Book Review: The Sketchnote Workbook by Mike Rohde

As someone who was looking to develop their drawing skills, I was very excited to get my hands on The Sketchnote Workbook. It has allowed me to up my sketchnoting game considerably.

It has proven to be an invaluable tool in developing my visual thinking abilities. Through the exercises I’ve experienced a noticeable improvement in both my sketches.

I applied the exercises directly to my projects and research, in doing so I discovered new ideas whilst searching for visual metaphors, and that distilling the ideas into drawings helped to focus on what was important.

The first exercise I undertook was to create a 5 year plan. The creation of this plan helped me create a clear and inspiring narrative for what I’m doing with my life. It provided a strong basis for communicating my project not just visually but also verbally. I noted a direct change in how I described what I was doing after the creation of this plan, having distilled the story into images it became easier to communicate verbally.

Having established some clarity of direction, there was much to research, assess and analyze. The frameworks offered within the book as well as the invitation to test and evaluate, provided me with something to build on. In the end I chose to create my own Hexagonal structure due to my Design being based on the Hexayurt — the Hexahome. For the curious you can find out more about the project here. It was interesting to observe how the structure I created would affect the outcome — the Hexagon inviting themes and divisions for the work to be undertaken.

The focus on thinking visually, developing icons, and continuous sketching also led to a short hand logo for the Hexahome — <+>.

To begin with I started mapping the physical space and it’s contents, later moving to a Systems Map. You can see below the differences these approaches unlock. This is one of the interesting things I discovered by getting into sketchnoting. The metaphors you choose, the structures that you pick to begin with will affect the way you think about your notes.

The plan view allows for consideration of human scale movement within the Hexahome.
The Systems Map helps to identify the connections between different functions of the Hexahome.

There is still much for me to discover in the book. Seeing how my skills have already grown through the exercises it contains I will continue to apply the techniques it contains and develop my sketchnoting muscles further.

My next challenges include sketchnoting for language acquisition and sketchnoting blog posts — like this one.

I highly recommend the Sketchnoting Workbook for anyone wishing to develop their visual thinking skills.

Disclosure: Mike Rohde supported the Betabook Kickstarter campaign to produce the Betabook — Thanks Mike.

This review originally published on @jaycousins blog Mind Flip on September 3, 2015.

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