Scribing

me at board_v3 2.jpg

 

Scribing (also known as Graphic Facilitation or Graphic Recording) is making a visual story of any conversation. That could be two people in a meeting room or a large conference where discussion happens across multiple groups, presentations and social media. It’s a vibrant and engaging record that brings issues to life and keeps them alive after the event in a way more conventional forms often don’t. As an experienced scribe of almost 20 years I have developed the skill to pick out what information is important and the best way to translate it. It’s this mix of your viewpoint faithfully recorded and my take on it that adds something special to an event as the scribing develops. It’s a touchstone for what’s been said so far and something entertaining that mixes drawing, humour, design, mind-maps and metaphors.

The digitised scribe is sometimes the main summary document post event or something that compliments a more formal output. The most memorable images or mind-maps are often cut out and used as illustrations and these frequently go on to form a visual short hand for ongoing issues. The audience might be only the participants themselves or a much broader community.

 

WHERE CAN IT BE USED? 

 

  • Meetings
  • Conferences
  • Bids
  • Illustrating books (brainstorming with the author)

My four approaches to scribing

 

Scribing is often a mixture of approaches - in the way information is gathered, the speed and nature of its execution and the framework that underpins it. A few of those ‘frameworks’, for me, are:

 

The Event Story Scribe

Maps out the main milestones and information. Sometimes it’s non-linear. Sometimes there is a path joining up the chunks of event in the order it comes. Often it’s a process of taking notes when information is being delivered and transcribing it when there is a lull.  

This way you can listen more carefully, synthesise better and let more complex visuals evolve. 

Journey Scribe
 
 

Journey Scribe
 
 

Event Journey Scribe 5
 
 

The Gallery Scribe

A collection of single cartoons, all created live, that focus on one idea each. More time is spent honing ingredients like humour, metaphor and drawing. This kind of scribe is great for sophisticated single images that can be plugged into outputs and messaging post event. If you are able to recount the idea with humour then the images can have real impact. These pictures do still come together to tell a story though and I often join them together as one continuous frieze -both on the event and as the digital output. 

All images below were made on an event. Some have been coloured digitally during or post-event.


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The Get it Down Scribe

Sometimes there’s no time to pause - the scribing is the note-taking. The drawings are simpler but translating on the spot means you can get in a lot of detail. 

The example below is a composite of several scribes - to protect confidentiality - but is representative of 60/90 - minute conversation captured on whiteboard with the aim of recording conversation flows and all the main points covered.  

This is the digitally coloured version that is sent to participants at the end of the event.

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Rich Picture Scribe

The objective here is to turn a subject into a scene that describes all of its different interconnected parts. It might picture a real place or process but more often it is a fictional situation that translates the real world into something more imaginative - a space station or air traffic control. It’s the event story hung on a metaphor and the analogies that spring from that can really illuminate the content. 

This example was the result of one day’s workshop on a big whiteboard.

These are not strict categories and scribes will often be a mixture of approaches.

Rich Picture Scribe
 
 

Logistics

I scribe onto both whiteboards and paper. Both work well with boards perhaps being quicker to draw onto and paper having the advantage of having an instant physical output. I digitise and colour both equally well.

For a gallery scribe all I need is a place to sit, listen and draw. And a suitable place to gallery the work. For journey or rich picture scribes I need a flat wall to tape a roll of paper onto (the pens don’t bleed through!) or I can hire pin boards.

At some events people prefer to provide a wall for me to draw on that is in keeping with the design of the event staging. For this I usually liaise with the events team or company to ensure its a workable solution.

When the drawing is done I photograph the work myself and then create a high resolution digital copy which I usually colour digitally and turn around in a couple of days.

 

How I Scribe

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The process for Scribing is hard to pin down but is essentially a form of note-taking that relies upon careful listening, synthesis and choosing the appropriate visual format for the digested information.