The Map of Emotions

For much of my journey as a visual note-taker, I avoided drawing facial expressions because it seemed too hard to get the right emotion across (anything besides happy or sad, at least).

But by leaving faces blank, I was missing out on an opportunity to add the human experience to the ideas that I was capturing.

If you’ve also found it difficult to draw faces, then the video above is for you.

In it I share a map of emotions that demonstrates how to tweak just three features (the eyes, eyebrows, and mouth) to achieve a wide variety of emotional states.

It’s not about random trial and error. Instead you’ll see patterns that will help you to ramp up or down the emotion you’re depicting, as well as subtle adjustments that add meaningful nuance to the facial expression.

Here’s the final sketchnote as a reference:

The Map of Emotions: simply-drawn faces drawn on a two-dimensional axis from high energy to low energy and from pleasant feeling to unpleasant feeling.

I encourage to continue filling out that map by adding new emotions in the appropriate quadrant, and then look for opportunities to weave those faces (perhaps on top of a stick figure body) into your own sketchnotes to add a human touch to whatever ideas you’re capturing.

If you’d like more resources for developing your visual note-taking skills, come join us inside of Verbal to Visual.

There you’ll find a full library of sketchnoting courses, plus weekly workshops to connect live with me and other visual thinkers from around the globe.

You can learn more here.

Happy sketchnoting,