New Paper

You know how most of the older folk gripe about the younger ones losing the feel of writing with real pens on real paper? I’m not sure which of these two camps I belong in. I still take notes with pen and paper, but abhor the process of having to get it all digitised afterward as meeting notes, to-do lists, etc.

Batman at the laundromat
Could you draw this with real pen and paper? (from dorkboycomics on Flickr)

Every generation loses something I suppose. My generation didn’t even touch fountain pens at all, even though I was given a hand-me-down fountain pen kit long ago which I had no idea how to work – apart from making a black, inky mess.

If you own an iPad and think you’re too cool for analogue, try Paper” by FiftyThree. (iTunes download)

Paper by FiftyThree
The Paper logo

It’s an app that’s made me want to sketch, paint, doodle… things I haven’t enjoyed doing since my days in secondary school. I don’t think I even enjoyed it this much back then.

This app transforms your iPad into a nifty virtual sketchpad, with instruments like the fountain pen, eraser, pencil, marker, paintbrush. The basic FREE version comes with just the fountain pen and eraser, but trying out the other tools in the demo pretty much makes you want to get them all. You can choose to acquire the additional instruments one at a time, or all at once. The latter method, which costs about S$10 or less (if I recall correctly) is a dollar or two cheaper than if you bought each instrument individually.

3 things make this a real stand-out app in my opinion:

1) realism of the instruments: how quickly you move across the iPad surface gives different results, just like how slowly moving a paint-soaked brush results in more colour being soaked up by the paper. Awesome.
2) easy to switch between instrument & colours: You don’t need a table full of paint bottles, split watercolours, colours pencils strewn about. No mess!
3) erasing/undoing stuff is so easy: You place two fingers on the screen, move them in a counter-clockwise direction (Cue “Turn back the clock by Johnny Hates Jazz“) and watch your actions roll back. Try doing that with real paper.

While it’s unlikely that I win any art competitions with my work, the process of drawing something is quite therapeutic.

Fictional Cycle Singapore logo
An anyhow logo drawn in seconds with the “fountain pen” and some “watercolour”
I am the walrus
One of the first pictures I doodled using the free version (i.e. only the fountain pen to play with)
Gahmen Panda
Drawn in the midst of Singapore panda-monium. I found text to be a struggle if you’re using only your fingers.
Sorry Lewis!
Used a rather crude stylus here. Gets you more detail, but as you can tell from the (weird) perspective, no additional talent.

The last sketch prompted me to go out and get a new stylus. More on it next time…


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