TEDx Sydney Sketchnotes

I’m a bit behind on this, but I’ve got to admit I was pretty disappointed with how iPad sketchnoting worked out at TEDx, so I guess I’ve had a little aversion to the whole topic.

What went wrong? Well, a few things. Firstly, most sessions at TEDx were completely dark except for the stage, and I was a bit too self-conscious to sit there with my iPad glowing in the dark & irritating everyone within metres. Secondly, although the iPad charcoal stylus is a nice idea and does work as it should, I quickly realised that I couldn’t write worth a damn with it, and sketchnotes are as much about the notes as they are the sketches. And lastly, I don’t have enough practice with Sketchbook Pro to make anything worth seeing at the speed that sketchnotes demand.

Nigel Marsh

Good thing I took my trusty pen & Moleskine with me.

I can’t say I made any sketchnotes I’m super excited about (mood influences these things heavily, and I was pretty bummed about the iPad thing not working out) but I can say I enjoyed TEDx and look forward to attending again next year. After watching so many absolutely brain-bursting TED talks, I’d set my expectations pretty high, and a local TEDx could never have fulfilled them completely, but it was an interesting & enjoyable day. If I had one wish for next year it would be that speakers should speak more about big ideas they want to share, and less about products they want us to buy and use.

You can see all of my TEDx Sydney sketchnnotes here. I’ll be practicing with the iPad charcoal stylus & Sketchbook Pro, and with any luck I’ll post some sexy scribbles here soon.


  1. PB says:

    Hi Matt,

    I’ve been looking for a stylus for the iPad and was wondering if the solution you mentioned and/or the Pogo stylus would allow me to replace paper and pen? I’m looking to be able to take quick notes and drawings like one would on paper.

    Do the stylus’s allow one to rest their hands on the screen and write finely i.e. I don’t want the page filling up fast because the tip/text is very thick.

    I’d love to hear your feedback.


  2. Matt Balara says:


    I wouldn’t say any stylus will ever replace paper & pen. They’re simply different mediums, with different strengths and weaknesses. Personally, for note-taking, I still prefer the old fashioned way.

    That said, I’ve finally found a stylus I really love: the AluPen from Just Mobile. It’s got a nice grippy form (the opposite of the Pogo which is too thin), a tip that’s not too stiff or soft, and it just feels like a pencil. Check it out.