Tag Archives: drawing

Importing Custom Brush Sets – Sketchbook for Mac

This deals with the desktop version of Autodesk Sketchbook, not the iPad version. Sketchbook is now a subscription application. Only the paid, Pro version allows importing of brushes.

Illustration of Rachel's brush set

My custom graphic recording brush set.


Some time ago, I created a custom brush set for Autodesk Sketchbook Pro (an older version). I’ve updated the brush set and created a video showing how to import a brush set into the application.

Download my new Graphic Recording brush set for 2015.

If you prefer the older set, it’s still available here (scroll down, it’s near the bottom of the post), and it can still be imported.

Don’t unzip the files; Sketchbook will look for a zip file when you try to import the brushes. Happy recording!

Two resources for building your visual vocabulary

excerpt from visual notesWhen I’m doing graphic facilitation or recording, people often come up and ask me how I came up with those icons while they were talking. Naturally, I tell them that I didn’t! Like most graphic recorders, I don’t invent many new icons on the fly. I practice them in between sessions, pulling ideas from all kinds of sources, both digital and print. And I snag ideas from other graphic recorders whenever I can. That way, when I get up to the wall, I already have a visual vocabulary to use.

If you’re new to the whole visual vocabulary idea, you’re in luck: May was Visual Vocabulary Month on Verbal to Visual, Doug Neill’s blog. He covered why you do it, how to organize it, how to get started, and how to make it a regular practice. Take a look at the wrap-up post that describes it all.

If you’re new to the whole concept that we’re all able to draw, you’ll want to head over to Jeannel King’s series of Good Enough Drawing Tutorials. Jeannel creates these nifty little quick tutorials that show you how, with a few simple lines, to draw anything from birthday cakes to bats. Take a look at the Resources section of her site while you’re there.

Then get out there and add something new to your visual vocabulary this week!

This makes me so happy.

You know how Wikipedia has a convention to put ‘citation needed’ after facts that don’t include citations? Look at this excerpt from the List of Cetaceans page on Wikipedia, and be delighted:

Excerpt from Wikipedia page.

How cool is that?


And by all means, if you can outline those cetaceans, please do.

Via Craig Smith via BoingBoing.

What I See When You’re Using Your Smartphone

When you see someone standing on the sidewalk looking at a smartphone, what do you see? I’ve heard people describe it this way:

bored person standing in front of a brick wall

What you may imagine when you see someone with a smartphone.


I can understand that, but that’s not what I see. When I see someone looking at a smartphone, or iPad, or computer, this is what I see:


person looking through a window at a rich world of interactions

This is what I see when I see someone with a smartphone.


We don’t stare at our devices because we are fascinated with the way they look (at least, not after we’ve owned them for more than 24 hours). We stare through our devices. They are windows, not walls.

Granted, people are sometimes unwise in choosing when to open those windows, and sometimes we miss nearby things because we’re looking farther off. But don’t imagine that the device is what’s holding our attention. The device is just a window.

And as long as I’m on this subject, here’s a related one that’s been kicking around in my head for a while.

Technology != Not Human

Or, to put it a little less esoterically, ‘technology-mediated’ does not equal ‘not human.’

Last week, I once again heard a variation on the theme of I don’t like to use technology to communicate/draw/read/insert-your-activity-here because it doesn’t feel human.

I don’t buy it. I don’t mind at all if you don’t want to use technology for a given purpose, don’t get me wrong. But I don’t buy into the idea that the tool I’m using makes me less human, or makes my interactions less real, or my creativity less mine.

As my friend Lynn Kearny put it when I asked her if she felt using technology de-humanizes the activity being done, “Well, I ain’t never seen no hoss do it.” People communicate with people, whatever the medium. People create art, and people experience the art created by others. The tools will affect the experience, but it’s still essentially a human experience.

When I’m taking visual notes on my iPad, it’s a very different experience than when I’m doing it on paper. Lots of people don’t care for how that experience feels, and I have no problem with that. I also like taking notes on paper. But drawing on paper isn’t realer than drawing on an iPad. It isn’t a more human way to draw. You might as well say that drawing on paper is less human than drawing on cave walls, or chalking on sidewalks is less human than painting with oils on canvas. What does the medium have to do with how human the activity is?

The medium affects the experience of creating the work, and it may affect the qualities (please note, qualities plural, not quality) of the completed work. It doesn’t take anything away from the creator of the work.

So don’t use technology if you don’t care to. But don’t tell me I’m being less human for choosing it as a medium when it suits my outcomes.


The illustrations in this post were created by the fabulous Marianne Rodgers and are copyright © 2013 Marianne Rodgers. Find her work, and hire her to do some for you, at Mindtwin.net.

Your stickman, your story


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.