Sketchnoted Syllabus for Ethical Leadership Course (Page 1) - Doug Neill Sketchnotes - Concordia University

A Sketchnoted Syllabus for an Unconventional Course

A few months ago a unique request came my way – a request to sketchnote the syllabus for a college business course. Prior to this request I had sketchnoted individual classes of a college course (usually an online course), but never the syllabus that spans an entire course and encapsulates the big picture as well as the details.

I decided to give it a shot, largely because the course is not your typical business course. The title is Ethical Leadership (held within the School of Management at Concordia University in Portland, Oregon), and the goal of the course is to help students discover their passion and figure out how to roll that passion into their professional life while also contributing to the world in a positive way. Here’s the full two-page sketchnoted syllabus for the course:

Sketchnoted Syllabus for Ethical Leadership Course (Page 1) - Doug Neill Sketchnotes - Concordia University

Sketchnoted Syllabus for Ethical Leadership Course (Page 2) - Doug Neill Sketchnotes - Concordia University

NOTE: If you want to get in touch with the amazing students that are taking this course regarding internship or employment opportunities, send me an email ( and I will put you in touch!

I took a slightly different approach with this sketchnoted syllabus compared to the other sketchnotes that I have posted to this site.  Normally, the sketchnotes that I post are simply scanned images of my penned sketches that originate in a Moleskine notebook. In those cases, the only digital editing that I do is a bit of contrast adjustment to really bring out the dark strokes of the sketch.

For this sketchnoted syllabus, however, I took a much more digital-heavy approach. All of the words and sketches that you see in the final images originated in my Moleskine notebook, but after scanning them in I vectorized my sketches using the process that I learned in Sean McCabe’s Skillshare course Digitizing Hand Lettering: From Sketch to Vector.

I then compiled and colored my sketches using Adobe Illustrator. Since all my sketches were already in vector form, I had the ability to move around, resize, and change the color of any individual element of the sketch. In that way I was able to take what started as individual sketches spread across a number of Moleskine pages and compile them into the final two print-friendly-sized Illustrator documents.

I spent a lot of time tinkering with the sizing, layout, and coloring of the elements, but that extra time gave me a lot a flexibility and ultimately resulted in a more polished end result that still has the hand-sketched feel that I love.

Though I enjoy going straight from sketch to scan to publish, I have found that I also like to see what is possible once you start digitizing the sketches and doing some post-editing. It’s a process that I will continue to experiment with.

If you’ve got a project that might benefit from visualizing ideas in this way, be sure to get in touch!


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