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The Sketchnote Workbook is a fully-illustrated book and video, showing how to use sketchnotes in new ways, along with advanced tips and techniques.
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The Sketchnote Handbook is a fully-illustrated book and video, designed to teach regular people how to create sketchnotes.
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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.
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The Sketchnote Handbook 1st Birthday Giveaway (CLOSED)

ONE YEAR AGO my first book, The Sketchnote Handbook was released into the world. In that year, the book has done phenomenally well.

Birthday TSH

In the past 12 months I have "earned out" my advance (September), the book has received over 100 reviews on Amazon and I'm continually seeing new readers sharing their sketchnotes in social media.

Teachers love the book: sharing the techniques with their students. I'm working on one-day Sketchnote Workshops in Atlanta and in Milwaukee for 2014, and I've got a contract to create The Sketchnote Workbook for 2014 too!

UPDATE 12/4/2013: The Drawing is now CLOSED!

The drawing closed on Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013 at 11:59PM. Winners will be announced a bit later on

The Birthday Giveaway

I can't imagine a better way to celebrate my book's 1st birthday than to give away a bunch of cool things to you — my readers!

Email, RSS, Flickr & Facebook Group members: you get first crack!

I'm giving away 65 items — signed copies of my book, a few unique items you can't get anywhere else, and I've reached out to many of my friends to offer more goodies so that more readers can win something.

Here is the complete list of items up for grabs:

The Sketchnote Handbook Items

Physical Items

Books & Videos

  • 3 copies of The $100 Startup - This is the great book by Chris Guillebeau that I was honored to illustrate. 3 winners each get 1 copy.
  • 3 copies of Enough - Thought-provoking book from my friend Patrick Rhone gets you thinking about what's enough. 3 books for 3 winners.
  • 2 copies of REWORK and 2 copies of REMOTE - The two books from Jason and David at 37signals that I was honored to illustrate. 2 winners will each receive a set of these 2 books.
  • 1 copy of Steal Like an Artist - By my buddy Austin Kleon, this wonderful little book will kickstart your creativity. 1 copy to 1 winner.
  • 1 copy of Accidental Creative & 1 copy of Die Empty - Two great books from Todd Henry on how to get more creative and maintain it for life. 1 winner gets 1 set of Accidental Creative & Die Empty.
  • 1 copy of Janapar DVD & Book - This is a wonderful independent film from my friend Tom Allen, the bloke who rode his bike from the UK eastbound and found adventure and love along the way. 1 winner receives 1 DVD (NTSC or PAL - your choice) and 1 book.

Digital Goods


  • 10 Postbox Licenses (Mac/Windows) - I'm a huge fan of Postbox for my email and I designed the app icon. Sherman and the Postbox team have given 10 licenses (Mac or PC) to share with 10 winners.
  • 3 Mars Edit 3 Licenses (Mac OS) - This is the Mac OS blogging tool I use to manage my Rohdesign and Sketchnote Army blogs. Powerful and handy for offline writing, Daniel Jalkut is providing 3 licenses to 3 winners.
  • 2 Pear Note 2 Licenses (iOS) - Chad Sellers' powerful note-taking tool combines text, audio, video and PDF slide decks in a single synced document. 2 copies for iOS (universal) go to 2 winners.
  • 1 Marked 2 License (Mac OS) - From the amazing Brett Terpstra, this app provides preview of your Markdown files for Mac OS. 1 license to 1 winner.

Thank you everyone who bought or shared my book. Special thanks to my friends who have contributed to this birthday giveaway.

Happy Birthday Sketchnote Handbook!


Doxie Flip Review: Flippin' Awesome!

ONE OF THE DRAWBACKS of sketchnoting events is that while I would love to bring my Canon LiDE flatbed scanner to capture sketchnotes on site, it's just too big and bulky to carry along. I've adapted to using my iPhone to take pictures, then scanning my high-resolution artwork when I get back home.

Doxie Flip

For the last week and a half, I've been testing out the new Doxie Flip scanner—a new, $149 portable flatbed scanner, sent to me for review by the folks at Doxie. It's small, light, runs on battery power, and makes use of an SD card to transfer scans between itself and PCs or other devices.

Flip w/ Pocket Moleskine

The scanning bed is slightly larger than a Pocket Size Moleskine notebook—perfect for a portable sketchnote scanner. Because it runs on batteries, you don't need a wall wart, and the SD card eliminates the need for a cable.

I love this little thing. Let me tell you why.

Simple and Effective

I love that the Flip is simple. The small size combined with battery power and SD card use offers a refreshing simplicity in a market where most devices are more complex than they need to be.

It reminds me of the old Palm Pilot devices I used to love—simple, effective and made for a specific task. The Flip is designed for scanning on the go.

Scan preview

Run out of battery? Carry 4 spare AA batteries, or use 4 rechargeable AAs. Worst case, you can stop at nearly any store or gas station for batteries.

Need more storage? Bring a few spare SD cards, or buy a new one. If someone needs a scan, I can put images on their SD card, no problem. The scanning capacity is limited only by the size of your card.

SD card

I can scan books, photos, papers—whatever—in traditional flat bed mode, using the little white cover to keep light out while scanning.

Scanning w/ Cover

Or I can remove the scanning lid and flip the Flip over to scan. Because the back of the Flip is glass, you can lay it on top of the thing you want to scan, see through the device and scan. What you see is what you scan.

Flip scanning

Flip scan

Sketchnoting & Illustration Uses

Having the Flip along on a sketchnoting gig or travel experience is the perfect tool for the job. It provides immediate, high-resolution scans I can import into my Mac or iPad or share with clients or friends. Or I can skip the Mac altogether and view scans on the iPad with an SD card adapter.

Flip w/ Moleskine in case

For illustration work I often escape to a local cafe to work and wait to get home to scan pieces for an illustration. With the Flip, I can bring my MacBook Air along, scan immediately and work on the illustration—all at the cafe.

The 600 dpi scan option is the resolution I typically use for illustration work because it captures enough detail for either pixel work in Photoshop or to capture the inked feel of my work with Vector Magic and Illustrator.

Hardware Specs

The Flip is compact (10.23" x 6.46" x 1.34”) which is just slightly larger than a Large Moleskine notebook (5" x 8.5"). It's light (1.26 lbs) with a 4" x 6" scanning bed that's ideal for Pocket Moleskines and Field Notes notebooks. It's powered by 4 AA batteries and uses a 4GB SD card (both included).

It's roughly the size of a hardcover book—not bad for hauling around, particularly when compared to my bigger Canon LiDE flatbed scanner.

The Doxie Flip features a small screen to display scans on the card, access to settings, battery level and a preview of your scans. While the preview is pretty tiny, it works well enough to verify you have everything you need on your scan.


Doxie Software

The Doxie software for Mac and Windows reads the SD card and provides a stitching feature, in case you need to scan larger sources in multiple steps.

Screen Shot 2013 11 07 at 12 07 21 PM

The Flip can create JPG or PNG files at either 300 or 600 dpi. The included software works nicely with Dropbox, Evernote, Facebook and as well. It's easily downloaded from the Doxie site.

Screen Shot 2013 11 07 at 12 07 30 PM

The ability to capture and stitch multiple smaller scans together with the Doxie desktop app is a handy feature. Of course, any app that can read PNG or JPG images can extract or modify scans from the SD card. I typically do my work in Photoshop for editing or stitching together images.

Pricing & Value

The Doxie Flip is $149. If you need a flatbed scanner for sketchnoting, capturing book pages or other items on the go, it's a good value.

When compared to the $80 Canon LiDE 210, the Flip is expensive, so if you don't have a huge need for portability, the Canon would be the better value.

Buying tools means balancing trade-offs. If you need a small, portable scanner, you can't beat the Doxie Flip.

Doxie Flip Brief Video Overview

Here's a 5 minute video I made to show you the size relationship to my sketchbooks and some of the interesting features and uses for the Doxie Flip:


The Doxie Flip is a great tool—simple, light and effective. It's perfect for portable flatbed scanning where a bigger device is impractical and a phone camera isn't good enough for clean, high-resolution scans.

While $149 isn't cheap, for the right person The Doxie Flip a valuable tool that will pay for itself in use after use on the road.

Highly recommended.


Here are a few links that may help your research on the Doxie Flip:


The Long, Slow Overnight Sensation

Nathan Reading The Sketchnote Handbook

I'VE HAD A FEW PEOPLE TELL ME recently that they're pleased to see my "meteoric rise" or my "internet fame" increasing around The Sketchnote Handbook and The Sketchnote Typeface.

While I'm not sure about meteoric rising or internet famousness, I have been thinking about how I got where I am now and what wisdom I can share with you.

Here are 3 things that occurred to me.

1. Play the Long Game

I've found it important to think of your body of work with a long-term view. When I do things, I aim as much as I can to think about how a project or opportunity will impact me over the next many months or years.

By choosing to illustrate REWORK in 2009, my reputation as a book illustrator grew and afforded me opportunities to illustrate many more books. My track record as an illustrator helped me land The Sketchnote Handbook book offer. REWORK continues to provide opportunities for work four years later.

Case in point: REMOTE, the new book from 37signals coming October 29. Doing REWORK opened a door to create 71 more illustrations for the new book.

Questions to consider:

  • If I take this project, how will it impact my body of work?
  • What future clients will choose me, based on work I'm accepting now?
  • If a potential project pays well, but negatively impacts my reputation, is that really a long-term win?
  • How does this opportunity move me closer to my long-term goals?

2. Invest Success into New Opportunities

Investing one success into another opportunity is another valuable lesson I've learned. To write The Sketchnote Handbook, I created a typeface with Delve Withrington to make the book easier for me to produce. I then made the typeface available for sale. The book's success was invested in The Sketchnote Typeface, which has sold well and has appeared in several web and mobile applications already.

Questions to consider:

  • How can I take momentum, goodwill or ideas from one successful project and invest them in another opportunity?
  • Are there partnership opportunities I might consider to make a project investment a win-win for myself and someone else?
  • Who (potential customers, clients) might benefit from something I'm doing or have done, that could create a new opportunity?

3. Embrace & Invest in Community

I'm a proponent of building strong communities because I think they're healthy, rewarding and make people better people. I believe embracing and investing in communities brings opportunities to keep the long-term engine running.

In 2009, I started Sketchnote Army as a way to share the work of other sketchnoters because it was hard to see new work easily. Because of that investment in building a community, I created an opportunity to make friends with many sketchnoters.

When the time came to invite featured sketchnoters to be part of my book, the process was met with excitement. The 15 featured sketchnoters in The Sketchnote Handbook represent the community so well—there's a great blend of women and men from around the world in those 30 pages. Having the community also aided my collecting other sketchnotes for the rest of the book.

Questions to consider:

  • What kind of community do I wish existed?
  • Who else can help me kickstart this community?
  • Can I join a community to share my skills in, to help make it better?
  • How can I encourage others in my community?
  • What opportunities can be created with others in the community?

I've found these three elements critical to my own long-term successes and hope they can play a part in yours, too.


Here are a few resources that have helped me in these areas:

  • Die Empty - an excellent book by Todd Henry about getting your best work out and creating a consistent body of work.
  • Steal Like an Artist - A kickstart of a book by my friend Austin Kleon about taking the perspective of an artist, in whatever work you do.
  • Anything You Want - A great book on the value of slow, humane growth and doing things yourself by Derek Sivers, the founder of CD Baby.
  • Sell your by-products - An article by Jason Fried about taking what look like by-products to you and turning them into value for others.

This article also appeared on Medium.


The Sketchnote Handbook Kindle Edition

IT'S BEEN NEARLY A YEAR since The Sketchnote Handbook was released on November 30th, and the book is doing great. Excellent buzz continues to come in, there are 96 reviews on the Amazon book page and there are live workshops, video courses and a follow-up workbook in the works now.

The one bit of tarnish on the book was the release of a broken Kindle edition in December, shortly after the print book was released. Because of technical issues, the entire middle of The Sketchnote Handbook was blank.

Kindle Edition Fixed!

I'm now very pleased to report that FINALLY, the Kindle edition of The Sketchnote Handbook is available for about $14 at Amazon.

Tsh kindle

The Kindle Edition is a "Print Replica" edition — not a typical ePub format — because the Sketchnote Handbook is completely illustrated and would have been crazy to release as a text-only Kindle edition. You must have an iPad, Android tablet, Kindle tablet, a Mac or PC to view the Kindle book.

There are also Kindle Editions of the book at Amazon UK, Amazon Germany, Amazon France and Amazon Japan.

This edition took way too long to resolve this issue, but at least it's fixed now and available for people that want it. Thanks for your patience.


Creating a Custom Mitchell Leather Briefcase

FOR A LONG YEAR, I worked on my first book, The Sketchnote Handbook.

I spent 3 months writing my proposal and negotiating the contract, 7 months writing, sketching, illustrating, scripting and shooting the book and video. It was the hardest, most demanding project I've ever done.

When it was complete, I wanted to get something special for myself as a reward and a reminder — I chose a beautifully hand-crafted custom leather briefcase from Mitchell Leather in Milwaukee's Third Ward.

Mitchell Leather Compact Classic: Front View

A few weeks ago I picked up my completed compact briefcase, and am thrilled with the quality, the detail and of course the wonderful leather scent!

Specs & Construction

For the majority of the briefcase, I chose Horween leathers: Cognac Dublin, a medium brown leather that's tough, yet supple and classy, and for the darker highlight, Horween Brown Chromexel (CXL), also tough and beautiful. For the internal liner I chose a lighter weight tan leather, and the finishing touch — nickel-plated brass hardware for contrast.

Custom Mitchell Briefcase: Completed Parts & Pieces 8/5

Construction took about 7 months — David Mitchell's skills are so in demand, he's running a backlog for these briefcases and other leather items. You can read about David and his shop, or watch this excellent short video about him, created by my friend, Brian Artka:

The Selection & Building Process

The process began with my order. I spent time with David, selecting my leathers and hardware and telling him how I would be using the case. This case would become my daily carry-all, with enough room for my main items and that's all. I have a tendency to carry more than I need, so this was a way to limit my daily items. I have a Timbuktu backpack for heavy loads when needed.

Daily items included: a 13" MacBook Pro (or Air), power supply, a full-size iPad, one large Moleskine notebook, one or two pocket Moleskine Sketchbooks for sketchnoting events, pens and pencils, space for cords and adapters and enough room for a book, magazine or a folder of papers for projects.

The Mitchell Compact Briefcase was a perfect fit for all of the items I need to carry and nothing more.

Once I had the model, leathers, hardware choices and details settled, David took a deposit and put me on the waiting list.


In August, about 7 months later, I was curious, so I paid a visit to Mitchell Leather. David happened to be starting my case, so we went up to the factory and showed me the raw pieces, getting prepped for construction.

A week later, he sent more images as he finished the case. Here are David's photos of the case in progress:

Mitchell Compact Briefcase: Buckle Step 1

Mitchell Compact Briefcase: Buckle Step 2

Mitchell Compact Briefcase: Buckle Step 3

Mitchell Compact Briefcase: Buckle Step 4

Custom Mitchell Briefcase: Shoulder Strap Hinges

Custom Mitchell Briefcase: Completed front inside panel

Custom Mitchell Briefcase: Sewing on the pen and business card holders

Custom Mitchell Briefcase: Completed Parts & Pieces 8/5


The final piece turned out great — colors, leather weight, and of course, that leather scent really sealed the deal.

Compact Classic Horween Cognac Dublin with Brown CXL 010 12in.jpg

Mitchell Leather Compact Classic: Interior View

If you'd like to see all of the photos from the construction process, check out the complete Mitchell Briefcase Flickr set.

Having the case for a few weeks now, I'm finding it's a perfect size for what I really need and nothing more. By getting the size just right, the case has kept my load light and manageable.

My challenge: to accept the normal wear, tear and markings on the leather that will give the case personality and character. Starting with a perfect case makes this hard, but as I see the case getting worked in, I'm loving it even more.

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