These days there are so many apps out there that aim to help us accomplish things using our mobile devices.
(Admittedly there are also many apps that help us to waste time) Designers have to be able to ideate and
synthesize, capture ideas and store inspirational imagery at all times and today we have so many new apps
and programs at our fingertips to help us with this. Gone are the days of folders with magazine clippings and
dragging around portfolio cases full of art supplies. I mean, we still use our physical drawings tools and gather
inspiration from our ‘analogue’ sources, but so often we are out and about with only a smart phone or tablet
when inspiration hits. Here is a sampling of my favorite apps and software that I use regularly to capture
ideas on the fly, generate new ideas and just generally make more happen.
SketchbookPro – by Autodesk – I have been using this app to quickly sketch out ideas on my iPhone for quite a
while, but it wasn’t until I got my iPad that I truly appreciated what I could do with this app. It is excellent for
quick visualization. I sometimes will use a stylus for drawing on iPad or iPhone, but I love that I can just use
my finger to sketch out an idea quickly on my phone if I’m out so I don’t lose my ideas in the ether.
Paper – by 53 – This is one that I have not delved into fully yet. It looks amazing though and I can’t wait to dig in.
Loading this on my iPad tonight.
The App Store description: Capture your ideas as sketches, diagrams, illustrations, notes or drawings and share
them across the web. Try it free—buy additional tools from the in-App Store. Paper was designed from the ground
up for touch and creating on the go. No fussy buttons, settings or other distractions. Paper works the way you
think, like a familiar notebook or journal. Have all of your ideas with you in one place. Share your ideas instantly.
Stream pages to Tumblr, send them over email, or share pages with your friends on Facebook and Twitter.
Alchemy – Check out the video on their site. It blew my mind.
Now I have Alchemy at work and at home for rapid fire visual brainstorming.
Site description: Alchemy is an open drawing project aimed at exploring how we can sketch, draw, and create on
computers in new ways. Alchemy is not software for creating finished artwork, but rather a sketching environment
that focuses on the absolute initial stage of the creation process. Experimental in nature, Alchemy lets you
brainstorm visually to explore an expanded range of ideas and possibilities in a serendipitous way.
Cinema 4D – This is the 3D software I currently use for 3D modeling and rendering. Mostly because it rules.
I’m updating to R14 this week and will be exploring all of the amazing work I can do with the new updates.
And I’m starting to delve into a bit of animation which can be utilized for moving through modeled store
environments, 360 views of 3D modeled fixtures and more.
I encourage any designer to check out these available tools. Sketchbook Pro and Paper are low cost apps that are
so incredibly useful. Alchemy is a free Beta download and allows you to explore in free form, visual brainstorm, then
pull inspiration from it directly in Photoshop or indirectly to create elsewhere. Cinema 4D is the most user
friendly, robust program I have ever used for 3D (and you can animate!). If you have ever used Rhino, you can
easily pick up the Cinema interface to get started. I am in love with it and I have barely scratched the surface of
what can be done with this program. It’s also pretty affordable for 3D modeling and animation software.