the risk of drawing with ink. I wanted to produce some very basic, immediate sketches, so I pulled out my Rotring set, and sat down with my little A6 sketch pad, and drew what was around me. First off, a sketch of three UK comedians who just happened to be on the cover of last week's Radio Times. Next, a vase of daffodils in our living room. Then another comedian, this time from inside the Radio Times. Finally, my 6 year daughter, engrossed in a book (I'm hopeless at life sketching, and she was the only thing around me that would stay still for long enough!).

Four sketches in about 20 minutes total, of which about 10 minutes was real sketching time, and I was really pleased with what I did. So immediate, so risky, yet it worked really well.

Once I have myself sorted with a public blog, and have a working machine at home again, I'll scan them in and post them.
January 27, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterNeal
Neal, thanks! I'm glad you like the sketch. I can't wait to see your work, once you have the site and your blog rolling. :-)
January 28, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterMike Rohde
I just found this site and I was wondering if there was more info on the Dana you have. Do you have a review?
January 28, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterAlslayer
Nice bag, Mike...and cheap too! I love it... Sounds like pretty durable material, so the long term cost of ownership is next to nothing. Good stuff.
January 28, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterBren
Hey Mike. Very spiff.

I'm with you on the analog, dude. Pages beg to be filled in meetings and I'll scrawl and scrawl - charts, one liners, graphics of what I'm hearing. But I can only do it with those 4.99 perfect bound blanks from B&N. With a computer I just feel like a monkey. Haven't found the bag to match yours though. Way flash.
January 30, 2005 | Unregistered Commenterfouro

Glad to hear you dig the analog! I find it liberating to use paper and pen, but always when appropriate. Sometimes keyed text is better, it depends.

As for the bag, it really is good. Check your local military surplus store... you might be surprised what you find.
February 1, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterMike Rohde
A friend of mine currently has the moleskin project with your sketch in it, and I was so impressed that I memorized your URL and came here to see more of your work. So where is it?!

I would give my right arm to be able to draw like that. Shall I drop it in the mail?
February 7, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterJulie
Oops - posted before I combed the archives, so I've found several sketches. You should have a site of just your sketches, that would be so dreamy.

Anyway, my arm offer stands.
February 7, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterJulie
Julie, wow, thanks for the kind coments! Great ideas on showcasing the sketches. I at least need to get my category archives up and working, but I really like the idea of a sketch gallery.

Hmmm... :-)
February 7, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterMike Rohde
Can you recommend any good sketching or drawing books for beginners-- something that will teach the basics really well?

February 16, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterSteve
Can you recommend any drawing or sketching books for adult beginners?

February 16, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterSteve
Hi Mike

A further comment on an old post, but I thought you might be interested to know that I've finally got my public blog up and running. Not much there at the moment, though there are a couple of old pictures. I've got quite a lot of catching up to do. (Haven't yet managed to post the sketches that I mentioned in my earlier comment.)

The link should come out in this comment. If you have a couple of minutes, it would be great if you took the chance to swing on by.
March 10, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterNeal
Neal thanks! You're a good artist!!
March 12, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterMike Rohde

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
All HTML will be escaped. Hyperlinks will be created for URLs automatically.