Visual Notetaking: Wish We Had This in School

Or maybe we do, depending on how you define school…Some of you may remember a couple weeks back, where I showed my joy at learning how to draw cartoon people with actual personalities, which I learned from cartoonist, author, and visual notetaking guru Austin Kleon as part of VizThink U’s webinar. I’m telling you, dekeTopians, this visual notetaking thing is something to pay attention to, especially for a visually wired set of folk like the denizens of dekeTopia. One of my favorite “Viznotes” from the seminar was Austin Kleon’s recording of what graphic recorder/facilitator Sunni Brown was saying about listening. You gotta a) love meta commentary, and b) love any piece that graphically depicts “draw the meat” with a raw steak worthy of Alex the Lion from Madacascar:

The aforementioned Sunni actually employs these skills on a very large scale in front of live audiences (no pressure, girl)...

Here’s a picture of her graphically recording the keynote by Tony Hsieh, CEO of at SXSW:

On a smaller scale, one of the other delights of the seminar was watching Mike Rohde do live sketchnotes-in-a-moleskine-style notetaking (he set up a camera so we could actually watch his pen take to paper.) Here is one of Mike’s observations:

Visual notes are everywhere these days, for good reason. In fact, just today, O’Reilly’s Chief O’Reilly, Tim, tweeted about some notes taken at his 140 Characters Conference session Johnny Goldstien (who also happened to have been in this seminar when I attended live).

In fact, that’s kind of the fun part for a work-mostly-at-home kinda girl, these webinars actually bring a vibe of community and idea-exchanginess to my othewise solitary little world. And the VizThink community is really open and friendly, not to mention creative and colorful. Kinda like you people.

To see an amazing collection of these notes that started with the webinar but soon moved out into the world, search for #viznotes on Flickr (and ignore the guy who inexplicably tagged his mangos).

Meanwhile the webinar featuring Austin, Sunni, and Mike is now available for purchase at There’s also a more in-depth webinar coming up this Friday—“Drawing out your ideas: Techniques for visual thinking, note-taking, and presentation” with Nancy Margulies. Note that when you buy either seminar, you also get access to re-watch online for 60 days. So if your notes, visual or otherwise, make you wish you could see it again, you’ll get your wish. Wish all of life had that rewind button.

Next entry:Turning a Portrait Shot into an Andy Warhol-Style Silkscreen, Part 1

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  • Tagging Your Mangos

    BTW, “tagging mangos” is going to be my new pithy phrase for “inserting an inappropriate example that momentarily derails a conversation.”

  • A question re: saving brush presets in Photoshop

    Wow !  You guys are really creative !

    Question to Deke:  On your training, under the brushes topic, you show 2 ways of saving brushes that you create, one way that saves only the brush but not the color and Blending Mode, and the second way you save them as a Brush Tool Preset which retains not only brush shape but also color and Blending Mode. My question is, where on the computer are these files saved, with what extension.  I need to know where they’re saved on both Mac & PC.  I figured out where on the PC the regular home made brushes are saved:  C / Documents & Settings / Administrator / Application Data / Adobe / Adobe PS CS4 / Presets / Brushes, but I cannot find the home made brushes that are saved with color & Blending Modes ... and I also need to know where these are saved on the Mac platform as well. 

    I was demonstrating to some students how to make brushes, and they asked where to find the file afterwards to copy onto another computer running Photoshop, ie: if they want to pass their brushes to a colleague, etc.  I hunted everywhere but couldn’t find the file .... and the file extension .... did a file search on my PC for the name I gave to the Brush Tool Preset, but it didn’t come up in the search.

    Also, can these files be copied from a Mac onto a PC and still work ok without glitches?


  • and don’t think it doesn’t happen often enough… warrant its own catchphrase.

  • Impossible

    to deny by anyone who has ever listened to one of the Martini Hour recordings ;p