How to Create Your Own Hand-Drawn Graphics

From Articulate by Tom Kuhlmann

Articulate Rapid E-Learning Blog - create hand-drawn graphics

Earlier we looked at the essential guide to visual thinking where we discussed how to communicate visually. Coupled with that post, we explored practical ways to apply visual thinking skills to elearning course design.

One advantage of visual thinking is learning to see the concepts and how to express them to others. Another advantage is that you gain the skills to create real assets that can be used in your elearning courses.

Today we’ll look at ways to create your own hand-drawn graphics. And of course you can always download some free hand-drawn graphics in the community:

How to Practice Sketching Hand-Drawn Graphics

Hand-drawn objects can create a personal and organic look. They are a stark contrast to the sterile corporate look that is so common in many courses. This contrast and the organic look can be used to craft an engaging look for the course. You don’t have to be an artist to create and use hand-drawn images.  It just takes some practice.

Articulate Rapid E-Learning Blog - create hand-drawn graphics examples

A couple of weeks ago, Blair Rorani facilitated a Twitter Draw-a-Thon. Each day a number of people submitted their sketch of that day’s object. This was a good exercise to think about the objects and how to draw them. One thing I learned was to streamline my drawings and use less to communicate more. I also tried to practice different face styles. As you can see, I’m not going to sustain a career in graphic design, but with some practice, I can create a few usable objects.

Start with Basic Shapes

Most objects are basic shapes, so you need to learn to see the basic shapes in the objects. Then practice drawing them. The more you practice, the better you get.

Articulate Rapid E-Learning Blog - create hand-drawn graphics by using basic shapes

Once you recognize the basic shapes you’ll get better at streamlining your drawings. I find that the less detail, the better.

Practice Drawing Common Course Objects

There are a few objects that are common to many elearning courses. Start by practicing to sketch them. Break them into basic shapes and then see what you can sketch. Here are a few common objects to get started. Feel free to add to the list in the comments section.

  • File folder open & folder closed
  • Piece of paper & a stack of paper
  • Desktop & laptop computers
  • Envelope
  • Paper clip
  • Phones: mobile & stationary
  • Desk & overhead desktop
  • File cabinet
  • Whiteboard
  • Cork board

My Experience

As I mentioned in this blog post on overcoming instructional design challenges, Blair Rorani live sketched my presentation.

Articulate Rapid E-Learning Blog - essential guide to visual thinking example of instructional design

I liked what he did so I tried my hand at live sketching while at a workshop in Denver. You can see the results below.

Articulate Rapid E-Learning Blog - visual thinking ideas

What I learned:

  • Find inspiration from what you like and copy it. I liked Blair’s style, so my first step was to mimic what he did. Now that I feel more comfortable I can begin to craft my own style.
  • My initial sketches took too long between capturing the big idea and trying to make it work with the technology (I used the iPad and Adobe Ideas). However, once I completed a few of the sketches, I developed some basic procedures that helped make it faster.
  • Spend some time practicing before doing it live or as you sketch for your elearning courses. One idea is to capture something going on at home. This would also probably produce a lot of laughs, too. Or just turn on the news and sketch what’s being discussed. The main point is to practice and to apply the basic concepts discussed above: use basic shapes to create objects and then practice sketching ideas.
  • Don’t worry about everything being perfect. Just do it. They look nice as they are and there’s something engaging about the organic look. However I do recommend that you practice writing text, especially if you’re using an iPad. For the iPad I use the Cosmonaut stylus because the thicker pen helps me hold it more like I would on a  whiteboard than on a piece of paper. I feel like I have more control when I draw. The newer PC tablets have pen input and some come with a stylus.

Articulate Rapid E-Learning Blog - create hand-drawn graphics via this ebook Everybody Draw Now

By the way, Blair has a new ebook, Everybody Draw Now, where he explains how to capture and communicate ideas. The book comes out April 15 and he gave me a code that will give you a 40% discount if you order prior to April 15. The code = rapidsavings.

We’re not all going to be artists who can crank out the best graphics. However, with some practice we can learn to communicate visually and streamline our graphics so they do work in our courses (assuming the proper context).

I liked the way Jeff Kortenbosch worked his drawings into a presentation. Another example of how they could be incorporated into an elearning course.

Do you draw your own objects? Feel free to share some examples in the comments section.

You might also like:
Here’s a Boatload of Free Hand-Drawn Graphics
How to Practice Visual Thinking Skills & Apply Them to …
Essential Guide to Visual Thinking for E-Learning

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