Metaphors: The Impact of Surprises

Each drawing we create is like a tiny storybook.


Every person, and every action we draw tells a story.


But what really grabs your attention is when things take an unexpected turn.


In Visual Thinking, these unexpected twists are what we call disruptions.


Imagine this: two people are talking in a drawing. It seems simple, right? But what makes it interesting is the disruption — that surprising moment that makes the story more exciting.


Disruptions in art Visual Thinking happen in different ways. It might be a surprising action, something that happens unexpectedly.


Or it could be a surprising setting, a background that's different from what you'd expect. For example, think about a scene where one person asks another for help.


The disruption isn't the request for help, but the surprising part is that the other person says no.


Disruptions aren't just about actions. The setting is important too.


Picture a place...

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Self-inquiry: Uncovering the Secrets of Clichés.

clichés masks metaphors Oct 03, 2023

A simple question about our clichés can open up a world of possibilities to explore.

What lies behind a cliché?

What does it hide or cover?

These were the questions I asked myself to create this metaphor, and they are exactly the same questions you can ask yourself every time you encounter an element that you continue to repeat.

Why is self-inquiry crucial?

Because the responses you uncover will become short visual stories or messages, effectively transforming any cliché into a potent metaphor.

Unlocking the Power of Self-Inquiry

When creating metaphors, self-inquiry is the key that opens the door to creative symbolism. It prompts us to dig deeper, to question the surface, and to make emerge hidden visual gems.

From Cliché to Compelling Tale

Asking these questions not only leads to a deeper understanding but also uncovers the stories waiting to be told. Each response becomes a building block for narratives that resonate, messages that...

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The Power of Embracing Absurdity

  The best way to unlock creativity and craft powerful metaphors is by embracing absurdity.


Consider this: Visual metaphors are rooted in the realm of the impossible. They encapsulate scenarios and elements that defy logic, inviting us to look beyond the confines of the rational world.


It's precisely this characteristic that often leaves us intrigued, capturing our attention.


Starting from a purely logical standpoint can be a stumbling block to the process.


A visual metaphor always involves impossible situations. That's why we struggle to create them if we approach them with a rational thinking.


If we begin from a logical approach, it becomes challenging to break free from conventional solutions.

A Practical Exercise: Embrace Absurdity

  1. Imagine any situation without the constraint of making perfect sense.

  2. Sketch it! (Sketchnoting your dreams can be an excellent training exercise for inspiration.)

  3. Connect your picture to a keyword or...

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Transforming overseen clichés into Meaningful Metaphors

Have you ever noticed how easy it is for our brains to overlook the familiar?

A speech bubble remains a speech bubble, until you unlock its hidden potential through a simple yet powerful technique. In our daily lives, we encounter symbols that have become almost second nature to us.


Cliché symbols serve their purpose, but over time, they become background noise in our visual landscape.


Our brains have a remarkable ability to filter out the commonplace.


Imagine for a moment, though, that you have the power to disrupt this pattern. That you can give a new life to the most ordinary symbol.

It all begins with a single question:


"Can I use it in other ways?"


This simple question holds the potential to be a game-changer in how we perceive and utilize symbols. It invites us to step beyond the boundaries of convention, prompting a fresh exploration of possibilities.


Suddenly, that speech bubble is no longer limited to its traditional...

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How to apply Hitchcock's rules to your Visual Thinking


Learning things from other visual arts is always essential to enrich our visual thinking. So that's why today we will learn from movies, specifically from a tremendous director, Alfred Hitchcock.

Hitchcock pioneered visual rules in cinema, which I will show you today.

There are some specific techniques he invented that we can apply to our visual thinking to make our messages more visually compelling.



Very few people know that Hitchcock, in his beginnings, made some silent films.  Because, in that period, there was no voice track, these films showed dialogue with printed words on the screen that interrupted the sequence flow.

That's where Hitchcock learned to tell the stories with the camera to minimize the number of titles that would interrupt the scene.

He used to say this

We should resort to dialogue only when it's impossible to do otherwise.

How do you apply that to your visual thinking?

Add text to your sketchnotes only when it's...

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3 things you can learn from Medieval Marginalia to improve your Visual metaphors.


During the middle ages, monks made little illustrations or notations in the margins of manuscripts. The technical term for this kind of doodling is marginalia. It's not the main illustrations. They are doodles done in the margins. 

These manuscripts are somehow connected to sketchnoting because they are books written by hand 'manu' means hand; 'scriptus' means to write. They are not printed books."

You can incorporate specific characteristics about these provocative drawings to take your visual metaphors to the next level. 


1) Blend to drive attention. 

Today, we use a highlighter marker to draw attention to a key piece of text we are reading. But back in the Middle Ages, when they wanted to highlight something, they drew a little symbol called the manicule. Which in Latin means 'little hand.' As you can see in these drawings, they were not just hands many times. They blended these hand symbols with something else to add an extra hook to highlight and...

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 One of the most common mistakes in visual thinking is making visual maps or sketchnotes in which everything we draw has the same size.

A couple of years ago, a video by Dave Gray reminded me of the way the Egyptians represented their gods, and this is a great tip because most visual maps fail due to the lack of hierarchical levels. This means that when you apply visual thinking through a map or a sketchnote and all the drawings have the same size; we communicate that everything has the same importance. If everything has the same visual importance, it will be difficult to attract attention to those important parts of your map.

That's why the Egyptian perspective could help with hierarchy in your visual thinking.

The main characteristic is that Egyptian figures were depicted of sizes based on importance and not on their distance from the sculptor's perspective. For instance, the Pharaoh would be depicted as the largest figure in a wall no matter where he was situated, and a...

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Accepting imperfection is essential for creating compelling visual thinking.

Nowadays, people post content with a lot of makeup. Think about the content that you see or that you post on social networks.

How many of the photos you post have previously passed through your filter. What are your main criteria to apply those filters? Probably perfection. They are all moments of perfection. The perfect photo, the perfect moment, the perfect occasion to show something. The perfect mess. Even those images that show messy situations, if you pay attention, are a perfect and neat mess.

The problem with this 'perfection' is that we incorporate into our subconscious that everything has to look good.

For this reason, one of the most significant restrictions we impose on ourselves is perfection. The consequence of this is the fear of not meeting those perfect expectations.

Let me tell you something:

Good visual ideas are going to come from a context of chaos. Any creative process is born out of...

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