Framing your ideas

Summary

Intentional structures and frames help organize your sketches. In the absence of them, it's a clutter raw mess of information and ideas. Use storytelling structures like beginning, middle, and end to organize your thoughts. Additionally, consider using a metaphor to bring a creative aspect to your sketch such as climbing a mountain or branches of a tree.

Use storytelling structures to help you organize your idea

Just like the visual alphabet and tailoring your icon library, having a set of storytelling structures helps you organize your sketch. When you're starting out, just focus on a couple that are easy for you. The most basic is a beginning, middle, and end framework. Break your sketch into three frames and fill in the content.

Examples:

  • Beginning, middle, and end (also can be past, present, and future)
  • Hero's journey
  • Sparklines

Add a visual metaphor or frames into your sketch

A visual metaphor, like climbing a mountain, helps create some visual interest into your sketch. Make sure that the metaphor is relevant and not distracting. It can be very easy to get caught up in a metaphor that sounds cool but isn't relevant to your topic at all.

Examples:

  • Climbing a mountain
  • Bridge across a canyon
  • Path toward the future
  • Navigating a map
  • Branches of a tree

Do a newspaper squint test

A quick test of your sketch is to do the newspaper squint test. If you squint your eyes, can you see the main headlines? If not, you haven't layered importance in your sketch.

Add headlines using bold text, large type, or add boxes or frames to make it pop. When you squint your eyes, you should see your biggest ideas pop first, then the supporting information goes away. Ideally, if people only read your headlines, they'll get the gist of your sketch.

Further Readings

Illuminate by Nancy Duarte
Resonate by Nancy Duarte

Up next

Hand lettering

Series episodes

Sketching your ideas primer
Sketching your ideas primer
Key Topics: Sketching
Key Topics: Sketching
Visual alphabet and your icon library
Visual alphabet and your icon library
Framing your ideas
Framing your ideas
Hand lettering
Hand lettering
Sketching Recap
Sketching Recap
Sketching: Putting it together
Sketching: Putting it together
Sketching practice
Sketching practice
Sketching Resources
Sketching Resources