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Start with Lettering

Lesson 3 from: Visual Notetaking: A Beginner's Guide to Sketchnotes

Giselle Chow

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Lesson Info

3. Start with Lettering

Lesson Info

Start with Lettering

What we're going to do now now that you've seen it in action we're gonna break down the whole process from start to finish we're gonna start with some building blocks um and we're going to start with lettering okay um clear consistent lettering is really the building block of foundational skill for this practice we'll talk about a color palette color is really a communicator there's a whole area of color psychology that works on us whether we want it to or not whether we know it or not we'll talk a bit about that we will draw some icons from basic shapes so you will see how really everything that you can draw really when you break in town are these very foundational fundamental shapes that we all learn to draw when we were and kindergarten probably when we first started sort of moving away from making marks and start making shapes we'll talk about icons what makes a great icon and then at the end we'll dio little icon design challenge will which will get tau release this question aroun...

d um how do you kind of figure out what to do right like how do you do a concept? How does that work so we're gonna start with lettering and um we're going teo work with upper and lower case so for this um if you could actually write there's paper on your tables so if you could write on your table and maybe make yourself a little bit of room and I would recommend that you use you have probably a felt like one or two felt tip markers that are not the brush tip but the just the round felt a name so use those okay um ledge ability and speed is really the height of the two main skills when you think about forming letters okay um conventions are also something to think about how do we understand the hierarchy of meaning using different kinds of lettering as well? Also thinking about your text has something that's graphic not simply your handwriting you know somewhere else or doing something else but it's something that needs to communicate something graphically we'll talk about that we'll talk about all of these in more detail and then finally how you diagnose your handwriting right? How do you look at it as objectively as as you can okay, so but before that um a metaphor that sometimes useful teo to use is um the the idea of running a marathon right? Like if you're going to run a marathon, you don't just like put on your shoes and got the door and run a marathon rightly have tto stretch you have to plan have to think about it you have to like get prepared so we're just going to do some, uh, warming up and this is really stretching ok so something that's important I think when you do this kind of work is to really get a sense of it as a fuller body exercise, not just your hand in your wrist, right? So really, what I'm gonna ask you to do is just kind of be aware of your space if you need to stretch you scoot out a little bit, scoot your chair, make sure that you have enough room have your feet centered firmly on the floor, right? Be aware of the the whole space even look att kind of the area around you arranger works basically you'd like okay, also if right now if you are someone who does not draw regularly, okay or you're feeling like kind of anxiety around like drawing as a practice, right, I would just ask you to just take that voice that kind of critical voice, you know, it just make it like, take a walk down the hallway or send it outside send it away for a minute because it won't serve you well unnecessarily as we do this next exercise. Um, but what we're going to dio is practice and actually and this is why I'm by you to use the paper on the table is let's just start bye and I'm just gonna work over here on the sign I'm just going on the side and just create like a little workspace for myself, okay, so let's, just start by just doing a serious of lot again stretching warming up you're gonna be like we're just making lines yes, we're just making lines so just a serious just the lines just to get used to the way the paper feels with the pen. Okay, serious of horses, you don't dries quickly as ideo, right? If they're not straight, don't worry about that either, right? If you want them to be straight, I would say just notice what you're doing, we make some adjustments but just really get used to the way it feels to make marks on paper, this might be the first time that you've done this today, right here for a while, um, we're going to start with some, um, capital letters, so caps are good for titles cave similar to this all caps it calls out immediately really quickly what you're trying to, what you're trying to say, what the kind of overarching idea is. So what I'm gonna ask you to do is and in your sketchbook, I would say titles, you're gonna have to gauge the size of your title relative to the page that you're working on, so probably, I don't know there's no hard and fast rule people do this differently, but you wanted to be bigger than your subtext, so maybe like an inch or so right and actually start working through the alphabet and really take your time with that should be bigger really take your time and formed those letters take some pauses and look what you've done sometimes I back up, you know, to see what I'm doing, you can look up, look at your work from an arm's length the first few letters of the alphabet are actually really useful and that there are lots of rounded letters and and letters with straight lines. Okay, so going all right, I'm gonna stop right there and then take a minute just to look and assessed your work, right? So I noticed already I'm kind of going uphill a little bit. These aren't quite as big as I want them to be. I'm having kern ing issues, right? The space between letters this's a little bit narrow, I'd like that to be a little bigger, right? That's ok, I just no, I just will notice that that's something I tend to dio so a lot of this is actually noticing the habits that we've picked up in our handwriting. And how do we address those? As we moved to this presentation style, right? So there is there are upper are upper case lower case um is good for and I didn't do it all the time, but I did some of the time for things like this is what happens when you do this for a living you're always seeing things that you could add so lower case um is good for subtext for supporting elements um you want them to be different from your titles, right? You want people understand like this is a supporting detail it's not a major heading right? So lower case some people have written uppercase their whole lives are people you know really really feel strongly that they want to do upper case if you're one of those people it might be a little bit difficult for you to actually make the shift just try for today and if you find that really is not in your body don't like kind of fight against that but just try for today but let's practice I'm doing some lower case and your lower case should be about just going to draw the story line about half the size maybe a little bit more um half the size of your caps so I'm gonna do the same thing I'm gonna have to start over here I'm gonna work through lower case before I noticed I mentioned that thing about the current anxiety try space it out make the space is even just working through the alphabet okay I'm not connecting letters something like that so feel free to look up here if you want to just follow on and let's try some pan grams I knew what these everybody did not know they had a name before I started putting this here does anyone know what a pan graham is so pang graham is a sentence that has at least that has every letter of the alphabet included in it right it's a sentence so one that we tend to know is um the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog does anyone know that one yeah okay good I thought maybe it was so let's try that one so let's just try that to practice quick brown fox jumps over easy okay so there is one so let's do another one and this time let's think about uh ledge ability and speed right being the things that we're trying to develop so ledge ability can people read it can you read it from where you're sitting imagine someone sitting far away right or imagine someone looking at a looking at a photo of this on a tiny phone right so let's I'll give you another one another pan graham and let's try for legibility and speed keeping that in mind the next one I think it's my favorite when zombies arrive comma quickly fax judge pat pat being someone's name when zombies arrive as you know they will when zombies arrive comma quickly fax judge pat okay gonna right up here zombies arrive quickly fax judge capitalize that's okay if you did it okay now let's do one more thing before you move on um I'll talk a little bit about um your text is graphic okay, but let's do a time a timed tests just to so you can see how much of the alphabet you can work through in about ten seconds or so okay, so what? I'm going to do it make sure you have enough space in front of you you might need a shift around a little bit so I'd like you to dio is um when I say I'll say on your market set go and you will write the alphabet just like this like we did um going for ledge ability and speed ok and I will give you ten seconds to do it I'll call time we'll do it twice and you can just see how far you get through each time. Okay, so legibility in speed all right, you ready? Everyone right? Okay on your mark get set go alleged billy and speed okay, stop good now just go right underneath and let's do it again on your mark get set, go! You're furious fighting okay, stop. Did you get farther the second time? Yeah. How many football that's farther the second time around almost seven that's great. So and also so a little quick practices really make a difference also, um take a look right now and assess your writing so think about what you created do you have letters that are connected can you read all of it imagine someone looking at that third party right would they be ableto to understand what you're communicating okay great so we talked a bit about conventions I mentioned the I'll just mention that briefly again titles in all caps sometimes I'll do um subheadings in all caps too but smaller so you see here I did start up a podcast in company documenting the process he's talking about you know his first initial episodes so those air subheds I sometimes too in all caps a swell okay subtext often in lower case okay also something to think about with lettering is think about your texas something graphic right? So this idea might be a a brain shift moment for for some of us but we need to separate this task from the way you write when you write a grocery list or to do list or your writing you know note to your partner or something like that on a post it note it's different right so this is a presentation tool communications tool so think about that aspect of it when you do this particular task of sketch noting one thing to think about and you might have had this experience on your paper during the warm up exercise is you might have found a cz I kind of did over here right that your handwriting might kind of trail up or trail down right? One way to avoid that is to write in blocks of text so in smaller so if you could imagine the way did these if you could imagine sir, these invisible boxes, you know that you could draw around them it also gives you way more design options when you're doing your sketch notes, right? Because if I have this piece of paper and I write harnessing the power of honest connection and I start here and I just write it in a big straight line going all the way across it's going to take up probably about like that much space, and at that point I'm I'm really handing myself in in terms of design options, I don't have a cz many right cause I'm responding when you are, but I'm responding to that big line of text being there, um, which when you don't know what's coming next can sometimes make you feel more limited in terms of choices. Okay, so I'm always interested in thinking about what areas many options and doors I can keep open right as the content comes in knowing I have to keep closing them based on what I here, so one way to do that that I found works is writing in blocks of text, okay, I'm scrunching them together, okay, all right, um we talked about that diagnosing your handwriting. I just invited you to do that. Also, ideas for practice in the materials list. I refer to two books that actually give you, um, what you might remember from, you know, first grade practice on letter formation, because some of us have picked up habits about how to actually form letters. So some tips on that also, oh, I would say, when you do, those two do lists, or when you write those post it notes, you know, to your partner at home, like, try to do them is something graphic, like, take ten extra seconds and think about okay. I'm going to actually practice and try to make this something graphic.

Class Materials

Bonus Video with Purchase

Bonus Video: Titles with Flair HD Mp4
Materials List & Starter Kit

Ratings and Reviews


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!

Student Work