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Entries in Sketchnotes (82)


Pipeline RailsConf Illustration

LATE FRIDAY I received a message from David Heinemeier Hansson, requesting a slide illustration for his RailsConf 2011 keynote.

David is a partner at 37signals, co-author of REWORK (the book I illustrated) and creator of the Ruby on Rails development framework.

David provided his talk title The Asset Pipeline and our Post-Modern, Hybrid, Javascript Future, along with notes about pipelines and a Jetson-like spaceship he envisioned. Beyond that, I was free to have some fun with the illustration.

iPad Concepting

I grabbed my iPad for concepting, using Penultimate with my finger and Stylus Sock Pro to sketch several concepts. This is the final, approved sketch:

Pipeline Concept Sketch (iPad)

The iPad and Penultimate worked well for these rough concepts. I was able to get several ideas down quickly and email them directly to David from the iPad for review.

Inking and Production

With the concept and general direction set, I brought out my large Moleskine sketchbook, penciled in the rough imagery and began inking the pipeline, landscape, space ships and several bits of hand-drawn typography.

Pipeline Moleskine Inked Illustrations

Here you can see the pages where I inked the illustration. Note how pieces are spread out on the page and not in any specific order — that's because I scan the pieces and assemble them in Photoshop. This approach provides control and lets me make changes quickly.

Once the pieces were scanned and assembled, the final slide looked like this:

Pipeline Sketchnote Illustration

I was very happy with the end result. Having just finished watching Mad Men Season 4 last week, I was definitely channeling 1965 into the final illustration.

David was very pleased with the results as well:

I'll be keynoting tomorrow morning on this topic at RailsConf: (illustration by the wonderful @rohdesign)less than a minute ago via Tweetie for Mac Favorite Retweet Reply

Thanks David!

UPDATE - David mentioned this article on the 37signals blog, Signal vs. Noise.


Chick-fil-A Leadercast Sketchnotes

Chick-fil-A Leadercast Sketchnotes

ON MAY 6TH, I had an amazing opportunity to sketchnote the Chick-fil-A Leadercast in Atlanta, Georgia. In April I wrote about being commissioned to sketchnote the event. Now that my work is done, I'd say the Leadercast exceeded my expectations.

Giant Impact, organizers of Chick-fil-A Leadercast were superb. On Thursday, I was flown to Atlanta, provided a room at the Omni and invited to the speaker dinner. On Friday I captured live sketchnotes at the Georgia Word Congress Center from a VIP lounge chair.

The extreme lighting which made the stage look great, made my sketchnoting task challenging. However, I found a pop light on a table near my white Don Draper lounge chair, which perfectly illuminated my Moleskine sketchbook for most of the day.

Here's the full collection of sketchnotes captured live at Chick-fil-A Leadercast:

Chick-Fil-A Leadercast Sketchnotes 01-02 - Title Page
Chick-Fil-A Leadercast Sketchnotes 03-04 - John Maxwell
Chick-Fil-A Leadercast Sketchnotes 05-06 - John Maxwell / Seth Godin
Chick-Fil-A Leadercast Sketchnotes 07-08 - Seth Godin
Chick-Fil-A Leadercast Sketchnotes 09-10 - Seth Godin / Mack Brown
Chick-Fil-A Leadercast Sketchnotes 11-12 - Mack Brown
Chick-Fil-A Leadercast Sketchnotes 13-14 - Sir Ken Robinson
Chick-Fil-A Leadercast Sketchnotes 15-16 - Sir Ken Robinson / Erin Gruwell
Chick-Fil-A Leadercast Sketchnotes 17-18 - Erin Gruwell
Chick-Fil-A Leadercast Sketchnotes 19-20 - Frans Johansson
Chick-Fil-A Leadercast Sketchnotes 21-22 - Frans Johansson / Suzy Welch
Chick-Fil-A Leadercast Sketchnotes 23-24 - Suzy Welch
Chick-Fil-A Leadercast Sketchnotes 25-26 - Alison Levine
Chick-Fil-A Leadercast Sketchnotes 27-28 - Alison Levine / Dan Cathy & Muhtar Kent
Chick-Fil-A Leadercast Sketchnotes 29-30 - Can Cathy & Muhtar Kent
Chick-Fil-A Leadercast Sketchnotes 31-32 - Dan Cathy & Muhtar Kent / Dave Ramsey
Chick-Fil-A Leadercast Sketchnotes 33-34 - Dave Ramsey
Chick-Fil-A Leadercast Sketchnotes 35-36 - Dave Ramsey

It was fascinating to hear all eleven speakers in a single, one-day track. Every speaker had a unique way of presenting and a unique, thought-provoking perspective on leadership.

Sketchnoting Field Tips & Notes

There were several new approaches I tried with these sketchnotes which worked quite well that I'd like to record for myself and share with you:

Pre-created Speaker Title Pages - Thursday evening before the event, I took time to create title pages for each of the speakers, with 8 blank pages between each title page.

I this way, I made sure names were spelled correctly in the calm environment of my hotel. Pre-creating title pages provided an orderly structure when I started working on Friday, freeing me to focus on capturing ideas rather than sweating those details during the event.

A Portable Light Source - Finding a pop light for a portable light source was a happy accident. I should have brought my little book light, but forgot it at home. Fortunately, the pop light's diffused glow worked well, even though I had to hold it with my left hand.

An iPad & iPhone - I decided to travel without a laptop, carrying only my iPad 2 and iPhone 3GS. Besides being lighter than a MacBook, he iPad came in handy as a portable table for my Moleskine while sitting in the lounge chair and as a laptop replacement.

Unfortunately, Flickr isn't well optimized for touch, so editing my sketchnote photos with the iPad was less than ideal. I'm investigating iOS tools like Flickr Studio and hope to find an app that allows me to manage my Flickr images on the road.

The iPhone worked great for capturing photos of the sketchnotes in progress. During breaks I found decent lighting backstage to take shots of each page with Camera+. On each shot, I applied the flash filter for contrast, converted the color images to black and white, posted them to a new set on Flickr and announced some on Twitter.

Nomadic CB-1 Wise Walker Backpack - The Wise Walker backpack is gem — the perfect travel companion. It worked great for traveling around Washington DC, and perfectly in Atlanta too. It'ss the perfect size for my iPad, several sketchbooks, pens, water, snacks and a rain jacket with plenty of compartments for all sorts of items. Not too big, not too small.

Thank You

Thanks go to Jeff Shinabager for making the initial connection; to Dan Cathy at Chick-fil-A for his graciousness; to Jeremie Kubicek, David Hoyt, Rachel Christopher, Stephanie Holcombe, Kevin Lee and Craig Johnson on the Giant Impact Leadercast team for their organization and care for me in Atlanta. I had a great time.


Washington DC Sketchnotes

Ampgreen460 new

Last week my family and I flew to Washington DC, so I could speak to the Art Director's Club of Metro Washington DC. Our family also had a chance to enjoy the city for a week.

Lately, I've been making a more conscious effort to sketchnote as much as I can, and in different ways. This felt like a great opportunity to keep myself in practice.

Back in June 2009 I captured an Alaskan cruise as sketchnotes, which were fun to do and turned out quite well.

Sketchnoting Washington DC

I took my brand new Ugmonk premium green leather journal to DC and used it to capture my week as a sketchnote travelogue on 12 pages:

Washington DC Sketchnotes 01-02
Washington DC Sketchnotes 03-04
Washington DC Sketchnotes 05-06
Washington DC Sketchnotes 07-08
Washington DC Sketchnotes 09-10
Washington DC Sketchnotes 11-12

My Travelogue Sketchnote Process

Pages were created in the morning, or in the evening when the kids were sleeping. Images were captured with my iPhone on site and added when I created the pages.

The last 2 pages of the book were created in Milwaukee, after I'd had time to reflect on the trip and capture my thoughts about our experience.

I took photos of finished pages with my iPhone camera and posted them on Twitter, just in case my journal was lost or damaged. Fortunately the journal survived the trip.

The Benefits of Travelogue Journaling

Of course, it's a little more work capturing your travels in a journal, but I believe there are real benefits to putting in the effort while experiences are fresh.

• Journaling travel provides a way to solidify the experiences you're having, and what you're thinking while in the moment. When I've skipped my journal, I find days and events blurring together or simply being forgotten.

• Journaling travel is an investment now, which you can enjoy in the future. I regularly look back at sketchnote journals of my trips and recall those enjoyable experiences. I know I'll do the same for our wonderful trip to Washington DC.

Try journaling your experience. It's fun and helps you and your friends re-experience all of the details years after the trip is over. Give it a try!


Idea to Interface Illustrations

Creating illustrations for REWORK, TEDMED and Associations Now Magazine, often leads to new projects. In February, Aarron Walter hired me to create illustrations for his Idea to Interface presentation. This is the story of the creation process.

Aarron is a friend, an accomplished speaker, author, designer and teacher. He was preparing to speak at An Event Apart and other events in 2011 and was interested in hand-drawn illustrations for his slides.

Pencil Sketch Concepts

The first step in my illustration process is to get as much information as possible: text, images, comments from the client and then take the reference and sketch out concepts.

Below are the pencil sketches for the Idea to Interface project — from general thoughts on page 1 and 2, all the way to specific slide layouts in pages 3-10.

Idea to Interface: Pencil Concepts: Page 1-2
Idea to Interface: Pencil Concepts: Page 3-4 Idea to Interface: Pencil Concepts: Page 5-6 Idea to Interface: Pencil Concepts: Page 7-8 Idea to Interface: Pencil Concepts: Page 9-10

These sketches were presented to Aarron in Basecamp, where we reviewed, discussed and approved them for inking and colorization. Note the detailed comments on my sketches. I capture my thoughts as I sketch, which are often helpful in finalizing ideas with clients.

Inking the Art

Once sketches were approved, I began sketching the structures in pencil in my large Moleskine sketchbook, inking on top of the pencil. Once dry, I erased the pencil underneath, tuned up the final art and scanned the inked illustrations directly into Photoshop.

Ipad drawing

You can see in this sample inked illustration that I've added elements around the central illustration. I do this to replace or add elements to the final artwork. For instance, the iPad button to the right was drawn to replace the smaller one in the iPad itself.

Finalizing & Colorization

In the final stage of my illustration process, scans are tuned in Photoshop and colorized. I look for places where the inking may have a rough edge, spots of white in dark regions or other minor flaws I can repair with the brush tool.

I created a master document, set to the correct size and began assembling scanned bits in layer groups in the document for each slide. Once each slide's structure was set, I created new layers for each color in the illustration. In this case I chose only a few colors in the palette and used them for all of the slides.

Below are 11 finished slide illustrations, with a few notes about each one:

Idea to Interface: Title Slide

Title Slide - This was the first illustration and slide for the deck. This concept went through several iterations before we had it where we wanted it. Initially there was no red in the slide, but through experimentation, I found splitting the screen on an angle emphasized both the idea and interface states covered in Aarron's talk.

Idea to Interface: The Victorious King (1 of 6)

Slide 1 - This is conquering King Heiro II, who would eventually commission a crown for his victory and Archimedes to verify its contents were pure gold. For some reason I had The 300 and Sparta in mind when I created this illustration.

Idea to Interface: Golden Crown (2 of 6)

Slide 2 - The crown of gold commissioned by King Heiro, of dubious gold content.

Idea to Interface: Confused Archimedes (3 of 6)

Slide 3 - A confused and perplexed Archimedes, considering his challenge from King Heiro to determine the gold content of the king's crown.

Idea to Interface: A Drawn Bath (4 of 6)

Slide 4 - A bath drawn by Archimedes' wife, which was intended to relax him and take his mind off of the crown of gold problem. I had a little fun with this slide, adding in a yellow rubber ducky next to the brush.

Idea to Interface: Archimedes has an Idea (5 of 6)

Slide 5 - Archimedes relaxes with water rolling over the sides of his bathtub and in that moment, realizes that water in a container can show actual mass of an object like a dubiously golden crown, when compared to an identically weighted pure gold object.

Idea to Interface: Eureka! (6 of 6)

Slide 6 - In his excitement about solving the problem, Archimedes jumps out of the bath buck naked and runs through the streets shouting EUREKA!

Idea to Interface: Working for the MAN

Slide 7 - In this slide, Aarron wanted to portray "working for the man" in a humorous way, so I created a mustachioed MAN and enlarged him over the shoulder of a small. sticker-covered, laptop-using web designer in a chair on the right.

Idea to Interface: The User Interface

Slide 8 - This illustration shows visually how an interface acts as a window through which users communicate with each other.

Idea to Interface: Cross the Line to Start

Slide 9 - This image encourages listeners to step across the line and start something.

Idea to Interface: Thank You!

Slide 10 - The thank you slide, with Ducky in there for a parting goodbye.

Sketchnote Font Testing

Aarron also wanted a hand-drawn font for the deck, to connect visually with my illustration work. As it turned out, a very rough alpha version of my Sketchnote font had been prepared by Delve Withrington, so I took the opportunity to have Aarron test it out.

Aaron Walter: Emotional Design  #aea

The font worked well, considering the many missing elements and no kerning in place. I thought it was an encouraging early test of the font.

Delivery & Field Use

I provided Aarron with final PNG files for his Keynote deck in our Basecamp project and in a shared Dropbox folder, for backup. This allowed Aarron to drop images into his deck as I completed them in batches, while he prepared other details of the deck.

Aarron reported that the illustrations was very well received at its first appearance at An Event Apart Seattle and that he was pleased with how everything turned out. Now he's taken his show on the road, sharing Idea to Interface with other Event Apart cities.

Thanks Aarron for choosing me for your project. I had a great time!


Aarron Walter's “Idea to Interface” Links & Resources
An Event Apart
Sketchnote Font


Speaking: The Art and Practice of Sketchnoting - Washington DC

Adcmw logo

On Wednesday, April 27th at 6:30, I'll be speaking to the Art Director's Club of Metropolitan Washington (ADCMW) on the Art and Practice of Sketchnoting.

I'm very excited to be sharing the story of sketchnotes, the lessons learned from them and how those lessons apply to art direction, design and life.

Thank you Carolyn Sewell and Eric Stewart for making this event happen!

Location Details:

Center for Digital Imaging Arts (CDIA), Studio C
1055 Thomas Jefferson Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20007-DC (Google Map)

Time: 6)30-8:30 ET
Non-member price: $35.00

If you're in the DC area, please join us Wednesday night!


Mike Rohde's Art and Practice of Sketchnoting - ADCMW
Art Director's Club of Metropolitan Washington (ADCMW)
ADCMW Full Bleed Magazine
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