I like to use hand-drawn elements in some of my conference presentations. In the examples below, I combined hand-drawn shapes and characters with a hand-written font to give it more of an organic look. What I like about this approach is that it is less formal than if all of the shapes and images were created in PowerPoint. I think it makes the presentation seem less stuffy.
Hand-drawn objects work well in elearning, too. I discussed the value of hand-drawn elements in this post on adding personality to your elearning courses. I like that it adds some novelty, feels personal, and creates good contrast. We used them in the image below to draw attention to the navigation controls.
Simple Ways to Create Hand-Drawn Objects
I get a lot of questions about how to create them. Here are a few ideas.
Take out a piece of paper and draw what you want. Then put it in a scanner to make a digital copy. At that point you can take the scanned image into a graphics editor and convert it to a usable image. If you feel like you have no drawing skills then at least try tracing something. Take pictures of people and then trace them on the paper. You don’t need all of the details to create some simple line drawings.
Both Windows Vista and 7 are pen-capable so you can use your computer to create the drawings. I happen to have a tablet pc, so I can draw right onto my PowerPoint slides. When I’m done, I right click and save as a .PNG image file. The example image below was created in PowerPoint using a hand-drawn frame and arrow.
You can also use a Wacom tablet to do the same. In fact, the Wacom tablets are coming down in price and might be worth looking at if you have some drawing skills and figure you’d use it regularly. They definitely add a lot of value if you have to create your own graphics. You can also get an older used tablet pc on eBay for a decent price. That’s a good way to go and you get a larger screen than the Wacom’s.
You Don’t Need to Be a Professional Artist
Anyone can learn to communicate ideas with hand-drawn elements. It’s less about the drawing and more about knowing how the drawing communicates. If you look at the community characters, they’re not perfect. But together they work.
A great resource for learning about visual communication is Dan Roam’s Back of the Napkin book. You’ll learn how to communicate your ideas. Even if you don’t do any hand-drawing in your courses, many of the ideas that Roam shares are applicable to instructional design and elearning.
To help you get started, I created some hand-drawn shapes and elements that you can use in your elearning courses. The example above comes from a few of the free hand-drawn objects.
Feel free to use them as you wish. Many of you out there also have tablets and are better artists that I am. If you’re interested in creating some hand-drawn shapes and images to share with the community, let me know.
Here’s a chance to vote for your favorite elearning blog in the 2010 Edublog Awards. Voting ends next Tuesday. The best thing about these awards is that you get a list of some really good blogs and resources.