I’ve wanted to build shapes that look hand-drawn for quite some time. Using random formulas in the ShapeSheet, each shape could have slight variations that make them look natural.
I’ve also wanted to make a set of shapes for creating simple graphs and charts. Not that this hasn’t been done before, but I wanted some simple shapes for illustrative purposes.
A few recent posts and articles finally drove me to it. I hope you find the results useful, interesting, and most importantly, amusing!
I Just Can’t Take it Anymore!
First, John Goldsmith wrote an article about making random-looking custom line patterns in Visio. They’re good fun, and you should have a look at them:
Then, Don Harris created the Crayon Network Shapes. These amusing network shapes offer a breath of fresh air…and irony. We’ve finally come full circle and are now striving to create computer graphics that look like we didn’t use computers to create them. Fabulous!
Indexed creates one graph or chart per post, hand-drawn on a 3 x 5 note card. Each graphic tries to make sense of some perplexing aspect of life. The graphical simplicity is endearing and the posts are hilarious. And there’s even a whole book full of them: Indexed!
All these ideas in my head were conducive to not sleeping. And so here I am, at 2:00 in the morning, watching the Olympics and presenting my new creations to you.
Using my new ‘Indexed’ shapes, I’ve tried my hand at creating Indexed-style comics, like this:
Get the book!
About the ‘Indexed’ Shapes
In order to get that hand-written look, I’ve used the Comic Sans font, which some people seem to hate. Evidently it is too contrived for the truly cool. While I somewhat agree, it’s the only standard font in Windows that looks anything like what people do with pen-and-paper.
You can improve the look of your ‘Indexed’ drawings by downloading and installing a better hand-writing font. A quick Google led me to a huge set of free fonts at 1001 Free Fonts. Have a look under the handwriting category.
The vectors themselves have ShapeSheet programming that randomizes each shape, ever-so-slightly:
These shapes were simply duplicated. Each time a shape is dropped, it gets new random data, via ShapeSheet functions, which is then used by the shape-geometry to add fluctuations to the paths.
If you don’t like the randomization, you can right-click the shape and choose: Randomize Shape to get a new variation. Just keep clicking until you like the look!
The download’s shape set is fairly small, but you can create quite a lot of illustrative graphics with them (and hey, they’re FREE!)
I hope that you will be able to use these shapes to create humorous and light-hearted graphics like those you see in Indexed. God knows our weekly status meetings need the levity.
But you can also make concepts crystal clear by keeping it simple and non-intimidating. While I’m all for humor, I know that people have real work that needs to get done. And part of real work involves effective presentation and communication.
So spruce-up your PowerPoint presentations by toning-down your graphics. I hope you enjoy these Indexed-style, hand-drawn Visio SmartShapes!
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