Drawing Live: What Happens When We Mess up?

After one of our live graphic recording sessions, one of the most common questions our Ink Factory artists get asked is “what do you do if you make a mistake?”

The answer is more complicated than you might think!

Unless we’re working on whiteboard, we draw directly on artist board with permanent marker, so there’s not much room for error. Add to that the need to continue listening and drawing in real time, and the chance to correct mistakes is very minimal. However, we do have a few tricks up our sleeves, and tips to minimize any “uh-oh” moments.

Correcting spelling mistakes during live visual note-taking


Spelling errors are one of our most common flubs – there’s no spell check on our markers. You’d be amazed at how your spelling skills slip away when you are focusing on drawing a word rather than writing it. Sometimes there is no fix other than white out, but often we can salvage what we have in a creative way. For example, Lindsay was scribing a session where alignment was a key idea. She stepped back to realized that she had actually written “alingment.” Her fix gave the spelling mistake meaning that related to the conversation:

Fixing mistakes when creating visual notes


Perhaps the curve of your “R” was a bit misshapen, or the “O” you drew was too narrow. If you increase the thickness of your lines, you can easily adjust and correct the proportions of your letters.Correcting drawing mistakes when visual note-taking

You can apply this idea to visuals as well – perhaps the hairstyle of the blonde woman you drew didn’t come out as you hoped. Coloring her hair in black will allow you to change the shape and silhouette of her hair.

Smudging is also a common problem when you’re working faster than your ink can dry. If the smudge isn’t too big, or too close to another visual, we can use decorative visuals, like stars, peppered throughout the graphic recording to cover it up.

Using white-out and tape to fix mistakes during visual note-taking

White Out and Correction Tape

Sometimes there is truly no way to work around a mistake, and that’s where white out comes in. We use Bic brand WiteOut Correction Tape, which comes in a strip dispenser. We do not use liquid white out, due to the drying time and fast nature of graphic recording. We also use Post-It brand Labeling & Cover-up Tape, which is one inch thick, and better for large cover ups. We try to apply the tape and white out as sparingly and neatly as possible so it’s not noticeable.

When time allows, periodically step back from your graphic recording to check for composition and any spelling errors. But always take a step back after you’ve finished your graphic recording to check for errors and any areas that might need to be further enhanced. And if you pause before writing a word, thinking: “Is that how that word is spelled?” it’s time to pull out your phone and look it up in the dictionary. We also recommend double checking a speaker’s name on a program – there’s few things worse than getting someone’s name wrong!

Improving spelling for visual note-taking

Learn and Plan

Reduce stress for your future self by making mental notes of what mistakes you make most often. Keep a list of words you misspell and memorize them until you never misspell them again – entrepreneurship, judgement, and millennials, their/there/they’re, holistic, throughout, and principle/principal are just a few that our team have had to work on.

Notice that you’re constantly running out of space to write long words and having to include that hyphen? Next time you’re about to write a long word, write the LAST letter of the word where you want it to end, write the first letter where you want it to begin, and then fill in the middle.

Worried about drawing a complicated visual or the size and placement of a visual? We recommend getting and extremely light grey marker and sketching first. The light grey will read as shadow after you’ve inked and colored.

Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

Never forget, content is king. So if you’re busy panicking over a word you misspelled, you’re missing out on the key concepts that are being discussed. Take a deep breath, keep listening, and find a point where you can go back and correct mistakes at your leisure.

*We were not paid to promote any of the brands mentioned in this post! These are the tools we love, rely on, and use on a daily basis.