Though I’ve always enjoyed creating artwork, I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not the best at drawing freehand, especially without my digital tools. Tools like Photoshop, Keynote Shapes and Explain Everything have made drawing more accessible to me. The process of tracing over images and photos with my iPad and Apple Pencil helps me overcome the difficulty of transferring lines, shapes and textures from idea to paper/screen.
Research shows that there are many benefits to drawing and sketchnoting in the classroom. The top three that come to mind are:
- Students who doodle while listening, remember more information than those who do not doodle.
- It’s relaxing and helps students relieve stress.
- Builds students’ fine motor skills.
Even though I hear the words “It’s ideas not art,” from my good friend, Karen Bosch, ringing in my head, I still struggle with outlining or sketching of objects and ideas. This struggle makes it hard for me to continue drawing and I often give up. I imagine that I’m not alone in this. Inspired by friends like Karen who have developed an amazing talent with digital sketchnoting, I have learned to build drawings or sketches into my presentations and activities. Check out Karen’s Sketchnote Tools and Resources page for app recommendations, iTunes U courses, multitouch books and more.
Sketchnotes by Karen Bosch
How to Draw
What has truly helped me get over this hurdle? Tracing. When I don’t know how to draw something, I grab some clip art or a photograph and trace it. From there I can build in textures and colors to make it my own. Determined to make the drawings look visually appealing, I go to sites such as icons8.com or thenounproject.com to grab an image that matches the idea I have in my head. The image below is a slide from a presentation I gave on multisensory learning.
I started drawing the images of the senses from freehand in Explain Everything and then realized I needed supports. So, I went to icons8 and grabbed some clip art and imported each one into Explain Everything. In this example, I brought the lips clip art into Explain Everything and used the pen tool with my Apple Pencil to trace over the outline. I then used the bucket fill feature to fill in the outline with shades of pink. I matched the color by using the eyedropper tool, but I could have changed the colors to truly customize this set of lips.
Tracing in Explain Everything (Tutorial):
Some people may think that tracing is cheating. For me, if learning the technique is cheating, then how will I ever learn? I find that the more I trace objects, the better I get at doing them freehand. Drawing the outline of an object is just the beginning. The true artwork comes in adding the colors and textures and putting the finishing touches on it that make it your own. In this example, adding my drawings of the senses to a Keynote slide and adding animation and context is what makes it my own.
Another way to use this tracing idea is with Apple’s All About Me student Keynote project. Apple created templates with pre-drawn silhouettes that students could select and customize with shapes in Keynote.
Announcing the All About Me Student Project! Learn how to use shapes in Keynote to help students express themselves. pic.twitter.com/xuAhNxVHiM
— Apple Education (@AppleEDU) September 26, 2017
Using Keynote for Mac, my daughter and I created a custom silhouette using the drawing tool. To do this, secondary click on the outline and choose “Make Editable.” This will allow you to adjust the outline more precisely around the photograph.
However, I was inspired Jon Smith’s custom silhouette made in Procreate and wanted to see if I could do something similar on the iPad with Explain Everything.
— Jon Smith (@theipodteacher) September 28, 2017
I reached out to Explain Everything’s Reshan Richards, to see if it could be done. With his help, I was able to create this:
Anyone can be an artist. What will you trace today?