Skip to main content

Visual Notetaking: A Beginner's Guide to Sketchnotes

Lesson 11 of 15

Add Visuals: Borders, Relationships, & Metaphors

Giselle Chow

Visual Notetaking: A Beginner's Guide to Sketchnotes

Giselle Chow

Starting under


Get access to this class +2000 more taught by the world's top experts

  • 24/7 access via desktop, mobile, or TV
  • New classes added every month
  • Download lessons for offline viewing
  • Exclusive content for subscribers

Lesson Info

11. Add Visuals: Borders, Relationships, & Metaphors

Lesson Info

Add Visuals: Borders, Relationships, & Metaphors

Let me talk a little bit about other ways you can add um elements that reinforce meaning one is and phil frida kind of fall along yes I do this borders and shapes around text so for instance if we go back here this is the kind of like flair moment I think if I want to go back and look at this list definitely one thing I would d'oh which I started to dio which is adding these little dotted lines to create more of a sense of the kind of undulating list sequence okay, I think what I would also dio is I would call out these shapes around text you know so when you look at this it's clear what number is attributed to what location? Okay you can actually see in the text choice I made right where I was starting to dio the location's in all caps smaller subheds but then he went off on this porch about the golden gate bridge and golden gate park and I thought it was a supporting elements I went toe into lower case which I recognise now if I were to do all over again I'd keep it in upper case but...

that's okay that's just where the conversation happens so you see how calling out thie information here so I'm kind of connecting it as well to the list we have it actually make you go behind it calls out that information differently kevin seems we're into the blue pence I could even do a little blue pen here okay, so now when you look at it it's even more clear right? But these items are so one way to call out information borders shapes around text um sometimes what I dio is if a talk is much shorter than I think it's going to be when you need is a little sad but it works okay um sometimes what I will do is I will create um a border that goes from the inside of this all the way around because I got a bunch of white space here which is okay, but maybe I'm not crazy about the way that looks, you know? And then I'm also realizing that if I do that I'm backing up so I can get a better look at what I'm doing I'm trying to figure out what color I want to do it and I think I'm going to do it in this one so I'm also realizing that have two charts side by side and at first glance I want you to be really, really clear that these are two different conversations and right now it's not super super clear to me so well I can also do which could also help a little bit because I can just do a big bounding boxes remember again like are big way started off with drawing rectangles like we can still do that. This is just a big rectangle. I'm having a go behind behind the text. Who? Squeaky marker. So now we've got this box is gonna go right behind our sea lion, so just gives it a sense of space. It's a little bit different now, you know, that's one conversation, right, that's really clear. Okay, so, um, arrows call out is another thing that you might do. I could even use it over here. So for instance, um, maybe for these pieces that have titles, maybe I want to create little arrow the point to these larger headings I know they're in different marker, different color, but something like that little drop shadow behind them. Yes, men. I don't know. I think there's also something nice about, um I want to say call outs what I what I'm actually talking about our speech bubbles, you know, but I think that's kind of nice to give a sense that, you know, maybe on this one, I want to make it really clear that russell said all these things, right? So maybe for this one, I want to create thes little speech, but but like here, the things that he said, okay, so one trick that I do is I wasn't planning on this before I'm thinking about it now this text block is much bigger than this one, but that doesn't mean I have to encircle the tech all the text inside I'm kind of drawing behind it that way I can make these two shapes about the same size so they look a little bit more uniform, right? Um so now it's pretty clear the's the things that he said right? The one we're here this one's gonna be a little funky with this way okay? I want to all of them so now it looks like they're things that he said, yeah, if I don't have me, it seems like I sort of proceeded I sort of I'm seeing now in retrospect that there's not a whole lot of that, you know, for example, planning really runs into what they do for fun runs into, like, thinking about it all kind of runs together, so and as I was, you know, going through that now I can see like it wasn't exactly ordered or structured the way that I explain it to you. So you recorded as I talked about it, how do you go back and inform and play structure on it after if logistics and informs and planning aren't actually the most sensible bucket since right planning obviously blends into what they do for fun and what special lot so that would be the question I would I would say ask you right as my client right I was okay well this is the way that this conversation occurred and these were in the moment you know I asked like what's the title for this or what would you call this and these are things she gave me looking at it now does this make sense? You know are these the way you want to talk you want to think about uh consider um you know when you take a round on tongue are these helpful and you might be like yeah they're really helpful or you might be like no they're kind of helpful but I realize that there's a connection between planning and things they do for fun like these things were really related where these aren't at all you know so that we could make changes we get screwed stuff over we can draw arrows do you see something like that now you mentioned one does planning is uh yes that may be like planning is just sort of like an over an overarching uh an overarching theme for everything and then ahead of time research is like then I could almost think of it sequentially like ahead of time research into what they do for fun knowledge that I have about what is special about san francisco what their budgets are and then finally maybe details executing logistics, tow, tow teo craft a plan that that works for what for what all that middle stuff is right? So I think visually would be laid out really differently now if I read it and so what you're suggesting is that maybe this is the piece that comes first right? And then it feeds into the what they do for fun so you're actually create a secret like a process bay sequence now you're kind of moving back to this one based on what we but we did but I think if I were to ask you okay list for me and sequence in order the things you think about when you take out of town guests I wonder if you would come up with that that process in the beginning here I mean so that's kind of the different thinking dispositions that it triggers when you do a cluster over this list and that's a great point that you could kind of move flexibly between these things and they bring out different kinds of thinking also all right, let me just finish up a few more items here so how will they get around where will they stay kids I'm feeling the need these aren't quite the's just need like a little something something so they're not so here are bullet points man so they're differentiated you can see they're different items now okay uh things they do for fun uh there's there too time they have with their budgets air like asking ahead what they dio and then well, there's something similar here does add little bits of highlight here. Okay, I think this is these are also I realize now that this could be something like that too so here's the time they have also all right, I'm also thinking same thing here kind of calling these out a little bit differently we don't have a title for everyone that's okay sometimes it's easy to get hung up thinking like I wanted to be balanced I want there to be a title for every single one but that's not the way the conversation unfolded right? So you're also trying to be honest, what actually happened? Right? Okay, um, one thing to add also before we wrap it up is this idea of metaphorical drawings, right and how they can really lend an additional sense of meaning what we create this one ended up being in some ways metaphorical by the way the conversation folded. So as kevin spoke, I tried to add some iconography around the stairs. Turtle hill media bus you know, paddle boats, sea lions. He has a map like structure, right? So there's already a sense of a journey happening here. Listen, quinn shal journey if you can leverage although this is compelling if you can leverage something um that will resonate with your audience in terms of a very simple metaphorical drawing it can also do a lot to enhance meaning, so if you think about you know what we have here from russell he's talking about what you need to consider when showing aren't out of town guests things they do for fun, what their budgets air like the time they have can we think of a drawing or something like when you look at all this together, is there something that comes to mind that would pull this together visually some kind of unifying drawing so someone that comes to mind for you curious so something I'm thinking is if we wanted teo emphasize this idea is that the end? Russell said something really interesting was like, oh, now I realize like, this is the plight the planning is actually really important and the conversation we're having is around considering and planning like this isn't happening yet like it's the pre planning so if I did something down here at the bottom right where um maybe we have maybe we have hears russell sitting at his desk and he is doing some work and pre planning and imagining right what this is going to be right? So maybe this is all part of his thought process, you know? And maybe if this is, um, around san francisco he didn't name specific places, but we know he is in san francisco so maybe kind of stealing from over there but maybe you'll have to forgive me around night sort of accurate like geography thanks, but maybe there is you know the picture of the bridge here with some hills this way was original lighthouse says these things on it so there's a sense of place here without bridging help it's okay, okay, but maybe there's something that we can think of that gives it a sense of place or pulls it ties it together so as opposed to the call out, you know, speech bubbles and the titles which are great, but what can we imagine, what he's actually doing okay, so and then actually realized I should also do this to make it match. We created this square on this side we can do it on this side. Thats ok. You actually have to go right behind this other area say make sure it's wei have are kind of unconventional list but still a list and then a little bit of clustering. All right? Yeah, I've noticed that some nights I'm working even small either have a lift like things go up slightly like the text goes up slightly or a sag what kind of dips down slightly or is there something that's good to practice? Yeah on that. So what I do to avoid that is I actually used the edges of the paper to help me. So if I know that I am working here on this side, and I really want them raja stairs to be to be level, I know that if I write at a right angle from this edge, because I know this is just straight, so you can use the edge of your paper, a site guide, you know, that will help, um, same with the top, so the way I can get the title straight straight is that I know this is level here, so I'm just using this is a sight line all the way across, right to keep it straight? Um, similarly, oh, um, it's also helpful if you have a yellow marker, if you find that you have a lot of trouble keeping things level and, you know, things are gonna go in certain places, if you use a yellow marker to before you start, like, imagine this is a blank piece of paper. If you use this to create guidelines for yourself, you know, you could draw them on, and people don't know that they're there, you can see them close up, but people can't see them from far away, so having invisible

Class Description

Graphic facilitation uses attention-grabbing images, colors, and words to represent ideas shared during meetings, conferences, and events. Learn how it is done in Visual Notetaking: A Beginner's Guide to Sketchnotes with Giselle Chow.

In this beginner-friendly class, you’ll learn how to actively listen and illustrate ideas in a whole new way. 

Giselle will teach you how to: 

  • Listen for relevant information
  • Represent ideas in text and graphics
  • Build an icon bank 
  • Use color and size for emphasis

Giselle is a consultant with The Grove and in this class, she’ll teach you how to make ideas leap off a page. Giselle will cover everything from preparation to execution and you’ll learn how to make a visual compendium of an event that can be shared with attendees and social audiences.

You’ll also learn about drawing connections in a way that makes information easier to retain and helps visual thinkers grasp new concepts and ideas.

If you want to add an exciting new skills to your design repertoire and learn how to make engaging, share-worthy visual notes, don’t miss Visual Notetaking: A Beginner's Guide to Sketchnotes with Giselle Chow. 



Wonderful overview of sketch noting with tons of opportunities to practice, learn, and refine skills! Appreciated the side benefits of recognizing sketchnoting involves active listening and the opportunity to practice that too. Thank you! 110% recommend this course.

Tran Phuong

Great fundamental skills for effective notetaking! I love Gisele and all her lessons! They are super easy to follow and understand. Would recommend it of course!

Lisa Houghton

I really enjoyed this class. I am a beginner sketchnoter and found it very helpful. Great pace and delivery by instructor. Every minute was worth it. Thank you!