Visual note-taking with Inkflow

If, like me, you are interested in the bit of the world where visual thinking meets digital technology, then read on!

I’m an avid fan of Rachel Smith’s Digital Visual Facilitation blog, where Rachel shares her knowledge and experience about the world of all things digital + visual so generously. Last week, I enjoyed Rachel’s article on Inkflow where she reviewed a new drawing app for iPad and iPhone by Qrayon (the guys that brought us air sketch).

I was excited by her positive review and its applications for visual note-taking and graphic recording. Features that excite fine artists are not always useful to me when I’m taking notes. But Rachel is a leader in the visual practitioner world, so I knew her assessments would be spot on for my use. If you use your digital device to take visual notes, then read on…

After reading Rachel’s article, I hopped on and downloaded it. I had a play with it and here’s what I found…

Here's what I learnt from an hour of playing with Inkflow drawing app

I agree with Rachel’s review – the  ability to ‘lasso’ parts of my notes and move and resize them is fantastic (Rachel files it under A for awesome). It took me a bit of playing with the selection tool though to get the movement smooth and accurate each time. The fact it is a vector-based drawing tool means you don’t lose quality when you scale up and down.

Also the ability to add text and import images are really important to how I take visual notes. Plus, I would also love to be able to add layers – this is crucial to my ability to arrange and add colour to my notes.

But, being a greedy girl, I would like to add one or two more features.

Before I give my Christmas list aimed at drawing app designers, I need to confess. I get it. We are all different in the way we take visual notes on the iPad, and the style and features we have each learnt to rely on using other drawing apps (my favourite is the original Brushes – no longer available) are therefore different. What I want may not be what others will want. So these additions may just be a result of HOW I do visual notes.

Having said that, I would add:

  • the ability to have a specific size selector for my eraser – the current function is a little crude. I like to do text in big, bold strokes and then put a definition line through the letters with the eraser. See my example below… I wasn’t able to do this style of hand-drawn lettering in Inkflow.
  • the ability to select with the ‘lasso’ tool and then COPY – for example, to get the two erasers under ‘an eraser size selector’ point on my chart above, I had to do a screen capture on my iPad, edit the image in pics, then import it twice and save the image as two different sizes once I was happy with its position. It would be SO much easier if you could hit COPY on the selection once it’s made and move the copy to the desired location without having to jump in and out of the app.
  • finally, I would love to be able to have a one tap zoom in and zoom out function. It’s faster to move around which is so important when taking visual notes (and saves me having to keep undo-ing the plethora of small coloured dots I create when I forget that’s not a function of this drawing app! Yeah, I know, I just need to get used to it!).
I used the eraser to get the white line in the black headings

I used the eraser to get the white line in the black headings

Overall, I am very excited about this new visual note-taking option for my iPad. It has a number of features which are superb.

NB: The features I am describing come with the paid version which was A$9.99 two days ago.

I look forward to taking it out on the town the next time I’m jotting my visual notes.

If you are interested in reading more about this app from Qrayon, check out their website here.

Thanks, Rachel Smith (@ninmah) for your review!

If this really interests you – you have an iPad and want to learn how to use it as a powerful tool for your thinking and learning – have a look at the Visual Power Notes on your iPad seminar on 14 June 2014 (Australian EST 10am-1pm).

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