My Journey With Sketchnotes
If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen some sketches I've posted. I've been doing these for a few years, off and on (depending if I have a little one on my lap at church or not...). I've always loved art. It was one of my favorite subjects in school, even though I never considered myself very good at it.
I found art to be a fun subject. Coming up with an idea, working through various processes to get to a finished project. In school, there were assignments that gave us lanes to work in, and our work fit into the box of the week. I liked that guided creativity.
A few years ago I came across a guy on Instagram who was working on creating a book that would walk you through the process of learning how to visually take notes, he called it sketchnotes. I started following him, and knew I had to get the book when it came out. It came out in the fall of 2014 and so I asked for it for Christmas, and worked through the book one weekend.
The idea is to use visual note-taking as a fun way to help you retain what you are learning. If writing things down helps us remember, drawing images helps us remember that much more. This has been true for me for sure.
As I got started, I thought the best way for me to practice this craft was to try to capture weekly sermons on paper via sketchnotes. I've loved doing this over the past few years. Like all of us, I get distracted at church. I lose focus, my mind wanders, but when I'm sketchnoting, I'm hanging on every word, thinking of ways to creatively capture thoughts and points.
nd afterward, I feel that I have a handful of images in my mind that I can recall easier because I've spend a minute or two creating and writing them down on paper. And I tend to finish my sketchnotes later at home by cleaning up some images and adding color to them. That gives me another chance to re-think through the sermon and more deeply think through how I might apply it to my daily life.
Our pastors create 30-40 minutes worth of rich content on a weekly basis. People show up, listen, and go home. Through technology, our church posts the sermons in podcast form and video form, but typically a live sermon is forgotten a few hours after we walk out the door.
The sketchnoting process has helped me extend the life of the great content our pastors work so hard all week to create. And as I post them on social media, I hope others in my church community remember a nugget or two from the sermon.
This past Easter, I was asked to create some sketches to help illustrate the call to worship song for our church (Lutheran Church of Hope). It was such a fun process. Here's a video I took at one of our services:
It was such a fun process and I even got to use some new materials to create the images (iPad Pro, Apple Pencil, and Procreate app). I was very humbled to be asked to be a part of this...even after they told me that my sketches were going to be displayed on a giant floor-to-ceiling screen!
Getting Started with Sketchnotes
I can't say this enough... If I can do this, you can do this. It's become a hobby of mine and a really fun creative outlet. If you have an artsy itch, sketchnotes are a really good way to scratch it. You only need something to write with and something to write on. But, here's a list of resources that I have come to love over the past few years.
- "The Sketchnote Handbook: The Illustrated Guide to Visual Note Taking" by Mike Rohde
- "Creative Lettering and Beyond: Inspiring Tips, Techniques & Ideas for Hand Lettering Your Way to Beautiful Works of Art"
- Moleskine Art Plus Sketchbook Large (5 in x 8.5 in)
- Canson XL Sketch 9" x 12" - this has become my favorite. I like having a bigger space to work with.
Pens / Markers / Pencils
- Pilot G-2 07 Retractable Gel Ink Roller Ball Pen - This is my go-to pen for sermon sketchnotes. It fits well in my hand and works well for me.
- Sakura Micron Pigma Pens 01, 03, 05 - I got this three-pack when I first started. It won't bleed and creates great uniform lines. Since it doesn't have a roller, and I tend to draw fairly hard, I like the G-2 07 better.
- Prismacolor Premier Double Ended (fine and chisel tip) - I bought the pack, a few blacks, and then an individual which is my absolute favorite PM-187 Leaf Green.
- Sakura SumoGrip .09 pencil with eraser - I have large hands so this feels really nice to work with, but I usually don't use pencil first when live sketching. I just use a pen.
People to Follow
- @sermonsketchnotescommunity (I find others to follow from this feed!)
And, if you're just looking for a way to capture your everyday task lists in a creative and fun way, check out #bulletjournal. There's a whole community there of super creative folks who have taken journaling to the next level. I can't seem to find enough time to get super creative with my bullet journal, but it helps me keep the creative juices flowing throughout the week.
As a hobby, sketchnotes are a great way for me to engage the creative side of my brain. It takes effort, and sometimes I find myself thinking how much easier it would be to just leave my sketchbook at home. Amidst the chaos of getting the kids and myself ready for church, it just seems like one more thing to remember. But, I'm always glad I do in fact run down the stairs quickly to grab my sketchbook and pen and take it with me. Our kids do great in the children's programs at our church and it's given me some space to focus on the sermons and capture them through sketchnotes.
Post-sermon I'm usually thinking about ways to finish up the sketchnotes either with details, color, or additional images I couldn't quite get done live. It gives me some more time to think and reflect on the sermon.