We love technology. It enables us to connect with people all over the globe without even changing out of our pajamas, which is nice when you are on a 6 am client call! And while we can’t control how awake everyone is on the call, we can help make the calls more engaging by using something core to XPLANE: visuals.

In a virtual meeting, live sketching helps people follow the conversation and makes things clear to everyone. Visuals help the client know that we understand and that we are listening and hearing what they say.

It actually has become an unwritten rule here that a designer always has a tablet ready to take sketch notes for external or internal meetings.

To make that process easier for designers, our design team came up with “Sketch Notes 101” training to walk designers through that live capture process. We use WebEx, but most of these tips and tricks could be used on other online meeting networks. Here are some of the ideas considered most valuable by designers who’ve been through the training:

1. Come in with something before you start

  • Create assets before the call. If the client is a helicopter company, draw a helicopter before the meeting.

  • Build your own asset library. If you like an icon you did for a milestone? Throw it in a library for easy access so you don’t start from scratch every time.

  • Open at least 6 different 11×17 artboards in Illustrator. This enables you to have areas for different topics or ideas. This also enables you to easily save them out in a print friendly format to provide to team and/or client.


2. Remember, you are on stage

  • If you can, only share Illustrator. That way your incoming email and other alerts don’t show. Otherwise, close any other apps that can be distracting.

  • If you want a very fancy presentation, hide your AI tools (although some clients like seeing “under the hood”.

  • Use varied brush strokes to provide emphasis and create clearer sketches

    -Create a few brush strokes that have pressure sensitive line widths

    -Save brushes to brush library: Brush Menu > Save Brush Menu > Name Brush Library

  • Set the new brushes as a default by creating a new Workspace


3. Use quick keys so you can work fast

It can be hard to keep up with a conversation. Quick keys enable you to move much faster. Here are some of the essentials:

  • T: Text tool

  • Esc: Brings you out of the Text Tool

  • B: Brush Tool

  • V: Selection Tool

  • A: Direct Selection Tool

  • M: Rectangle

  • Command-Space: Zoom In

  • Option-Command-Space: Zoom Out

  • Shift-O (letter O): Artboard Tool

  • Tab: Hide Tools

  • F: Change Screen Mode

  • Option-drag: Duplicate selection

  • Views: Command-0

    – Fit in Window, Command-1

    – Actual Size

    – Option-Command-0: Fit all Artboards in Window

Finally, have fun. People love to watch what they say come to life. Getting a chuckle or two out of the client is always nice.