The apps and tools that turn your iPad into a remarkable sketch book

iPad sketch book app by FiftyThree

I love all the ways technology helps us do amazing stuff we never dreamed of before, like turning on the air conditioning while we’re driving home from work, or buying shoes while we’re sitting on the sofa at home. But I think it’s even cooler when technology finds a way to help us do what we’ve always done, only better. And that’s exactly what the iPad sketch app Paper, and its companion tools Pencil and Book can do.

The Paper by FiftyThree app turns your iPad into your own personal sketchpad and journal. Start for free with the fountain pen. If you love it (and I’m betting you will — writing with it makes me swoon), unlock the other tools via in-app purchases — pen, marker, paintbrush, and color palette and mixer.

iPad sketch book app: Paper by FiftyThree app

Better yet, get Pencil by FiftyThree. Not only does it unlock all the tools in Paper automatically, it lends a more authentic feel to the creation process. Plus you can flip Pencil over and erase your work, just like with a real pencil (and without all the eraser bits). Pinch zoom to do the detail work, and then zoom back out to see the results. Because once you’ve paired Pencil with Paper, the app recognizes the difference between the tool and your finger (or the heel of your hand, as you rest it on the screen while working). Amazing.

iPad sketch book app: Pencil by FiftyThree

Finally, there’s Book (capital letter intended) which allows you to print several of your favorite pages professionally. FiftyThree has teamed up with our beloved Moleskine to bind Paper creations into custom printed, 15-page foldout books. Though of course there are social media sharing options, if you prefer to remain digital.

iPad sketch book app: Book by FiftyThree

I can think of about a million ways to use Paper, Pencil, and Book. Obviously, artsy kids will go nuts for it if you’re thinking gifts — my daughter has been absolutely mesmerized. It’s also a fantastic way for older kids to take notes and draw sketches for class, especially science labs. Paper and Pencil could be super convenient for working through design ideas, like logos, layouts, color schemes, home renovations, landscaping plans. Or take it on vacation and add another dimension to your trip memorabilia: A book of your sketches and notes.

Now I’m thinking back on my Human Parasitology labs, when I painstakingly drew all the details of mosquitoes and ticks in my spiral notebook, with a manually sharpened wooden pencil. Kids these days have it so easy.

Download Paper by FiftyThree on iTunes for free, and buy Pencil in walnut ($74.95) or graphite ($59.95). Then order Book at a special rate of $25 each through 9/30. Thanks to FiftyThree for sending us a unit for review.

Julie

Julie Marsh is a mom of three, a project manager by trade, and a triathlete for fun. She could also use a nap.

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