Cleaning Up

My work doesn’t end when I drop my pen at the end of a day of graphic recording, as I did recently at the Groundbreaking Journalism conference. After I’m done, I take high-resolution photographs of the drawings, which is not always easy, considering that many conference rooms have bad lighting, walls aren’t always plane surfaces, and holding a camera still is difficult with GR adrenaline pumping in your veins. However, even under perfect circumstances, images need post-production. So after getting a good night’s sleep, I fire up photoshop and start the tedious, yet rewarding task of stitching the photos together, straightening the edges, removing stray pieces of masking tape and smudges, fixing errors, increasing the contrast, and most importantly, getting a nice, clean background. Here’s a time-lapse video I made, which shows some of the work required (although the result is still far from perfect): Thankfully, there are some really good tutorials for cleaning graphic recordings, such as this one by Rachel S. Smith (The Grove Consultants). If you don’t have Photoshop or don’t want to pay for it, there’s also a tutorial for doing the same thing with some free apps on an iPad. Of course, you could also use the open-source graphics suite GIMP. And if you don’t like Rachel’s method of adjusting levels incrementally, you could also try experimenting with the High Pass filter, and the dodge and burn tools (as I did in the video above). Eventually, your cleaning process will end up being as idiosyncratic as your drawings, and you will probably add methods of your own. For example, in processing the image below, I used Rachel’s tutorial as a starting point, but I copied and pasted some of the blue elements from the original image to preserve the color. I also used Hue/Saturation on the yellows, because it gives me more fine grained control than Levels. The important thing is to keep experimenting and don’t forget to have fun!

Before
Before
After
After

In case you are looking for the full set of graphic recordings from Groundbreaking Journalism, they’re on my flickr page.

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Visual product development

Lately, I’ve been involved in a product design process with MICT, IXDS, and now Sourcefabric. While I can’t say much about the product itself and its specifications, while it’s still under development, I’d like to share some insights about the use of sketchnotes in the process.

Visual Product development 2

Apart from the obvious advantages of having a visual record you can refer back to while in a meeting as well as after the meeting, I also find the visuals useful as a focusing device, and as an indicator of progress.

Visual Medi

Once people get used to the fact that I happily doodle along  while they’re talking, and only occasionally add one of my own observations or ask a question, it’s quickly established that a lull in a meeting either stops my pen entirely, or sends me into a crosshatching trance on some minor detail.

Visual Product Development 1

On the other hand, progress makes my pen fly, and spurs my imagination, so I will quickly add lots of new associations to an idea when the conversation is focused on results. So I find people generally more focused when I take visual notes.

You can find the full set of visual product development sketchnotes here.

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Thinking visually

Last month I had the pleasure to attend the inaugural meeting of vizthink Berlin, a spin-off of the Hamburg-based group of visual thinkers, graphic recorders and graphic facilitators. The meetup was organized by social entrepreneur Wiebke Koch, and moderated by Zackes Brustik and graphic artist Naho Iguchi. Naho also provided a brief overview of the history of graphic recording, which I captured in the image below …Graphic Recording: A Brief History

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Teaching with images

In January, I was asked to give a 4-day seminar on the history of videogames at SAE Stuttgart (on account of my former life as a videogame researcher). I decided to use ask the students to use the flipchart in the classroom to record the class, and because there were only 4 pages left, the record needed to be very tightly condensed. However, I think this constraint made the result even better, as it nicely captures 50+ years of videogame history. You can find the Flickr set hereVideo Game History

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Microfame

Earlier this week, I was at the WAN-IFRA Youth Engagement Summit in Warsaw. I had a lot of fun doing the graphic recording at the conference and at the award ceremony for the World Young Reader Prize (Flickr set). There was a lot of interest in my drawings, and pictures immediately started going up on Twitter,  so I decided to share some of those tweets with you.

Continue reading

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Thinking on my feet

What I love about graphic recording is that it constantly challenges you to come up with visual metaphors for abstract concepts. Sometimes people give you really good images (such as the ‘grease’ example below), but mostly you’re on your own. Here is a selection of images from a recent gig which I am really happy with.

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World Publishing Expo

On Monday, I went to the opening of the World Publishing Expo to do sketchnotes of the panel discussion between Axel Springer‘s Mathias Döpfner and the The Guardian‘s Andrew Miller, moderated by Ken Doctor, author of Newsonomics. It was a lively debate, and I had a hard time keeping up, but I think I managed to get a fairly comprehensive picture. World Publishing Expo Opening

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Media Hack Day

Last weekend, I went to the Media Hack Day organized by WAN-IFRA in preparation for the World Publishing Expo. I didn’t get there until Sunday afternoon, just in time for the final presentations of the projects, which took place at breakneck (or in my case, breakwrist) speed. Each presentation was only allotted 3 minutes, so I could only make very sparse notes on each one. However, after I made a composite image, and added a border of small blue icons I had made in preparation for the event, I was very happy with the result.

Media Hack Day

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Day of German Diversity

Last week, I went to Stuttgart to do some graphic recording at the Day of German Diversity, organized by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development and the Partnership with Africa Foundation. I was accompanied by Ellen and Suse from 123comics, who worked with me on recording the working groups taking place during the conference. It was a great experience to work with them, and I think the results really capture the spirit of the conference.

Day of German Diversity

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Going Digital

Last week, I attended a workshop on digital security by the Tactical Technology Collective at MICT‘s headquarters in Berlin. Here are my visual notes of the workshop, which are also featured on Tactical Tech’s website. You can also find these images on Flickr.

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