Make funky and creative hand-drawn chart in Excel – Quick tutorial

Charts and Graphs - 2 comments

Charts are great way to tell story about what is going on in your business. But they also feel a bit too impersonal and meh. How about adding your personality to them? I don’t mean making them tall, dark and pretty. I mean using hand-drawing style to make them pop out. Something like this example of hand-drawn chart:

hand-drawn chart in Excel - example

The best thing is, You don’t need to actually draw these charts by hand. We can use a powerful charting trick to get these charts automatically generated (and linked) to your data. Interested? Read on to learn how to create hand-drawn charts in Excel.

Hand-drawn charts – Set up your data

Let’s say you have some data like this:

data for hand drawn charts

Add 2 more columns so that you can split the data in to Head & Rest like this:

Split data in to head and tail using simple formulas

 

Make a regular stacked column chart from your data

Select head & rest columns and insert a normal stacked column chart. Make sure head is on top of rest. You will get this:

create a normal stacked column chart from your data

Time to get drawing – create head & body images

Using your favorite drawing program (MS Paint / Power Point / Paint.Net or good old Excel itself), make a column drawing. Use the free form scribble tool from Insert > Shape to create these drawings in Excel or Power Point. See this demo:

How to create a hand-drawn column or bar in Excel?

How to make a hand-drawing bar or column using free form tools

 

Crop and split the drawing in to head & rest:

Once you made the drawing, paste it in to Excel as an image. Using Format ribbon, crop this in to head & tail as shown below:

create and crop the hand drawing images

Replace the column fill with images now – Ctrl+C Ctrl+V time…

Time to use the most important shortcuts in the world. CTRL+C and CTRL+V.

  1. Copy the head image from your drawing (CTRL+C)
  2. Select head series in the chart
  3. Paste (CTRL+V)

Bonus tip: Use images and shapes in your charts to prettify them

That is all. Your hand-drawn chart is ready. Share it with a colleague or boss and see them drool.

hand-drawn chart in Excel - example

More hand-drawn inspiration for you…

Here are few more examples of what you could achieve with this technique.

Hand-drawn bar chart:

hand-drawn bar chart

Hand-drawn line chart:

more hand-drawn charts - line graph

Caution: Don’t go overboard

I am a big fan of story telling with charts. While I appreciate the flexibility and possibilities Excel (and other tools like Power BI) offers, I strongly recommend that you do not go overboard with formatting charts. When used in moderation (or for a particular situation) these charts can evoke a laugh, thought or both. But when used in excess or out-of-place these can look silly. You have been warned.

See the entire thing in 90 seconds

Check out this recipe style video (with peppy background score) to re-cap all the key steps for creating hand-drawn charts.

You can also watch this on Chandoo.org YouTube Channel.

Download hand-drawn charts template

Click here to download free template with a few charts. Paste your data to get the charts or use the images elsewhere.

More creative charting techniques for you…

If you liked this hand-drawn chart, you will love below examples too:

Budget vs. Actual chart with variance & emotion:

Salary & Performance in a jitter plot

Salary and performance - jitter plot

Joy plot in Excel

Joy plot in Excel

Twisted column charts (E90E50 Charts)

 

Tried your hand at hand-drawn charts?

Excuse the pun. How did it go? Did it draw crowd’s attention? Share your story and examples in the comments.

Chandoo

Hello Awesome...

My name is Chandoo. Thanks for dropping by. My mission is to make you awesome in Excel & your work. I live in Wellington, New Zealand. When I am not F9ing my formulas, I cycle, cook or play lego with my kids. Know more about me.

I hope you enjoyed this article. Visit Excel for Beginner or Advanced Excel pages to learn more or join my online video class to master Excel.

Thank you and see you around.

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2 Responses to “Make funky and creative hand-drawn chart in Excel – Quick tutorial”

  1. Asel says:

    Hello Chandoo,

    Could you please tell me what software you use to make the short videos that you embed directly in your text?

    Thanks in advance

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