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.


The Sketchnote Workbook Update 6 - Delayed But Not Defeated


THINGS HAVEN’T GONE AS PLANNED THE PAST FEW WEEKS. That almost feels like an understatement as I key the words.

My wife had a back issue that required surgery about two weeks ago. She’s doing well after a successful operation, but recovery is slow and our three kids all need attention. Life will be different for a while.

Of course, this unplanned event happening while writing, illustrating and designing a book is, let’s say, less than ideal. But family is first, no question.

Friends and family have been a huge support in this tough time. My editors, Nikki and Jan, have been very understanding, fighting for a 14-day extension to get me back on track.

This week I’m finally back to working on the book.

### Sketches
I’ve been planning out chapters by turning the manuscript for each chapter into small pencil sketches called thumbnails. This one change has accelerated my work. I’m working at a 10,000 foot view of the book, while still providing the detail I need to convey the pages to my editor and to ink the illustrations.

Originally, I’d drawn two-page spreads on a single sheet of letter-sized paper:

2 page spread

For the smaller thumbnail sketches, 4 two-page spreads will fit on a single page. You can see the difference in this thumbnail sketch sample:

8 page spread

This iteration goes to show that even a proven process like the one I had for The Sketchnote Handbook can continue to improve.

### Video
We are now half finished shooting on-location videos! We've shot videos 2, 3, 5, 6 and 7, with videos 1, 4, 8 and 9 left to go. We still have to shoot sketchnote samples, record voiceovers, and Brian has to edit everything into a cohesive unit.

800 bookshelf cam

Our videos are turning out fabulous. They're all shot on-location, showing off several unique Milwaukee locations. I can't wait for you to see them!

We're excited about the long video sequences of me creating sketchnotes from start to finish. We'll be adding voiceovers that describe what I’m thinking as I work, and we'll add graphics to share tips as the video plays.

Rig food

Food sketchnote

### Tumblr
If you’re curious about the process of designing, illustrating and shooting video for this book, check out [my Tumblr site]( I’ve rediscovered Tumblr as a great space for updates that are larger than tweets but smaller than full-on articles.

800-CEO-READ Sketchnote Map

### Pre-Order!
Yes, you can [pre-order The Sketchnote Workbook]( at Amazon. That's the best way to ensure your copy is delivered as soon as it's ready.

Sketchnote Workbook

### Limited Edition Boxed Set: Interested?
I'm starting to kick around the idea of a special, limited-edition boxed set of both books. The books would be signed and the enclosing box would have hand-drawn illustrations in limited quantities (maybe 25). If this sounds interesting, [drop me a note]( and I'll add you to my pre-interest list.

### Get the Boulder Rolling…
Now that my wife is better and we have help from friends and family, it’s time to get the Sketchnote Workbook moving again.

This is how life is. We have to adapt to the situations we cannot predict. My son Landon was born during the making of The Sketchnote Handbook, so I know this feeling—and I know I can make the Workbook happen.

Thanks for all of your kind words and support!


The Sketchnote Workbook Update 5 - Video Shoots & Sketches Ahead

THIS PAST MONTH WAS A BLUR. I’ve flown to Texas for workshops in San Antonio and at SXSW in Austin, have completed the Workbook’s manuscript, and have shot two of nine videos.

I feel behind, but that’s good. It keeps me cranking.

Sketches are next, along with scripting and shooting seven more videos in March and early April. Brian Artka will take the raw footage, shaping it into a cohesive story for our May video deadline.

Video Shoots

The last two weeks I’ve been on location at Milwaukee’s Stone Creek Factory, shooting scripts written by Gabe Wollernburg with Brian, my video storytelling Jedi master. Footage and b-roll for chapter 5: Sketchnoting Documentation and chapter 6: Sketchnoting Travel Experiences are done. Seven shoots are left.

Brian cam
ScriptsBrian shooting

We’re having a great time capturing these videos. You’re going love the on-location, documentary style we’re using to tell the story of this video series.

Final tour
High shotPourover sketchnotes
Lotta booksThats a wrap

This will be a 2-hour video, heavy on actual sketching and helpful tips, with just enough of me on camera to set the stage. I can’t wait to see the final videos.

Follow the video shoots in pictures on Instagram or my Flickr photostream,

Sketches Ahead

For this stage, I’ll use the approved manuscript to lay out the entire book, page by page, as pencil sketches.

This worked great for the Handbook. In fact, it’s pretty amazing how similar my pencil sketches look, compared to the final, printed book. The sketching stage is critical for the inking and production, which follow it.

Chapter 4 Sketch

Final Chapter 4 Spread

I’ll use printed templates from the Handbook to sketch out the pages. Looseleaf sheets let me move book pages around as needed and when I run out of templates, I can print more.

A book map is also created to help me see the book at a high level and lets me determine where I may need to add or subtract pages within each chapter.


Sketching is hard, but a ton of fun. With the established design I’ll inherit from the Handbook, I’m hoping I can keep pace with my very tight schedule.


Yes, you can pre-order The Sketchnote Workbook at Amazon. That's the best way to ensure your copy is delivered as soon as it's ready.

Go, Go, Go!

I have to keep the Sketchnote Workbook train rolling, so it’s time to get back to work. Thanks for following the process. I'll update you again soon!


The Sketchnote Workbook Update 4 - I Need Your Sketchnotes!

5021242616 961615d3f5

I'm taking a break from writing to ask of you all a favor: 

I need your sketchnotes!

Don't worry about your drawing skills, 11424788096 4d24e20501 n because I want to encourage all levels of sketchnoters with the book.

Chapters I'm writing now will require sketchnote samples, to show readers what the end results can look like.

I have samples of my own, but want a wider variety, just like the variety of work used in The Sketchnote Handbook.

Sketchnotes I Need

Here are the sketchnotes I need for the Workbook:

  • Idea Generation - Using sketchnotes to generate and capture ideas you have for writing, building things, design, whatever you are creating.
  • Idea Mapping - Sketchnotes that show ideas mapped out. Maybe you've mapped out a writing project work projects, your life plan, etc..
  • Planning - Sketchnotes you've used to create a task list, plan a project (large or small), plan a vacation or even your garden layout.
  • Idea Documentation - Any sketchnotes you've created to capture a recipe, a series of steps in a process are great. Brewing coffee, baking a pie, etc.
  • Travel - Using sketchnotes to document your travel experiences and vacations. Sights you've seen, daily activities and so on.
  • Food & Drink - Sketchnoted meal, coffee or tea experiences, like coffee cupping are great. I would love to see a wide variety of food choices.
  • Movies - Watch your favorite film and sketchnote details like the characters, plot, setting, conflict and resolution, your observations, etc.
  • TV Shows - Capture the details of your favorite TV show episodes. Map out characters as you watch to see how their character develops over time.
  • Sporting Events - Sketchnoting competition, like the Olympics, a baseball, hockey, soccer, basketball or football game, noting key plays, final score, etc.
  • Music - Capture the feeling you have listening to or watching your favorite music. Sketchnote the band members, lyrics, the tracks played, etc.

I Want Your Existing Sketchnotes

Have sketchnotes in the categories bellow? Great! submit them.

Create New Sketchnotes

Want to create new sketchnotes for the book? Great! I need new ones too.


Specs for existing or new sketchnotes you're submitting:

  • Must be your own original work.
  • Must be G-rated because lots of kids will read this book.
  • All drawing quality sketchnotes are acceptable! I want variety.
  • Must be a sketchnote. Both text and images used together. It can be more text or more images, but must use both text and images together.
  • Can be black and white or color. Be aware that the final art will be printed in black and gray. Colors can be adapted nicely to grays in Photoshop.
  • Low res scans or photos are OK. I'll need high res if chosen.
  • If chosen, I will have a usage document for you to sign and return.

DEADLINE: Submission deadline is March 15th. Sooner is always better!

Submit Your Sketchnotes!


The Sketchnote Workbook Update 3 - Manuscript, Music & SXSW

THE SKETCHNOTE WORKBOOK is coming to life. I'm working hard with a deadline looming. Today, it's a struggle to write out my ideas. Other days, the words seem to flow. Every day I make progress.


The Manuscript

I'm writing chapter 4 of 9 right now. The entire written manuscript is due at the end of February. Just writing that made me sweat a little.

I've been writing the drafts using the syntax called markdown in Writer Pro for the Mac. Writer Pro offers an interesting workflow feature that separates writing into Notes, Writing, Editing and Reading. In each state the typeface, cursor and highlight change to help you work through your text.

You'd think a change so simple would have little impact, but I've found it useful to mentally move between these 4 steps in my writing. Markdown gives me a basic level of structure for my writing, but not too much. It has the right balance to keep me focused on crafting words.


Writer Pro exports my markdown file to a Word doc format, which my editor Jan reviews, using Word's track changes feature. Word is definitely not my favorite writing tool, but the track changes feature is a requirement to manage our collaborative writing and it works well.

Sketching Ahead

Once the text is finalized, I'll begin sketching book pages: selecting sketchnote samples and other design details. Sketching is key step because it determines the book's structure and design, which I'll use for inking and production.

Chapter 4 Sketch

Workbook Video

Of course I couldn't just do a book. I'm also creating a new 2-hour video with the same team from The Handbook: Brian Artka, Gabe Wollenburg and Stephen Mork), plus Amber Pierce for instructional design support. We're scripting as my chapters are completed and will begin shooting in March.

Video Soundtrack

The Workbook's video soundtrack is finalized! It was created by Stephen Mork, who created the Handbook video's soundtrack. I challenged Steve to make a musical piece that's new and yet related to The Handbook's video soundtrack. He did a fabulous job. Here's the final soundtrack:

San Antonio & Austin, Texas

PosterOn Friday, March 7th, I'll be in San Antonio, Texas for a student sketching workshop for my pal Michael Clayton at University of the Incarnate Word and giving a sketchnoting mini workshop at AIGA San Antonio on Friday night. I had a great time in San Antonio last year and am excited for a repeat.

I'll be in Austin on March 8th, putting on the Sketchnoting: Move Your Doodles Out Of The Margins workshop for 60 SXSW attendees with Eva-Lotta Lamm, Craighton Berman and Patrick Ashamalla. We aren't sure what to expect, but it should be a blast.

Story Signals Podcast Interview

Just yesterday I appeared on Matt Ragland's Story Signals podcast. I had a great time chatting with Matt about dealing with adversity and opportunity, ways to stay generous and a little bit about The Sketchnote Workbook. Listen in.


Yes, you can pre-order The Sketchnote Workbook at Amazon. That's the best way to ensure a copy is delivered to you as soon as it's ready.

Keep Making Progress

I keep telling myself to just keep moving, making progress every day. With 10 weeks to go, it will be a crazy ride, but as I learned from The Handbook experience, it can be done.

Thanks for your support everyone!


Interview: Tobias Gutmann & Face-o-mat

LAST YEAR, I saw Tobias Gutmann and his Face-o-mat mentioned in my friend Dave Gray’s weekly newsletter, so I reached out for an interview.

What is a Face-o-mat? Here's a video overview:

And now, here's my interview with the Face-o-mat's creator, Tobias Gutmann.

Hello Tobias! It’s a wonderful honor to interview you!

Hello, nice to hear from you!

Tell me a little about yourself. You are a Swiss citizen born in Papua New Guinea. What’s your back-story?

tobiasWell, I did grow up in Papua New Guinea, walked barefoot all day long and had a tree kangaroo as pet.

They say I’m Swiss, but about half of my life, I lived far from the country with white mountains, chocolate and cheese.

In Berne, Switzerland I studied my BA in visual communication, then worked in Tanzania for 6 months, before moving to Sweden.

You now live in Stockholm, Sweden (one of my favorite cities) how did you end up there and what are you doing in Stockholm?

I was looking for a new environment, that could inspire me. I have never been to Sweden, so I decided to move to Stockholm and study my MA in Storytelling (Graphic Design and Illustration).

I love the idea of this hand-made portrait machine, the Face-o-Mat you’ve created. How did you come up with the idea?

I found some cardboard, glued it together and painted Face-o-Mat on it. I just felt like drawing portraits, so I tried to make a fun experience out of it.

I thought it would mainly attract kids, but then the hipsters, whole families and even old people with grey hair wanted to have their portrait done. I was surprised to see how many different people were attracted by the social machine.

What led you to building the machine? Were there any technical challenges?

The first Face-o-mat was for a christmas market at Konstfack.

I did not plan to travel with it from beginning. It was quite a struggle, when I started traveling with the huge box on busses and subways in Stockholm.

When I got invited to Milan, I decided to rebuild the Face-o-mat. I collaborated with designer Pål Rodenius to develop the new machine, which had to be smaller, lighter and easier to set up. The new box out of MDF survived long distances and bumpy roads.

In Tokyo Face-o-mat’s wheels fell off. I was tired and the Face-o-mat was heavy, then the guys at Idée Garage made a brand new skateboard for Face-o-mat. That was awesome!

Tell me how your Face-o-Mat process works, especially with just 3 minutes per portrait!

(little interview within the interview)

Tobias: Welcome to Face-o-mat.

Guest: Eeehm, what is this?

Tobias: You get your face on a paper, with an optional „Facelift“ and you also choose if it should be „Classical“ or „Avant-garde“. Do you wanna try?

Guest: What is Facelift and Avant-garde?

Tobias: Facelift transforms your face into whatever the machine decides. It can for example be an animal or a chair. The „Avant-garde“ setting visualizes what Face-o-mat sees behind your face.

Guest: Ok, let’s try with a slightly avant-garde Facelift. After 3 minutes...

Guest: Goodness!!! I look like my sixth grade teacher!!...

Tumblr mtnhvywBwp1s421lvo6 500

How do you determine how to draw a person? How much do the selectors and talking with them influence in the portrait process?

The settings people choose is a starting point, but then anything can influence the drawing; how people act, what they say or even the background music.

I don’t have time to think. I just draw, then something happens on the paper.

How do you charge for the portraits and do the people pay before or after the portrait is done?.

There is a small slot, where Face-o-mat swallows money.

Sometimes people don’t have money, then I draw them for free and sometimes people pay more than expected. In Face-o-mat I try not to create a hierarchy.

Tumblr mi6ldaF8PW1s421lvo1 500

Do most people choose a standard portrait or facelift? Why do they go one way or the other?

There is a high risk that something unpredictable could happen when choosing to get a Facelift. Some people like that kind of adrenaline, others go the safe way and choose Classic.

Actually, the choice they make, says a lot about the character of a person. I encourage people to be bold in their choices. I mean, it’s just a drawing on a piece of paper.

Tumblr mtnh9gg9ju1s421lvo8 500

How do people react to the Face-o-mat? Are they generally excited and have fun?

Some are shy and some are nervous. Many people are curious and ask questions, they appreciate the talking part of Face-o-mat.

I’ve had some really interesting conversations about life. Lot’s of people smile, laugh and are very positive. That is the fuel, that Face-o-mat is running on. Without all the lovely visitors, Face-o-mat would be very sad.

Tumblr mi9hc5ZIKS1s421lvo1 500

Has anyone ever become angry or upset with a portrait you’ve done of them with the Face-o-Mat?

Possibly. They usually don’t tell me. Sometimes I am afraid, to give away the illustration because I don’t like it. Face-o-mat never deletes or starts over again. What happens in the moment, is what people get.

I had customers who where not satisfied with their face-illustration, so they came back and tried again with different setting. Maybe with a bit more Facelift.

You’ve visited other countries with the Face-o-Mat. Why did you choose to go international and where did you travel to?

I didn’t actually plan to go international, it kind of just happened. I spent the summer in Tanzania, then received emails from Tokyo and London. I thought it would be exciting to test the concept in different cultures, so I followed, where Face-o-mat got invited.

Were there any language barriers in your international travels?

It’s a different experience, when visitors can not express themselves through language, but language barriers are not always negative. It doesn’t always need to be words. Gestures or facial expression say a lot and in the end the illustration is the language of Face-o-mat.

Tumblr mi6m53ezl41s421lvo1 500

Any future travels planned for you and Face-o-mat?

I have many new ideas and projects that I am working on, but if I get invited to a place, that would add an interesting new chapter to the Face-o-mat story, I will say yes!

Thanks so much Tobias for a little of your time. Any parting words of wisdom you would like to share?

If I would build the next iPhone, it would not have a screen, just a frame with a little window, to talk to your neighbor.

Learn more about Tobias and his fabulous Face-o-mat:

It's fun to scan through all of the photos of people and their Face-o-mat portraits. If you like what Tobias is doing, reach out and let him know!

Page 1 ... 2 3 4 5 6 ... 167 Next 5 Entries »