Sketchbook diaries: Visual Thinking Superchargers

I wanted to explore the rhythm of daily life, to become more conscious of what it really means to live.
— James Kochalka, American Elf Volume 1

At Cognitive we think sketchbook diaries are very powerful tools. Visual thinking and storytelling form the backbone of everything we do, and allow us to transform information and data into captivating stories. This visual thinking allows us to present complex or dry narratives in ways that draw on other reference points to become accessible, entertaining and engaging.

By Illustrator Fran Morton

By Illustrator Fran Morton

How do Sketchbook Diaries help us at Cognitive?

Keeping our visual thinking skills sharp is crucial. We tackle a wide array of subjects through a range of treatments, so being visually dexterous is a must. From theories on black holes to corporate strategies, our visual thinking is stretched and tested as we turn these subjects into understandable and engaging films. Illustrator Alex Hedworth looks more at visual thinking here.

Diary comics are an amazing exercise in developing and refining visual storytelling skills. Narrative, scene selection, camera angle and content; these are just some of the valuable skills that we sharpen through creating journal comics. There is another aspect of diary comics which is incredibly valuable, experimentation. At a personal and company level experimentation lets us and our team try out new styles and ways of doing things. Not only is this fun, but it is a great way to grow and keep ourselves at the height of our abilities and pushing boundaries.

For all these reasons, at Cognitive we asked our creative team to turn daily life into diary comics! This exercise was the perfect way to practice all the elements of what we do for our clients and to develop new skills. Translating life in to the panels of a comic strip forced our team to select and create key scenes to communicate their story in a small number of panels.

Why should you begin keeping a Sketchbook Diary?

It is a great way to reflect on life and take stock. For the visual thinker it is great practice, developing and practicing illustration skills. It teaches you storytelling skills from the ultimate storyteller - life; with the added bonus that you might get a few good ideas for characters and plots to! As you create more sketchbook diaries you will see your use of visual language improve and your diaries not only become more communicative but also more engaging to viewers.

Great examples of sketchbook diaries include American Elf by James Kochalka and Les gris colorés by Victor Hussenot. The diary comic above, and those below are just a small selection of the sketchbook diaries created by our team.

Does your story need visual thinking magic? Get in touch with us here.

Left to right: Managing Senior Creative Dan Stirrup, Illustrator Tom Bradshaw, Illustrator Kari Yordanova

By Illustrator Suzanne Mills

By Animator Matt Truefitt


The Psychological Impact of Whiteboard Animation

To understand more about the impacts of whiteboard animation on audiences we worked with Professor Richard Wiseman, Professor of the Public Understanding of Psychology at the University of Hertfordshire. Together we researched how audiences reacted to videos using whiteboard animation and ‘talking-head’ videos. Naturally we created a whiteboard animation to present Professor Wiseman’s findings, which you can view below. You can see also download his findings as a PDF.

Drawing Knowledge: The Psychological Impact of Whiteboard Animation

Fill in the information below to receive your copy of Richard Wiseman's research on the psychological impact of whiteboard animation.

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