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 in Sketches (67)


Never Eat Alone & Jury Duty Moleskine Sketches

Not much time or energy to write a long thoughtful post today, so instead I'm including a scan of two sketches I've recently created in my pocket Moleskine sketchbook:

(click the image above to see an enlarged version)

Left page: This is realization of an idea I had for encapsulating ideas from books as free form type-treatment sketches. In this case, I'd been reading Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi, and had been inspired by many of the ideas Keith presents. So, I set out to capture the ideas floating to the surface of my mind on a page in my Moleskine. I had so much fun doing this I may do it again for other books I'm reading.

Right page: The sketches on this page are much less logical and ordered. I spent a day in the Milwaukee County Jury pool last week with some time on my hands, so I began sketching things that caught my eye in the cafeteria and assembly room. Actually, the bottom half of this page sat blank for nearly a week, until last night, when I completed it with a sketch of a character from the TV series Monk, and commentary on my short stint in jury service.

I hope you enjoy this funky blend of sketches. :-)

Related Links:
Mike Rohde-signs Never Eat Alone's Secrets to Success

Technorati Tags: , ,, ,


Hey Beer Man Sketch

On Thursday I created a little sketch of a guy who briefly walked through the Caribou Coffee shop I was sitting in. For some odd reason I had the desire to recall and sketch his image from memory to my Moleskine pocket sketchbook, a mere 30 seconds after he'd vacated the premises. hey-beer-man.jpgI wanted to see how well I could capture his essence from memory alone. The result is the funky sketch you see here, entitled "Hey Beer Man."

Now I am actually unsure if said guy was a Beer man, however he did have a blue uniform on, complete with oval name tag (though I admit using the name Fred because I couldn't recall the real name) and matching blue baseball cap. In the moment as he passed, I got the idea he was a beer truck driver... don't ask me why. He's probably a washing machine repairman for all I know.

The point to all of the back-story for this silly little sketch is this: try sketching someone or something you've just seen without the reference of that object in front of you. It's challenging eh? But what's cool is, it requires you to reach back into your memory and recall your impression. It's a good exercise for improving your visual memory.

Why not give it a try?

Technorati Tags: , ,,


Outer Level Logo Design

Logo.pngI thoroughly enjoy logo design work, so when MakaluMedia clients talk about their experience in the logo design process I'm always interested. Just yesterday, Jon Trainer of Outer Level, posted a detailed article describing his experiences of collaborating on a logo design with me. Jon develops applications, including the game Bullfrog and the utility License Keeper for Mac OS as well as software development consulting.

I thought it would be interesting to quote some of Jon's post here and provide my own thoughts.

Keywords and Goals:

Thankfully, this is where Mike comes in. Something I didn’t think about prior to hiring Mike, but would recommend to anyone looking for a graphic designer, is that you look for someone who can “consult” with you on your image. Instead of just asking what I wanted my logo to look like, Mike sent a short list of questions to solidify his feel for my tastes, personality, and desired company image.

One thing I've found helpful is to describe goals you're shooting for when designing a logo. What kinds of feelings should it evoke in a viewer? Should it convey strength, warmth, honesty? While these might seem to be nebulous words, I think setting goals in words helps clients and myself get focus before the sketch process even begins.

Dead End Ideas:

A little over a week later, Mike sent me two full pages of pencil sketches incorporating my descriptors and his own feelings from the Outer Level name. outerlevel-sketch-01.jpgSome of his ideas reflected ones I have had in mind for years — probably the more obvious and common images that Outer Level brings to mind. These are precisely the ones I didn’t want. I was looking to avoid the common and the obvious. Also in the sketches were some ideas that immediately captured my imagination.

Lately I've found it good to go down the 'obvious' paths to prove that the idea either has some potential — or that it's a complete dead end.

Leaving 'dead end' ideas right in my sketches, while clearly explaining why they are dead ends to my clients helps cleanse the dead end idea out of the system, allowing me to try other areas of exploration and 'let go" of the dead end idea.

There is of course, a risk a client will like a dead end idea. However, because I always provide comprehensive explanations with my sketches, I've found clients trust my judgement when I call out a dead end.

Client Collaboration

There were many bits in these sketches that I really liked. So I sent back my comments along with my own sketches because I tend to think better in pictures than in words.


When Jon sent me his sketches I was very excited to see him getting into the process so deeply! I'm a proponent of visual thinking, so seeing my sketches encourage a client to sketch was wonderful to see.


To this point, the process had been quite fun, though challenging. I had no idea what was in store now that it was time for color. I envisioned blue, red, and even green as potential main colors and wasn’t surprised that I wasn’t alone in this train of thought.

Color is maybe the toughest part of the logo process in my opinion. Colors carry have emotional impact, which is why I like to leave color to the end of the process — this helps void choosing a logo based on the color rather than a great concept.

Unfortunately, once I saw these colors applied to the logo design they didn’t project the feel I was looking for. But, I really liked the warm red-orange sunrise-like background Mike had incorporated. So I searched out some photos of planets, nebulas, etc. and sent them to Mike as a sample of colors that appeared in space. Maybe, these would help change the feel of the logo.

As it turns out, these “space colors” lead us in the right direction.


It's rare to nail down final color selections on the first round because color is so complex. This is why it's so important to collaborate with clients. In this case, Jon sent some reference to give me an idea of his tastes, from which I was able to draw out some new options.

Logo.pngThe entire process really is a back and forth; client feedback and my expertise, combined to arrive at a final logomark that's attractive, practical and pleases both the client and designer.

What intrigues me is how fun this process can be, particularly for clients. All of the clients who have collaborated in their own logo process have commented on how much they enjoyed it. Knowing clients get a logo they love and a process that's fun makes for a very satisfying experience for everyone.

If you need of a logo and are intrigued by this design process, drop me a line.

Technorati Tags: , , , ,


Visual Thinking School and the Visual Voice

A few weeks ago, I was inspired by Visual thinking practice: Heads and hands on Dave Gray's weblog Communication Nation — an exercise in observation, where you try to capture heads and hands in a sketchbook.

m-cariboufaces.gifWhile at a local Caribou, I pulled out my Moleskine Pocket Sketchbook, and began observing folks coming into the shop, trying to capture their faces as cartoons. The result is the sketch to you see to the right. Of course you'll notice that I stopped at the faces and heads — I ran out of time to work on hands!

However, I found the exercise very relaxing and quite challenging. For instance, how do you capture someone's face accurately without staring at them? I realized that it forced me to capture more information with each glance, and rely on my memory to put own the shapes I was observing.

Visual Voice and Comparison
The exercise Visual thinking practice: Finding your visual voice reminded me of a recent acceptance of the "visual voice" I see in my sketches. While I don't consider myself a great artist (like Russell Stutler is) I've come to accept my own voice as unique and different — my own.

On the one hand I enjoy solving problems visually, which is the basis for the logo, icon and even web work I do for clients. On the other, I sometimes feel my sketches are not as "good" as someone else's work.

While technically that may be true — I've realized it's more about my unique visual voice. My sketches, sketchtoons and doodles are a part of me, completely unique. Like my voice or writing style, they define and represent my personality.

If you want to try sketching but feel you are a terrible artist, let go of that idea. If you feel your stuff isn't up to some other artist's level — let go of that comparison as a reason to avoid sketching! Admiration of great sketching is good, if it is truly that — don't allow sketch paralysis because you can never be as good, because this steals away the joy of sketching.

Once I let go of worrying about how good others were in comparison to me, I was free to enjoy sketching: successes and mistakes together. The whole point of sketching is to express yourself visually and have fun in the process. Don't let sketching be about quality or comparison, let it be about expression, joy and experience.

Check out Dave's Visual Thinking School form suggestions to get inspired in 2006 to sketch and explore your own visual thinking.

Update: Awesome! My blogpal Daniel has taken up sketching this year and is already excited about his progress! Check out Creative journey here I come and be inspired everyone!

Technorati Tags: , , , , ,


Digital Moleskine Concept

Lately, I've been spending more time carrying around and capturing ideas in my pocket Moleskine gridded idea book.

One idea captured in the idea book in February 2004 was that of a digital Moleskine-like pocket notebook, inspired by an email exchange with artist Witold Riedel. You can see the sketch below (click for the larger version):

The idea was to have a high resolution display and input area, combined with wireless (WiFi and Bluetooth) and wired high speed access. Witold's idea was to have the digital Moleskine generate an RSS feed of sketches, to be shared with other device owners and folks on the net. This way you could check for new sketches and then click to view them on your digital Moleskine.

Not only would it operate as a digital sketchbook, with overlays to simulate paper textures, gridlines and rules and so forth, but it would also be a viewer, showing your RSS subscriptions to other digital Moleskine devices out on the net.

It would also have USB and Firewire ports for input and output, a VGA out port for display of sketches on screens and overhead projectors, and an SD slot (or two) for storage of sketches. I imagine flash memory would be most sensible for a device like this, for both size and durability.

After sketching the idea, I thought it might be nice to make the input/view screen a two-page spread rather than a single page. Hey, I'm dreaming here, why not? :-)

It would need to be sturdy, so I imagine high resolution "digital paper" would be best for the screen/writing surface.

Anyway, it's a wild idea which will likely be realized when my son is my age, but you never know. I figure by putting the idea out there now, it might happen and maybe I'll get some royalties to put my him through college. :-)

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

Page 1 ... 5 6 7 8 9 ... 14 Next 5 Entries »