This sketch demonstrates how I use Paper by 53. I like to create notes and mind-maps by combining the Watercolor tool with Draw, Write, Sketch and Outline.
Paper is a art, design and productivity app for Apple iPad that I've mentioned several times before, here at Says Brad and elsewhere. It's a beautiful, minimalist sketching, drawing and writing tool that looks great on the new iPad with retina display — but inherently, Paper by FiftyThree has strengths and weaknesses similar to a sheet of physical paper.
A blank page can be intimidating.
The app developers at FiftyThree have included some neat features in the app to make it less intimidating. There's a sample journal and walk-through video, but one of their best creative aids is very subtle. Each new journal (or notebook, pages) starts with just 10 pages. Ten: it is enough to feel expansive and real without being intimidating. Sometimes unlimited pages that you can't see seems daunting. You can always add pages or subtract them (by deleting).
Still, if you're going to pay $8 for a sketching app…
You may want to know more about what you're getting and what you can do with it. Reading through the App Store comments, one thing has become clear: Paper is misunderstood by many. At first, I didn't like it. I didn't think it was a real art tool. If you are curious what else can be done, search using the tag #madewithpaper at Twitter and Tumblr — some incredible artists have used Paper in amazing ways. Each tool can be purchased separately for $1.99, but I'd recommend getting the complete collection if you're going to use Paper… else stick with the free Draw tool.
How I like use Paper by FiftyThree
My favorite part of Paper is its custom ink engine. It is expressive and natural, and one of the first that really understands capacitive touch screen use. Without pressure sensitivity, the iPad is (in many ways) at a serious disadvantage compared to Wacom tablets. Many apps intimate, approximate, and imitate pressure by adjusting ink flow based on speed. The results often suck.
The Draw tool in Paper is thin when drawing slowly and gets thicker as you increase speed. Without zoom, this makes tiny, detail work and writing much easier than apps like Penultimate.
The Watercolor tool has a nice look and colors blend together beautifully. I like to create contrast with it, and color code related items.
I use the other tools to create basic shapes and add words, sketches and doodles.
Fast and Messy
When I first used Paper, I tried to keep everything neat and perfect, as I would in Autodesk SketchBook Pro. At that time, I didn't like Paper. I felt it was missing things, things I thought I needed.
At some point, I decided to just scribble — I decided to make a mess. It was fun.
Keeping things loose and not worrying about perfect lines, I put ideas on paper fast than ever. I could brainstorm or experiment, create lists and designs, and the results, while messy, were beautiful. Paper is exact enough to get a point across or capture an idea, and loose enough to stimulate new thoughts because it doesn't fill in all of the blanks — intentionally.
Paper by FiftyThree has become an everyday tool for me, and I've never had more fun creating scribbles. It's helped me to breathe life into old ideas, and flesh out new concepts, including things I want to do here at my blog. Sharing pages is simple and quick, and the full journal PDFs look great, too. Paper is another reason to own an iPad!
I hope their next version will offer a way to rearrange Paper's papers.
How do you use Paper? Do you love it, or hate it? If you have thoughts or suggestions on Paper, leave a comment! Also, send them directly to the guys at FiftyThree! They care about feedback.