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Back to Basics – sketching

You’ve heard it said hundreds of times; “a picture is worth a 1000 words.”  This is no surprise as more than 50% of our brains are devoted to visual process, taking in our surroundings real time, and responding to visual stimuli.  Most of us find watching a movie or looking at photographs to be cognitive candy compared to reading a book or a long report.  Knowing what our audiences prefer, why do we spend so much time finely crafting written copy and long prose, and so little time developing visual messages?

It is time to step away from your keyboard, let go of that mouse, and get back to basics with a pen and a piece of paper, and start sketching…



“I can’t draw,” I hear you say, and neither can I.  However, we can all draw lines, arrows, rectangles, circles, and stick figure people.  These are the only skills you need to operate a pen and work out some ideas for your next communication piece.  Start your new project with a sketch. You’ll be surprised how using both hemispheres of your brain will invigorate your thinking. Use sketching to develop visual components for your storytelling. Here are some examples:

sketch 2 - types of sketches


So here’s my prescription for you as you start a new communications project:



  1. Think visually – what images come to mind, how can you explain things more simply with a picture, what message do you want your audience members to read and retain?
  2. Start with a sketch – brainstorm, play with ideas, pick a sketch type that works well for your project
  3. Communicate pictorially – use your favorite computer tools to create professional images of your sketches to tell your story
  4. Increase cognition and retention – it is easier for our brains to read, and retain information that is provided visually.  Use images to be more memorable and as a way to convey complex ideas.

Have fun! Less is more when you sketch.

9 thoughts on “Back to Basics – sketching

  1. 100% true most ppl prefer visual stimulation via image and sketchs rather than a long article loaded with tons of words, now when someone need to learn something on internet they search for a how to page with image or a video on youtube instead of the text version, ill put your advise into practice thanks.

  2. When I took my video classes about 7 years ago, before we started shooting, we would ALWAYS do
    our story board. After that, shooting was a breeze. Just follow the story board !

    • Yes Kevin, it is too expensive to go on a video shoot without pre-planning the story with a storyboard. Storyboarding also helps you think about camera angles, composition, etc. 🙂

  3. I totally agree with this! Everyone can draw and a pencil and a piece of paper is all that’s needed to start. Writing is good, it gets the base concepts down. I like to think of “writing” as the first step in the process. Consider a movie, firstly as descriptive written script is required, then story-boarding is done, then story-reels are created, then the actual scenes are shot. So in this process we see a constant refining of information. From just words and text (the script) to a fully featured film.

    I love this article Berni! Keep at it, I’m inspired to now always draw to explain to others. 🙂

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