I finished reading a book called The Sketchnote Handbook. Beautiful little thing with rounded corners and such nice paper. And great content too, of course. Here’s what I wrote on Goodreads:
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I am one of those “visual” people who happened to do sketchnoting before discovering that it IS a *thing*. Stumbling upon this book, the website, community and podcast etc. has been exhilarating, to say the least. I love that this book breaks things down for others, who perhaps are not as familiar with sketchnoting, to learn to do the magic.
I have to say my favourite parts of the book were the “guest spreads” done by various sketchnoters — love that they are dotted in between chapters, love how their styles vary but are all uniquely attractive. I also enjoyed analysing Mike Rohde’s style and illustrations within the book, somehow I found this activity more fascinating than actually absorbing what he is saying (kinda like going through a comic book and becoming caught up with the images) (but again, this is because I have some sketchnoting experience, hence there were few things that seemed new to my knowledge).
It would have been useful if the “exercises” were dotted across the book as well, rather than at the back. One would be itching to doodle/try things out before reaching the end.
My next reading of this book will be to copy ideas from all the sketchnotes shared, as well as to note down the pen/stationery recommendations! Gosh I love it when others are as pen-crazy as I am. I have yet to go through the videos online but I am sure they will be useful, like the podcasts.
And I’m also reading An Illustrated Journey by Danny Gregory, but because there’s a lot to go through in there (about 40 artists, I think?) I’m savouring it slowly, so to speak.
Also totally enjoying the online-side of the book, ie. video interviews. It’s so cool whenever you find a niche/community that you can relate to!
One of the many questions that Danny asks in the interviews are whether one sketches when and where it’s convenient to (eg. when you happen to have time and there’s a bench to sit on), or whether one seeks a specific building/scene to sketch and stands (or brings a chair to sit on) there regardless of the inconvenient surroundings. I think so far I’ve been the former: I started sketching (properly) about a year ago, during lunch break at the office and while waiting for my mum to pick me up after work. Now, in the UK, it’s mostly been indoors (for obvious reasons) while waiting for food to arrive when eating out.
But I also aim to draw more landmark-ish scenes of the place I live, and so whenever the weather allows, I’ll be out happily sketching.
If anybody’s interested in what kind of tools/stuff I use… well, so far it’s a mix of random papers (some are watercolour ones, some not) and sizes and loose papers/pads/sketchbooks… But I think I would recommend using a couple of sketchbooks (different sizes and watercolour-friendliness). Proper artists’ sketchbooks really do have nicer paper, I’ve discovered. Pens: I’ve used Faber-Castell Pitt pens and quite like them, as well as the usual Uni Pin pens that architecture students will be familiar with. But my new favourite pen is a uniball eye, a writing pen that gives the same width line no matter what kind of direction or pressure I use. (There are many different kinds of uniballs, I tried them out because other sketchers seem to like them too!)
There’s seriously a treasure trove of information and works out there, written by sketchers/artists/enthusiasts. Here’s a taste:
And some quotes I’m pulling from my Facebook shared links:
I firmly believe that anyone can relearn to draw. We began life drawing, some of us just kept on doing it. To relearn this skill, one need only to make it a priority. Perhaps treat yourself to a class or workshop on basic drawing skills. Buy a sketchbook and begin drawing in it every day, even if the picture is just a little something… Don’t judge the outcome, just put pencil to paper. Make sure you work in your book every day until it becoms a habit that you look forward to. There will come a day when you don’t even have to think about it and your authentic voice will emerge on the page before you.
— Lisa Cheney-Jorgensen in An Illustrated Journey
I discovered that when I drew something, I remembered it in deepest detail. I remember the way the light fell on the building, the sounds birds made as they flew overhead, every item in a shop window, conversations I overheard, and life all around me became richer and more vivid because I was doing this simple thing: drawing with a pen in a book.
— Danny Gregory in An Illustrated Journey
So many people had art as a part of their life when they were younger but abandoned it later in life. I try to let them know it’s OK to try again. It’s not about being good or great but more about putting the dumb camera away and start to fiddle about with pens and paint again. When I met my wife, she had no real hobbies. After seeing me draw all the time, she started knitting and cooking. She even did a few paintings herself. My role as an artist in society: small.
Some of my other doodly works are in the form of quotes / stuff-not-drawn-from-life, and they’re all dumped into Facebook because I cannot be bothered with Flickr or any other gallery-like tools. I might do compilation entries like this once in a while, though.