Monday, December 1, 2014

Review of iPad App, Paper by 53

Review of iPad App, Paper by 53
by Susan Stephenson,

As I told you last week,  I’ve been playing with Paper by 53. I think it's a wonderful app with all sorts of potential for both kids and adults. They can use it simply, as an app on the iPad to make a quick sketch with. They can use it as a daily journal to record whatever they want, perhaps interesting words, descriptions and sketches. They can use it to practise drawing, a way to keep a permanent record of their drawings digitally and almost effortlessly. They can also use it to create an overlay by choosing to make a transparent image for layering over the top of another image. I created the image above using that technique - watercolour painting, drawing and outlining with my finger, then choosing transparent image when saving to my camera roll, before adding the transparent .png images to a blank canvas at PicMonkey.

From the developers:

Paper is the simplest way to express your ideas. You don’t need to know how to draw. From sketching out a new product design, to drafting a kitchen remodel or outlining a great business plan, Paper sets your ideas free. It works the way you think, with no fussy settings or distractions. Available with Paper are five beautiful tools to Sketch, Write, Draw, Outline, and Color.

To download Paper is free. This gives you two tools to use in the app, a calligraphy pen and an eraser. The other tool spaces are empty until you buy them. The extra tools make Paper much more versatile, and can be purchased for $8.99. Besides the tools, there is a palette of colours, with empty spaces for saving special colours, and a large colour-mixing well.

When you first open the app, you see your little digital notebooks. One notebook has all sorts of tips for using Paper. You can add more notebooks, add more pages to any notebook or delete them. You can also customise your notebook covers. Drawing with the various tools is very satisfying and fluid. A feature I appreciate is that you can undo what you've drawn by unwinding with two fingers on your screen. Once happy with any drawing, you can export it via email, send it to the camera roll or share it via social media.

Another big feature of Paper is its community, called Mix. Here users can gain inspiration from others, even remix their work. It’s based on the idea that collaboration drives creative thinking. I haven’t really had the time (or is it bravery?) to participate in Mix much yet.

My one disappointment with Paper by 53 is its stylus. Excited by the thought of having a more precise tool than my finger to draw and write with, I ordered Pencil, my first stylus. Sadly, it wouldn’t work correctly from the start. Where I had the facility to swiftly change tools and colours when I used my finger, once Pencil was connected, this facility disappeared. Support, once I established contact, were professional, and keen for me to try different ideas - uninstalling and re-installing Paper, then swapping the “nib” on Pencil for the replacement one. Finally I decided I’d unfortunately received a less-than-perfect stylus. I can still use Pencil, but only by combining my finger and the stylus to change colours.

Notwithstanding my problems with Pencil, I maintain lots of enthusiasm for Paper, both for me personally, and for me as an advocate of digital tools that encourage creativity. Do try it out to see if it satisfies your need to create, or that of your children/students. If you'd like a clear tutorial on using the app, check out the video below.

For more of my articles and reviews about iPad apps, check out my Pinterest board

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