Wednesday, October 7, 2015

How Urban Sketching Helps Graphic Recording

Tuesday Tips & Tricks 
by USk Chicago Correspondent Wes Douglas

What is Graphic Recording?*Graphic recording is the skill of listening, synthesizing and transforming the spoken word into a visual language in real-time. They are rich, visual notes created from a blending of handwriting, drawings, hand-rendered display type, shapes, and visual elements to help capture the essence of a speech, presentation or performance. The goal is to take a complex narrative and break it down to its essential elements and create a memorable, easy-to-understand low-tech summary on paper large or small. (That is me at the large board).



Basic requirements of graphic recording:
- It helps if you can listen carefully while sketching 30 seconds behind
- It helps if you can write legibly
- It helps if you focus only on key points that are interesting to you
  (as opposed to trying to write everything that is said-- you are not a stenographer)
- Whenever possible, replace words with pictures
- Utilize icons, metaphors, and visual puns when you can
- Drawing quickly and from memory is a must.
  Practice drawing random, everyday objects will help build up your visual vocabulary

How does Urban Sketching come into play? (plus examples of my graphic recordings)

Urban sketching: careful observation
Graphic recording: careful listening and 
drawing from memory

Urban sketching: loose sketching
Graphic recording: loose writing/drawing

Urban sketching: you don't have to draw everything you see
Graphic recording: you don't have to write down everything you hear

Urban sketching: everyday objects sketched from observation
Graphic recording: everyday objects, shapes and forms from memory

Urban sketching: break down scene to most important element
Graphic recording: break down summary to most important points/visuals

Urban sketching: sketch real time on location
Graphic recording: listening real time and draw with 30 second delay

Shape: triangle, arrows, pentagon, bow tie, Forward or Rewind symbol, wedge

USK equivalents: rooftops, tents, umbrellas, milk carton, caps on building, caps on banisters, yield sign, caution sign, school crossing sign, porch roof, bike frame, navigational/directional signs, FedEx tubes, windows, railroad crossing, safety cones.


Shape: circles, balls, domes, ellipse, ovals, lightbulb, tear drop, clouds

USK equivalents: wheels, coins, manhole cover, tokens, street lights, wrong way sign, donuts, bagels, cupcakes, pizza, plates, porthole window, the sun/moon, coasters, capital building, arches.

Shape: square, rectangle, bars, square dot pattern, grid, banners, charts

USK equivalents: buildings, homes, windows, doors, tile, bricks, flooring, vases, pillars, caution sign (diamond shape), buses, trains, cargo ships, bridges

While this may not be an all-inclusive list, these are the similarities I have found whenever I am graphic recording. I hope that I have impressed upon you the value of urban sketching and how it can manifest itself into other forms of art and design. Urban sketching, I have found, is one of the best ways to keep your sketching skills sharp and ready for all kinds of applications, even if your day job does not entail illustration. Graphic recording is one way I have found to incorporate sketching in a business or classroom environment and empowers better recall of information. If you have any further questions on graphic recording, please ask below in the comments section.

Wes Douglas



*Note: Other labels commonly referred to this art form: visual thinking, visual notes, graphic notes, sketch notes, graphic scribe, and creative meeting notes.

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