Drawing Conclusions: A round up of our illustration-focused IDIODC episodes with Kevin Thorn

August 13, 2020
8 minutes
Drawing Conclusions: A round up of our illustration-focused IDIODC episodes with Kevin Thorn

Drink’n’Draw is a special series of Instructional Designers in Offices Drinking Coffee episodes.

Our special guest for these episodes is Kevin Thorn also known as The Chief NuggetHead.  He’s the creative genius behind NuggetHead Studioz.  If you’ve been in the instructional design industry for a few years and are active in the communities and professional associations you’re likely familiar with his work. And if you’re not, then you should take some time and learn more about him.  

Instructional design, over the years, has been mired in academic theories, methods, models, and processes. But we’ve all discovered over the years that basic principles of design are fundamental in all aspects of our work.  The academic procedural nature of instructional design is valuable to know as you’re getting started, but everyone quickly finds a need for gaining skills in the more artistic aspects of design.

We invited Kevin to be our special guest for the Drink’n’Draw series because of his unique set of design talents. The more you learn and practice the art of design the better instructional designer you will become.  

Oh sure, you could hire graphic designers, illustrators, elearning developers, etc. But in order to compete in today’s economy your skills must extend beyond instructional design.  

Everyone Can and Should Practice Sketching Ideas

In our first episode of Drink’n’Draw Kevin walked us through some basic exercises on how we can all practice sketching our instructional design

The art of visual communication is a broad industry in and of itself. But there is significant overlap with instructional design. Communicating instructions visually is as valuable as knowing how to write instructions.  

The value of sketching comes in many forms. Sketching ideas without words often conveys our instructional ideas faster and more clearly. And the best part about sketching is that you don’t need to be “good” at it. You simply need to be good enough to transfer your ideas to another person.  

Check out the full episode including the always awesome chat: Drink’n’Draw – Hands on Practice Sketching Instructional Designs With Kevin Thorn

Create Custom Icons for eLearning Projects

After sketching your ideas using pen and paper you’ll need to get those ideas into your computer.

Kevin uses Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Capture in this episode but the concept applies to other tools and apps as well.  

This process can be used for digitizing any images needed for your instructional project, but we decided on creating custom icons.  

You’ll often hear Kevin extol the virtues of always beginning with pen and paper before moving into your authoring tool or other digital platforms. And this process is no different.  

Start by sketching your idea. In this case our IDIODC audience wanted a boat icon. Then simply snap a picture of your sketch using your mobile device’s camera. Then import that image into your illustration app and convert it to a vector image if needed.

Once you get your sketch into your illustration app you clean up the lines, change colors, duplicate the object, and make many other modifications.  

Having this skillset will save you time and money on your learning projects. It will also give you the ability to create custom solutions that nobody else can offer. Skip the long searches for the perfect clipart – make your own!

Here’s the full episode archive: Drink'n'Draw - Creating Icons for Learning Projects With Kevin Thorn

Visual Thinking Leads to Designing Visual Learning Solutions

And did you know about the visual alphabet?  

Understanding some basic lines and shapes gives you all the tools you need to become an effective visual communicator. You may not win any awards, but you’ll be able to express your instructional ideas in storyboards, and other simple illustrations that are good enough to get your instructional project started.

In this episode called Visual Thinking for Instructional Designers Kevin walks us through his visual design process step by step.  

You’ll learn about the visual alphabet and how you can quickly use it to convey your ideas with stakeholders, develop storyboards and process flow diagrams, and even work complex coding problems.

Using dominKnow|ONE you have an extensive set of functions called Triggers and Actions allowing you to produce advanced interactive elearning activities. And when you’re needing to track variables with triggers and actions connected to visual elements it’s important to sketch the code logic before jumping into the tool.

Kevin shares a great example in this episode visually representing how much water you should drink each day based on your weight. Well, maybe not YOUR weight.

View the archived episode here: Drink'n'Draw: Visual Thinking for Instructional Designers with Kevin Thorn, CNH

Make Your Own Stock Images for eLearning Projects

Finding the perfect set of images can be time consuming and limiting to your design options. Kevin doesn’t have that problem in his projects because he creates his own from photographs. What it offers is a fully customizable clipart-style image.  

Having these customizable images are important because your stakeholders will often ask for subtle changes to graphics and other visual images. Your ability to change stock images are limited. Building your own images allows you to offer more customized options for your projects.

Think about how important it is to be culturally and racially aware in your designs. The ability to change skin tones in subtle ways has become more important than ever. You can also change clothing colors and patterns to quickly create multiple people in your projects.

In this episode we also talked about using this same artistic style for objects and panoramic scenes.  

And here’s the full archived episode: Drink'n'Draw: Creating Graphics From Photos With Kevin Thorn, CNH

Moving pictures

We love having Kevin Thorn as a guest on IDIODC and it’s been great fun creating these special Drink’n’Draw episodes.  

Instructional design is a process but it also requires creativity and a little bit of artistic flare. If you’re struggling with knowing how to advance your career, becoming more skilled in sketching, illustration, and basic design is a great way to go.

But sketching and illustration isn’t all you need to know. Video for eLearning is important too.  

So we’ve started another special series with Kevin called Sip’n’Snap. In this series we’re going to talk with Kevin about how he uses some of these same skills to create videos for his learning projects.  

In the first episode of this Sip’n’Snap series Kevin introduced us to a technique of stop motion animation that anyone can create using their mobile device.  

Check out the entire archive of shows at IDIODC.com

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