Thursday, November 29, 2012

Lighter Travel, More Journal Options

As I prepared for a trip to New York and Boston I pulled out my usual tools: the big bag of brush markers, pencils, and glue stick, and I glanced over at my iPad Mini. I wasn't ready to surrender; the iPad would not be my travel journal just yet. In the studio I bound a new travel journal (the ones I have are never really right, you know?), but then abandoned it to a smaller, lighter one I had made a couple months before. The point of bringing the iPad was so I wouldn't have to drag along the heavy laptop computer. So it made no sense to carry a heavy travel journal. I also discovered that the heavier journal had way too many pages, far too many for me to fill on a weeklong trip, and I was already intimidated by it.

My bag was light. I was happy. I downloaded the free Brushes app as well as a free one called Paper. I experimented with practice page after practice page before getting the feel for each. Brushes has an undo button as well as an eraser, which works for me. You can change the brush width as well as the texture and colors fairly easily, creating something that feels more like oil painting or acrylics or spray paint. If you want a color you've used already, or if you want to match a color in a photo, just hold your finger in one place to sample it (like the eyedropper in other programs). With Brushes I could import photos and alter them, something I really enjoyed. When the picture is saved, you can view it as a step-by-step video, which is fun. You can buy a layers option for 2.99, but I didn't feel I needed it. After having just experienced A Humument as an app, I wondered about using Brushes to alter a text. I took a picture of a newspaper page with the iPad's camera, imported it to Brushes, added a piece of a photo, and started searching for new sentences. An interesting beginning. There may be a future in it…

The Paper app is truly beautiful, but has fewer options. Who can resist the opening screen where you create a personalized cover for what looks like a Moleskine notebook? Unfortunately, you cannot add a photo inside. Swipe two fingers outwards to open the notebook and get a first page. Pinch back in to close up the book. Swipe one finger to turn the pages of the ten-page notebooks. It would seem to have great book art potential, but unless you buy the accessories, the palette and marking styles are limited. I do love the watercolor look of the paintbrush, though. If you hold down your finger you can make a seamless wash. The edges are always ragged, something you can clean up with the eraser, if you like. It has no undo button; you have to use two fingers together in a circle to "unwind" (the motion is like rubbing jam off of a baby's cheek) and it is irritating because you can make marks inadvertently as you move the tools on and off the page. It comes with some colors, the eraser, and the pen with a nib. I bought the pencil and the brush for 1.99 each, which I thought were worth it, but only if you believe that this app is not free (and you don't mind your wallet getting lighter). If you want more colors, you have to buy the mixer for another 1.99. A thin marker and fat marker are available for yet another 1.99 each. Total, then, would be—what—9.95? So, just be aware of the cost. The following are screen shots from Paper. A limited app, and pricier than Brushes, but still tempting.

A library of notebooks you can add to and customize.
The photo of Hazel is from my photo library.

Here's an open journal.

And a page all the way open and flat.
This pic uses the four tools I have.
The brush and the black paint are highlighted,
which shows they are in use.
The apps are new tools that I will continue to explore like other tools. But when my eyes and hands get tired of screen and virtual keyboard, I still like writing and drawing in a physical, handmade journal. No replacements necessary: just more options.

L: lighweight journal I took  R: new journal, too heavy!


Patricia Anne McGoldrick said...

So glad you shared about these apps.
The iPad is great for so many things with its portability but it is not the choice for all.
Thanks for the insight here!

Velma Bolyard said...

i think you HAVE to get your hands into it.