Jot down ideas as quickly as they arise. Learn how to make notes more memorable by using digital paper, brushes, colors, and hand-lettering in Adobe Fresco.

The top portion of a Behance profile page shows an orange to fuchsia gradient behind Kathleen Martin’s profile picture.

Hi there, I’m Kathleen Martin, an illustrator and designer. As an intrepid creative explorer, I traverse the digital landscape with an evolving toolkit of handy workflows. You can also find me as a host of Adobe Live on Behance.

Before you start.
I’ve added some digital note paper templates to a Creative Cloud Library. Use them as you take your notes.

Step 1: Start with a plan.
Whether you’re expanding your creative knowledge at a virtual Adobe MAX session or capturing important ideas during a staff meeting, the brushes available to you in Adobe Fresco can make note taking useful and fun.

Before you begin, take a moment to organize your note-taking process. Think about the different types of information you’ll be gathering and the amount of space to leave for each. What will be the most important thoughts that deserve prominence? You may want to give more space to areas such as the title or topic, favorite quotes or key points, and action items.

An iPad with colorful notes, an Apple Pencil, and mouse are on a wooden desk with a keyboard and coffee mug on the sides.

Step 2: Pick a size.
Create a new document. I chose the 8.5x11 preset under the Print category to imitate real notebook paper.

The Start new document screen for Adobe Fresco shows the Letter preset, an 8.5 by 11-sized document, from the Print category.

Step 3: Guide your notes.
I like to structure my notes with a grid, so I used dot grid digital paper as a guide. To use this template, tap the Place (image) icon in the toolbar and select Creative Cloud. Tap Libraries from the drop-down menu under Assets, open the library provided with this lesson, choose the digital paper you want to use, tap Open, and then tap Done. Use the Layer Properties panel to adjust the Opacity to your liking and add a new layer for your notes.

Dot grid layer has Opacity = 10, Place tool selected along with Creative Cloud and Libraries from Assets drop down.

Step 4: Choose some favorites.
Experiment with different brushes and their settings before you start taking notes. If you plan to do a lot of writing, you may want to explore the Lettering group. Once you find the brushes you like, organize them by marking your favorite ones. Access your favorited brushes by tapping the Favorites tab. Learn more about brushes and hand lettering in How to draw custom hand lettering with Adobe Fresco.

Chunk brush (size 62 and orange) is marked as a favorite. Handwritten “How to build a serious career” is on the dot grid.

Step 5: Highlight for emphasis.
Once your event begins, stay alert for tidbits that jump out and inspire you. These could be big ideas, action items, or inspiring quotes. Give yourself room to listen and go with the flow. Keep a lot of space between pieces of information so you can take advantage of the time during the Q&A or meeting wrap-up to add flourishes to your lettering. Save quotes for further embellishment on their own spreads so they can serve as a focal point.

Two handwritten notes, 1 is smaller, black writing; the other is larger, orange writing. Both have colorful flourishes.

Step 6: Accent with symbols.
Colors and symbols are great tools for organizing your thoughts as you progress. Try bullet points, boxes, arrows, and highlight colors to build a visual structure. Your future self will thank you.

Multi-colored, handdrawn symbols such as bullets, numbered lists, arrows, and a Venn diagram appear on canvas.

Summarize and take action.
Add a section at the bottom for a short summary and to-do list. Maybe the speaker mentions other designers to follow on social media, or perhaps you get the spark of an idea based on something they said. Write it down now and review it later when you have some free time. Think about how you’ll adapt your new inspiration into your future plans or projects.

Full 8.5x11 page of colorful handwritten notes and symbols related to building a career without taking yourself seriously.

Note: Project files included with this tutorial are for practice purposes only.