Top iPad Apps for Sketchnoting and Visual Notetaking

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Sketchnoting is the art of visual recording in which the sketch noter draws on a multimodal set of tools to communicate their ideas. Unlike traditional note taking, sketchnoting is a primarily visual medium in that it foregrounds the visual element and  highlights connections and hierarchies. Sketchnoting involves the blending of words with drawings, shapes, diagrams, and graphic organizers ( e.g arrows, pointers, bullet points..etc). 

According to Mike Rohde, author of The Sketchnote Handbook (affiliate link), sketchnoting has several pluses among which:
  • Engages your whole mind
  • Creates a visual map
  • Helps your concentration
  • Taps our visual language
  • Creating Sketchnotes is dynamic and fun.
One great  and easy way to sketchnote is to do it on iPad. You can be in a conference, listening to a lecture, watching a TED talk, or reading an article and take sketchnotes on your iPad. There are several powerful apps to use for sketchnoting. The list below features examples.

In digital sketchnoting, you can either use your touch gestures or a stylus. I prefer the second option. A stylus is a pen that enables you to scribble, draw, and write on the screen of your iPad. The top five styluses out there now are included in this list. I personally use Adonit Jot Pro.

Now that you have got your stylus , you will need a good app where you can sketchnote:

1- Procreate

"Offering 100s of handmade brushes, a suite of innovative artistic tools, advanced layer system, and the lightning fast Valkyrie graphics engine — Procreate has everything you need to create expressive sketches, rich paintings, gorgeous illustrations and beautiful animations. Work on the couch, the train, the beach, or while waiting in line for coffee"

2- Inkflow

"Inkflow's ink feels like a really smooth fountain pen. Great for expressive writing or sketching. Effortlessly scale or move anything you select. This will change the way you think about ink: Jot down a list of concepts then rearrange them to fit into the bigger picture. literally move your thoughts around the page, and assemble big ideas with your fingers. This works great for brainstorming and planning. It's also perfect for prototyping layouts, sketching, and drawing."

3- Adobe Illustrator

"Design with precision, as naturally as you would with pen and paper. Create vector lines, shapes, type, gradients, and effects. Merge or cut graphics with quick, intuitive Pencil gestures to remove unwanted areas. Make your graphics pop with effects, and access over 18,000 fonts, 20+ colour palettes, up-to-the-minute live streams from famous creatives, and guided tutorials. Work on a project across Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, and Fresco. Plus, your Illustrator work is automatically synced to the cloud, so you and your team can always access the latest version from your desktop or iPad."

4- Paper 

Paper 53

"Paper’s perfectly-tuned tools make it easy to sketch, collage, paint, draw—wherever your thoughts take you. Wave goodbye to distracting menus and let natural gestures guide you, keeping you in your creative flow...Add multiple photos to a single page and cut, stick, move, and fix without the fuss of complex layers. From mood boards to storyboards, pull in inspiration from anywhere and get your ideas moving."

"Sketchbook is an award-winning sketching, painting, and drawing app for anyone who loves to draw. Artists and illustrators love Sketchbook for its professional-grade feature set and highly customizable tools. Everyone loves Sketchbook for its elegant interface and natural drawing experience, free of distractions so you can focus on capturing and expressing your ideas."

You can also check this collection of digital art makers to use with your students in class to create various forms of educational artwork.