Dave's Sketch Journal

Drawing is taking a line for a walk. - Paul Klee

Goodnotes - A Perfect iPad Sketchnote app

I've been doing sketchnotes for conventions and business meetings for sometime. I used to call it "illustrated notes" but it was essentially the same as what has become "sketchnoting."  (If you have never heard of sketchnotes, you are in for a treat. Check out Mike's sketchnotearmy.com site.)

What kind of book makes a good sketchnote book?

I prefer to use a regular unlined and stitched shirt pocket sized sketchbook. Here in China they are easy to find and very cheap. It cost me about fifty cents for a 3.5 x 5.75, 32 page booklet. So recently on a trip to Hong Kong I used it to take my hand written notes.

But . . .

Why not use the iPad as my sketchnote book?

I also carry my iPad on business trips. I'd love to capture my sketchnotes on it. I've tried many apps to capture my hand written words and sketches but so far have been unsatisfied with them. Some are too rich in function or too complex to use as a quick sketchnote jotter. For example, the pen sizes are hidden deep in multi-tap menus or the pen colors are too garish to use. Some apps crash often and others harbor hidden costs. (For example, after buying one app for a buck, I had to purchase pens for 2 bucks each.) Some apps are great at text note taking or even recording voice while typing but don't have the sketching functionality I require. I basically want a piece of paper I can capture notes on with functions that don't get in my way.

Why can't it be easier?

I think I've found my answer, Goodnotes. What an awesome app for sketchnoting. There is a single bar across the top to access the pen, highlighter, and eraser. Each has three thicknesses to chose from. That's it.  It's that simple. The stylus glides smoothly across the iPad surface and lays down a beautiful "fountain pen" line. Very cool.  I can type if I wish but that's not my style. Instead, I sketch my text and add occasional drawings. The page above is my first salvo with Goodnotes and I love it.

Here are a few of the key features I like most:

  • Zoom: This allows you to write in a box in a normal hand writing size while the app writes smaller inside the lines provided.
  • Auto-Advance Zoom: What this means is that as you write the zoom window advances. It'll even advance to the next line when you get to end of the one above it.
  • Palm Rest: This is so that our hand doesn't inadvertently make marks on your iPad "paper"
  • Shape Recognition: If you turn it on it'll recognize rectangles, triangles and circles. I don't use it much but it's sort of cool if you want it.
  • Selective Move: Sometimes I write the title of a talk or main point but later want to move an entire block of text to another area on the page (try that in your paper sketchnotes!). The selection tool allows me to circle the text and simply move it to another area on the page. Very handy.
  • Paper Selection: Paper temples come with it (you don't have to pay extra).  Lined, unlined (my favorite), and grid for both portrait and landscape.
  • Export: Email, DropBox, Box, and iTunes. Export with or without the background paper.
  • Free: One of the best aspects of this app is that you don't have to buy it. You can use if for free as long as you don't need anymore than two notebooks. I like try-before-you-buy apps.

As a practice run, I think I'll sketchnote one of the TED talks online. That'll give me a good feel of the app. It should help me see if it can keep up with the flow.

If you want something you've never had, then you have to do something you've never done. -Anon

2 Responses to “Goodnotes - A Perfect iPad Sketchnote app”

  1. # Blogger Stewart Hudnall

    Thanks fur the post. So you still use Goodnotes? Thanks.  

  2. # Blogger daveterry

    Hey Stewart:
    Yep, still do. A little less often then before but it's a great sketchnoting app for sure.

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