There’s been a lot of discussion over whether or not we should use an icon library when creating our visual notes. Some say that icon libraries are a great way to stay prepared and save time, others say they’re hindrances that force their creators to rely on them and fall back on what’s comfortable. At Visual Versa, we find ourselves in the middle – we believe different processes work for different people and the key point is to find what works for you!
We think an icon library is a good stepping stone to get comfortable drawing quick icons, but we also feel we have to be aware of not always using the same ones so our notes don’t become repetitive and predictable. People can get comfortable using the same icons over and over again, so here are some pros and cons from each side to help you decide what works best for you.
Pro 1: Icon libraries save time
Having an icon library and creating one ahead of time means that when you’re taking live visual notes, you don’t have to stress and worry about what to draw as you’ll have an extensive library to refer to. This’ll also help you focus on what is being said so you don’t miss key points that should make it to your final notes.
Con 1: It’s really easy to become dependent on them
An over-reliance on your visual library might mean that your visual notes will end up very similar every time, and won’t be as impactful over time. If you use the exact same icon every single time a certain situation comes up, your brain won’t be as susceptible to remembering every individual iteration, which could lead to a dependency (if you’re not careful) that stagnates your creativity.
Pro 2: They save brainpower so you can focus on other things
Using these pre-established icons, you can then build on them by playing with their size, colors, creating variations of similar ideas, or even adding more symbols to make them more specific to your topic. It will make you get over the initial fear of putting pen to paper and will allow you to easily build a concept from there.
Con 2: Not using an icon library gives you the freedom to veer off the established path
However, by not using a visual library, you’re more free to mix up symbols and the possibility of creating new designs simply by virtue of having to constantly be creative. (This could be more stressful if you’re not already very experienced/comfortable in visual note-taking, however.)
Pro 3: They allow for other VN elements to come in and help
Using a VN library means you have access to so many other icons at your disposal whenever you want! If you’d like to change things up, you can place your established icons inside others, add characters or people using or interacting with them, and so much more! A good practice to have is to take some time to play mixing and modifying icons once in a while.
Con 3: Not using icon libraries means you have to get creative through any means necessary
Instead of relying on more symbols and icons, you could set the stage for your new designs by putting them in a more vivid or exaggerated situation for emphasis. For example, instead of a drawing of a sprouting plant, doodling a giant money tree can add extra emphasis on a company’s growth. (Did you picture that image? It has a great impact, doesn’t it!?)
There obviously is no “right” answer, only what works for people and what doesn’t. What pros or cons would you add to this list?? Make sure to leave a comment below and let us know what you think!
Now that you’ve had a chance to think about both sides, check out our Let Me Draw What I Mean package to learn more about icon libraries and all kinds of other cool stuff!
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