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

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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]

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

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