'Paper' Aims to Be The Ultimate iPad Sketchbook

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paperlogoThere are a number of iPad sketching applications on the App Store, with Penultimate clocking as one of the top 15 most purchased iPad apps ever.

Now there's a new competitor that looks to take the iPad sketching world by storm. Paper is the first app by upstart development firm FiftyThree. A number of the employees spent time at Microsoft, developing Courier -- a dual-screen digital notebook that was axed by Microsoft.

The Verge's Ellis Hamburger spoke to the team about the app.

When you first open the app, you first see a panoramic view of all of your notebooks floating in mid-air. Each notebook looks like a premium Moleskine journal, fit with a stunning cover and pages that look soft to the touch. When you tap a notebook, you're launched into a CoverFlow-esque page browser where you can thumb through sketches in your notebook. Tap a new page and your entire screen turns an almost white shade of vanilla, unadorned by faux binder rings or ripped edges you see in other apps.

Swipe up from the bottom of the screen to reveal your artist's palette, and swipe down again to hide it. Paper comes with an eraser and just one tool to draw with, a fountain pen that's unlike any fountain pen I’ve used. The faster you move your finger, the thicker the line gets. For $1.99 each, you can purchase four other tools, denoted not by their conventional names but instead by utility: there's Write (ballpoint), Sketch (pencil), Outline (marker), and Color (watercolor paintbrush). Each of the five tools has its own unpredictable personality worth mastering, which makes these instruments so much more interesting than conventional digital pens and pencils you can find in other apps. The FiftyThree team chose these five tools because they encompass the five most common scenarios they encounter when mapping out ideas and art on a daily basis.


Check out The Verge's lengthly article for much more about the app and the team behind it.

For those who want to jump in and try it out, Paper for iPad is a free download on the App Store. [Direct Link]

Top Rated Comments

charlieegan3 Avatar
115 months ago



Wow. Brace yourselves, folks. Stories like this are all we're gonna get for awhile. It's gonna be a lonnnnng wait till summer or dare I say even later for a new iPhone announcement.


what do you want? a new iPhone every day?
Score: 16 Votes (Like | Disagree)
HiRez Avatar
115 months ago

This app has potential, but it's freemium right now. It comes with one pen nib and a tiny color palette. In-app purchases will add up quickly.


I guess for casual users that might be a problem. But come on, what's it going to cost you to load up everything, like $15? You're basically getting a cheaper but much higher resolution Wacom Cintique and Corel Painter (the 12" Cintiq model is 1280x800 and $1,000, Painter is like $400). Yes, I know this is more limited in what it can do, but it can replace a lot of what people typically do with those tools.

Peoples' sense of value is all out of whack IMO, that's an amazing deal for something that looks like it can be a real, serious sketching/drawing tool. FIFTEEN DOLLARS!! That really does not seem like a great hardship for someone who can already afford a $500-$800 iPad and $10-$30 stylus. A few years ago, you couldn't even get a piece of shareware utility software that makes animated .gifs for $15, now you get a mini art studio, sheesh.
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
malnar Avatar
115 months ago
Man, I think people are really, really missing the point here. The app, as-is, is a free demo with no time limit. Use it to see if you like it. If not, delete and move on with your life. If you do, you may wish to buy one of the options - or you can still use it as-is. I don't get the hand-wringing going on here. The option would be them charging $7.99 for this and a bunch of people being mad because they paid for something that doesn't do what they want it to do. For free, you can find out if it fits your life and needs or not. No need to get panties a-wadded.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Beedough Avatar
115 months ago
To everyone complaining about $8.00:

I challenge you to go out and buy a sketchbook, 9 pencils, 9 fountain ink pens, 18 markers, 8 tubes of paint and an eraser for under $8.00.

Side note:

Here are two of my creations using Paper http://beedough.tumblr.com/
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
jettredmont Avatar
115 months ago

Now if only the iPad screen refresh rate was high enough so you didn't have to draw achingly slow. And it registered levels of pressure with stylus support. Or the touchscreen delay for presses was faster.

Really? I would posit that you either (1) have a severely broken iPad, or (2) are confusing your Samsung Note with an iPad. I'd put money on the latter, in fact.

(Obviously, this is in reply only to the screen refresh rate and touchscreen delay ... levels of pressure in a stylus outside of the "how much does the nub squish" approximation is not something iPad has ever had)
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
deannnnn Avatar
115 months ago
What a cool video!
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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