Last week, I was privileged to attend part of the Creative Leadership Academy held at The Boulders in Carefree, Arizona. I listened to inspiring talks by “provocateurs” Chris Waugh (IDEO) and Luke Williams (Frog Design fellow and author of Disrupt), and I participated in the workshop Cultivating a Kaleidoscope Mind, presented by Laura Seargeant Richardson and Ben McAllister of Frog Design. I also delivered the closing workshop, Visual Meetings and Teams: The Key to Practical Application of Creative Leadership.
Chris Waugh spoke about experience design after the reception on Tuesday evening (tough slot). He captured our attention by providing foam missiles and inviting a few intrepid volunteers to step up on stage to experience what a design critique often feels like — we stood there while the rest of the room pelted us with the rubber band-propelled missiles. I found it strongly reminiscent of my college courses in studio art. Chris showed examples of strikingly user-friendly or innovative product design and told the story behind each one. Unfortunately I hadn’t brought my iPad to the reception, so I didn’t take notes during his excellent talk.
The workshop from Frog invited us to come up with unusual ideas about how to change the conference itself. Each attendee received a set of cards with their registration materials that prompted them to jot down observations throughout the conference, such as noticing interactions between people or what the environment was like. During the workshop, we were given a framing question that took us out of the conference mindset (“What if the conference were a dinner party? What if it were a circus?”) and asked to review our observations in light of the framing question to see what ideas would emerge. Then we dot-voted on the ideas to select the ones we liked the best, and presented the top two or three with a title, a sketch, and a brief description. I took notes during the first part of the presentation:
The reference to the chicken foot is a reminder to find one thing that is so fascinating that you could draw it over and over, from many different angles, to explore its nature. (Laura had this experience with a chicken foot.) It was illuminating to contrast thoughts about the conference with such a variety of other ideas. My favorite juxtaposition was thinking about attendee participation in terms of the conference as a game. Hmm…
Luke Williams’ talk was about disruptive design, and he spoke about the steps or stages of disruptive design. I did take notes during this session:
By the time my workshop rolled around, everyone in the group was filled to the brim with ideas about creative leadership. I gave an introduction to Visual Meetings using the presentation David Sibbet created with Prezi, and then the plan was to map out our collective learning journey describing how to implement all the wonderful ideas from the past three days. There was a gentle mutiny, though, and instead we practiced drawing seed shapes (star people and other basic icons). I think everyone was pretty tapped out by then, but they all jumped in and practiced the drawings, and the energy level in the room just shot up. We also talked about using the iPad for graphic recording, which wasn’t formally on the agenda, but somehow someone always asks about it anyway. I was assisted during the workshop by my amazing and talented sister, Sonja Stone (the author). It was a great group of folks, and we definitely achieved the session objective of having a good time!
Overall, I appreciated the practical advice given by the other speakers about how to be creative. I know that sounds a little counter-intuitive, but creativity is often sparked by thinking about old ideas in new contexts, and the Academy demonstrated lots of different ways to achieve that.
Friday’s Digital Tools for Graphic Recording workshop was recorded, and you can view the streaming archive here. It’s a WebEx recording, so you may need to download a client to view it.
I apologize in advance for the brief periods where my screen and I vanish (it happens twice). Don’t worry — I come back 🙂 I’m hoping to be able to edit those out eventually, but at the moment, I’m still trying to work out how to edit a WebEx recording — I can adjust the start and end times, or at least I could if I had a PC and not a Mac, but I can’t change anything in the middle! (And trust me, there’s quite a lot I could safely edit out…)
Last Friday, I led a workshop at The Grove called Digital Tools for Graphic Recording. Anne Merkelson moderated the session, and Tomi Nagai-Rothe and Ed Palmer provided backup and technical support. Over 130 people attended the free online workshop, which was scheduled to go for an hour but ended up running about 90 minutes. I learned a lot — especially about giving an online workshop to that many people — and I also mentioned a bunch of tools and offered to make my Sketchbook Pro brush sets available for download. Read on for all that info.
WebEx Lessons. We had some technical issues — at least, I did. I got kicked out of the conference twice when the WebEx client quit on me. (Thanks, everyone, for hanging in there til I got back!) We’re still not sure exactly what happened.
This was a much larger workshop than I’ve run before, and I now have some pre-workshop housekeeping steps that I’ll take care of next time. My thanks go to the attendees who helped me take care of these tasks on the fly this time! Next time, pre-flight will include:
- Setting the conference options in advance to mute the beeps when people enter and leave.
- Muting everyone at once! I knew there had to be a way to do that, but I sure couldn’t find it until someone showed me where it was.
- Logging in as myself and also as admin, then passing presenter control to myself so the admin account isn’t required the whole time. We have a theory that the client crashes were related to the fact that I was logged in as the admin.
There are a few other things I might do differently next time:
- We learned afterward that some people tried to access the session from their iPads and were not able to. I don’t have information about the nature of the problems, but next time I’ll recommend that participants use computers.
- It appeared that some people who joined the session after I had started sharing my screen couldn’t find the chat window. I did cotton on and help them locate it eventually, but next time I would add instructions for this to the introduction of the session.
We did some things right, which means attendees probably didn’t notice them. I’ll mention those, too:
- In addition to the presenter (me), we had one person who was focusing only on collecting and moderating questions, and two people who were focused on helping people who had connection troubles.
- The session “started” 15 minutes before the official start time so that people could come in, test their connection, make sure they could see and hear, and so on.
- I had the right headset! If you’re on a Mac, you want a USB headset, not the kind with a pink and a green connector.
- I remembered to hit “record!”
Presentation Lessons. I heard some feedback that the middle section of the presentation got kind of visually confusing. I had opened all my palettes in Sketchbook Pro (SBP), just as I do when I’m recording, but it would have made more sense to open them one at a time as I was talking about them (brushes only when I was talking about brushes, layers only for the layers piece, and so on).
Another comment was that I did a lot of things in SBP without explaining or narrating what I was doing. This may well have been confusing, especially to people who aren’t familar with the software. In the future I’ll try to be more explicit about saying what my mouse is doing!
Links & Notes
Here’s a list of links to some things I talked about. If I said something you wanted to look up and it’s not listed here, post a question in the comments and I’ll add it.
- Wacom tablets. I mentioned the Bamboo, the Intuos, and the Cintiq. The Cintiq is the one I was using during the workshop. There are lots of other possibilities, too.
- Smartboard. The one at The Grove is from SMART Technologies.
- Apple iPad. Do I even need to link to this? Okay, just in case.
- Sketchbook Pro by Autodesk.
- Photoshop by Adobe. I may also have mentioned Photoshop Elements.
- The conferencing software we were using is called Cisco WebEx. Other options include, but are not limited to, Adobe Connect, Wimba Elluminate Live, and many, many others.
Some of the key points I made were these:
- There are lots of options for digital graphic recording. When choosing which to use, match the tools to your own comfort and skill level and also to the meeting’s venue and outcomes.
- Set up your file in advance to facilitate the kind of distribution you will want. Use a low-res (72 dpi or thereabouts) for images that will be emailed and printed small-scale, on letter-sized paper. Use higher resolution (300 dpi) and a larger canvas size for images that will need to be printed larger. Remember that Sketchbook Pro has a limit on how large you can make your file — this is a flexible combination of print dimensions and resolution.
- Set up a custom brush set with the brushes you will need most. Create at least two sizes of each brush, one for thick lines like titles, and one for fine lines and details.
- Learn to use layers; I use at least three: one for outlines and details, one under that for colors, and one under that for shading and shadows.
These sets are the ones I use most when I’m using Sketchbook Pro for graphic recording. They work on the computer, but not on the iPad (whole different brush thing there), and only with Sketchbook Pro. I use SBP 5.0, and they might not work with an earlier version. I know they’ll work on a Mac but I’m not sure if they’ll work on a PC too. (Let me know if you find out.)
They’re provided here with no warranty of any kind; if they run amok and wreak havoc on your computer, you will have my deepest sympathy, but that’s about it 🙂
Rachel’s favorite Sketchbook Pro brush set for graphic recording (72 dpi): use these brushes when you’re recording at screen resolution.
Rachel’s favorite Sketchbook Pro brush set for graphic recording (300 dpi): use these brushes when you’re recording at print resolution. They’re bigger so the lines will show up properly.
To install the brush sets:
- Download the file(s) and save them on your computer somewhere that you will be able to find them again. They should end in .zip.
- Launch Sketchbook Pro.
- If your brush palette isn’t open, go to Window > Brush Palette to make it appear.
- Click and hold in the little tiny circle of circles in the top right of the brush palette (see below).
- Swipe your mouse straight down through the icon with three brushes and an arrow pointing down (tooltip says: Import Brush Set).
- Navigate to where you saved the brush sets. Click one of the .zip files and click Open. Ta da!
- Repeat steps 4-6 to load the other brush set, if you wanted both.
If you get the little spinny ball and the brush set doesn’t load the first time, don’t panic. Repeat steps 4-6 and it should work the second time.
The menu you need is here.
There were a few questions from the workshop that we didn’t have time to address:
Q: Can you hook up an iPad to a projector through a VGA connector? Does it work if you are on WebEx?
A: This question has a two-part answer. Yes, you can hook the iPad to a projector; however, you can’t control WebEx from it to the same extent as you can on a computer. The iPad doesn’t work like a VGA tablet. The tablet is an input device, like your mouse or keyboard; it talks to your computer, which can be connected to WebEx. The iPad is another computer, not an input device, so you can’t use it to control your computer* to run WebEx. There is an iPad app for WebEx, but it doesn’t give you all the functions you need to record a webmeeting.
* The caveat here is that technically you can use certain apps to control your computer from your iPad. They’re not yet robust or fast enough to allow the iPad to replace a tablet for real-time graphic recording in a web meeting, though.
Q: It seems there are a couple ways to look at it. (1) Facilitate a virtual digital meeting and record as you go, or (2) use a moderator, facilitator and recorder. When is that better than (3) using a video conference with the camera on the paper you are using on the wall — then you document for archiving after the meeting?
A: In my personal opinion, (2) is better than (1) most of the time. A small meeting can be recorded and facilitated by one person, especially if everyone in the meeting knows one another and the content is not too emotional or controversial. Some graphic recorders, too, are skilled enough to handle more challenging meetings this way (I’m not one of them). Larger meetings, or meetings where the facilitator will frequently be called upon to manage the group’s energy, will benefit from having a separate graphic recorder and facilitator. Another attendee also suggested a third person, a moderator who handles the web conference itself. An excellent idea.
When choosing between (1) or (2) and (3) — recording in a web meeting versus using a webcam and paper — the factors in play are the comfort level of the facilitator/recorder and attendees with one method or the other, the equipment you have available, and what you want to do with the recording after the meeting. Personal preference is another factor. Neither method is inherently better than the other.
Q: How do you print all the different layers? Will a complete picture show up on one page of paper?
A: All the layers that are visible will be included in the print. You can also flatten the file into one layer when you’re done, if you’re sure that you don’t need the layers any longer. I always keep one layered version and use “Save As” to make a flattened one, if I need to.
Q: What’s the maximum number of layers you use?
A: I’m a layer hog! When I forget to keep track, I can end up with a lot. I know I’ve had stacks up in the twenties before. Typically, I try to keep it to three or four, and on the iPad you can’t have more than six in SBP.
Thanks to all those who attended, and especially to those who helped me out with WebEx and made suggestions for future improvements.
Updated May 24, 2013, to fix missing images after the blog moved.
This is a reference diagram I drew in order to remember the setup that worked for projecting from the Cintiq tablet while I drew on it. The VGA Distribution Amplifier (DA) is the key that makes the whole thing work. Ususally the AV folks can provide one.
Also, I just realized the USB cable goes from the Cintiq’s “box” to the laptop, not from the Cintiq itself as it appears here.
You know how I’m often the one with the nifty new gadget, app, or techie thing? Well, a lot of those come to me from other people. One of the folks that I rely on to have the geekiest new stuff is John Ittelson, and he recently put me on to an iPad app that gets us one step closer to being able to draw in web meetings using our iPads. (Not quite there… but closer.)
The app is called Doceri, and has a partner desktop application (Doceri Desktop) that runs on the computer. Doceri on the iPad talks to Doceri on the computer, and turns the iPad into a remote control for the computer (like Air Display, which I need to revisit again too). You can also switch on annotation mode and draw over any screen — a web page, your email, what have you. Then you can play back your annotations in order.
This is a screen capture of my iPad, showing an annotation that I drew over digitalfacilitation.net. (Killer, I know!)
Doceri’s website has several videos showing some of what the app can do. It’s designed for use by teachers, so a lot of the examples are educational (cool). I’m still in the early stages of playing with it and I haven’t discovered all it can do, yet.
Naturally, one of the first things I tried to do was use it in a way it’s not intended to be used. (I’m either one of the best beta testers in the world, or one of the worst.) I noticed that Doceri had two icons for different monitors, because my laptop was hooked up to an external monitor at the time, so I tapped the icon for the other monitor. Then I opened Sketchbook Pro over there (this is the desktop version, not the iPad version) and tried drawing.
Let’s be clear: I was drawing with my finger, on my iPad, and it was controlling Sketchbook Pro on my Mac laptop. Imagine if I were also in a web conference, sharing my screen. Then I would be drawing in the web conference, using my iPad.
Of course, it’s not all smooth sailing. If you zoom in to do detail work, you lose track of the palettes, because you’re zooming the whole screen and they get cut off. Also, Doceri’s not made for this kind of work; it has a magnifier so that you can click accurately on small screen bits, and the magnifier partially obscures what you’re drawing as you draw it. I know Doceri makes a special stylus that connects to the iPad, but I don’t have one so I can’t say whether it makes it easier to draw detail work or not.
The next thing I want to try is using the annotation feature to see if it’s easier to do graphic-recording type work with that, rather than through a drawing application. There are different brushes and different colors, and you can zoom (though I don’t know if there are layers), so a lot of my basic must-have features are there.
More research is needed. But I feel that progress has been made toward my quest to graphically record a web meeting using an iPad. Hurrah!
Not only am I going, I’m going to be speaking! I’m thrilled to be presenting a Tech Talk about visual recording on the iPad. How awesome is that? Here’s the session description:
Visual Note-Taking on the iPad
The iPad is the perfect tool for digital visual note-taking. Rachel pioneered this practice at Northern Voice, a Canadian blogging conference, just after the first iPad was released, and her visual notes were an instant hit among conference attendees. Bring your iPad loaded with your favorite drawing tool (Rachel prefers Autodesk Sketchbook Pro) to learn how to create beautiful records of meetings, conference sessions, conversations, and ideas that strike while you’re on the train. No prior drawing experience is required — anybody can learn to take visual notes!
Who Should Attend?
Anyone who wants to learn to use an iPad to take visual notes. All you need is an iPad, a drawing app, and a finger.
Attendees Will Learn:
Basic graphic recording techniques on the iPad, including lettering and drawing simple shapes; how to use brush tools, colors, and layers effectively to make note-taking quicker and easier; how to listen for key ideas and record them using text and imagery. If there is time, Rachel will also explain how to record the strokes and create a video of the drawing (a digital Chalk Talk).
So… coming to Macworld | iWorld 2012?
PS – Bigtime thanks to Lynn Kearny for the little prod that made me fill out the submission form!
This little gem has been making the rounds in Twitter: drawastickman.com. It’s wonderful. You’re asked to draw a stickman, and then… wonderful things happen. I don’t want to spoil it. Go try it out — it only takes a few minutes, and it’ll make you smile.