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.

Entries by Mike Rohde (870)


Three Keys To Better Sketchnotes

Vikings vs. Packers Sketchnote

The Green Bay Packers lost star quarterback, Aaron Rodgers, and I was frustrated at the team's terrible play this season. I decided to experiment with the format of my game sketchnotes, becoming looser and having more fun (since it was a good bet my team would lose). This little experiment changed my entire perspective on sports sketchnotes for the better.

Ten years ago, I coined the term sketchnoting and began shaping what this word means to me, and to the world.

I helped create a sketchnote community, wrote two bestselling books, and teach sketchnote workshops around the world to help people learn and practice sketchnoting.

I’ve noticed three keys to creating better sketchnotes.

1. Keep an open, positive mindset

More than drawing ability, an open, positive mindset is the foundational key to sketchnoting. It's an openness to learning new things. It's the power to see things differently, to choose what you capture, and how to draw it out on the page.

If you begin with the idea that you're closed to new ideas, you’ve already blocked in your abilities.

I'm a Green Bay Packers fan, and this season my team was terrible without our star quarterback or a good defense. Facing a lost season, I let go of the rigid sketchnotes I used to take for a humorous, looser style for my sketchnotes of games.

I had fun sketchnoting games again. Now I see my sketchnoting practice differently because my mindset was open to change.

Change your mindset to a positive, open one, and your sketchnoting will improve.

2. Believe you already have what it takes

Wherever your drawing quality is at, it’s good enough to start. It may not be as good as you want it to be, and my goodness it can always improve. but it’s enough.

I say “Ideas, Not Art” because it reframes a student's perspective from “I can't draw because I must create gallery-ready artwork” to “I can draw to communicate ideas.”

We have everything we need to communicate visually. Some are further ahead than others, but I have seen the roughest, most rudimentary sketches communicate ideas more effectively than beautiful artwork from talented artists.

We tell ourselves stories about what we can and can't do. One of those stories is how we can or can't draw, and that’s something we can control  by changing our perspective.

Change your perspective from needing to draw like DaVinci to that of a child trying to communicate, and you’re suddenly good enough to begin.

3. See each sketchnote as an experiment

Every time you sketchnote, you’re running an experiment. It's an opportunity to learn and play with new approaches. You win when you push yourself a little, and learn something new.

If you're too focused sketchnoting as a performance—to be seen and judged by other people—it can freeze your flow. You can lose spontaneity and start worrying about failing and messing up.

If everything is an experiment, failure is a learning opportunity.

My own growth-improving jumps have come when I have pushed myself (or have been pushed) to experiment with ideas that might fail. Mistakes are often where I learn the most. Our job is to have grace for ourselves and learn what we can from them.

Live football game sketchnotes were an experiment when I started them in 2015. I wondered if I could capture my experience of a game visually. This year the experiment was loosening up my take on the games to having fun with the process.

That's why I tell people that sketchnotes are first for themselves and then for others. Once we sense that this work will be judged, we tend to clam up and worry about mistakes: mis-spellings, running out of space, or drawing badly.

Maybe we don't have to share everything with the world. For a little while, try getting loose and keeping a few experiments for yourself.

Change your approach toward improv comedy and away from creating a perfectly scripted comedy film.

_ _ _

Subscribe to the Rohdesign Dispatch, my monthly newsletter on sketchnotes, visual thinking and creativity.


The Sketchnote Handbook is 5 Years Old!

The Sketchnote Handbook 5th Birthday


5 years ago, on December 1st, 2012, the Sketchnote Handbook was released into the world. It's been a whirlwind since then. The book has been translated into German, Russian, French, Chinese, Czech, and Ukrainian. Pretty cool.

Thanks all for the support you've given to me, my books and my projects.

As a thank you. here's my Sketchnote Mini Workshop (32 min) sharing the basics—a presentation I've given around the world in all sorts of settings. I hope you find it as useful as my books!

Happy 5th Birthday, Sketchnote Handbook!

Mike Rohde


Happy 4th Birthday, Sketchnote Handbook!

The Sketchnote Handbook 4th Birthday


It's hard to believe The Sketchnote Handbook was released on December 1, 2012. I'm so very honored that it's had such an impact in the world these past 4 years.

Thank you all for the amazing support you've given to me, my books and all of my projects.

Happy 4th Birthday, Sketchnote Handbook!

P.S. If you'd like to send a sketchnoted birthday greeting to The Sketchnote Handbook, use #sketchnotehandbook4th on your Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, or other social media posts.

Mike Rohde


Dispatch: A Season for Thankfulness

Today, I'm thankful for you, and your support!

November 25, 2012, it was a few days before the release of my first book, The Sketchnote Handbook. I was nervous, and excited, unsure if the book and video my team and I had spent 9 hard months crafting and creating from scratch would have an impact or not.

The Sketchnote Handbook on Press

Four years later, that book and video have became a bestseller, leading to a second bestselling book and video, The Sketchnote Workbook, a Sketchnote Typeface, and opportunities to give talks, run public and private Sketchnote Workshops, appear on podcasts, and more.

Talks workshops

You are a huge part of that success. Your support has powered my vision to share sketchnoting. Together, we’ve made an amazing impact on the world.

I’ve come across so many people who thought they couldn’t draw at all, take a first step and end up changing their lives for the better in every way.

That’s what we’ve done together.

Thank you!

Book Mention in Revenge of Analog

This week I received a copy of David Sax’s new book Revenge of Analog. On page 38, I found a mention of me and our sketchnote community! What an honor.

Revenge of Analog

Sketchnote Army Podcast: Season 2 is a Wrap

Wow, season 2 of The Sketchnote Army Podcast is done! I’ve had fantastic guests on the show in the first 2 seasons, so go have a listen!

I’m planning to launch season 3 in January 2017, with more guests and some experimental episodes around topics in the next 8 episodes.

If you're a listener, please take the Sketchnote Army Podcast survey, and let me know your thoughts about the podcast.

You can Subscribe to the Sketchnote Army Podcast on iTunes or at SoundCloud to get season 3 once it launches.

Sketchnote Icon T-Shirts in Orange!

They're back! The popular Sketchnote Icon t-shirts and crewneck sweatshirts are back for just 4 more days at Cotton Bureau (Ends Nov 29). For this new run, I've switched it up with orange and white icons on heather blue, navy blue and and gray shirts and heather blue sweatshirts.

Sketchnote Icons

Sketchnote tees orange

Interesting Links

♥ Teacher’s Graphic Novel Inspires Comic Studies Minor - YES! My buddy Nick Sousanis' graphic novel, Unflattening, which he wrote for his philosophy doctoral dissertation, has opened the door for his a Comic Studies minor at San Francisco State University. Visual thinking For The Win!

♥ How I Made Sketchnoting My Convo-Starter - Fantastic story from Chia Lin about how sketchnoting helped her not only think more clearly, but opened up opportunities as a product designer in a very competitive San Fransisco marketplace. I love it, Chia!

♥ How to Buy A Paper Notebook That Brings You Joy - Here's a comprehensive article from Joel Johnson that walks you through the process of choosing a paper notebook that's right for you. I especially found the size section helpful.

♥ Pocket Notebooks: A Comprehensive Guide - Here's another detailed buying guide to pocket notebooks from JetPens.

♥ 15 Things to Do with An Empty Sketchbook - Once you've chosen a notebook, here are 15 great ways to use it from Well Appointed Desk founder Ana Reinert.

♥ Sketchbook Skool's Hatching How-To Video - One of the key skills I use in my sketchnoting practice is hatching to achieve shading and tone when I only have a single black pen. Learn the technique, or brush up on your skills with this short video from Koosje Koene.

♥ Hand Lettering: The Beginner’s Guide - Here's a handy comprehensive overview of how to start hand lettering, including tools, techniques, and teaching, from Skillshare. Hat tip to Kent!

Private Sketchnote Workshops

I love teaching students how to sketch simply, and think visually at my Sketchnote Workshops. I've run sketchnote workshops at Drexel UniversityMarquette University, and The University of Michigan; at agencies like mcgarrybowen in NYC; and hospitals like Sibley Hospital in Washington DC.

I'd love to teach your team. Let's talk.

Send me an email or follow me on Twitter, Tumblr, Flickr, and Instagram.

Buy My Bestselling Books

Like the Dispatch? I think you'll love my two bestselling books on sketchnoting. Learn more, and buy your copies below:

The Sketchnote Handbook

The Sketchnote Handbook
teaches regular people how to draw simply, think visually and create sketchnotes.
Buy the Handbook

    The Sketchnote Workbook

The Sketchnote Workbook
illustrates many new ways you can use sketchnotes to think and make your life better.
Buy the Workbook

Use code SKETCHNOTE for 35% off my books at Peachpit.

Chimp Essentials

Read how the Chimp Essentials course helped me tighten my newsletter, and get inquiries about my Sketchnote Workshops.

Save $20 with code ROHDE20.


Dispatch: Sunny Days and Sketchnotes

Gas bldg deco sun

It's May in Milwaukee, and I'm happy to see the sun finally peeking through the clouds. Next up, warm weather!

I'm loving my new 9.7" iPad Pro and Apple Pencil more each day. I'm adapting to the Pencil and FiftyThree's Paper, creating sketchnotes with them all the time. They've already become important tools for my work.

Missed my iPad Pro & Apple Pencil observations? Read 'em here.

NibSqueak Podcast Interview

I was a guest on NibSqueak, Collective Next's visual thinking podcast featuring John Colaruotolo, and Bree Sanchez. I shared the genesis of my visual thinking journey, and ways sketchnoting can be applied inside large and small companies. Have a listen!

Sketchnote Mini-Workshop at Marquette

A few weeks ago I presented my Sketchnote Mini-Workshop at Marquette University's Kohler Center for Entrepreneurship. Attendees to my After Hours talk had a blast. Thanks Megan & Holly!

Upcoming Sketchnote Talks & Workshops

I have a few sketchnote presentations in the works, including one this October in Philadelphia. I'll announce any events here—stay tuned!

Interesting Links

♥ Philip Coppola spends nearly 40 years illustrating New York City's Subway Stations - A fascinating mini-documentary film about Philip Coppola's passionate side-project to draw (sketchnote) the designs of every NYC subway station by hand. Inspiring!

♥ Improve Your Handwriting with These Fantastic Resources - One of the basics of sketchnoting is legible handwriting, so be sure to dive into this page full of useful handwriting resources.

♥ 100 Days of Lettering - Designer Tiantian Xu set out to improve her lettering skills with a deliberate, 100 day journey. She started by copying letters, gradually moving to complex challenges as her confidence and skills grew. Also see her 100 Days of Doodle!

♥ The Drawing Effect - This research paper by Wammesa, Meadea, and Fernandesa demonstrates the positive power of drawing on memory, compared to just writing words. For a visual overview, check out Rob Dimeo's sketchnote summary of the findings.

♥ How sketchnoting has changed my life as a teacher - Educator Matt Miller started sketchnoting a year ago—this article shares how thinking visually has changed his thinking and approach to teaching.

Private Sketchnote Workshops

I've taught private sketchnote workshops at universities like Ross School of Business at The University of Michigan; agencies like mcgarrybowen in NYC; and institutions like Sibley Hospital in Washington DC. I'd love to teach your team too. Let's talk.

Reach out and say hello.

Send me an email or follow me on Twitter, Tumblr, Flickr, and Instagram.

Buy My Bestselling Books

Like my newsletter? I think you'll love reading my two bestselling books on sketchnoting. Check 'em out!

The Sketchnote Handbook

The Sketchnote Handbook
teaches regular people how to draw simply, think visually and create sketchnotes.
Buy the Handbook

    The Sketchnote Workbook

The Sketchnote Workbook
illustrates many new ways you can use sketchnotes to think and make your life better.
Buy the Workbook

Use code SKETCHNOTE for 35% off my books at Peachpit.