Sketch noting at #altc

One thing I did at last year’s ALT conference was some sketch noting and I am hoping to do something similar at this year’s conference.

Last year I was using the iPad pro, Paper by 53 and an Apple Pencil and I am expecting to use the same technology again. My original sketch notes were done with a single colour pen. When I moved jobs I invested in some Stabilo colour pens and a notepad and got some more interesting results.

One thing that I will be doing is preparing the canvas in advance, so that once the talk starts I can get straight into the writing, drawing and painting.

The Dave White and Donna Lanclos “Being Human” keynote from last year provided an opportunity for a range of styles in using the app.

Each sketch comprises various components and aspects. The title and the conference are there, and as the talk progresses key features of the session or highlights are added to the canvas. Sometimes added as text, sometimes as a drawing. Despite what other people say I don’t think I can draw, so most of my drawings are more interpretive sketches than actual lifelike drawings. I use a thin black pen for the outline of the “thing” before colouring it in using the brush tool. I also add iconography where appropriate.

I was also pleased with this note from the 1MinuteCPD session at last year’s ALT conference.

This one demonstrates the use of broad “washes” of colour to enhance and add to the sketch. You can see how I have added shadows and highlights to certain drawings within the sketch.

The various tools in Paper by 53 take advantage of the pressure feature of the Apple Pencil and so I can draw thinner or thicker lines (or text).

It is quite a focused task, so I do take advantage of the undo feature when I have either made a mistake or used the wrong brush or tool.

One aspect I have found with some keynotes or presentations is that the talk is so filled and jammed with stuff that a single canvas isn’t enough. With Ian Livingstone’s keynote last year I covered three pages.

Ian Livingstone’s keynote

I haven’t really worked out how to do a bigger canvas on Paper by 53, so in the end I did three different pages.

So why do I do this?

My sketch notes are really for me, rather than other people. The process of sketching allows my to digest for myself what is been talked about and demonstrated. The sketch note provides me with a mechanism that provides a process for my interpretation of what is being said and what I understand from the talk. The process of sketching engages me in the talk in ways in which note taking does for others, or conversing on the Twitter.

Looking back at the sketch notes I have used in this blog post has reminded me of those talks I sketched and what I got from them.

They are not done for other people, if other people find them useful then that’s just a bonus. I am not sure how useful they are for other people, but having posted them to the Twitter I did receive some nice comments about them.

So are you going to be sketch noting at the ALT Conference this year? What tools do you use? Why do you do it and what value do you get from the process?

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