Three fun ways to colour in quickly

Three fun ways to colour in quickly

You know those colouring in books that are really popular at the moment? The mindfulness ones with the intricate designs?

Well I’ve thought about getting one.

However the truth is…everytime I think about it another part of me wants to get out my biggest fattest chunkiest marker and scribble like crazy all over the beautiful designs.

There, I’ve said it.

When it comes to graphics, and especially when it comes to working live with a group, we can’t afford the luxury of painstakingly perfect colouring in. After all, we’re there to serve the group, not our artistic egos.

Here are some fun ways to colour in quickly – with each method colouring in can be done behind or around the image (often quicker) or inside the image.

1. Crosshatching

Crosshatching is a pattern. Here are some other patterns you can try:


2. Chalk pastels  – this is messy, fast and fun.

chalk paint

3. Shading – I like to use grey for shading (think: where is the sun coming from? and then you’ll know where to shade. For example if the sun is in the top right corner your shading will be left and bottom); other colours are just as effective.


I hope you enjoy these tips. Don’t forget to check out the open courses page for the next Secrets of Simple Graphics date.

Hand drawn versus, well, not hand drawn

I’m a great believer in the power of pen and paper. Give me a slightly wonky hand drawn picture over clip art any day of the week.

As Dan Roam says in The Back of The Napkin, ‘The hand is mightier than the mouse’.

But just what is it about hand drawn images that make them so great?

Firstly, the more human our communication is the more effective it is. Hand drawn images are an outward sign of that humanity.

What an insight we receive when we see how someone draws.

How refreshing, how disarming almost, to see something that like us, is not perfect.

Secondly, when we create images on a computer we often find ourselves wrestling with a piece of software* whose functionality never quite matches up to the power of our imagination.

And it’s so small, that screen, so…confined. It can make our thinking confined too.

Thirdly (and crucially), it is the physical act of putting pen to paper that is so powerful. It engages the right hand side – the creative side – of our brain. It is that creativity that stimulates and feeds idea generation.

I don’t know how many times I’ve seen delegates on my courses start with a blank sheet of paper and then think, ‘Oh hang on. Maybe we can do this. Or if we scratch that out we can do that…’ and so forth.

How powerful is it in an age where idea generation is so key to human flourishing to have a tool so cheap, so quick, so accessible.

The power is in your hands!


Do come and join me on April 26th 2019 for some in person practice. I can’t wait.

*There are software programmes which allow you to draw directly on the screen (Adobe Illustrator and SketchbookPro to name a few) which is great. Start with pen and paper though. Otherwise you’re learning how to draw and learning how to use a software programme at the same time. And despite many protests to the contrary research shows that the brain just isn’t good at multitasking!

Border ideas for flipcharts

Border ideas for flipcharts

It’s quick and easy to add some punch to the humble flipchart. Try these six border ideas out for size. Border ideas for flipcharts

It’s amazing the difference a simple border can make to your flipchart, , drawing attention to the contents inside Here’s my favourite. Simple yet impactful. Simple border

Give it a go and let me know how you get on. All the best, Emer P.S. Itching to learn more? Join me for Secrets of Simple Graphics in Edinburgh on September 27th 2019.

Drawing to express emotion

In my line of work I am very much focussed on the ROI of graphics. What return will people get as a result of using these tools? What change will occur and what’s important about that?

Graphics is still new to many organisations and as such I have a role in educating others about the meaning of graphics and graphic facilitation as well as extoling the many benefits.

Sometimes though, we simply need to draw for drawing’s sake.

I find drawing particularly useful when it comes to dealing with and processing emotions. When you wake up to sad news, when your head is fuzzy with overthinking, when you just can’t face logging into your computer.

Conversely drawing is powerful when you are at the other end of the emotional spectrum. Ever find yourself giddy with excitement, bursting with love, hyper with enthusiasm?

Grab your marker and start doodling. Tune into the first image that comes into your mind and draw that. Keep drawing. Draw some more. Add words and colour. Get messy, get neat, find freedom and space on the blank in front of you.

What follows is a sense of connection and clarity, a tuning in, a refinement of your emotions.

Above are my scribbles for a Tuesday lunchtime.

What are yours?

Case Study: Graphics and marketing

One of the great advantages of graphics are their use in a multitude of disciplines. This week we’re talking to Yekemi Otaru of YO! Marketing about how she uses graphics in her work with oil and gas companies.

Yekemi started YO! Marketing®, a strategic marketing consultancy, in July 2016, a time when the oil and gas industry faced major challenges.

At about that time, she came across the Secrets of Simple Graphics course in Edinburgh. Yekemi felt simple graphics were the ideal way to convey her business solution and the benefits to her target customers in a fresh, fun way.

Yekemi says, ‘I never thought of myself as an artist, graphic designer or illustrator so I wasn’t sure what to expect from the course. Emer’s laidback and engaging style really got me immersed in the training. She shared several uses of graphics such as facilitation and storytelling.’

As the training progressed, Yekemi started to see more ways she could use graphics with her existing clients and on her business blog. She found that graphical illustrations, when used to communicate ideas could be very powerful. And to her relief, it wasn’t about being an artist. As she says, ‘My objective is not to recreate the Mona Lisa. It is to communicate an idea through engaging visuals.’

Yekemi’s graphic illustrations have helped her to stand out with clients. She illustrates their market landscape, or how her solution could alleviate a current business challenge. It is a break from PowerPoint and she finds her clients appreciate the effort she puts in. ‘Clients love the drawings with some commenting that they’d like to frame my drawings. It’s a quick, visual reminder of our work together.’

Yekemi Otaru is a marketing strategist and published author. Based in Aberdeen, she owns YO! Marketing, a marketing and strategy consultancy that supports Technology SMEs and start-ups to attain their business growth goals through marketing.

Keen to follow in Yekemi’s footsteps? There are just a couple of places remaining for this month’s course in Bristol. Book your place now  for Secrets of Simple Graphics in Edinburgh on April 26th 2019 >>

P.S. Are you using graphics in your work? Would you like to be featured in a case study? Get in touch.