iPad Sketchnotes Setup

Having not sketched a single note since Web Directions in October (and let’s not even go into how long it’s been since I wrote anything here… ahem), and after being interviewed on sketchnoting recently (super sekrit, more on that later), my fingers have started itching. I’m lucky enough to have an invite for TEDxSydney in two days, and if you add that to the new iPad sitting on my desk what do you get? iPad TEDx sketchnotes of course!

Sketchnoting is usually pretty simple: open sketchbook, click pen, get started. An iPad’s a computer, and they’re always more complicated than the anologue world, so this will need a little more preparation. Firstly, the software: there are a few drawing apps out there for the iPad, but the hands-down, knock-down-drag-out winner is Sketchbook Pro from Autodesk. At AU $9.99 it may seem pretty expensive for people used to piddly little iPhone apps that cost $1.99 and do next to nothing, but this is another beast entirely. It does layers à la Photoshop, creates smooth & soft lines and has a simple, smart interface. And the results are often stunning. So no contest there. You can also get the iPhone version, but the small screen always felt cramped to me – the lovely large iPad screen is perfect for it.

The only downside is the iPad wants a finger as input, but only monkeys draw with their fingers (ewwwwww!). Like any other more advanced primate, I want to draw with a pen. I ordered a Pogo Sketch, a pen designed to simulate a finger, but they’re back-ordered two weeks in Australia. Sigh. What to do? The inimitable Stepehan Cox saved the day and gave me a tip. Instead of me prattling on about it, watch it yourself:

So off I enthusiastically went to buy a cheap ballpoint, some copper wire and a chunk of conductive foam (did you even know there was such a thing?)

After following the instructions, I now have two very DIY looking iPad styluses.

I wound the copper wire a bit tighter than in the video, and taped it all down with some grippy black gaffer tape, and voila! They’re done!

Am I excited? Well, no actually, I’m not.

It’s possibly a side-effect of them being DIY, the thickness of the copper wire, how well wrapped in wire the bits of foam are or somethigng else I’m unaware of, but these things react sloooow, and sometimes not at all. I know it’s not an app problem, as Sketchbook Pro reacts with hardly any lag at all when I use my finger, but the lag these styluses introduce makes it almost impossible to draw anything, as you can see…

TEDx iPad Stylus Test

TEDx is tomorrow (not today as it says in my sketchnote, silly me), so it looks like I’ll be drawing with my finger after all. With any luck the Pogo Sketch will be much more responsive when it arrives in two weeks.

Maybe the ol’ trusty Moleskine & gel pen are the way to draw after all? I will take them along, just in case.