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Friday, April 20, 2012

Paper is for the bad artist's too.


If you have lots of artistic talent, the above cherry tree is what you can create with Paper. Unfortunately, I don’t.

Tomdrawsafishinthewater-2012-04-20-16-35.jpgWhat I created in Paper is this fish ostensibly swimming in water with seaweed at the bottom.

But Paper is a lot of fun to play with. Other writers, such as Serenity Caldwell of, found themselves frustrated by the limited number of options offered by the app. Even if you buy all the brushes offered from within Paper, you have a total of 5 drawing tools and an eraser. You have only 9 colors


For us incompetent artists, the limited number of choices keeps us going in the right direction. Rather than mess with the color picker, we actually have to draw something.

I did find Paper initially frustrating in that it doesn’t give you a lot of instructions as to how it works. I could say it has three separate modes; the journal mode, the pages mode, and the sketches mode, but that’s just going to confuse you.

Think of it as the best digital version of a paper drawing book or a group of drawing books. I think that’s the easiest metaphor to grasp.


In the above screenshot, you see Paper’s initial screen with three icons at the bottom and the number “53” in the upper right-hand corner.

Let me deal with the bottom icons first. You see a trash can to delete, a grayed-out rightward-curving arrow for sharing your pictures (but not now) and a plus sign for adding things.

You select a journal by tapping it. Now you can delete it with the trash can or add another journal with the plus sign

Notice the white dot with an “i” at the top right-hand corner of the journal. This is how you customize the journal’s cover. You can change the name, add a cover image, and choose between black or cream as the cover’s color.


Now as for that “53” in the upper right-hand corner, that’s the developer’s assistance page. You get a Welcome guide, which shows you a very fast demonstration of Paper’s features, a support page which opens up Safari and links you to community-powered support for Paper, and finally a link to 53’s home page.

So how to open up a journal? You double-tap on a journal’s cover to open it up. Flick your finger from right to left across the pages to move through the open journal. Press the plus sign to add a page, press the trash can to delete a selected page.

But you can’t draw anything on a page! How do you start drawing?!

You open and close individual pages for drawing with your thumb and forefinger. Place them on the page you want to draw on. Now spread them apart, like you wanted to stretch a rubber band on those two fingers. The page opens into a full-screen view. You have a blank sketch pad sheet.

Now to access the drawing tools and color palette. Take one finger, touch the bottom of the screen, and push it forward. The tools and palette come into view. To remove them from sight, drag down on the palette.

Now go to work drawing. Here’s my quick sketch of a coffee-colored cat.


Voila! You’re done. You’ve created bad art on an expensive piece of electronics. Think of it this way…it’s not like you put a big dead shark in a glass tank of formaldehyde like that British artist did. You’re a budding Richard Hockney, who has exhibited work he did on his iPhone, albeit with a more sophisticated piece of software called Brushes.

Anyway, now you want to post your art on FaceBook or e-mail it or even print it. How do you do that?

Remember how you stretched your fingers to make the sketch page full screen? Now you reverse it and pinch your fingers together. Your sketch page collapses from full screen to just a page in the journal.


Now that you’ve returned to the open journal with the pages in view, note the three icons below. Now you have an active middle icon, the Sharing Sheet.


You can send it to a Tumblr blog, a Facebook page, or Twitter. The latest version of Paper lets you save your creation to the Camera Roll in the Photos app. You can also e-mail it across your desk or across the country.

Now your sharing options from the Sharing Sheet will reduce your picture to 1024 x 768 resolution. If you have a new iPad with 2048 x 1536 resolution and want to keep that resolution, you answer is to take screenshots of your creations. Hold down the power button with one hand, and tap the Home button. You’ll hear a shutter click and the screen will flash. You’ll find your full-sized creation in the Camera Roll in Photos.

Now to close the journal, you pinch your thumb and finger across the open journal until it closes. Now you can go to another journal.

What Paper lacks.

Paper doesn’t have a printing option in the Sharing Sheet. You must print from another program that you sent your creation to. Photos does have a print option.

Paper doesn’t allow you to copy and paste between journals.

You can’t change the texture or color of the drawing sheet. No lined or quadrille paper, no vellum. No layers. Folks, it’s a freemium digital sketchbook. Simplicity is the virtue here.

But you do have an UNDO feature for the last 20 brush strokes. Put two fingers together on the sketch pad, Now rotate them counter-clockwise. You’ll see a circle with the legend REWIND appear. As you make the circular counter-clockwise motion, your brush strokes disappear.

And if you rotate clock-wise, they reappear.

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