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The Paper App - for Your Creative Side

One of the most beautiful apps I have used was released a couple of weeks ago, and I thought I'd spend some time talking about it today.  It's called Paper - although if you're looking for it in the App Store, make sure to search for "Paper by FiftyThree."  The app itself is free, but to take advantage of all of its tools you'll have to make a couple of in-app purchases - the Color, Sketch, Write and Outline tools will cost $1.99 each, or you can get it all bundled into the "Essentials" package for $7.99.

Let's be clear - Paper may not be an app that would be useful to the average lawyer.  But if you like to sketch, draw, or keep basic lists, the app may be worth a try - because from what I've seen, the app can help you create some pretty amazing drawings.  Here are a few examples from the Fifty-Three site:

These images and many more are available at

You can create and keep as many notebooks or journals as you want.  The notebooks are customizable with 11 pre-designed covers - but you can also cover your notebook with the photo of your choice.  In the screenshot below, the last two notebooks are from images I had in my Photo Roll.

To start using Paper, just tap on one of the notebooks.  You can add as many pages you like to the notebook simply by pressing the + button in the menu under the notebooks (Note:  when the notebooks are closed, pressing the + button will create a new notebook.  To add new pages to a notebook, the notebook must be open before you press the + button.

To start working with a page, just do a two-finger spread motion to expand the page to full screen.  Drag your finger up from the bottom to call up the toolbar.  From there you can select the tool you want to use, and the right color.

Pick a tool, and start drawing, writing, or sketching.  If you need to undo something, just swipe two fingers in a counter-clockwise direction - it will remove everything you did in the reverse order it appeared on the screen.  There's also an eraser if you want to get rid of something quickly, or refine something you've drawn.

Paper does not work in Portrait mode - you can certainly draw with that orientation, but it will display sideways when you view the page later.  

Once you are done with a page, you can share the drawing on Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, or as an image to your camera roll.  You can also mail the page to anyone as a JPEG file.

The main drawback I have with Paper is with writing.  I'm not much of an artist, so if I used this app I would use it to take notes.  Unfortunately, Paper does not come with a wrist protection feature like many of the note-taking apps I have reviewed and regularly use.  I am not sure how the person wrote on the image above; I can only imagine it was done without the wrist touching the iPad, because I am having a lot of trouble writing on it in my usual manner.  Also, if you want to write on this, use a stylus like the Wacom Bamboo - something with a rubber tip.  I was unable to write with my JotPro.

In all, I really like the Paper app - and if you like to sketch accident scenes or other types of diagrams in your practice, then it might work for you.   For taking notes, however, I think it lacks many of the features of other, more robust note-taking apps.  Then again, Paper wasn't designed for the kind of note-taking I have in mind.  I'm keeping it around, though, for fun drawing, and if I ever wind up taking a class that helps me d

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Reader Comments (1)

Actually using an app like Paper might be just the kind of therapy most of us attorneys need.

April 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterChris

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