It’s been said that the iPad is better-suited for consuming media than creating it. That doesn’t have to be the case, and full-featured graphic design apps are the way to change the status quo. That means that a full-featured and comprehensive sketch program should emulate the experience of working with pen and paper as closely as possible. The perfect sketch app should also stay out of the way of the user by delivering an experience that’s gesture-based and doesn’t rely on buttons that break up work flow. As it turns out, such an app already exists.
Paper by FiftyThree, Inc
The latest “killer app” to hit the iTunes market for graphic designers and creative professionals is Paper, a groundbreaking new program from FiftyThree, Inc. Far more than a mere blank canvas for doodling, Paper delivers a complete design environment that’s aimed at providing the utmost in productivity for the visually-inclined. It allows users to craft astounding creations in 9 different earth tones with a variety of sketching tools, making it one of the most powerful artistic creation apps out there. Though it has to be used firsthand to fully appreciate its raw power, the following breakdown of Paper’s main features and selling points should give you a good idea of what to expect.
Free to download and use from iTunes, Paper comes with basic pencil drawing functionality and a digital eraser by default. If you want to purchase any of four additional Sketch, Outline, Write and Color tools from the in-app store, it’ll cost $1.99 per utility or $7.99 for the full package. A gesture-activated Rewind function allows users to undo mistakes or go back in time to an earlier point in their work with ease. Users can compose sketches with either a fingertip or a Wacom Bamboo Stylus for the iPad.
One of greatest benefits of using Paper in terms of functionality is its social media integration and organizational features. It arranges sketches into logical groups by default, acting as a digital notebook, portfolio and file manager with one easy to use UI. You can create different notebooks of sketches, edit collections, relabel them and much, much more. Users can also send their sketches to their Tumblr page, Facebook profile or Twitter stream directly from within the app, which makes Paper perfect for sharing.
Performance and Real World Use
To better understand how Paper performs in day to day usage, Fifty Three’s own promotional video is a good place to start. It’ll give you a solid idea of what Paper can accomplish in the right hands. Whether you’re sketching landscapes, brainstorming flowcharts, creating hand-drawn graphs or just jotting down ideas, Paper is a responsive and powerful program. When you first fire up the app, you’ll be greeted by a sliding carousel of notebooks that includes a tutorial notebook for getting started. From there, you can get down to the business of creating without having to worry about the details.
One of the primary advantages of Paper is its advanced Ink Engine, which uses the OpenGL framework to render amazingly life-like images with watercolor edge-bleed effects, realistic shadows and more. There are plenty of similar apps on the market like Adobe Eazel and Sketchbook Pro, but few can match Paper’s pixel-perfect execution. On the new iPad’s 2048 x 1536 Retina Display, it’s tough to tell that you’re using a touchscreen and not real paper. The Made With Paper gallery on Fifty Three’s home page highlights some of the truly creative and innovative ways that Paper can be used.
User Responses & Reviews
Based on the iTunes feedback alone, it’s safe to say that Paper is already one of the top tablet sketchbook apps on the market at the moment. It’s Rated 4+ and boasts dozens of sterling reviews that demonstrate how well-received it’s been on the iPad platform among the creative types. Even ordinary users with no formal, professional graphic design training report that Paper somehow manages to make their most amateurish sketches look beautiful. One of the few complaints voiced by users is the fact that sketches can’t be moved from one notebook to another, which is a minor inconvenience when you consider Paper’s near flawless execution in all other respects.
Simply put, Paper is tablet-based design done right from beginning to end. If you’re an artist, a designer or just someone who needs to put their thoughts into visual form immediately, Paper is the app to beat. Granted, there are a few areas here and there where some improvements could be made. Considering Fifty Three’s impressive roster of talent behind the scenes, it’s likely that most current user complaints will be addressed in the next update. In the app world as well as in the real world, you get what you pay for. With Paper, a modest investment pays off handsomely for designers and regular users alike.