We’re going to warm up.
When you are beginning to sketchnote, you’ll be tempted to sketch as rapidly as you possibly can. You’ll worry you’ll miss something important. Don’t. Draw as you would breathe normally, not too quickly, not too slowly. Let’s get a feel for how much time that might be. Find a clock with a second hand. You’ll do this part for 15 seconds.
Start now by just moving your pen in easy, slow circles and squiggles on a page in your sketchbook for 15 seconds. Let your hand and your pen fl o-o-o-o-o-w across the page. Breathe.
This will both loosen up your hand and give you a feel for how long 15 seconds really is. Remember, we’re aiming for a civilized walking pace. Not strolling in New Orleans or late for a meeting in Manhattan. Maybe like you’re meeting a friend for a drink at The Driskill and you have an interesting story you’re looking forward to telling.
Okay, move your pen.
How did that feel?
These next two exercises will allow you to use your body wisdom, the wisdom of your fine motor skills.
Stand up and shake out your body. Really shake it. Roll your head around. Now shake out your hands. Be loose.
Exercise 2, Stir Circles
We’ll start with sitr circles.
Hold hand above your sketchbook page and make a circle about 1/3 the width of your sketchbook page, as if you were stirring a small cup of tea. Now put your pen down and draw that circle, keeping that same stirring motion.
Now put your pen down and draw a row of three circles across the page, keeping that stirring motion.
Draw two more rows below. Fill the page. You’ll have three rows of three circles each. We’re going to come back to these in the next lesson so you can either create a new page of circles just for practice or move on to a fresh page.
Exercise 3, Throw lines
1. Make two dots, one on the left hand side of your page and one on the far right hand side. They should represent two points of a straight line.
2. Now place your pen on the left hand dot and look at the right hand dot. Don’t look at your pen; look where you are going. There’s a great quote that says something like, “You don’t need to look behind you. 3. That’s not where you’re going.” Who said that?
4. Throw the line, just like you would throw a ball, keeping your eye on your destination. Use your whole arm. It knows what to do.
? How are those lines?
1. Now make a dot at the top of your page and a dot at the bottom. Make them close to vertical. Do the same thing.
2. Place your pen on the top dot, focus your eye on the destination dot and let gravity work to pull the line.
You can do this at any scale. Now you can easily draw tables in your sketchbook,on a flip chart, on a white board.
Now let’s put both of these skills together.
Exercise 4, Facial expressions
Use your throw lines to draw a 4 x 4 grid. Leave a little room on your page at the top of your grid and a little room on the left hand margin. You are going to use these. If you like, you may draw a 5 x 5 grid to make sure that you save the space.
Fill the 4 x 4 grid with stir circles.
Add the following information to the left hand margin and the top of your grid. Like this:
All of the human face happens on the lower half of the head.
The key components of expression, remember we’re all about capturing essence, are the brows, the eyes and the mouth. Let’s do a bit of practice. This is an adaptation of a great demonstration that Austin Kleon does when he talks about simple expressions.
- Draw four rows of circles with four circles in each row. Leave a bit of space below each row.
- On the first row, add only straight brows. Two straight lines.
- On the second row, add two diagonal brows, slanting down in the middle.
- On the third row, add two diagonal brows, slanting down on the outside.
- On the fourth row, add two arcs for brows. You choose, up arcs or down arcs.
- Now add the eyes below the brows. Put in simple eyes. Dots.
- Now noses. Put in several different noses. Noses point the face, so they show the direction that the face is looking. Point your noses in different directions.
- Now on the mouth line, on the first column, add a straight mouth all the way down the column.
- For the second column, make the mouth frowny. These can be either close lipped frowns or open mouth anger if you like.
- On the third column make the mouth smiley. Same deal open or closed.
- For the fourth column, make the mouth jagged. Same deal again, open or closed.
Let’s see how much information you can capture with a few simple lines.
Show your journal page to someone else. See if they can label the expressions for each face.
Swap back. Read the labels. See if you agree or if you’d add a different label.
See what simple but eloquent expressions you created using only brows and the mouth?