Visual alphabet and your icon library

We all know the 26 letters of the alphabet and numbers but we don't have a visual alphabet for sketching our ideas.

Summary

Our brain are wired for visual processing. As we grew up, we separated drawing from writing. At one point in our childhood, drawing and writing letters were one and the same. This module is about learning the visual alphabet, the basic building blocks to help you sketch concepts and ideas.

Learning the visual alphabet

We have an alphabet for words and numbers. They form our basic language for communications. As children, letters and words were drawings. As we grew older, they became separate concepts. This module is about rebuilding that drawing practice again.

The visual alphabet is not commonly accepted but there are some basic systems developed by amazing people. For example, Mike Rohde has the most basic one.


My original inspiration came from Sunni Brown's article "The Miseducation of the Doodle."


Putting together some basic icons

Now that you have the basic building blocks, let's put together some basic icons and visual ideas. Remember that this is not a game of Pictionary. You're not trying to have your audience guess what you're sketching. I love the Mike Rohde approach to labeling your sketch.

Let's take the basic shapes and put together two icons that apply in today's world. First, let's sketch an office building. Next, let's sketch a home. Put them together and you have a message about working from home to avoid the spread of Covid-19.


Practicing your go to set

For most that are beginning this practice, I suggest that you assemble a library of 10-15 icon sketches that you can do from memory. Advance sketch noters and graphic recorders have vast knowledge but as a beginning, you only need to have a few at your disposal.

Further Reading

The Miseducation of the Doodle by Sunni Brown

The Sketchnote Handbook by Mike Rohde

Up next

Framing your ideas

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