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« The Sketchnote Handbook: Update 9 - Home Stretch | Main | The Sketchnote Handbook: Update 7 - Juggling »

The Sketchnote Handbook: Update 8 - Cranking

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WHEN YOU'RE IN THE MIDDLE of a huge project, it can be hard to see clear to the end of it. That's when you have to keep making daily progress, chipping away at the mountain, bit by bit.

It's been almost a month since my last update, and things have gone pretty well. I'm sketching out the manuscript, shooting video and things seem on track.


On my trip to Pennsylvania, I was able to make pretty good progress converting my final manuscript into pencil sketches, in preparation for inking and final production. I had a very optimistic goal of sketching the entire 7 chapters: but it just didn't happen.

Initially, I was bummed to have only completed 3 of 7 chapters, but as I look back, I see how much was actually accomplished, especially with one of the kids getting sick and the limited time I had to sketch.

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Pencil sketches from chapter 4.

Currently, I've sketched all the way through chapter 4 and am excited about wrapping up chapters 5, 6 and 7. It's hard work — but the good news is that these sketches will make inking and layout of the pages easier, because I'll know almost exactly how each page will look.

Next up: I'll be inking up a spread and creating final art for the Peachpit production team's review. It will be fun seeing how the sketches translate to ink and the page. I can't wait!

I just need to keep on cranking.


Thursday I was excited about the video. As of 5pm, Brian Artka and I had completed every "talking head" shot and all of the voice overs needed for the video chapters. This felt like a huge accomplishment, considering how insurmountable the video project looked when I began.

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A screen capture from the Sketchnote Handbook Video Edition intro sequence.

We still have to shoot some b-roll (secondary video for cutaway shots) next week: shots of me drawing out concepts and examples, of books and pens and of sketchnote samples from other sketchnoters. With one more big day of shooting ahead, I'm feeling relieved and excited about the video.

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Brian comparing close-up shots from Thursday and the week before.

Having so much of the video done lets me focus on the pencil sketches, inking and final production of the book, while Brian works his magic, editing the raw video into a unified video experience.

Featured Sketchnoters

Things are going well with my featured sketchnoters — rough sketches have been delivered and the crew is starting to work on the 2 page spread they have each been given to share their stories. I can't wait to see what each person does and how they express themselves with their space in the book.

Web & Podcast Interviews

JetPens launched an interview series on their blog with an interview with me talking about who I am, my work and the book. I was honored to kick off that feature and had lots of fun sharing my story with David at Jet Pens.

If you enjoy podcasts, I recommend the Pen Addict Podcast 17: Sketchnoting With Mike Rohde — an interview with me about sketchnotes and the book.

Useful Tools

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As I've managed this emerging project, I've identified some of the tools and services that have been working well for me an my team. Rather than let those details get lost, I want to capture them here.

iPad - I'm finding one of the most valuable tools I've used is my iPad. I've used it for writing the manuscript, reading the manuscript and sketching it out, showing sketchnotes and websites online for the video and as a teleprompter for video shoots to name just a few key tasks. The long battery life, portability and large screen have been instrumental in this project.

Instagram — As I've been shooting video and sketching the book, Instagram has been a great way to share progress with everyone who has been watching it unfold. Amy, my video producer at Peachpit has enjoyed seeing the work Brian and I have been doing as we're doing it.

Basecamp - Having Basecamp has been useful for managing the team working on the video, custom sketchnote font and my featured sketchnoters. It's great for reference, file sharing and storage and easy email replies.

Thanks Again

I really appreciate all of the support and encouragement from everyone following this project. Being able to share the process with you all has been the most fun of all. Thanks!

Reader Comments (3)

I know you're disappointed by your "lack of progress" during your trip, but I have to say that if you didn't make a high goal of drawing out all seven chapters, you may have not achieved the three you were able to complete. (Yes, I'm a glass half-full kind of gal.) I'm enjoying your posts. Thank you for sharing your writing and sketchnoting process with us!

August 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLaurie Line

hi mike,
just a short message to wish you success heading towards the end. Good luck!! grtz
Edwin-the netherlands

August 26, 2012 | Unregistered Commenteredwin

Thanks Edwin! Tot schrijfs!

August 26, 2012 | Registered CommenterMike Rohde

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