Drawing Sketchnotes – Easier and better with the right pens

How to use Fineliners and Brush Pens to create informative and appealing Sketchnotes

With Sketchnotes, you can easily prepare complicated content or long presentations. To do so, you use a combination of text and illustrations.

The drawings in the Sketchnotes should be clear and informative rather than artistically exacting. The combination of text and image makes statements easy to grasp but still detailed – and several images produced as a series or cluster make even complicated facts comprehensible. If you’d like to find out more about creating Sketchnotes, you’ve come to the right place.

Sketchnotes are ideal for these applications

Sketchnotes are a creative way to produce notes for lectures or events of any kind. They help to focus on the essential statements and record what has been heard in an easily comprehensible form. If you need to look at your Sketchnotes later, you’ll definitely remember what they’re about straightaway – and much more easily than if you’d written the content down.

A combination of image and text is better suited as a memory aid.

It’s up to you what you use Sketchnotes for. But you can present anything in the form of Sketchnotes that you would normally write down in words. The advantage: with Sketchnotes, you also end up with a clearly structured topic. Recipes, instructions, information about a topic – you can record all this in a Sketchnote.

Use tried-and-tested graphical elements in your Sketchnotes

If you use tried-and-tested shapes in your Sketchnotes, readers can grasp them more quickly because they already know the type of information from other contexts. Most Sketchnotes incorporate the following elements:

Drawings and diagrams: They make the message clearer and concrete. Curve diagrams reveal the trend for something at a glance. If the curve goes up, the reader immediately knows what is meant. Sketches also illustrate the theme at a glance.

Handwritten text: You can add additional information in handwriting that is easy to read. Most people write in block letters because they are easier to read if they write very narrowly and in a space-saving manner.

Container: You can place text or individual sections of information in containers. This will keep them well separated from each other and the Sketchnote is automatically given a clear structure.

Separator: Graphic separators tend to be used for Sketchnotes that follow the course of a page in a linear manner. They are a simple way to add structure.

Arrows: If you want to specify what order the individual elements of your Sketchnote should be read in, eye-catching arrows are useful. They direct the flow of reading.

Bullets: If you want to list individual bits of information in the form of key points, bullets are ideal. They don’t always have to be circles or stars. They can also have a thematic connection to the theme of your Sketchnote – but should be quick to draw.

Icons: Some terms can be easily represented as stylised icons and also occur in other areas of life, for example on signs. Above all, they should be comprehensible. Depicting terms as icons can look great as part of an infographic.

Typography: A mixture of different letter styles makes a Sketchnote more interesting and structured at the same time.

Build a vocabulary of imagery

In order to quickly create accurate drawings, you can practise drawing common shapes and objects that require just a few strokes. In this way, you can build up a vocabulary of imagery and will be able to illustrate very quickly and efficiently. You’ll also have a pool of signs whose meaning readers can grasp effortlessly.

These pens are part of the basic equipment for your Sketchnotes

To draw Sketchnotes you don’t necessarily need special writing instruments, but each pen does have its own special characteristics. If you know them and are familiar with how they write, you can use the pens in a targeted way. This will also bring graphical variety to your Sketchnotes and capture the reader’s attention more.

Sketchnotes are generally not pre-drawn. With a little practice, you’ll be able to draw spontaneously more and more easily. Take a fineliner such as a MONO Drawing Pen and just get drawing. For wider strokes or more dynamic outlines you can also use a Fudenosuke. It has a brush tip that can be used to draw sweeping strokes as well as a beautiful rich colour.

The smaller the font, the finer the pen tip should be so that the text remains legible.

If you use different font sizes on your Sketchnote, you’ll need pens with tips of varying thickness. The Fudenosuke is available with a fixed or soft tip. Depending on how much pressure you exert, you can draw thicker or thinner strokes.

Coloring Sketchnotes

If you want, you can also add colour to your Sketchnotes, either subtle and subdued or strong colours. It can also look great to work with various grey tones and use shading in various different ways.

If possible, the colour should be less of a decorative element and more an element that supports the statement.

It can, for example, be sensible to colour in individual characters such as exclamation marks, stop signs or warning signs in red. This means that they will be much more of a visual focus. You can highlight a bulb in yellow, identifying important information at a glance.

Whether you produce your Sketchnotes in black or use other colours also depends how they will be used: if your sketch notes are to be photocopied, it makes sense to not use colour because then the copy will be the best reproduction of the original.

If you prefer it to be more artistic, you can also use watercolours or lettering in the Sketchnotes and position the text around them. This will give your Sketchnote an individual touch. The best way to do this is to use Brush Pens like the ABT Dual Brush Pen or the Fudenosuke.

Brush Pens for Handlettering in Sketchnotes

If you also include handlettering elements in your Sketchnotes, it is recommended to work with Brush Pens such as the water-based ABT Dual Brush Pens or a Fudenosuke. With these, you can achieve beautiful, sweeping lettering. 

Erasers and correction tapes can be used to correct the drawing if you make a small error. If you want to revise the image again at the end, a correction roller is ideal. As it is a dry corrector, you can immediately write or draw on the corrected area again.


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Choose the right paper layout for your Sketchnotes

You can of course draw your Sketchnotes on any type of paper. However, white paper is recommended because it permits the best contrast. In the beginning it can be helpful to use dotted paper because it makes it easier to structure the info or create containers.

For a lecture or presentation, Sketchnotes usually fit on one or more sheets of a flipchart or on the double page of a notebook. It is preferable if you don’t have to turn a page over and can see all the content on one page. There are various options for categorising your content:


The format is similar to a printed book


Here you group the information in a circle around an information focal point


The information is arranged from top to bottom and you read one section after the other downwards.

An information path runs in any form over the paper, for example in a W, Z or C shape, but can take any form. It is important to present the form in a very clear manner graphically


In a modular arrangement, you arrange the information in tiles on the sheet


This arrangement is similar to the vertical arrangement, but emphasises the division into several columns even more


With this arrangement you distribute the information freely on the paper without using a particular pattern. This is particularly suitable if there are a number of small titbits of information that are not particularly connected to each other


If your Sketchnotes aren’t just for your own use and you want others to read them as well, it makes sense to give them to someone else to read from the beginning. Incorporate the feedback from your friends next time round. This will help you to continue making your Sketchnotes even clearer and better!

Have Fun - and stay creative.