The Mini Visual Starter Kit – Feedback and Practice

I often get asked by people: “How do I get started with sketchnoting or visual thinking?”.
One way of doing it, is to attend one of my workshops… but as this is not always possible, I created a nice and compact ressource I could point people to if they just wanted to dip their feet in the water and see what it feels like.

This Mini Visual Starter Kit is designed to help anyone who is interested to take the very first steps towards making their meeting notes and project planning more visual. It contains a cheat sheet with a basic set of simple icons to copy, tips for practicing and a set of methods for using the icons to structure meeting notes and plan projects visually.

So far, over a thousand people have downloaded the Starter Kit and from the feedback I’ve gotten, it seems that quite a few of them enjoy practicing with it’s help:

 Nice example of the icons applied in notes by @lettowjenny

Nice example of the icons applied in notes by @lettowjenny

 @tbx314 is even using the illustration in the intro as material for practice

@tbx314 is even using the illustration in the intro as material for practice

If you have been using the starter kit to practice, to make your meeting notes more visual or to plan a project, I’d love to see your work. Post it on twitter or instagram and tag me (@evalottchen) or just send me an email with a picture ( to evalotta AT evalotta DOT net).

If you haven’t got the Mini Visual Starter Kit yet, you can download it here.
Happy Sketching everybody!

UX Australia – Getting sketchnoted myself

Usually, I am the one quietly sketching along to interesting speeches on stage. It's a rare treat when my own talks get sketchnoted by other people. I was lucky enough to have some really talented people sitting in the audience when I talked about 'Visual Literacy and Visual Fluency' at this year's 10th anniversary edition of UX Australia. Below are what they made of my talk.
Thank you, sketchnoters. It's so  interesting to see which details you captured!

 Sketchnotes by Alan Chen –  @fable_us

Sketchnotes by Alan Chen – @fable_us

 Sketchnotes by  Cindy WM Chong –   @bravescribbler

Sketchnotes by Cindy WM Chong – @bravescribbler

 Sketchnotes by Gerard Hogan –  @   g_hoges    ‏

Sketchnotes by Gerard Hogan – @g_hoges

 Sketchnotes by Inna Fourer –  @innshki

Sketchnotes by Inna Fourer – @innshki

 Sketchnotes by Krijstelle Liao –  @notjustapotato

Sketchnotes by Krijstelle Liao – @notjustapotato

While over here, we also did a little meet-up and mini-workshop for the design community in Sydney. My awesome designer friend Buzz Usborne took care of all the logistics and announcements and the lovely folks from ustwo were kind enough to host the event and make it a really welcoming and fun experience for me and the 70 attendees.
And again: I got lucky as Ben Crothers was in the audience, capturing what I said and what we did in his beautiful clear style:


Sketchnotes by Ben Crothers – @bencrothers

 Unfortunately I can’t find the name of the person who did this anymore. If it’s you, do let me know. I love your style :)

Unfortunately I can’t find the name of the person who did this anymore. If it’s you, do let me know. I love your style :)

Visual literacy and visual fluency – a short interview at UX Australia

Last week I had the joy and honour to give a talk at UX Australia, speaking to over 800 people about the importance and power of expressing ourselves visually.
After the talk, I spoke with the lovely people from Pop-up Radio who recorded podcasts, soundbites and interviews during the conference.

Below is my interview, covering the power of using words and images in combination, our natural ability to understand visual information and giving yourself permission to draw.
(Excuse the slightly rambly start... it's getting better a few minutes in)

You should also check out all the interviews with the other speakers. Lots of great thoughts in there:

Visualising inclusiveness and diversity

[[last updated on 12 Sept 2018 adding article by Sam Bradd]]
Recently the question about how to sketch diversity and people from different ethnic and cultural backgrounds quite a few times during Q&A after my talks and in my workshops. It is a interesting and important question to raise and one with no quick and easy answer. Like diversity itself, how to represent it is a nuanced question with lots of subtle undertones and hidden assumptions being hidden in how we see and draw 'the other' (or in the worst case, ignore them altogether).

There are a few excellent pieces by fellow illustrators and sketchnoters that explore the topic from various angles showing examples from real projects and what they and their teams learned in the process. If you are interested in the topic, go read the following articles.

 Image: Alice Lee

Image: Alice Lee

Inclusiveness in illustration – Designing an inclusive illustration brand for

In this article Illustrator Alice Lee describes her process of designing a diverse and inclusive set of characters for that they use for marketing and explaining the sites functionalities. A lot of great considerations about how shapes, colours, lines and other visual elements can subtly shift the story and our perception.
Read Alice's article

You Can’t Just Draw Purple People and Call it Diversity

A very nuanced piece article by illustrator Meg Robichaud about all the challenges and resulting considerations she encountered when building out an illustration style for Shopify.  Showing people in your illustrations can bring so much richness to the story, but also adds the responsibility to be empathetic and thoughtful about how you tell this story and depict the people in it. Her thinking goes beyond just body shapes, skin colour and and other physical attributes and includes considerations about how the situations, actions and surroundings you choose convey as much or more about a person and how you view her.
Read Meg's article

 Image: Meg Robichaud

Image: Meg Robichaud

 Image: Ben Crothers

Image: Ben Crothers

Easy ways to show more diversity in your sketches

Ben Crothers, sketchnoter and author of Presto Sketching, makes the connection between diversity and level of detail in your sketches. He gives some practical tips how to add a diversity to your sketches by playing with simple hairstyles, accessories, body shape and posture. 
Read Ben's article

Diversity: Drawing people in Sketchnotes

Nadine Roßa, a fellow sketchnoter from Berlin and author of Sketchnotes (only in German), is picking up the idea of playing with different facial and physical attributes and sketching not only different (stereo-)types of people, but actually real people, in all their diversity in appearance, character and circumstances. She also raises the question if it is possible to draw a real 'neutral' person by leaving out as much detail as possible.
Read Nadine's article

 Image: Nadine Rossa

Image: Nadine Rossa

 Images by atlassian

Images by atlassian

Designing inclusive illustrations (or, a brief history of the meeple)

In this article, By Sara VanSlyke, Lead Designer at Atlassian, tells the story of how their illustrations of people and their roles in a team (they call them ‘Meeples’) evolved over the years to include more diversity. It is interesting to see the small steps between iterations and learn about the impact of this process not only on the final illustrations but also on the general conversation on what diversity means for the company and their clients. (Thank you, Molly for the hint to this article)

Illustrating inclusive communities

Damien Terwagne, Brand Design Manager at Airtasker, describes their approach for visualising inclusiveness through illustration in Airtasker’s product and marketing. Besides representing different ethnicities, cultures and genders, the team also considered aspects of inclusiveness like addressing stereotypical beauty standards and paying attention to how social interactions are shown.
(Thanks to Buzz Usborne for pointing me to this article)

 Image: Airtasker

Image: Airtasker

 Image by Sam Bradd

Image by Sam Bradd

How Visual Practitioners Listen for Diversity: tips from the field

This article goes a step further and not only looks at how to visualise diversity, but also how to listen for diversity when live recording and how to encourage and record the diversity of perspectives in the room. For this piece Sam Bradd collected diverse perspectives from many experts in the field and shares them nicely structured by topic.
(Thanks to Nancy for the hint and to Brad for sending me the link)