Chad Moore's blog

Reminder to myself

The importance of reflection. From Steve Jobs by way of Austin Kleon’s Steal Like An Artist

I had to stop highlighting the book Steal Like An Artist as I would have wound up with spent highlighters and a book that was completely yellow. This is a great book.

I haven’t participated in the daily doodle in ages. It’s always a challenge to create a visual in 20seconds based off a one word prompt. Sometimes you gotta fly without the safety net, like this poor guy

I made a Sketchnote today and you can too

This is a post about my thoughts on Sketchnotes, and an example of how I made this one today.

I learned a lot about Sketchnoting from Chris Wilson and Mike Rhode’s books. As well as many other people and places online.

I am a beginning Sketchnoter so I’d like to keep practicing to get better with layout and typography in particular. My hope is that with practice my analog versions are better in those respects so I don’t have to rely as much on the digital tools, in time.

What is a Sketchnote?

There is debate about when something is a sketchnote and when it’s an illustration. For this post, and my opinion in general is it doesn’t freaking matter.

My definition is that a Sketchnote is a visual representation of ideas. Captured and finished live in the moment, or planned out an illustrated over time. Or a combination of both. The person seeing the sketchnote probably doesn’t care how it was made. And for me, the creator, it’s a way to take notes that will resonate at a deeper level for me, and be retained in my memory longer.

My example in this article is that combination. I found a video I wanted to watch. Then:

  1. I Sketchnoted it live with pen and paper
  2. I took a picture of it with my phone to digitize it
  3. I brought it into the Procreate app on my iPad to take it further

Call it whatever you will, but that’s what I did.

More on the sketchnoting process

Front matter

Some layout decisions, and typically the “header” of the sketchnote can be made before hand. Reading the abstract of a talk you’re going to attend, or the description of the video you’re about to watch for the first time should give you clues as to what layout to use.

Here are some examples, the titles are made up.

  • “Four steps to make an awesome cake” (Your layout will likely be in four parts)
  • “The process of making a lightsaber” (We don’t know the amount of steps but we think of a chain of events here)
  • “Mindmap of the average frog” (Indicates a central topic, and connected nodes)

You can picture the layout, the title, speaker, and some other details in your mind before experiencing the event itself.

I’ve observed sketchnoters working on the Header while waiting for a talk to start for example.

Your visual library

Many Sketchnoters develop a style or styles for their work, just as artists do. Along with that it’s wise to have a visual library. Every time you have to draw the concept of any particular idea you can represent it the same way, or in a very similar way. This is useful to reduce the amount of decisions and cognitive load while in the moment of working on the Sketchnote.


Doing the work on the header and layout ahead of time, and having a visual library of concepts that you can quickly draw upon allows you to be fully present while making the Sketchnote.

Mindfulness and Sketchnoting go hand-in-hand. If you want to take these visual notes, one must set themselves up ahead of time to be fully present. Free of distractions and focused. That is refreshing!

Sketchnoting is Design Thinking

Design thinking is a human-centered approach to innovation that draws from the designer’s toolkit to integrate the needs of people, the possibilities of technology, and the requirements for business success.

So, that might be a stretch as applied to Sketchnotes, but hang on a minute.

A key concept of Design Thinking are the Divergence and Convergence thinking cycles.

So reading the talk abstract ahead of time allows you to diverge to think of and create choices for layout, fonts, the header, etc.

Then when Sketchnoting, you capitalize on the items in your visual library as well as the decisions you make in the moment. That converges to create the Sketchnote.

Definition and image from IDEO

The walk through of today’s sketchnote

Here’s the final digital version again:

This is how I started. I read the talk description and set up the header. I didn’t spend too much time detailing it out, just eluded to font size and style in the header

Then I pushed play on the video and created the Sketchnote. This is the first pass, the picture taken right after the video ended. I knew there were four things, but I didn’t know what they were, or how to draw them before I started.

I knew it was going to be in four parts, just from the title. I added the small drawings from my visual library, while Sketchnoting. Although I had trouble representing step 2 (what do we need to do) and step 3 (How to achieve it / our values) right there in the moment.

So I opened a tab and went to the The Noun Project to get ideas. This is where I wound up after searching the noun project for a couple minutes

I also reflected on the notes I took, and what I remembered from the talk, and came up with the take away. This wasn’t explicitly stated by the speaker, and I omitted the really moving example he gave, simply because I couldn’t draw it in the moment. So after, I thought through what this all meant to me, and wrote the take away in my own words. For me, this is the process of moving from note-taking to note-making. It’s really powerful in my opinion.

Next I started adjusting for some font sizes:

And the last analog bit was to add some color and shadows:

I next took a picture of the Sketchnote and brought it to Procreate app on my iPad to do the digital pass. You’ve seen the end result, but here it is again, in context fo the creative process:

I didn’t take screen shots as I went through the digital creation process. If you’re curious, Procreate has an amazing feature where you can produce a video of all the work you did. Here’s that video for this Sketchnote:

Some notes:

  • I used fonts for size and placement and consistency
  • Then drew over them to make it feel a little more organic
  • I like to use a separate layer for color choices, then just grab them as I need them

You can do this!

I’m happy to hear your thoughts on Sketchnoting. I encourage you to give it a try. You don’t have to know how to draw to start!


  • It’s not about making art, it’s about representing ideas
  • Stay simple, and two-dimensional
  • It’s not about rendering it is about capturing
  • All you need is something to write with, and something to write on. Don’t get stuck on the tools

Leave a comment if you’re a fellow friend, or email me your thoughts.

Family Movie Night tonight was A Quiet Place. My original thoughts on the film hold true this second time around. I really like this film.

I took some time to implement the changes to my newsletter that I’ve been planning for 2 months. So that’s good. Now to just, you know, go write and draw the damn thing :D

I love The Oatmeal

My pick for family movie night was National Treasure. My head says it’s ⭐️⭐️ out of five but my heart says it’s ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ lol

I had the weirdest dream last night. Someone was trying to sell me a service that could use tuna fish futures to do sentiment analysis on my archive. How? Why? To what end? No idea. @manton will you consider adding this to your backlog? 🙃🤪

Some days even The Doodle says I can’t even.

My son chose Inception for his pick for Family Movie Night. We paused the film a lot to talk about what was happening and what we thought about it. Great discussions about the plot and dreams. The first time we talked in depth about filmmaking too. That hallway sequence still is amazing to me. I don’t know how they did it, and frankly I don’t want to. A little mystery is important, even if just for movies where handsome men in two thousand dollar suits shoot bullets at each other in weird dream scenarios ;)

This is probably my fourth time watching the film and I finally understand Cobb and Mol’s motivations. I think.

My first digital painting in Procreate. A lot of room to grow but for now, I’m not going to be undude about it.

A Faraday phone for Facebook

I found an old iPhone and I wiped it. I joined it to my guest wifi network. I logged into the App Store and downloaded Tiktok, Instagram, and Facebook.
I then logged out of App Store.
No iCloud
No notifications
No other apps that I typically use
I logged into Instagram
I can airdrop to the Faraday phone for when I want to post an image to Instagram

Is this as isolated as can be?

Feeling a sense of A New Hope these last couple days. Reflecting that on my Home Screen. Original artist unknown

The Money Pit was my wifes pick for Family Movie Night on Monday. The scene pictured here is worth the rental cost alone. The best part is the deep breath Hanks takes and then he turns to Long to continue the laugh. I find this scene incredibly funny

There’s still a lot of work to do. But I am beginning to feel a giant weight lifting off of me.

One more coat, then these are done. We’ve painted 13 of 16 doors in the house. Carriage bolts and saw horses are a great tip we picked up somewhere along the way.

“Empty your mind” - part of a larger peice. Animating in Procreate is really fun.

I was preparing for a conversation with someone on how to break down things into the smallest possible pieces so starting is easier, and progress is immediate. Turns out I was trying to convey too much. Hello, irony.

My pick for Family Movie Night last night was Chef. Not a perfect movie, but really fun. It’s a good story of the struggle of a creative person trying to control as much of their own destiny they can, while having good relationships with those closest to them.

This is great!…