I’m now a Pencil Pirate
For my birthday earlier this year I bought myself a little treat, an e-course called Pencil Pirates which advertises itself as teaching the creation of atomic visuals.
Atomic visuals are quick to draw and quick to understand visual representations of the points you’re trying to get across to the reader that help boost information retention.
This got me interested as I had just started to realise the power of illustration for conveying the ideas behind the products I’m building and thought this might be a good addition to my tool-belt.
So I dropped the money for the course, book and templates and waited for the course to start in March.
During the lead up to the course there was a Slack instance for the people doing the course to introduce themselves and there were some weekend sessions where people could work towards building up their atomic visual skills while the course modules were still being published on a weekly basis.
My life however got in the way of me being able to join into that so I ended up just waiting for all the modules to be available before rinsing them over a weekend.
The course is split into four sections:
- The mindset needed to build atomic visuals which covers off becoming confident in your drawing ability, the need to build up a habit for drawing and bust some myths around the use of illustration over words for conveying information
- The mental model to use when creating an atomic visuals and patterns can be used to make it easier to identify the best structure for the atomic visual to get your point across better
- The tools and how to use them, this section is very specific to different apps so I just followed the appropriate one for the tools I had access to
- How to apply atomic visuals for business needs like meetings and presentations
For me the important section was the mental model section as that helped explain how to distil the concept behind words into images and taught different structures for telling stories, showing comparisons, relationships and time related content which are very useful for my needs.
The content for the course is really well illustrated (as you’d expect) and easy to digest. There’s a good use of video that covers off the concepts too with live sketching to help show the process which makes it really engaging.
Putting it use
In order to form the habit I’ve started building basic stick figure illustrations to help illustrate some of the topics I talk about at work but I can’t share those because of the content.
I also started to think about how to best illustrate some of the blogs I do with atomic visuals to better illustrate the points I’m making there. Here’s one based on the blog I did about ditching iCloud and moving towards self hosting.
Was it worth it?
Overall I think yes, although I wish I wasn’t busy when it all kicked off so I could have participated when all the events were happening.
As someone who technically should have confidence in their drawing ability because I have a BA in digital art I’ve dived so far into the development side that I lost confidence in that skill and wasn’t happy unless it was perfect.
This course helped me to realise that it doesn’t have to be perfect it just needs to convey what I want to convey and over time I’ll get better.
So that new found confidence and the mental models for finding the right way to illustrate concepts for me made it a worthwhile purchase.