This is a review of the online course The Sketchnote Handbook by Mike Rohde. This is part of our series of reviews of online UX courses. This course is compiled from a series of videos that come with Mike’s book of the same name. Read some of our other reviews or see our full list of online UX courses.
- Course Name: The Sketchnote Handbook
- Author: Mike Rohde
- Hosted by: udemy
- Length: 20 lectures (70 minutes of video content)
- Intended Audience: Pretty much anyone, from students wanting to take revolutionary notes, to aspiring artists looking for some great drawing tips.
- What You’ll Learn: You’ll learn to use active listening techniques during speaking events or presentations, to predict patterns and document notes visually, using a combination of handwritten type and sketches.
- Assumed Knowledge: The beauty of sketchnoting is that anyone can do it. This course assumes only that you were once (or perhaps still are) a child that loved to draw and are willing to reconnect with that.
- Price at time of review: US $30
Have you ever watched an amazing singer perform and fallen a little bit in love with them? Well, I have to admit to being a bit smitten with Mike Rohde. He may not be a singer, but when it comes to sketchnoting, this guy is a master. The idea of being able to pull out a pen and create beautifully compiled pages of perfectly formed letters, sketches, swirls and flourishes without having to employ the use of an eraser even once, is pretty awe inspiring. And that is exactly what Mike Rohde does. And he does it with style.
Watching this course felt more like sitting down to watch a movie. The quality of the video is excellent. The production is professional, the presentation clear and the accompanying music adds an extra touch that took things from great to brilliant. Watching it was a truly enjoyable experience, which is a nice thing to be able to say about online learning. But arguably, presentation isn’t as important as content. The good news is that this course does that well, too. Mike has pitched the content perfectly for someone coming to sketchnoting for the first time. If you’re brand new to drawing, this course will support you through the basics, while offering plenty of advice and encouragement along the way. If you are already an accomplished drawer, you’ll get plenty of handy tips on how to apply your skills while actively listening and learning to predict what a speaker might say next.
Mike Rohde is an interface and experience designer, working for Gomoll Research + Design, a human-centered research and design firm, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He is also a professional illustrator (you can see Mike’s published work in the New York Times best sellers REWORK and REMOTE by 37signals) and sketchnoter. Hired by conference organisers to capture real-time sketchnotes at live events, Mike has worked at the likes of An Event Apart and SXSW Interactive, just to name a couple. Mike is the author of The Sketchnote Handbook, and The Sketchnote Workbook (soon to be released). He blogs about his experiences (including the shooting of these course videos) at rohdesign.com (which I also recommend—he is an engaging writer).
It’s not always just about you
What I particularly like about this course is that while it is widely recognised that Mike is a leader in the field of sketchnoting, he clearly appreciates that everyone likes to do things their own way. This course is a really good mix of theoretical discussion and practical demonstration. Rather than explaining just the techniques or materials that he likes to use personally, Mike explains his preferences, offers alternatives, and encourages experimentation and practice with a range of techniques and mediums until you find your own niche. The beautiful thing about sketchnoting is that it is a personal expression of an individual as much as it is a useful tool or an attractive finished product. It is very easy to try to copy someone else to the detriment of developing your own style, but this course periodically reminded me that I should take bits from this person and that person and create something that is all my own.
As well as demonstrating techniques one on one, the course steps through the process involved in live-sketchnoting at an event. From planning through to final processing, we watch Mike document a specially staged event. What I particularly liked was the opportunity to watch other sketchnoters in the wild, so to speak.
- Anyone can take this course. You don’t have to have any drawing experience, just the desire to try.
- The lectures are short and interesting, holding my attention easily.
- The videos are professionally shot and edited, and the accompanying music is fantastic. I felt like I was watching a movie.
- After watching Mike sketchnote, even my best work felt inferior!
- I would have loved to have seen some colour application in action.
- No exercises or follow through activities for practice.
I’d love to be able to give this course a perfect score, because it was incredibly entertaining, comprehensive, easy to understand, well paced and captivating. There was one thing missing though, and that was any kind of practical activity. The addition of a couple of exercises or a project that followed through the course would have ensured that I pinpointed my weaknesses and had a clearer comprehension of what is involved. The pace of the course was excellent, but if you want to sketchnote as you go along, it may be a little fast. That is where the practical exercise would have helped. That is a very tiny point however. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed every moment of watching the videos and will keep an eye out for any future courses that Mike puts out.
- Content (how useful, up to date, practical, and comprehensive): 9/10
- Delivery (presentation style, pace, clarity, authority): 10/10
- Production (video quality, audio quality, editing): 10/10
- Overall rating: 9.5/10
- Introduction: What are Sketchnotes?
- What Will You Learn From This Course?
- The Value of Sketchnoting
- Sketchnoting Overview
- Prepping for an Event
- At the Event
- Other Sketchnoters
- Types of Sketchnote
- Sketchnote From Start to Finish
- Sketchnoting Strategies
- Creating a Hierarchy
- Drawing Simple Objects
- Drawing People and Faces
- Drawing Type
- Drawing Visual Elements
- Tools for Sketchnoting
- Capture Capture
- Get Sketchnoting!
The Sketchnote Handbook is hosted at udemy. Note: This post contains affiliate links, so if you do decide to enrol in the course, we’ll receive a percentage of the sale, to help pay the hosting bills.