My Top 10 Tips for Creating Digital Sketchnotes at Conferences

For the past 10 years I have been an avid sketch noter! I usually use the Tayasui Sketches Pro app for my sketchnotes. (Note: I meant to post this before ADE 2023 Americas, but totally forgot to finish it!) 

Here's a few tips and tricks that I follow when I am sketchnoting for a conference:


Sketchnote Template for ADE 2023
Sketchnote Template for ADE 2023

1) In advance, I build a template that I can use for all the sessions. It contains all the info on the conference and my contact information. I usually try to match the colors and any graphics that the conference already has or I pick a theme that goes with the city where the conference is located.

2) If I know the title and speaker info, I try to prep that in advance as well. Often I can do that right before the session starts.

3) I try to stick with a color palette of 2 or 3 colors along with black or gray. I sometimes add an additional color to match a app or a theme that appears in the the session. I put the main colors in the top corner as little dots. I can use my finger as a "color picker eyedropper" to quickly select the colors. I put these colors on a separate layer so I can quickly turn off the layer to hide them when the sketchnote is done.

4) I like to keep a grid in the background. It helps me with alignment and sizing as I zoom in for details. You can turn off the grid at the end, but I usually leave it on.

5) I've made transparent png "clip art" images of apps that I commonly use in sketchnotes that I can quickly insert while working.

6) I use lots of layers as work. I use a middle layer to do most of the words and outlines of the graphics, but often add color for objects on the layer underneath. On the layer on top, I can add details. I merge layers together as needed.

7) I use the "knife" tool constantly to move and resize items. That helps me to fill my space better and reorganize the flow as the session ideas develop!

8) I use my phone to give me ideas for simple visual elements that I can draw. I search using the keywords "clipart" or "icon" to get suggestions. I use simple drawing and I draw fast and loose - wobbly lines and a bit messy is OK!

9) I also use my phone to snap pictures of the presenter's slides if the content is going too fast! I can always go back later to add that info in - just leave a space!

10) Don't try to capture everything! Focus in on big ideas and concepts that resonate with you. Try to match key ideas with a simple picture - it helps to make the ideas memorable!

Hope these hints may help you next time you make a conference sketchnote!

1 reply

August 02, 2023

Thanks Karen, so helpful for us sketchnote starters!

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