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Drawing elements, your alphabet

You use simple elements, you use already in your daily life.

Learning how to sketch note is like learning a language. The basic vocabulary is key and icons are the words of the sketch note language. You start with simple icons and have a limited vocabulary at first, to become more and more flexible with your extended set of vocabulary. The great thing is, that you can learn while you look around in your daily life and pick up shapes from TV, advertisements, websites etc. Having ten Icons in your repertoire will already make your notes look a lot more vital – you will be astonished what they will do for you. (Image ten Icons). You decide how flexible you want to become in this language, it does not need a lot.

I like to ask people (and mostly they say they can not draw) to draw a cat. And they come up with something like so:

ugly grumpy cat sketch

But thinking simpler helps a lot, and you could come up with something much easier. In the end, we remember, it is not about art, it is about creating a visual anker.

cat icon sketchnote

So the main rule is: use elements you use everyday, when writing or visualizing something. And everybody can do that, because we all do it already. Your key elements are:

basic drawing shapes
use dot, straight line, waved line, triangle, spiral or a simple c-shape as simple drawing elements
further drawing shapes
triangle, square, circle, heart, oval – all regularly used shapes

Now suddenly the “drawings” are not so scary anymore right? The cat is a combination out of circles, straight lines and triangles – so why shouldn’t everybody be able to do so? No doubt, drawing nicer lines, triangles and circles will need practice. But we do not make sketch notes to become the next Picasso, we use sketch notes to make note taking more memorable and fun.

Let’s see some examples:

simple elements combined to a house icon
daily shapes give us a cup of coffee icon
or just regular letters combine to a light bulb icon

– straight lines are easier than rounded
– smaller is easier than big
– draw what ever element in one go – imperfect form is better than broken lines

I assume you like to learn sketch notes, know what to use them for and do not dip any scientific routes of why sketch notes are so great. Neither do I dig into any material fight – try what you like, any pencil is good, there are I pads or flip charts … just start.

And it all starts with the discovery: “I can draw a line, and I do it every day.” Yes we can! Simple and basic shapes are essential to make sketch noting available to everyone. They consist of lines, triangle, circles and all these simple elements we are used to create every single day. And I promise you after less then two hours you are able to create simple sketch notes yourself. 

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