Last weekend I was invited to come and facilitate at the Visual Thinking and Literacy Conference in Birmingham, MI. This is the second year the conference has run – it’s a neat little event that draws a mix of people from the education & business worlds (as well as a hand full of students too).
In addition to my session (on brainstorming tools & techniques) I was also invited to participate in a live taping of The Forge, a monthly video show/podcast put together by Matt Pierce at Techsmith. The show was taped in two segments – the first a panel discussion/debate on paper vs. digital with my friends and visual thinking masters Jamie Nast, Karl Gude and Brandy Agerbeck. The second part was a one-on-one interview with me that ranged form “What do you do?” to my favorite tools, techniques and my thoughts on the paper vs. digital debate.
I’ve embedded the show below – the whole thing is worth watching. If you want to jump to my interview it starts around 16:05 in.
I first got turned on to paper yesterday when John McArdle posted about it on the Teehan & Lax blog – I downloaded it right away, sprung for the brush pack shortly after and have been using it almost constantly (well, at least @ every opportunity) for the past two days. In short, “Paper” is a sketching app – you can create notebooks, add pages to them and then sketch away to your heart’s content. It comes with one brush free (and it’s a darn good brush) but no doubt you’ll want to pick-up the add on brushes ($1.99 ea or $7.99 for the whole set).
Like John, I’m a long time Sketchbook Pro fan and had been using it for sometime. While it was great on my desktop I never quite got in the groove with it when I started trying their Sketchbook Express on the iPad. With Paper though, I immediately connected with it and just loved the quality of the default brush. Drawing features are kept to a bare minimum (brush selection, fixed palette, draw & erase & undo – aka ‘rewind’.) & changing/adding pages is simple and straight forward.
A couple of things I really like:
Paper lets you create multiple “Books” in the app, so I can section off my personal stuff form my work stuff really easily – or if I’m working on a specific project I can give it its own book etc.
Their interpretation of “undo” is great. Rather than simply undoing and removing the entire last action you made you can simple ‘rewind’ by placing two fingers on the screen & then moving them counter clock-wise. And it backs up your actions, just as rewind implies. Go too far? Just rotate your fingers clockwise. I found it a little finicky at first but after a bit of use it’s become pretty natural.
One Feature Request/Wish
While I appreciate the minimalism there’s one feature I’d love to see added and that’s very, very basic layers. I don’t eed full blown layers like Photoshop or Sketchbook but even just having two layers would be great. I’ve encountered a few times where it’d be great to be able to sketch something out on one layer, then ink & colour over it on a second and finally remove or hide the sketch layer when finished. I know it breaks the paper metaphor, but still…
Highly recommend it – Paper is available in the Apple App Store for iPads.
One really cool benefit of working at BMO is our ‘Institute for Learning’ the home for our corporate training and major events in the North end of the city. Iwas invited to come up there yesterday and give my “Designing for Visual Efficiency Talk” to the staff there as well as with staff at our locations in Chicago and Milwaukee all in all there were about 40 in the room and an additional 100 or so online.
As we were using a special Virtual CLassroom app, and I had to make my 90minute presentation fit into 45 minutes, I had to do some redesign to my deck so I made a clean start and rebuilt it almost from scratch. (I was never super thrilled with how the first deck turned out either) – Working with this content has been an interesting experience as I’ve now packaged it as a 90 minute talk, a 45 minute talk and a 5 minute Ignite – it’s actually been really good practice for developing story and learning where/what to cut. Continue reading Designing for Visual Efficiency: Redux
The 2012 Visual Thinking Conference is for anyone focused on visual approaches to thinking and communication. So whether you are a business leader giving presentations, a marketing manager designing websites and materials, or a grade school teacher looking for new ways to reach students, no other event offers you more of today’s solutions… and tomorrow’s vision. Continue reading Coming Up: Visual Thinking & Literacy Conference