Taking Notes (with Illustrations)

Here is a little cyclical blogging promotion for you.  Bear, from OrangeCoat, blogs about a creative little Vimeo video on biology note taking and suggests that that is likely how I took notes while in school.  I’ll put it this way, it is a pretty accurate presentation of how I do my note taking (though it isn’t very often that my doodles start getting animated and have a sweet sound track.  Sometems, just not often).

I have long been an avid hand-written note taker (easily all the way back to my middle school days) and for as long as I can remember taking notes I also recall doodling on the pages about 90% of the time (I do have some undoodled note pages, but most of those tend to be more work related).  Sometimes my doodles are the primary notes themselves, to the point that, by my senior year of college, the entirity of my notes from several classes were nothing more than elaborate illustrations with a few scattered words stuck in just for good measure.  I had one professor that year look at me one day and say, “Can’t you stop doing that already?  For three years now I have been watching you make these wild drawings in my classes.  It is very hard to teach when I’m fascinated by what you’re doodling on your pages.”

Sometimes my doodles are very on topic with what I am learning about.  For example, two weeks ago I was up in Asheville, NC at the Organic Growers School taking a bunch of gardening related classes.  The doodles in my sketching notebook (which I bring to about every event I attend) from this event included a number of things I’d been learning about (like chickens, bees, apple trees, etc.).  Other times the doodling is just random objects, shapes, animals (real and imaginary), or whatever else comes into my mind.

Amazingly I do not lack attention to what is being presented when I am doodling on my notes.  In fact, I am pretty certain that it helps me focus more on what is actually being said at any given time.  I know there are some studies (which I don’t have on hand to cite here) that show that acts like doodling can be beneficial to memory retention.  It seems to work well for me, and provides some interesting things to look at on my note pages.

I am really looking forward to the release of the NoteSlate this summer, as it will provide a directly digital means of keeping hand-written notes and doodles.  I go through an extraordinary number of legal notepads at work and so I like the idea of being able to keep digital and downloadable notes instead of burning through tons of paper.  I do, however, intend to keep sketching notebooks for other events, becuase i find it enjoyable to use various pens, markers, and pencils to illustrate my note taking.

And here are a number of personal note doodles that I have drawn while taking notes at work (I digitize almost all my work notes after meetings, though I am a little behind right now.  Why?  Why the hell not?).

R2-D2 doodle

Why doodle R2-D2 on work notes? I have no idea besides that R2-D2 is a real bad ass

Floating heads (or something)

I think these are floating heads. Or floating robot heads. Or something. Whatever they are they are kind of terrifying.

Dinosaur - Alien - Dinosaur

Dinosaur (space, space, space), Alien (space, space, space), Dinosaur. Enough said.



C-3PO Doodle

Can't let R2 hang out by his lonesome on a page of meeting notes.


I don't know. A Bird-Hat-Man maybe?



Leaping fish

I found fish like these on a ton of my work note pages. Not sure why. I do like them though

Another fish (and a monkey head)

Here is another doodled fish. Also a monkey head or something.

doodle leaves

Vines and leaves are also very common notes doodles.

Margin doodles 1

Margins are the best place to illuminate any page of notes. Doesn't really matter what goes in it, the space just wants to be taken up.

Margin doodles 2

Birds, ancient alchemaic symbols, flowers, etc. All the good stuff.

~ by Nathaniel on March 17, 2011.

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