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Where's my digital paper?

Blog posted by Ste Pickford on Tue, 26 Jun 2012
Subject: Naked War iOS

Ste Pickford

I was sat at my desk this morning, working in my notebook on some UI layout ideas for Naked War for iOS. The touch screen is a different beast to a cursor controlled environment, and the iPhone screen is quite small, so the UI from the PC version needs a radical overhaul to work properly on iOS.

It occurred to me that it was very strange that I was working on these layout ideas using pen and paper in my notebook, when I was sat with a PC and a Mac in front of me, with three decent sized screens between them, a Wacom pad, lots of high quality productivity software, and even an iPad nearby if I wanted it.

The photo shows the last few pages of my notebook, with sketches and design notes for four (blimey!) different new games we're working on. All of these notes will be converted into digital form at some point, whether scanned or redrawn in Photoshop, built in a 3D modeller, typed into a document or spreadsheet, or used as raw data in the codebase.

I'm no luddite. I've been happily working as a designer on computers for over 25 years, and I'm comfortable making graphics and building finished work on a computer. I can happily draw and paint with the Wacom pad (and even with a mouse if I have to), and I have no problems staring at the screen for hours on end, but I still revert back to pen and paper when I want to work out something new.

Why is this?

Is it because, despite my extensive computer experience, I started drawing before the computer age? I had never seen a computer before the age of 10, and probably not touched a mouse until I was about 17, but I had a pencil in my hand from the age of about 2 or 3. Perhaps the younger generation of designers, who've used computers since they were born, will be able to go completely digital and never need paper at all?

Or, more likely, is it that there still isn't a software / hardware combination that offers the flexibility and ease-of-use of pen and paper, when you have unformed ideas that you need to explore?

Where is the digital paper I dreamed about as a kid?

When I'm working on new design ideas it's often 'blank page' stuff, where I don't know exactly what I need to come up with or what *kind* of ideas I'll be working on. I'm often flicking instantly between sketching a layout, drawing outlines of graphics, painting or experimenting with colours and rendering styles, measuring sizes in pixels, writing notes or lists of things to do, making margin notes and reminders, making flow diagrams or little storyboards, or compiling data tables. All on the same sheet of paper, with the same pen.

There's great software for every single one of these functions (drawing, painting, layouts, todo lists, making spreadsheets, etc.), but you have to switch between applications to do any of them well, and that would completely break the flow of thought, and leave you with separate files of data, in different formats, that would be hard to reconcile.

Will there ever be a digital version of my notepad, that allows the convenience and flexibility of pen and paper, with the advantages of digital on top? Or does it already exist, and I don't know about it?

 

Permalink to this post: http://zee-3.com/nakedwar_ios/blog/view.php?post=673

Comments

Tarek Demiati

You may want to combine mokeskine and evernote :

http://lifehacker.com/5962196/the-evernote-smart-notebook-by-moleskine-digitizes-and-automatically-tags-your-handwritten-notes

 

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