Sketchy Dr. Groom on Assignment

Learning By Design

Turn ideas into pictures!

Visualize a blog post, TED Talk, Class lecture or even dense text from a book- through drawing. Use the pictures to symbolically represent & concretize abstract concepts, and to make connections between ideas. Try to use words sparingly and only to reinforce your imagery.

Doodle it in your notebook, use your tablet, or scribble it on the back of a napkin. Just be sure to digitize it and then blog about the process, including citing where your inspiration came from.

I decided to follow another ds106er path (that”s you @spencer_cscott) and take an assignment and tweak and create it into an assignment of my own. Learning by Design is creating a doodle or sketch of a complex topic and making it into a visual with design principles.

I have been interested in sketchnoting and been reading the work of Sylvia Duckworth. (Sketchnotes for Beginners) And for years now RSA style videos have fascinated and tempted me to discover how to create. The next thing that came into play was all the mystery around Dr. Groom this week. It is hard to not want to jump in as you are doing the assignments. The adventure actually creates a thread of connectedness in the community. (Probably designed that way don’tcha think!). As we each explore digital media and how to use it, a common thread helps as we approach our own content in learning new ways of creating and expression.


After reading about sketchnoting and downloading a few apps for my iPad. I settled on Paper 53. I liked the way it handled and the quality of the sketch. It makes scribbles, and bumps and jumps, look like a style and intended.

At first I thought I would use video and make it more of an RSA kind of presentation. I used an IPEVO document camera which captured my sketching in video format. It is cool and it worked and I will definitely go back to it for another assignment or creation. For my intent here, the distraction of my hand drawing (it looked HUGE) was not an example of thinking of design.

I refocused on the topic of the week – design and then decided to use photo shop instead, but add the audio and animation features as well. So here is the tweak – I did a design, of still images with audio to produce a video. To keep it manageable and an assignment not a project – I used only a part of the weekly videos to sketchnote. The reasons were that this was not to actually create a product of the content and it will be old in another few days. I wanted to understand the steps and process and create something short enough for feedback from others.

I downloaded the Groom Week 4 Video and the Intro to Week 5 video to extract audio. This was a good follow-up to week 4 and pushed me to stay with Audacity and audio editing. Another plus to continue with audio from last week and build.

I worked on the audio portions that I wanted to include in my story. From there I needed to now listen and do my sketchnote of those portions. I used the Paper 53 and created a full image just as the original assignment had suggested.


After saving as a JPEG I moved to Photoshop and opened the image.

The next steps:

  1. Create 22 duplicate images and name each in sequence of sketchnote graphic and context.
  2. Create a first layer of a white background to act as the whiteboard.
  3. Start with the first of the sequence and erase all but the one image.
  4. Continue with the next 21 layers.
  5. Export from Audacity and then Import the edited mp3 into Photoshop
  6. Use the Timeline feature of PS and set all images at END of audio clip. I needed the story to stay within the audio so I worked backwards first to prevent running out of room at the end and having to continuously go back and move all the layers around.
  7. Added transitions to layers when needed.
  8. Locked position on each so that they would float in without jumping.
  9. Created and added a last image for closure and identification, then added it to the timeline.
  10. When satisfied with placements and flow I went to RENDER VIDEO and exported as mp4.

So sounds not too bad. BUT – I had to do this more than once – I stopped counting after #3. The first time I started on my desktop machine. As evening rolled around, I decided to switch to my laptop and at least be in the same room as my family and a little more comfortable. By this time it was mostly just the grunt work of moving layers a fraction of a space etc. Thought all was going great – it played in preview just great! I rendered and when I opened it NO AUDIO.

Okay – go back and try again. But then I found that after rendering and saving – the timeline turns into something flat and you really can’t go in and change much. So I had to get rid of the timeline and replace all the layers before rendering again.

Done –  rendered – NOW IT HAS AUDIO BUT IMAGES ARE TWISTED! I needed to redo again! And this time I stressed out my laptop and it ran out of memory and froze up! Now I had to do machine maintenance and repair. Time for bed!

The next morning – I just went right to my desktop and worked there. I had saved some copies- but basically they had too many edits in them and it was faster to begin again. I had this down now – back to the Next steps above. Followed them and YEAH!!! It rendered and it came out fine!!!

LESSON LEARNED: Before exporting or doing a major change to the file – save at least 2 copies. This way I will have a master copy of a place in time to go back and not have to start completely over. I will need to remember to update that file as I go along as well. Next would be to get rid of all the copies that won’t make a difference anymore if you have to back so that I am not eating up memory and storage.

The original assignment was 3.5 stars. I am bumping it up to 5 stars on my chart – but I’m not tracking stars as an open course participant anyways. 🙂

I will cover design principles in a later post.


2 thoughts on “Sketchy Dr. Groom on Assignment”

    • Thanks Emily. Sharing the process means I have it to go back to as well to be able to replicate or expand in new content. Having others see what I did also may bring some tips, tricks or other paths someone else knows and will share to make it smoother, easier or better as an outcome. It is worth the effort. 🙂


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