How To Sketchnote (Even If You Suck At Drawing)

Sketchnotes are a great way to organize information, jotting down visual elements instead of taking notes in word form.

This is a great way to process information and makes it easier for you to review key points later on.

If you are looking to start with sketchnotes, you might be put off by the fact that you have no artistic ability, but don’t let that steer you away.

You really do not need any drawing skills to be able to sketchnote!

I’ll help you learn how to sketchnote, even if you suck at drawing, plus benefits of doodling and sketchnotes.

What Is Sketchnoting?

How To Sketchnote for beginners

Sketchnoting refers to the process of taking visual notes instead of solely writing notes.

At first, sketchnoting was popular with those who attended conferences, but it has now become a popular method used by students and those who prefer visual learning compared to reading written notes.

For some, the process of drawing sketches and doodles helps them memorize their work, makes learning easier and helps them come back to it with better understanding at a later stage.

Processing what you are hearing and drawing this down into a notebook is an incredibly effective way of actually listening to and understanding what you are being taught or told, instead of just writing down keywords that you hear.

It helps ideas stick more, and it is definitely more fun!

What Are The Benefits Of Doodles And Sketchnote

Sketchnoting has many benefits, but it is not for everyone. If you find that visual learning and representation is your thing, then you should definitely give sketchnoting a try.

For a start, there are many studies that show that images are much more effective with encouraging memory retention, motivation, and comprehension, than when using words.

The process of sketchnoting is also calming and therapeutic, and this state actually helps you take in more information than rushing to write down hurried notes.

When sketchnoting, you are able to see the bigger picture, to visualize concepts, and to make connections in learning. It also gives you the chance to display your thoughts and visual process, which helps you pick up where you left off at a later stage.

Doodling and sketchnoting also helps you become more engaged in class and lectures, making notetaking more meaningful, and simply more fun, and is a great way to keep motivated when learning new concepts.

Once you figure out the best way to sketchnote and doodle, note-taking will become so much easier for you in class, and probably quicker than summarizing notes using words. 

How To Get Started With Sketchnotes/Visual Notes

Get your sketchnoting pens and highlighters ready to start!

There is not much planning that goes into sketchnoting, but you do need to have a few things to get started. Keep all the tools you need with you so that you can easily get started when your class begins.

Here are a few helpful tips on how to get started with sketchnoting and visual notes.

Get Your Tools Ready

You do not have to go out and buy the most expensive equipment, but having a decent notebook and a good quality pen will encourage you to sketchnote more.

There is only a small amount of stationery you need to get started. Here are the basics:

Notebook – A blank notebook is a must. Make sure it is large enough, such as an A4, so that you aren’t too restricted by space when the creative juices start flowing through lectures. Anything bigger would be difficult to carry around.

Felt tip pen – Make sure to use a good quality black felt tip pen. Keep an extra one handy so that you never run out. The size of the pen you use will depend on what you prefer, but a 0.5 pen is a good start.

Colored marker – It is a good idea to keep a colored marker with you in case you feel like adding something extra into your notes. You could choose a grey marker if you want to keep things monochrome or choose some neon highlighters for a brighter effect.

Correction fluid – You might want to keep some correction fluid on hand in case you make any mistakes. While mistakes form part of the process, you might get irritated with cross-outs on your page!

Practice Sketchnoting

Don’t wait until your first lecture or conference to start sketchnoting, you can practice first at home. To do this, you could simply put on a recording of a lecture or speech and try sketchnote and doodle as you go.

This gives you a little more confidence before diving into the real thing!

Practice Sketching Common Items

You should try to build up your sketching repertoire. The type of objects you practice drawing will depend on your field, but some certain shapes and objects can be used across a few different fields.

Try to think of the different objects, shapes, and brands you might use in your sketchnoting. You could even go through some of your old written notes and pick out the most common items to practice.

I use a lot of lightbulbs, conversation bubbles, and arrows to connect ideas.

These can form a base of your sketchnotes and everything else can be improvised!

Don’t Cancel Out Writing

Create simple sketchnote designs to map ideas together

While sketchnoting depends mainly on pictures and illustrations, not everything can be drawn. If there is a memorable or important quote brought up in a conference or lecture, feel free to write it down. 

If you want it to pop out some more, then you can draw some interesting borders around it, or bubbles to make it stand out. Having some words on the page might make it all mesh together better for you, and helps important phrases stick out.

Don’t Shy Away From Stick Figures

The first rule of sketchnoting is that everyone can do it, you don’t have to be a professional sketch artist! There is absolutely no reason that you cannot use stick figures to illustrate important points.

You will be defeating the point of sketchnoting if you spend more time worrying about shading and clean lines than the actual work you are taking down. Some small additions to the stick man can help illustrate a point beautifully, so you do not need to put too much into it.

Personalize Your Notes

It is always important to try to make learning fun where you can. To help with this, you can personalize your page with borders, dividers, and colors. Even if you consider your field of study to be quite serious, a little bit of fun and color is always welcome.

Don’t be scared to add in stickers and washi tape as well. If you are lucky, you might even be able to find stickers that pertain to what you are doodling down, which not only makes it easier but more attractive too!

Sketchnoting Made Easy

Sketchnoting is a wonderful way to take notes to help you study later on, or to mark down key points of a conference or speech without having to write down sentences, only for them to be confusing later on.

Don’t be scared to start sketchnoting if you can only draw a stickman, that is really all you need.

Sketchnoting can be doodles, scribbles, and lines, as long as they are visual representations of the information you are taking down that can be understood by you later on.

This can be a huge game-changer for college and improve your study habits significantly!

Will you be giving sketchnotes a try?!

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