Digital Sketchnotes: going over my painpoints with Sketchbook Pro and ArtRage 4.

I had a problem to go Digital for my #sketchnotes.

Thanks to the help of Sachac, I made the switch , when looking at a video of how she was using Sketchbook Pro.

The main pain points for me were :

  • The interface was too much in the way ( much more than a a pen and a moleskine ) ( as I do not know how to sketch , I need not a lot to side track me)
  • My digital sketch were far too big on the screen i.e. not I could not put enough stuff on a A4 ( less than on my A5 moleskine) . Zooming in and out was getting me lost.

The solution to this last point was to add a grid on a layer , which gave me a sense of the scale at a given point. Plus I added another Layer for the framework, where zones can be pre alloted, and which helps getting bearings when zooming and moving around.


this layer could easily be dimmed when working, and removed when publishing.

I could then work at a much higher zoom level, which is easier when using a wacom tablet ( i.e. not a tablet PC / touch screen) , for a beginner like me.


The other problem was too much interface fiddling when you have to sketchnote real time in a meeting or conference. I master the « interface » of my two pens and moleskin for about 50 years now, this was going to be a tough challenge to make it as fluent.

I looked at the two contenders on the market, i.e. SketchbookPro and ArtRage.
I fiddled with SketchbookPro for about 2 weeks, and this is quite good.
However , I settled for ArtRage 4, mainly for one reason : The « Workbench Mode ». And on a minor mode, the references.

The Workbench is a (new) minimalist interface , where everything disappears , except the few things you want to keep at hand. And So, I prepared 4 « Pens », one black to write, one orange to doodle icons and mini sketch, One Large BoardMarker for Titles, and one airbrush for light shadow. Colors can be pre-assigned, this is a big plus for me, no more other fiddling than changing the « pens » with one click during action time.

In the following, here is the « normal » interface :


the same in Workbench mode: all is gone but my selection of pens.

less distraction, and the choices made at preparation time could simply just be used.

I also quite like the possibility to have « post -it  » like reference at hand ( even on the Workbench if desired):

[2] is a overall view of the drawing,
[3] is a reference picture , here a snapshot of Sachac sketchnote that I was copying.


Lets see in the following weeks if I can confirm this intuition of going digital, IRL 🙂

Edit : I indeed went digital, but I not with ArtRage but reverted to SketchBook pro, because the move action of Artrage is definitively too much in the way, as documented by SachaC in [3]

Related Post:

  • the grid , psd valide for sketchbook or art rage
    [3] :

Presentation Introducing to Diffusion of Innovation, with Sociology Patterns and Haskell

Just found (out of Serendipity) an Interesting presentation ( video plus slides) introducing to Diffusion of Innovation with Sociology / Social Patterns, mentioning several times Haskell. Good introduction to a mix of techniques for whoever interested in Haskell proselytism, and go to market strategy, drawing from Change management and Technology adoption lifecycle / Tipping Point, etc, in a pragmatic way.

The « switching cost » approach (perceived adopted gain / perceived adopted pain >1 ) [Coburn] [15] introduced at 00:50 , is interesting to show where you can try to lower the pain, or augment the perceived gain. I now understand better the effort of those trying to explain monads in C++ , or Edsl in Scale/ Java, etc, i.e. lower the denominator.

It also reminded me of the Beckard formula for change, saying in a nutshell that you not only need to be dissatisfied with the present situation to commit to a change, but also perceived HOW to change it, ie have a vision , and what are the next steps … ( Exactly what this site is about..)

Adapted Beckard Change Model
]4 Adapted Beckard Change Model

more links and details in a paper on Leo A. Meyerovich site :

  • [Leo A. Meyerovich and Ariel S. Rabkin. Socio-PLT: Sociological Principles for Programming Language Adoption. Onward! 2012]
  • []

By the way, who could point some prior work listing the benefits of Haskell ? ( FP/ HOF, type safety, EDSL..) and possibly pain points for starters ? anybody interested in a (serious) discussion on these, to feed a strategy ?

[15] P. Coburn. The Change Function: Why Some Technologies Take Off and Others Crash and Burn. Portfolio Hardcover, 2006.

Barriers, a technique to seed Product Innovation

Roman uses the word barriers on his Product Vision Board. The Intuition came to me to use this word barriers slighly differently, as follows:

  • A User aims at an objective , and barriers are what prevent to reach it (easily, with flow).
  • A product become then something that lower this barrier, a helper.
  • The value of the product become then the reduced cost of the effort 1 ProductAsReplacementValue

This bring potential to investigate products, and figure value as such:

  • Given a User and an objective,
  • List the barriers that could prevent / slow down reaching this objective.
  • Find the solutions that could enable/ ease the path to the objective, take the optimal one, and turn is into a product.
  • The value of this product would then be the cost of effort that is spared (minus the cost of the solution).

This is somewhat the reverse ( but complementary) practice of finding target group of users for one product. Here we start from the user, and his objective, and find which product may help him overcoming the barriers.

  1. this is known in accounting as cost of replacement, or replacement value. 

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