Visual Note-Taking on the iPad

Posted by on Feb 20, 2012 in Blog | 1 comment

Hi, I’m Rachel Smith, the director of digital facilitation services for The Grove Consultants International ( The Grove is a San Francisco-based consultancy and publisher that offers services and tools to help organizations, teams, and individuals successfully envision and implement innovation and change. We specialize in visual practice, which means we use graphics and imagery to facilitate and record meetings and work groups. We do this work both on paper and digitally.

Photo courtesy of Alan Wolf


One aspect of visual practice that is accessible to anyone is visual note-taking, or incorporating imagery and design into your own personal notes. This can be done with pen and paper, but it can also be done digitally. The iPad is a perfect tool for digital visual note-taking because of its portability and ease of use.


I pioneered the practice of digital visual note-taking with the iPad at Northern Voice 2010, a Canadian blogging conference, just after the first iPad was released. I posted the visual notes on Flickr and Twitter right after each session, and they were an instant hit among conference attendees. At the March 3 chapter meeting, Gizmology, I will be teaching two sessions about visual note-taking. The first will introduce you to some useful apps and teach you how to use their features, and the second will help you begin to build your own library of icons and imagery to use in your note-taking.



No prior experience with drawing is required. If you have an iPad, bring it along; if you don’t, you can still practice with pen and paper. I’ll be demonstrating two apps in particular: Autodesk Sketchbook Pro and Taptrix Brushes. While you don’t need either of these, it’ll be easier to follow along if you have at least one of them loaded on your iPad before you start.


If you’d like to see more of my work or learn more about digital visual practice, please visit my blog ( See you in March!


To Register for Gizmology, please visit

One Response to “Visual Note-Taking on the iPad”

  1. I love The Grove and missed you at the last NSA meeting. Would love to learn more.