Have an iPad? There’s a Design App for That!

Ipad-in-hand-homescreen By Douglas Wittnebel,  AIA,  LEED AP, Principal, Gensler

I have always been a sketchbook architect and artist. As such, I have been documenting my excursions to places around the world in journals, moleskins, sketch tablets, and even on napkins. But more recently, these more traditional surfaces for my scrawling have given way to a new tool in my arsenal–selected digital experiments with the iPad.

The daily tasks of the architect and designer in today’s business environment include the creation and development of ideas, as well as finding new ways to illustrate and capture that process of creation.  As an architect and an artist, I dedicate time and effort to keep up-to-date with these new innovations that have been released to the public, and I was fortunate earlier this year to gain access to an iPad. It since has become a daily (and nightly) companion on my journey to experiment with the wonderful range of applications for drawing, sketching, and designing on a digital tablet format.

I am finding that new avenues of opportunity come with the ability to create a mixture of digital drawings and migrating these drawing stages from one app to the next.  The top seven apps that I currently am testing and using for drawing, sketching, and creating are:

1. Brushes 
– features a versatile app and (best of all) the actions will playback all of the brushstroke sequences. It's a delight to the eye, and to the client, when viewing on the iPad or on the big screen.

2. Inspirepro – is a kind of a quirky brushstroke app that has its own signature style. It's good for quick sketches and expressive gesture captures.

3. Artstudio
– is a versatile range of tools and layering menus gives the designer a lot to work with and a lot of possibilities for exploring new styles.

4. Doddlebuddy -  has a simple, easy-to-use interface with a quick response time. It's very intuitive to use. Start with this one and you will move on to more apps.

5. Inkpad – is a big favorite for those Illustrator fans and devotees (like myself), and allows the user to create wonderfully flat and crisp shapes and forms with overlapping layers.

6. Artrage
 - offers a remarkable range of brushes and textures, and provides the closest likeness to a “real” palette knife approach in applying liquid media to a canvas. It's a visual delight. http://www.artrage.com/

7. Sketchbook pro
- is advanced and versatile, holding lots of promise. It hints that more will be coming soon. I can spend hours developing design ideas with this application.

When you put the time and energy into exploring these and other apps, you come to realize the real “virtual” scenario is a mobile digital sketchbook, allowing the architect, designer, and artist to create in new and wonderful spaces and times.

While it is impossible to predict what will happen next on this creative journey, I for one am looking forward to these new tablet formats and applications that will extend the mixture of analog and digital drawing and painting. 


Douglas Wittnebel,  AIA,  LEED AP, is a principal for Gensler, based in San Ramon, Calif. His sketches and drawings can be viewed on his blog at http://www.drawingontheworld.blogspot.com/.