Skip to main content

Visual Notetaking: A Beginner's Guide to Sketchnotes

Lesson 10 of 15

Layout Design: The Cluster

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

10. Layout Design: The Cluster

Lesson Info

Layout Design: The Cluster

So the next one is the cluster so let me talk a little bit about the cluster and we'll do a very similar really, really similar process and I think russell you're talking to me about okay the next question uh clusters advantages and limitations of the cluster so um a cluster shows connections, affinities relationships right? You're clustering like ideas with each other the disadvantage is that doesn't show the sequence of ideas so you're giving up sequencing for relationship, which is ok it's just a choice you're making right depends on what you want to do with the information I called the cluster the unifier like unifier it sounds like pro wrestling names like the unifier it really is a way to bring clarity to bring out um, big ideas big themes to help a group make sense of what they're saying and to do some sorting so it brings unity to a conversation. Another drawback of clustering is it can be difficult to manage in real time because what you're essentially doing is the person talk...

ing is not saying, hey, I'm saying this thing it goes under this heading or this thing is kind of similar to this idea but kind of different they're not giving you that information so in your mind you're doing that work serving the in the back of your brain while your record for while you're recording the information and capturing it okay, so ah, little bit more complex than the list um but we're going to try uh okay, so similar process five minute um interview with russell the question is what do you need? What do you need to consider when showing around out of town guests like one of the things you think about when you show people around and then I'm going to facilitate the conversation I'll capture everything up here on the other side and then we will um have some time for feedback in some insights on the cluster ok, so let me where do you take on a tongue? Guests and then what do you consider is the other one? So I'm gonna give you a little time to think about it? Well, I set up okay see what do you need to consider? Mmm mmm mmm mmm mmm mmm mmm. Morning c longest title ever been showing around out of town guests all right. And this is russell russell where are you from? Where you local too? Uh I live in san francisco. You d'oh okay, we'll just put also okay. Okay. So what are some of the things that you feel like you need to think about? Consider one you're hosting people are showing people around well, one thing is the things that are special and different about san francisco then they can only get by visiting here um to pay on where they're from yeah, right and then also things that, um are specific to them that they are what they do for fun or what things that they would enjoy so if they like if they're mohr into outdoor fun or museums or cultural attractions uh or if they want to go out and party and uh or if they want teo uh eat great food um what their budgets are like so but it sounds like it's a little bit different okay and how much time they have uh so if they have a weak here it's going to be a different kind of trip than if they just have a day or a weekend and then things like logistics, um like getting them from the airport or what do they have a car? And, um uh, how like, where exactly are they going to stay? And, um, details like that? Do people often stay with you? Or is there kind of a kind of a mixed, you know, usually people stay with me, okay, what are some other logistics that you feel like you have to think about? You mentioned they have a car where they're gonna stay or there are other things that are important they're for you, um how are they gonna how they're gonna get around when they're here? Where are you where they going to do meals whether we're gonna have ahh whether we're gonna cook dinner at my house at all where they were just gonna go out um if they have kids what their kids are going to do for fun great so you've talked about, um a few considerations some of them religious sects right? Do they have a car how they get around we're going to stay to their kids you know we're going to eat there's also this piece around like things that are special indifferent about san francisco right that you wanna make sure you you address that and then things that they do which is all kind of different things that they do for for fun right? Which there's also some consideration between these two right from these two things and then I don't know it's like budgets is that similar to logistic so that seems like it might be budgets the time they have a week a day that seems that does not seem different from logistics to you does it seem like something something else? Um yeah that's that that's gonna inform the content I guess with logistics or how we're going to is actually how we're going to do it and then budget sort of informs like what we choose for fun and andi which kinds of special things about san francisco we way want it you want to do okay great all right start ups so if you were to look up here you've got this thing that they do for fun and then you've got some examples things are special dad sf the budgets the time they have that informs these and there's logistical piece is there anything else any other considerations um no I'd say those mean things but I think we could we could expand a lot more on how we choose what they're doing for fun okay maybe maybe we are asking them ahead of time we're doing helping them asking them what they have in mind and then doing a little bit of work on the ground toe make it possible for them to get what they want okay so so kind of what would yu is that so asking them ahead of time what they want to do okay uh let's say okay so there's sort of preplanning piece right if you were to call this something or this if you know these being around logistics is there something you would call this like a process or something planning may be planning a research uh okay ah let's see type of planning or do you have one preference of planning is okay right right great so let's stop there alright thank you very nice thank you nice work so um what did you notice about that process about the clustering what did you notice about the information he gave me about what I did well, I noticed you started over in the corner and then um for the next cluster an idea you gave yourself a lot of room a lot of space between led to just to make sure that you have have room to expand on those ideas right? So the first thing I wrote down and step starting over here which I did for the list I actually started about like three o'clock right? So that immediately forces me to not think list and think about how these different items they're going to be arranged in space that's one distinction yeah, anything else you started to create a structure it's almost an ex poor five distinct areas and then as we went through you started to connect them by arrows on even your you're headings via color so it created a nice composition in the end so a little bit of order and some categorization structure right? And russell definitely helped me out because when he started talking about logistics he gave me lots of logistical elements at the same time so I knew they all went here when he first aren't talking he was talking about sort of three three different distinct categories they weren't ness I didn't see them excessively related to each other, you know um or had to have a chance to ask him about it so I didn't want to make a relationship where there might not be a relationship writes that was another thing I was thinking about okay, anything else? Yeah well, I think when you mentioned like connecting the dots before some of the logistics will then inform can you do what kind of outdoor things can you do if you have a car so it's uh more complicated decision making progress, right? Right? And I could have taken I could have taken him down that that road right? You know, I could have started and you're seeing what you're seeing are actually the relationships see you're making a connection between do they have a car and that outdoor peace right, which you might not see if I just made a straight list of stuff you know, so there's something about items being arrayed in space that helps us see and recognise those relationships that's a little bit different, right? And that could be maybe that's the next conversation like okay, well, if you do have a car how we're gonna think about this great anything else about proceed differently from what you had envisioned the way the kevin sort of took a side route did this proceed the way do you imagine that it would pretty much I think the challenging thing about a cluster of I mean about this work in general, but with the clusters you don't really know what you're going to get until you get it and so there's lots of on the spot decisionmaking about where to place things right? And if I were doing this, like, if I were, you know, hired by you and you really wanted me to like we wanted to get to the heart of, like, how you think about this question for yourself, I would be asking you the questions I was asking you like, do you see this is similar or different to this are these different ideas? Because I'm doing this for you, right? I'm not doing it for my idea of what I think the answers are, um and I'd be asking those questions like, does it have a title? Is their category for that and everything else that goes under that in that bucket for you? Um, so those questions air helpful to give to give clarity to the process if you are doing this on your own. So if you imagine sketch noting personally on your own right, and you're sitting there in the audience, you get to make all those calls yourself right, um and that's part of the sort filter that you bring to it, you bring that to the work, you know? So you get to make those decisions so okay, great, so let me show you a couple more things, um, some conventions of the clusters, I haven't added them yet, but I will some kind of bullet point I want to create some way that you understand that this is a major point and these air supporting points, right? They'll all be the same. Um, the connections are made clear, so there are these lions make the girl from this larger idea to smaller supporting ideas. You said yourself, like russell said himself, oh, actually, like, which was like a great kind of cluster moment, right? You're like, oh, actually, these informed these things like you didn't start off by saying budgets and formed these things, but you didn't say it in that order, but after you came up with this and this, you realize that that was the relationship rights that's another are of the cluster. So showing those connections, um also there's, lots of negative space. So there's a lot of white space that activates are thinking so we can make those comparisons. It's very hard to see those relationships if you've got lots of information crammed, crammed in okay, also is not linear right there. Sammy mentioned the beginning it's not a left to right column exercise, right? You're kind of out of sequence, which is the power.

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!