Support SaysBrad
  • (Most Compact 20000mAh Portable Charger) Anker PowerCore 20100 - Ultra High Capacity Power Bank with Most Powerful 4.8A Output, PowerIQ Technology
    (Most Compact 20000mAh Portable Charger) Anker PowerCore 20100 - Ultra High Capacity Power Bank with Most Powerful 4.8A Output, PowerIQ Technology
    Anker

    This thing, you need. Run your smartphone for days.

  • Klear Screen iKlear Cleaning Kit for iPad, iPhone, Galaxy, LCD, Plasma TV, Computer Monitor and Keyboard (Cloth, Wipes and Spray)
    Klear Screen iKlear Cleaning Kit for iPad, iPhone, Galaxy, LCD, Plasma TV, Computer Monitor and Keyboard (Cloth, Wipes and Spray)
    Klear Screen

    I use this cleaner for my iPhone, iPad 3, iPad mini and MacBook Pro. It’s great all-around and won’t mess up the oleophobic coating on iOS device screens.

  • Arctic Silver 5 Thermal Compound 3.5 Grams
    Arctic Silver 5 Thermal Compound 3.5 Grams
    Artic Silver

    If you’re having problems with your Adonit Jot capacitive touch stylus or Hex3 Jaja, you can improve its performance and reliability with careful application of thermal paste! For more on this, check out my capacitive touch stylus how-to fix-it guide. Months later (Sep 2013), my styli are still performing great!

  • Adonit Jot Touch with Pixelpoint pressure sensitive stylus for iPad - Black
    Adonit Jot Touch with Pixelpoint pressure sensitive stylus for iPad - Black
    Adonit

    Adonit Jot with Pixelpoint, works with a lot of new drawing apps on iPad.

  • Klear Screen's iKlear 8 oz. Pump Spray Bottle 7351-IKHP, Others, Electronics & Computers
    Klear Screen's iKlear 8 oz. Pump Spray Bottle 7351-IKHP, Others, Electronics & Computers
    Klear Screen

    The stuff I use to keep my iPad screen nice and clean!

  • Cosmonaut: Wide-Grip Stylus for Capacitive Touch Screens
    Cosmonaut: Wide-Grip Stylus for Capacitive Touch Screens
    Studio Neat

    Awesome capacitive touch stylus created by Studio Neat. Great guys, great product. I use mine every day! Bradtastic Approved.

  • Adonit Jot Pro Stylus for iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, and Other Touch Screens (ADJPG)
    Adonit Jot Pro Stylus for iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, and Other Touch Screens (ADJPG)
    Adonit

    Adonit Jot Pro is an awesome capacitive touch stylus for iPad & other tablets.

  • Pencil by FiftyThree Digital Stylus for iPad Air, iPad Mini and iPad 3/4 - Walnut
    Pencil by FiftyThree Digital Stylus for iPad Air, iPad Mini and iPad 3/4 - Walnut
    FiftyThree

    Even if you consider yourself a casual doodler or note-taker, you’ll love this well designed stylus. Built for Paper by FiftyThree, the iPad app — however, many other apps support Pencil.

  • Bicycle Standard Index Playing Cards (Pack of 2)
    Bicycle Standard Index Playing Cards (Pack of 2)
    Sportsman Supply Inc.

    Playing Cards for your password creation or poker game!

My Amazon.com Wish List
If you’re looking for an app, need personal or corporate branding, marketing material, an illustration, logo, sketch or design — there’s a Brad for that!

Entries in sketching (7)

Wednesday
Oct302013

Wacom Intuos Creative Stylus, Noteshelf and iPad mini

The iPad mini is one of life's pleasant surprises, and in November, Apple will release a 2048x1536 resolution Retina version. Super exciting! I use the mini for just about everything — except writing and serious art/design work. For whatever reason, the smaller screen cannot detect as fine a point as the full-size iPad, rendering some styli — such as the Hand stylus — practically unusable. Hopefully Apple has improved the touch sensor on the iPad mini with Retina display.

Though I've developed an aversion to writing on the mini, when I saw that Noteshelf supported the Wacom intuos Creative Stylus, I decided to give it a go. Results above. Not too bad, I think. It gives me hope for the new iPad mini.

So many pricy things release this year. XBOX ONE, Playstation 4, iPad Air, iPad mini, Mac Pro. That's about $6,000 without a 4K display, but still a technophile's dream. I wonder what will live up to the hype and what won't. I'm normally optimistic regarding Apple products, but I really don't like iOS7 and I'm not completely confident that the new iPads will be issue-free. I am hopeful, however... I want these tablets to be amazing.

The iPad Air is the device I'm currently most enthusiastic about. I started creating digital ink illustrations and it's been therapeutic and fun, and I'm starting to get decent results (I'll post some of it soon). I attribute at least part of that to the Wacom Intuos Creative Stylus — it's incredible. I really hope Wacom works with app developers to get pressure sensitivity into more sketching tools, chiefly Paper (by FiftyThree) and Concepts: Smarter Sketching.

Im trying to get over a bit of a cold, but I'll try to post some art later this week. I hope you have a happy and safe Halloween!

Sunday
Oct202013

Favicon Design part 1, Ideas, Concepts + Wacom Intuos Creative Stylus

Adobe Ideas screenshot, freehand sketch

 

Learning how to keep my hand steady again has been a tricky process. Luckily, the iPad has some amazing tools. The sketch above, a favicon design concept for this site, was first loosely drawn in Tayasui Sketches, but I almost immediately switched to Adobe Ideas to take advantage of a new Bluetooth pressure-sensitive stylus.

The Wacom Intuos Creative Stylus is probably the nicest all-around stylus for the iPad. In certain situations, I like the oStylus DOT more due to its small tip and predictable, 100% functionality. The Adonit Jot Touch is supported by many more apps, and their SDK is actually starting to work as intended (it was buggy; more like a tech demo or concept product, not quite usable for my design style).

Adobe Ideas is compatible with a variety of pressure-sensitive styluses; with it, I've only tried the Jot Touch and Intuos (both work really well in general). Ideas offers pressure sensitivity and palm rejection. Pressure sensitivity works great; there aren't a lot of options for it, but simplicity is sort of Ideas' thing. The Intuos' buttons work to bring up a quick tool menu to make changes to settings like tip width, color, tool... it's really nice, but an undo option would've been nice.

The palm rejection sucks; it works by rejecting any stroke on the iPad while there's no pressure on the stylus tip, but as soon as you start actually using it in earnest, it fails. Tons of unintended marks, because in practice: you have to set the tip down first — pressing enough to trigger pressure sensitivity —followed by your palm/wrist, and then lift your hand before lifting the stylus tip off to finish. It's a nuisance; setting a simple folded microfiber cloth underneath your palm is much easier... and it actually works.

But that's not an Ideas problem, it's just the technology. The iPad wasn't, isn't intended to be used with a stylus. For shame, Apple! Release for us a Penabled version, or something like the Samsung Galaxy Note. Artists will buy it; they're excited about dropping $1600-2500 for Wacom Cintiq Companion tablets — we'll buy an iPad: Artist Edition!

Currently, I can only compare the Hex3 Jaja, Adonit Jot Touch (2.1) & Wacom Intuos Creative Stylus. I would love to test the Pogo Connect & others — I'm saddened that Paper by FiftyThree only utilizes the Pogo. I contacted them; they said that they have no plans to support any other Bluetooth styli, but that they're looking at the others to see how well people take to those devices. FiftyThree also mentioned that they weren't planning on portrait mode, but that it's been requested (duh!). Seeing how long they took to add custom colors and magnification (up to 3x zoom), it might be a long while. Like iPad 7 kind of awhile.

Contrast that with the great people behind Concepts: Smarter Sketching, and you'll know why I'm so excited about that app. Concepts as a free app is full functional, and an inexpensive IAP unlocks cool precision options unlike any other app I've used. Using a dot grid and guides, it's easy to create perfect lines and shapes on an adjustable, vector art canvas.

But that's not the amazing part; Concepts started months ago as a broken app with laggy pen strokes to a professional-use design tool with Copic colors... at less than 1/3 of the price of Paper. What started as an app with just a pen tool has become a vector app with a beautiful pencil, marker and airbrush tool — and it's fast and responsive. The pencil and marker are stunning.

The really great part about Concepts, however, is TopHatch, the guys behind the vector design and sketching app. I contacted them via Facebook and got a quick reply that made two things clear: these guys are nice, and they care about user feedback. I felt like my suggestions would help to improve the app — they even invited me to beta test it. I was told that I would be really pleased with the next update, but didn't get too many specifics. Only that portrait mode and Bluetooth stylus support were both happening soon.

 

Part 2 will be about favicon design itself (a sort of beginner's guide, I suppose) as well as my thought process for it, and a more in-depth review of Concepts: Smarter Sketching.

 

Saturday
Aug102013

Taking Notes on the iPad & iPhone!

Well — the groosoft sale that I'd mentioned was certainly short lived. Hopefully you picked up both amazing apps! If you didn't, that's a bummer, but let me explain why they might be worth your money.

If you're looking for text-only notes, check out my ThinkBook review.

 

Scrapnote Handwriting Scrapbook (iPad 2 & newer, $4.99)

Scrapnote is an amazing consolidation of productivity tools presented in an elegant package. It isn't the most visually stunning app, but it is powerful and straightforward — perfect for quick and dirty note-taking. Imagine Evernote, Skitch, Penultimate, Noteshelf, Pages and Adobe Reader features all in one app.

You say "scraping," I say "scrapping."

The main feature is its Scrap tool (a process misspelled as "scraping" in their materials). It's basically a clipper; take images, or even a stack of images, videos, text, (no audio, though) and insert them right onto editable pages. These objects can be drawn over and snap-aligned with guides (just like in Apple's Pages).

There are many practical note-taking uses for Scrapnote, but it can also be used as a presentation tool. Each notebook can be set as read-only — the app even comes with an example in the form of a detailed how-to guide. Scrapnote has several different handwriting tools (eraser, highlighter, pencil, pen) each with its own settings and properties, as well as a decent color palette (but no option to choose your own colors). Images can have custom borders (or not) and can be rotated and cropped (clipped, rather, as if set inside a frame) in-app, and text can be presented in various styles and fonts, with optional boxes and drop shadows.

There are some missing features. The major ones:

No zoom. It's a shame, because I could ditch my other handwriting notes apps if it had the ability to zoom into areas for more control. Well, almost, except...

No backup. This is so strange to me, because groosoft's $0.99 Jotter has iCloud sync. No backup makes this app somewhat limited in longevity, so hopefully they'll rectify that. iCloud and Dropbox backup would be preferred. Also...

No PDF export. Single pages can be emailed or sent to images, but the entire notebook cannot be easily presented together in a single file. Each page could be exported and backed up, but those documents would no longer be editable in-app.

Limited colors. The selection isn't bad or that small, it's just not ideal for me. This won't be an issue for everyone, and I'm sure someone out there prefers the simplicity of a set palette.

At the wonderful price of free, I couldn't complain much about these omissions, but for $4.99 — I expect more. If you're on the fence about this app, check out the "trial" version, Scrapnote Lite.

 

Jotter Handwriting Notebook (universal, $0.99)

I have no idea what "real tactile note app" means to groosoft, but I do know that the poor typesetting (look at "app" — "a pp") and misspelling scrapping (in Scrapnote) is indicative of oversight and carelessness... and that is concerning...

But for 99 cents, Jotter is pretty cool.

Especially as it's an iCloud-synced, universal app. Many of my favorite handwritten notes apps are iPad-only, limiting my ability to view and modify these notes on-the-go with my iPhone. The mobile-friendly feature makes it worthy of mention, and perhaps, a download.

Jotter has the same drawing tools and color palette as Scrapnote and has various background options (paper types) including lined/ruled, graphing paper, white, black, etc. — but the pages aren't arranged into notebooks, and images cannot be added into the documents.

However, you can use an image as a background.

For FREE, there's no debate about downloading Jotter. For a buck, it's still probably worth a try. There are other handwriting apps for iPhone, but most have similar issues and cost the same as or more than Jotter. The iCloud sync is a great bonus, and until Evernote makes Penultimate for iPhone (they really should), this is basically the only choice.

But still — no zoom. :-(

 

For iPhone handwritten notes, you could try Draw Pad Pro or Muji Notebook for iPhone — both offer zoom, and Draw Pad Pro is universal and has backup!

Draw Pad Pro is feature-rich and supported, but for some reason, it just doesn't feel right; it also isn't visually attractive, but there's something about the drawing tools and interface that doesn't work for me... so at $2.99, it's difficult for me to recommend (there are occasional discounts on it and it is free from time to time, however).

Muji Notebook is a text and handwriting notes app with a distinct Japanese esthetic and Japanese paper styles. So naturally, I like it (In general, I like Japanese design); but it is limited, and though there are iPad and iPhone versions, the two don't sync with one another. Muji is based on less is more; and with fewer color options, paper styles, and export options, it is a single-purpose tool with more style than substance — aimed at a niche audience. Still, the iPhone version ($3.99) is worth trying because the Muji zoom tool makes writing small, detailed notes a breeze. Developer/publisher Ryohin Keikaku offers trial versions: iPad Lite and iPhone Lite.

 

Final thoughts on note-taking tools for iOS

If I had to score these apps based on my needs, Scrapnote would earn 7/10 and Jotter a 3/5. Both are good, but need improvements to replace my go-to, everyday notes apps. If you've got a back-to-school iPad mini and automatic online backup isn't critical, Scrapnote is probably a worthwhile investment. If groosoft ever adds zoom and backup, Scrapnote would be an 8.5 or 9 out of 10.

If you have a favorite handwriting app for iOS that I haven't mentioned before, please let me know about it!

Also, if you're an app developer or publisher and would like an honest review and feedback, please get in touch. I'm easy to reach online! :-)

 


I've written about the wondrous — yes, magical — iPad, time and time again. I had had concerns that the device was just an overgrown iPod touch, but those fears were quickly dismissed by just using the original iPad for about two minutes. Since that life-changing day, I've dedicated a significant portion of my life and blog to it, and have written before about note-taking on the iPad.

Also, I let the superfloo.us domain expire, but nothing else has changed. Same content, says Brad.

 

Tuesday
Aug062013

Two Fantastic Free iOS Apps!

Some things in life are free! (Saving: $5.98)

My recent posts, and some soon to follow, are quite serious — but saysbrad isn't becoming a pure-politics blog! I'm writing a review of two great note-taking apps gone free! Scrapnote (iPad, was $4.99) and Jotter (universal, was $0.99), both by groosoft. I'm not sure how long these apps will remain free, so instead of waiting for my reviews, you should go download these apps!

 

Monday
Jul292013

Quoting Art & Attacking The Borg

I'm currently putting together my next posts, reviews and follow-ups to recent, controversial ideas, so I thought I'd share a few images created on the iPad mini using two amazing apps: Concepts: Precision Sketching and Over. If you like sketching and creating things on the iPad, I highly recommend both apps. Concepts has recently added Copic Marker colors and new drawing tools, and Over has been updating their app with bug fixes and new features, so I'm excited to see how both progress.

I also recently posted this image, a quote from George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four.

I thought I'd post it again, because I'd like to add the following. If anyone has any interest in reposting or sharing these images with others, feel free to do so — just please leave the images unmodified and uncropped. Each is making a statement in a particular way, and I put a fair amount of time and effort into each. Thanks! They are also available to be repinned at Pinterest. In addition, with the two apps mentioned above, it isn't difficult to create your own. If you do, I'd love to see it!

Language is communication — essentially expression of thought — and imagery can embolden and empower words and deliver new meaning to new audiences in a beautiful way.

If we ever lose our freedom of speech and expression, it'll be because the suppression of radical, upsetting and controversial thoughts was unopposed and supported by the masses and unchallenged by free-thinkers. Star Trek and Gene Roddenberry's ideology taught me this: resistance is not futile, even when defeat seems inevitable.

 

Friday
Nov162012

3 Best iPad Notes Apps

I forgot that I wrote this last month for Halloween. I guess the colors are appropriate for Thanksgiving, too. Anyway, the information is still valid.

The three best note taking apps for iPad

  1. Noteshelf – Ramki
  2. Remarks - Write notes and Annotate PDFs – Readdle
  3. Infinite Sketchpad – AllTom

Noteshelf and Remarks are similar, but there are notable differences. Remarks uses some kind of vector line technology for its ink, while Noteshelf is raster. Both can export and notes in multiple formats (image and PDF) and both can backup to Evernote and Dropbox, albeit in different ways. Both Noteshelf and Remarks have a selection of paper types (grid, lined, dot grid, blank, etc) and zoom. Many users will likely choose one over the other, but there are distinct uses for both.

  • Noteshelf can send individual pages and export them, and has pressure sensitivity support — Adonit Jot Touch, HEX3 Jaja and Pogo Connect. Noteshelf has extensive color and line shape options (pencil, pen and calligraphy lines) as well as highlighter colors.
  • Remarks can automatically backup pages in a specific Dropbox notebook, a very handy feature. Documents can also be saved as annotated or flattened PDFs and opened in a myriad of other iOS apps, including Evernote, iBooks, Kindle reader, GoodReader and other backup services such as SkyDrive and Box.

If you're mostly drawing, sketching, and note taking by hand, pick Noteshelf. If you work with PDFs and want to insert images and audio recordings, choose Remarks.

Saving (perhaps) the best for last...

Infinite Sketchpad is a creative's dream canvas. This unique app is a must-have for sketchers, doodlers and planners; as its name implies, with Infinite Sketchpad, you can draw and write on a near infinite workspace with single-color vector pen tools. Incredibly simple, straightforward and intuitive, the incredible zoom levels, undo/redo, and lightning fast UI make Infinite Sketchpad the ultimate blank sheet for ideas. Files can be sent as images or published on the web as a scalable format that allows viewers to zoom in and out, exploring the document they would from the iPad itself.

If you do any kind of work on the iPad, consider these apps if you haven't already. These three are amongst the best notes and planning software for any platform, and should work wonderfully on the new iPad mini. Let me know if you have a different favorite note-taking tool!

Tuesday
Sep042012

The Best iPad Stylus and Five Touch Apps

These are a few of my favorite styluses for capacitive touch screens (for me, that's the New iPad with Retina Display). From left to right: Wacom Bamboo, Adonit Jot Pro, oStylus DOT, Studio Neat Cosmonaut.

Of these, my two favorites are the oStylus DOT and the Cosmonaut, but for different reasons.

The oStylus DOT is a highly precise, reliable tool for writing and design. It never misses. Although it's base has a vinyl pad, people have mentioned scratch anxiety due to the metal tip. Believe me, gorilla glass is fairly tough. Unless you have glass shards or sand all over your screen, you should be fine. I've been using the oStylus DOT every day for months (on the iPad 2 and my New iPad) and my screen is perfect. [Also: The Adonit Jot Pro has a hard plastic tip that some people have complained can leave a residue on the screen if you swipe too quickly.]

The oStylus DOT is a phenomenal artist's tool.

The design of the oStylus DOT offers great control at any angle. Because the tip can rotate between the wires, you can maintain perfect contact with the screen irregardless of how sharp an angle you hold it. By comparison, the Adonit Jot Pro stops at 45 degrees. As an artist, I want precision and reliability; a stylus should accurately capture every line, stroke and dot, 100% of the time. The oStylus DOT delivers, making it essential to my artwork, designs and handwriting.

The wires won't easily break, but they can bend, so some care is required. I recommend getting a good protective case for it, as the sleeve the oStylus comes in isn't great protection. If I were able to change anything about it, I'd add a magnet and make the shaft wider for an easier grip: I'd like to be able to use the oStylus to sleep/wake the iPad like the Jot Pro, and after about an hour, my hand cramps — a thicker grip would help. Also, the DOT and Jot aren't as good for tapping and typing because they make a hard impact with the screen; it's uncomfortable and makes a clack similar to that of a fingernail.

Despite any minor issues or inconveniences, I love the oStylus DOT. The DOT, $38, is hand assembled by Andrew Goss, a jeweler in Canada, and the quality is phenomenal. If you draw on the iPad, you need a DOT.

The Cosmonaut is the do everything stylus.

The Cosmonaut, unlike many touch screen stylus designs, isn't shaped like a pen. It looks like a large, black crayon. Studio Neat (with Kickstarter) created the Cosmonaut to feel like a dry-erase marker, and it does. Their logic is simple and sound; the screen surface is slick, and because you can't easily rest your hand on the screen (*I have a super simple method to remedy this, check back soon for a full explanation), the iPad is less like paper and more akin to a dry erase whiteboard.

The wide grip is excellent, although I'd prefer it slightly longer because I have large hands. Due to the wide body of the Cosmonaut, it's easy to control large movements and broad strokes — this stylus is great for anyone, and perfectly suited for children and anyone with hand control problems. If I could have my dream stylus, it would be a pressure-sensitive combo with a slightly longer Cosmonaut shaft and the oStylus DOT tip.

The tip itself is hard to understand from photos — it's similar to the nine-bazillion other styli out there, although slightly more rigid. It glides easily enough, although I have to press down harder than I'm used to for it to accurately register. It has a softer impact on the screen than the oStylus DOT and Jot Pro, but is slightly harder than the Bamboo; it's a nice balance that offers good control and feel for drawing, and more comfort for tapping and typing than the hard tipped styli.

The Cosmonaut is a great everyday, anytime stylus; it's durable, accurate enough, comfortable and stylish. It costs $25 USD but doesn't look or feel cheap. It's not quite as accurate as the DOT, but it is more comfortable, and great for tap typing and games. I like using it with card games such as Assassin's Creed Recollection, Ascension and Magic 2013, as well as RTS games like Eufloria, Autumn Dynasty and Anomaly.

Here are a few apps you must try with an accurate stylus.

Some apps are custom designed to work with high-precision capacitive touch styluses.

Here's a list of apps designed to work with the Adonit Jot styluses. They work great with any stylus, and some have pressure sensitivity features for styli such as Jot Touch, Jaja and By Zero Studio Pen. This list includes many of my favorite art apps, such as Autodesk SketchBook Pro, ArtRage and Procreate.

Paper by FiftyThree is a fantastic sketching app for anyone. It makes your notes look good. Here are some of my thoughts on paper.

Remarks is my new favorite note taking app. It's wonderful; it has most of the features I'd ever want, it's stable, and when I got it, it was on sale for $0.99 — but it isn't the most simple note taking app. Write, draw, type, add photos, record audio, it does it all, and can automatically backup to Dropbox. Super.

Noteshelf is a simpler notes app, but equally amazing. It is beautiful on iPad 2, and the clarity is stunning on the Retina display.

Infinite SketchPad is a remarkable vector drawing tool that offers an incredible canvas — zoom in or out, for incredibly large or complex notes. You have to see it to believe it. Best of all, you can export your notes/art or publish it online in its full glory. This app is perfect for mind-mapping, diagrams ideas, thought webs and all kinds of brainstorming. I use Infinite SketchPad almost daily, and the developer is really cool and friendly.

Sketch Rolls is a super simple, utilitarian sketching app that acts as the successor to the now defunct Drafts by 37signals and drawthings apps. It isn't for everyone, however and it costs $4.99 — there are cheaper apps out there that do more, but some people will like the style of this app. Presently, I like it more than Penultimate.

I hope that this list helps you to get more out of your iPad; the iPad is the single greatest thing in my life due mainly to great apps and a great stylus, and I want everyone to experience it.

I'm putting together an entry on palm rejection (wrist protection) on the iPad, and how to use the iPad more like a notepad without pesky software solutions, as well as a review of the new Adonit Jot Touch Bluetooth Pressure Sensitive Stylus for iPad (what a name!). So if you like my blog, please help me out and tell a friend! (Or Facebook friends, or Twitter followers.) Thanks!