Using Goodnotes As A Sketchbook

I use a lot of sketchbooks in class. I think in the last year I’ve used at least 10 sketchbooks, and that is really bad for the environment. Especially since most of those sketchbooks are half full. So recently I decided to do a little experiment and try using a totally digital sketchbook.

goodnotes sketchbook page

For this experiment I am using the Goodnotes app for the iPad. With this you can use the Apple Pencil (with the iPad Pro) or a regular stylus and write on the iPad. The one thing I like about this app is that you can have different notebooks which work exactly like an actual notebook. You choose the size and type of paper you want (this can be changed later) and you add more pages to the notebook by swiping right.

goodnotes illustration

This means I can use the app exactly how I would use a physical sketchbook. I find it especially useful for doing research. Usually I would compile images in Pinterest but its a little trickier to add annotations to an image. In Goodnotes you can link a Google Drive account. This means I can save images to my google drive then load them up in the app. You do need to be careful with the file size of each notebook, Goodnotes has problems with very large notebooks, and images take up a lot of space. But I’ve had no problems so far.

Another nice thing about Google Drive is you can set up your notebooks to automatically back up. Mine it set to back up on my google drive which means I can open the Drive app and find a PDF version of my notebooks. This is useful if I don’t have my iPad to had and want to check something.

goodnotes sketchbook pattern

The only down side to using a digital sketchbook is when I want to work traditionally as part of a project. If you were wondering this is a little brief I found on Brief Box, I’m designing a repeating pattern based on London. Using a stylus you have the ability to draw in the Goodnotes app, but I wouldn’t say the results were that great. I also scanned a few pages and inserted them into the notebook using the same Google Drive method but this was quite a hassle.

goodnotes sketchbook moodboard

I think using a digital sketchbook would be entirely up to the artist and how they work. As a designer I tend to do a lot of research and take a lot of notes. Doing this digitally is great because it saves me from having to print images and store them somewhere. I don’t think this method would work for an illustrator, someone who uses a sketchbook purely for drawing. Rather than as a place to document a process.

However saying that, I would imagine there is a very talented illustrator somewhere that likes working in this style. I guess it just depends on who is using it.

5 thoughts on “Using Goodnotes As A Sketchbook

        1. I used to use Evernote for doing research. It was really great for saving webpages. But I hit some limit and it wanted me to pay for an account which was annoying.

          1. I did finally break down and pay for the Pro version. It’s the only way to access the content off-line. The funny thing is, since I’ve been paying for it, I’ve become less impressed with it. I also use Trello, which is more of a project-management thing, but it’s good for helping an editorial process (such as mine is).

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