Skip to content

The visual alphabet — Your building blocks to draw quickly

In this workshop you’ll learn the basics for drawing to communicate. These simple steps will be good to know when you want to draw quickly and/or don’t think you can draw. For this we’ll use the Visual Alphabet as a handy tool.

Key takeaway: Anybody can make them selves understood through drawings.

Dave Gray’s Visual Alphabet
Dave Gray’s Visual Alphabet


Just like for a written alphabet, it’s there as building blocks to form meaning to be communicated.

Why speed and simplicity is what counts

This is not art. It’s all about communicating your ideas to others. This means we can cut a lot of corners to make the drawing process quicker.

  • Draw only with the library shapes
    This is your backup whenever you get stuck.
  • Make it as simple as possible
    The idea is what counts.
  • Re-use things you have already figured out how to draw
    If you’ve figured it out earlier, don’t waste time figuring it out again.


  • A room with enough whiteboard for everybody that attends. 1–1.5 meters per person?
  • Good whiteboard pens. (Possibly black. High contrast to the whiteboard is good).
  • 30 minutes of dedicated time.

Or, if you need to have the workshop online with your virtual team you can try using a board on Miro and some other software to present and share: Teams, Slack, Whereby etc.


The visual alphabet — workshop

1. Draw the visual alphabet (3 minutes)

Open forms:

  • dot
  • line
  • angle
  • arch
  • spiral
  • loop (yes, not fully open shape)

Closed forms

  • circle
  • lense
  • triangle
  • square
  • house (polygon)
  • cloud

2. Draw something you’ve drawn before (3 minutes)

Tell the participants to draw (30 seconds on each drawing):

  • The sun
  • A house
  • A tree
  • A person
  • A car
  • A bus
Drawing of house, three, person, car and the sun
A revisit to childhood?

3. Draw something more complex (6 minutes)

Tell the participants to draw (2 minute on each)

  • The earth and the moon
  • A city
  • A kindergarten

Show how it can be done:

Drawing of a planet


4. Draw things related to application development (6 minutes)

Tell the participants to draw (2 minute on each drawing):

  • A laptop
  • A mobile phone
  • A webpage
Drawing of smartphone
Mobile phone: A rectangle, a line and a circle.
Drawing of laptop
Laptop: Two rectangles, a tarapezoid and some lines.
Drawing of webpage
Webpage: Three rectangles and some lines + text.

6. Discussion (10 minutes)

What was difficult and how to solve it. Go through participants work and discuss, ask and try to come up with different solutions.

That’s it, the first part of the workshop.

If you need help or want to discuss some aspects of this? Contact me on LinkedIn, Twitter or post a comment to this post, and I’ll try to help you out.

Your blog post content here…