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« The best apps for iPad | Main | iPad can do anything, quickly »
Thursday
Jun142012

Using Paper by FiftyThree

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 blanksintentionally.

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.

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Reader Comments (4)

You are absolutly right about the messy thing.

For the last week or two i have started creating a drawing or two just before going to sleep. And the more messy the more fun.

Really enjoy this app :)

June 14, 2012 at 2:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterRattenborg

Thanks! What other art apps do you use?

June 14, 2012 at 9:56 PM | Registered CommenterBradtastic

I have tried a lot of apps, but now I'm just down to few ones, procreate, 2screens, Dropbox and paper.

In the start I used brushes for drawing, but now procreate is my favorite.

I have tried starting staring several times to use the iPad as a notetaking device, but the combination not finding the right program, and not being able to rest my hand on the screen. I have kept my analog moleskin books :-)

2screens
I really don't like the user interface, but its the only program I have found that supports external VGA output and to be remote controlled by the iPhone.

And of course, Dropbox is a must.

June 15, 2012 at 6:05 AM | Unregistered CommenterRattenborg

Check back here soon; I'm posting about note taking solutions, including how to rest your hand on the screen with a $2 accessory.

June 15, 2012 at 6:07 AM | Registered CommenterBradtastic

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