Hear. See. Think. Draw. This is the approach to visual note taking that author Mike Rohde, illustrator of the wildly popular book Rework, outlines in The Sketchnote Handbook. While most of us take notes in order to retain information, and those of us who are designers tend to doodle in the margins, “sketchnoting” is a much more thoughtful approach to getting the most out of meetings, presentations and other varied discussions. Mike shares his process with readers in this thoroughly illustrated book by explaining the approach and practice of taking sketchnotes and then providing some real life examples and hands-on exercises.
The book is divided into seven sections that explain the what, why and how of the sketchnote method before diving into explanations of different types of sketchnoting, tips and tricks to making the process effective and enjoyable, and some important instructions and exercises for drawing basic shapes, people and type. The book is a friendly size which fits nicely in your hand or on your desk as a reference tool. The whole thing is printed in grayscale with a nice pop orange to add dimension to the sketched format.
What really takes the book from instructional to engaging is the way that Mike lets his personality come through onto the pages. He shares the fact that the idea was born from frustration, recounts personal sketchnoting experiences and shares his own views with the reader:
I coined a name for this process: sketchnotes. Sketchnotes aren’t dry and detailed but are simple and clear. My personality was baked into my sketchnotes like chocolate chips in a batch of chocolate chip cookies.
The book also comes in a video edition that includes bonus instructional material about the process and practice of taking sketchnotes. One of the final steps in the sketchnoting process is to share your work with others and Mike does an exceptional job of sharing information about the book with potential readers. You can find more information, including pictures, a sample chapter, an overview video, and links to share your own sketchnotes at http://rohdesign.com/book.
Mike is a master of the sketchnoting process and the book will definitely inspire you to reevaluate those scrawled notes from last week’s board meeting. I have personally attempted to sketchnote several times since picking up the book and the process really has worked. While my notes still aren’t very pretty, the information I have retained has increased and I have left meetings feeling more confident that I understand what was discussed.
About the Reviewer Dominic Flask is a designer by nature, a teacher by application and a thoughtful companion by friendship. You can view his design portfolio here and his in-progress work on Dribbble.