All you need to know before you start
Hello and welcome to the Graphic Change Academy. It's not long now until the start of your course! I'm really glad you've joined us and I hope you're going to enjoy all the practical learning the course has to offer.
You will soon begin a series of guided learning exercises which will teach you lots of the methods, tips and tricks I use when I'm working visually.
Access to our online classroom will give you plenty of opportunity to share your work with me and get individual support and feedback.
Although you already have had most of this information in one form or another, I wanted to let you have all the key information you need before you start, in one place.
The course takes place over 5 weeks.
The pace is designed to keep you moving forward, but hopefully not to be overwhelmed with content!
The lessons are posted in five modules which can be accessed as and when you need them. All of the content is available to you from day 1. Creative exercises, real life examples and insider knowledge will inspire you to uncap your marker pens and get working visually. I will guide you through the sessions, sharing my knowledge and experience along the way.
Following lots of feedback from previous students, most of the content is a mix of text and pictures. There are some videos, and these are intended to add clarity to some of the drawing exercises. If you can't access the videos because you're at work, or for any other reason, be assured that the essential content is all in the written lesson.
The course will run from 9am Monday April 16th - 5pm Friday May 18th.
This is an online course. Lessons are posted in the online 'classroom' and you can access the lessons at any time after they are unlocked. I will send you a password for the 'classroom' so you don't have to be on-line at a set time of day. You can access the content 24hrs a day, on your computer, tablet or smart phone, so it should fit into the busiest of schedules.
The course is not formally assessed or accredited. This means you can learn and develop your skills at a pace that suits you, putting as much time and energy into the lessons as you choose. Some people will choose to dedicate time each day, and some people will set aside more time once a week. The choice is yours.
It's hard to say exactly how long the lessons will take you. Some lessons are more intense than others, some contain more content than others, and some require extra thinking time. For some lessons you might choose to spend some extra time practising, for others you might feel like you 'got it' straight away and feel ready to move on really quickly. Take the time you need. We've made some suggested timings, but really these are just suggestions. Move at the pace that suits you.
You learn as an individual, and everyone learns at a different pace. Don't feel you have to keep pace with someone who is posting up their work really quickly, you all have different work and home commitments that will shape your learning time.
You will need access to a computer, tablet or phone with internet access to be able to view the lessons. The exercises can then be completed offline with pen and paper.
You will need a sketchbook or drawing pad. An ideal size is A3 with plain pages. Mine costs about £4 at my local art shop. The paper doesn't need to be good quality, in fact you will use quite a few pages, so I recommend you don't by an expensive pad. Do make sure the paper is thick enough that it won't bleed through easily.
If you already work at a larger scale, that's fine too. It's totally up to you what size you prefer to work at. If you have a whiteboard then you could work on that and take photos as a record of your work. Some exercises would lend themselves to a flip chart if you have one, but don't worry if you don't, everything can be completed in your A3 sketchbook.
You will also need a small notebook or sketchbook that can become your own visual dictionary. A5 is a good size as it will fit in your pocket or bag easily. As you complete exercises and create images that you are happy with, add them to your visual dictionary to use as a valuable resource once the course is over.
During the course I will mainly be using a Berol 'Fine' or a Berol 'Broad' handwriting pen (a thick felt tip). Don't worry if you don't have one of these, almost any firm felt-tip or pen will do. When I work at a large scale I most often use chisel tip marker pens. The exact pens you use don't matter that much, but I would recommend that you mostly use BLACK or another dark colour, as it shows up clearer than a pencil, or some of the light bright or pastel colour pens available. I would also have some coloured felt tips (brush tips are nice) or marker pens on hand for adding shading.
Although it's not compulsory, you will certainly get the most out of the course if you share your work in our private Facebook community group. Here are some tips to help me see your work and give you feedback:
- Take a photo of your work in good light (by the window in daytime is best, otherwise use a light or the flash on your camera).
- Take the photo the right way up so when it appears in the group it is the right orientation. It's almost impossible to decipher an upside down graphic!
- Put the lesson number at the top of the page.
- If you have multiple drawings on a page, please number the drawings so I can easily refer to the different elements in my feedback.
- In the Facebook group you will see some lesson headings. Please post your work under the right heading so I can see your work and give you feedback.
The group is a private space only for you and other people in your class. It is somewhere to receive support and constructive feedback on your work. I'll be popping in often to see your progress, and to give you feedback. I might not comment on every single piece of work, but I will see them all. You will be part of a small group, so do be brave and join in, commenting on your classmates work as well as sharing your own. Getting the input of others all adds to the learning.
If you're not on Facebook it's easy to join and use, but might take a bit of getting used to, so do join up now to give yourself time to familiarise yourself. Some people use a name that isn't their own for their profile on FB. This is totally fine, just let me know in advance what name you use so that I know it's you!
Here are the details of our private groups. There is one group for each course. Click the link of the course you are starting on the 16th April. If you are doing both courses, please join and share your work in both groups.
Be a Graphic Recorder course:
Be a Visual Facilitator course:
Follow the link and this will send me your request to join the group. Just before the course starts I'll be accepting your joining request and you'll be in! I keep the groups small so that I can give you all lots of attention, so don't be shy, get involved, support each other and share LOTS of pictures of your work for me.
At the end of the course the group will close, the lessons will go offline, and if you have shared sufficient work from the five modules, you will be able to get a certificate of completion . Some of the lessons don't require you to draw anything. You can evidence these lessons by leaving a comment instead of a picture.
Why work visually?
If you signed up for the course a while ago, you might be wondering quite if all this is going to be worth the effort. So, here are just some of the reasons why you really do want to be working visually:
You're designed that way
We live in a hugely visual world and in the main, we are beautifully designed to absorb massive amounts of complex information, literally in the blink of an eye. We absorb somewhere between 75 - 95% of data visually.
Literacy and neurodiversity
Whether you are mainly communicating internally in your organisation, or externally with customers or clients, we can't assume we know the level of literacy in our audience. In the UK up to 16% of adults are functionally illiterate, 1 in 100 people has English as a second language and The British Dyslexia Association reports that 10% of the population are dyslexic.
The fact is, if we want to communicate well, if we want to communicate with the largest number of people, then our audience will certainly include many individuals that will find reading a chunk of text a challenge, and receiving visual communications beneficial.
Big pictures and fine detail
Our brains are so clever we can absorb 'big picture' information, that is so important for strategic thinking, and still focus in on the important details that might be critical. All without breaking our stride, in fact without really being conscious that we're doing it at all. The ability for us to understand different 'levels' of information at the same time is great for helping us absorb large amounts of complex information.
You can get a sense of a visual scene in less than 250 milliseconds, and that, I'm sure you'll agree, is pretty darn quick. In fact overall you process visuals 60,000x quicker than text.
If you share information using visuals, your audience will remember more of it, and remember it for longer than than if you'd used text, or verbal communication. In fact, working visually gives you a 55% boost to you and your customers recall.
It's more trustworthy
Yep, studies have shown that information given visually is 18% more believable. That my friend is a LOT.
The bottom line...
...is that the future is visual, and yes, you really are pretty awesome for getting yourself ahead of the curve and up skilling the visual worker inside you.
The course is undoubtedly a big commitment, both in time and in money. Let's face it we all have busy lives, with work, family and friends to juggle. But, and it's a big BUT, we also want to continue to learn, to improve our practice and become the very best we can be. I hope our courses will give you the knowledge and support to really progress your skills and be the visual worker you want to be.
In the time between now and the start of your course you can find me on twitter @graphicchange where I share examples of my work and other things that inspire me. You can also follow me on Instagram @graphicchange.
On Monday 16th I will email you with your password to the classroom so that you can access the lessons.
If you have some questions that haven't been covered here, you can email email@example.com.
If you have any technical problems when accessing the course, then you can email firstname.lastname@example.org. (We've moved some of our content to a new platform, and whilst this is very exciting, there might be some unexpected gremlins we're not aware of yet).
If you do email in please put the course name + your FULL NAME, in the subject line.
See you in class soon!