Steve Silbert from Sketchnote Army – Our Noteshelf Star

Co-curator of Sketchnote Army | The originator of Visual Torah | Genealogist

Agile Coach | Builder at Bayit | A Noteshelf Lover

Noteshelf Star Steve Silbert of Sketchnote Army

Steve is a co-curator of the Sketchnote Army, a platform that is dedicated to showcasing sketchnoters and their work from around the world. Excerpts from our quick interview with Steve ahead. Read on to know about Steve, the Sketchnote Army, and tips to pick up sketchnoting.

Please tell us a little about you, where you are from and what you do?

I’m a left-handed son of a NASA scientist father and artistic mother. I grew up in Maryland in the USA and lived in Richmond, Virginia for 20 years before moving to Florida in 2018.

My undergraduate degree is in Physics and I think I was the last class who learned to draft with a pencil and square. The early part of my career was in electronics manufacturing as a process engineer. Then I became a scrum master at corporate headquarters in retail, state government, and finance. I am currently consulting at a public sector electric/water utility as an organizational Agile coach.

I am also a co-curator of and am the creator of VisualTorah, an effort to sketchnote parts of the Torah help distill complex topics into simple visuals.

How did co-curating SketchnoteArmy happen to you?

Luck. I became friends with Mike Rodhe and had extra time to pitch in and help moderate the first World Sketchnote Day. Since then I’ve authored some blog posts and helped out where I could.

I’m also a builder in a community of spiritual innovators called YourBayit. In this group, I’ve focused on sketchnoting portions of the Torah. I’m in the process of creating a book of Visual Torah sketchnotes to be published later this year.

What is your typical sketchnote process like?

Most of my sketchnotes are digital using apps with layers. I typically reserve a layer for penciling in ideas while using another layer to hold the polished drawings. I think that each person has their own process for their own purpose and comfort, and that’s ok. Try different things until you find a couple that works for you.

What made you start using Noteshelf?

I think I have downloaded or bought nearly every note-taking and sketching app available because I’ve been on a quest to find one that has intuitive controls, handwriting recognition, a strong set of sketching tools, and the ability to export in numerous formats. One of my sketchnoting friends on twitter said something a few months ago about Noteshelf and it immediately became a home screen app on my iPad.

What are your favorite features of Noteshelf 2?

I keep finding new features that I like. Even as I’m doing this I happened to swipe from the left and found a quick access menu. Love!

I think my favorite feature is the ability to select an area and have the text convert to the font of my handwriting. The feature makes it fast and easy to go from scribbling to a polished product.

Oh, I’m also in love with the ability to have a set of my favorite tools tucked along the top of the screen.

One more thing. I use a 2018 iPad Pro with the 2nd generation Apple Pencil. Being able to double-tap between tools is really useful.

Ok, another thing… the feature of being able to sketch while projecting without the tools showing is powerful stuff!

What kind of notes do you normally take now? Is there any specific workflow that you follow?

As an avid sketchnoter, I believe that it’s important to distill complex ideas into clear visuals. So one of my primary uses of Noteshelf is to create handouts and posters to help those around me.

One need that Noteshelf satisfied is the ability to import a font. I have been creating fonts of my own handwriting using for several months. Coupling together apps, I use AnyFont to import my custom ttf onto my iPad, then add that font as a style in Noteshelf. The result is the ability to type in my own handwriting.

How do you create your own fonts and use them in Noteshelf 2?

I had a strong desire to cut down the amount of time I spend writing legible text when sketchnoting (I’m left-handed, so my handwriting is terrible).

I’ve used @calligraphr_com to create fonts for several months. Great site, good pricing model, easy to use. Now I’ve got my own TrueType fonts… now, what to do with them. Nichole Mauloni (@niktronix) wrote a great blog post on using Vectornator to type in the text then copy/paste it into Procreate. Procreate is a powerful pixel-based sketchnoting tool, and being able to paste my own text into a layer is a timesaver. However, it’s not searchable.

In comes Noteshelf. I think I heard about the app from Oscar Campo (@oscarcampo_). I started using it a few weeks ago and love the intuitiveness and versatility of features. It immediately became home screen material. I’ve started taking notes in the app and the flash of inspiration was to use the AnyFont app to install my fonts on the iPad, then assign my fonts as default text styles. Now I can simply add a text box, type in it using my text style, resize, and move around. That I cannot erase the text by accident is a strong positive.

Now I’m using this workflow to add searchable text to sketchnotes. I’m also beginning to work with the user stories template to craft stories with Agile teams while presenting (I’m an Agile Coach by calling), and am starting to look at noteshelf as a personal journaling tool.

Share some screenshots of your favorite Noteshelf notes with fellow Noteshelf-ers?

Sketchnotes taken on Noteshelf 2 by Steve Silbert of Sketchnote Army

Any tips that you wish to share with fellow Noteshlefers who wish to pick sketchnoting up? Is there an induction or training program?

There’s no formal training program, though there are a lot of great people out there willing to teach and share.

Tip #1:

Above all, it’s about ideas, not art. If it works for you then it’s right.

Tip #2:

Find others. Use Twitter, Instagram,… as a way to find sketchnoters, learn from what you see, and put your own spin on it.

Tip #3:

Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. It’s the only way to learn.


Have any questions, got a request? Do write to us or shoot them out to Steve.

Follow Noteshelf Star Steve Silbert of Sketchnote Army



Links in this article:

Visual Torah:

Sketchnote Army:


Noteshelf 2 Quick access menu:

Noteshelf 2 Favorites toolbar:

Apple pencil double-tap options in Noteshelf 2:

Text tool in Noteshelf 2:

Whiteboard mode of Noteshelf 2:


Text tool in Noteshelf 2:

Download Noteshelf 2 on the App Store for iPad:

Handwriting recognition in Noteshelf 2:

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