I recently did a Baron Fig notebook review. A real notebook that has to kill trees in order to survive (I think that’s how it works right?). Anyways the purpose of the notebook I bought was to sketch out my ideas and get more into drawing, maybe even storyboard the films I make. Then today as I was “doing my homework” I found a free app called Forge and decided to give it a try…
…paper just found it’s newest competitor.
As anyone who has been reading my past blog post knows, I love design. The Forge app has a beautiful design, using thin lines and drop shadows exactly how they should be used. They also really nailed the style that an artist wants, artsy. By the way I’m not an amazing drawer like the one Adonit hired to draw these things here so I am just going to be using the default drawings.
I’m going to start of with functionality because yes the app is beautiful and I can talk about that for pages but I won’t.
When you open the app you are presented with the stock “storyboard” (image above). You can scroll left to right and see the entirety of your board and all of the different images you drew out. When you press and hold one down you are able to re-order all of the images in any way you would like, a ghost like grid pops up and you can drag the image anywhere on the grid (this is great for a storyboard). Functionality here is perfect, moving the image is fluid like and all of the other images re-adjust accordingly, if you need to put a picture between fifty others they will all slide over to let you put that image where ever you need without changing the order of anything else. If you don’t have a spot for a current image you can drag it to one of the corners and it will stay there, off to the side until you need it. If you put multiple images in the same corner they will stack. To move just one image from the corner stack quickly press and drag the image off the stack. To move all of the images in the stack press and hold for a second then drag, the images will all drop in the order that they were stacked in.
I’m not going to explain how the rest of the app works, I just wanted to explain that aspect of the app because that is the number one reason why I love it so much. I have used Paper (as in the app, who actually uses paper anymore), Penultimate, and tons of the other iPad drawing apps. They are all very similar but Forge has this storyboard layout that puts it above all the rest for me. Picture this, you are creating a movie and you make a huge storyboard on your iPad because you are hardcore. The second you want something to be moved around just tap, tap, tap, done. No menus, nothing complex, just dragging and dropping and letting the app do the rest. This saves so much time and makes the iPad far superior to paper when storyboarding or planning.
Remember when I said I wasn’t going to be using any of my work in here? I lied. I just wanted to call attention to beauty of the markers and other tools that Adonit offers in Forge. They all have a very organic feel to them as you can see from my example above the text looks like it could be a fancy tumblr post. The text looks like it was actually painted onto the picture. Adonit really does simulate paper and pencil very well in Forge, and that is without a stylus, which brings me to my next point.
Alright guys, real talk here. I’m an impulse buyer. If I see something that I think will remotely help me with anything I do (create films mainly), I buy it if I can afford it. I saw apps like Paper and Sketch a while ago and I debated purchasing a stylus for them to use when storyboarding. However, I could never pull the trigger on the purchase because it just felt like a waste of money. Drawing with the other apps felt too “digital” the lines were thick, black and choppy. When using Forge the lines feel organic, you can see the texture of the tool you are using. The pencil tool doesn’t draw a perfect dense black line, it draws a lighter grey or red or blue line that looks as if it were going over paper. The style and the idea that it is a “sketch” you are drawing led me to purchase the Jot Script (~$70) right away. I would actually feel more comfortable drawing on my iPad Mini with this than in a notebook like the Moleskine or Baron Fig because of the ease of being able to undo anything. Being able to use any drawing tool with any color and almost any thickness makes this app super appealing to me when storyboarding. The nice part is, you can test this app without buy the Jot Script or other Adonit product just by using your finger and I highly suggest it.
I just talked about how much I love this app but is there anything that can be improved? Of course! It isn’t much but it still can be improved, for starters why is there no Evernote integration? Adonit has been involved with Evernote before and they even make a product with Evernote’s name on it so why can’t I export to Evernote? It would be wonderful to make a storyboard and then export the entire project over to Evernote for easy viewing and sharing. You could of course select everything and save it to your photos or Dropbox and then send it to Evernote, but that just seems a bit more complicated than it needs to be. The only other flaw in this program I noticed is really just a bug, when I try to add a picture to one of my images the app has crashed a couple of times, but other than that…that’s it. They probably have more items that they want to add or fix that I can’t even think of but I welcome them.
Why Forge Got iPad Drawing Right
Alright here is the deal, how many people have said: “I’m a full time graphic designer or other artsy person, all I need is an iPad for my career!”. The answer is none and if it is anything above none than it will go back to none because they will shortly be unemployed, unless they are literally the god of iPad. Most drawing apps show two things, either the Mona Lisa being drawn in insane detail that 99% of iPad users can’t do anything near or just plain ol’ handwritten notes. While Forge can do that, they hit a different market. Forge is a place for sketching ideas, it isn’t made to create insane iPad art that can be shown off to your friends, it is made to design a product, storyboard a movie, or basically plan anything. Creations in Forge are made to look like sketches, with repeated pencil lines and thick streaks of marker, they are made to foster ideas. That is why Forge is above all the other drawing apps as of now.
Side note: Now that I said you can’t be a graphic designer solely off an iPad someone is going to try and prove me wrong. In the near future I can definitely see it as a possibility but for right now I think it is virtually impossible. However, if you do find someone that is currently doing just that totally send me a link of their work at firstname.lastname@example.org