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Cape May Common Birds Drawn with Paper by 53 for iPad

Carolina Wren

Marsh Wren

Carolina Chickadee

Carolina Chickadee

I’m still using Paper by 53, trying out different drawing styles.

There’s a LOT to like about this app:

  • one-click posting of drawings to Facebook or Tumblr! No more scanning or photographing and then uploading!
  • easy to add COLOR to the drawings. It doesn’t take much time at all. Unlike when I was using colored pencil or watercolor.
  • Plus, so far there are only 9 colors. So that alone eliminates a lot of time spent deciding on what color to use!
  • You can look at how other folks have used the same exact tools by doing a search for #MadeWithPaper on Tumblr. It’s inspiring!

And, these four drawings finish up my Cape May – Common – Spring birds!

Next I’ll be doing Cape May Fairly Common Spring, Prospect Park Abundant Spring, and Prospect Park Fairly Common Spring.


More on Paper by 53

A lot of the poor reviews of Paper by 53 in the app store center on their IPA or in app purchase pricing scheme and what is perceived as an exorbitant cost per tool. The app is free to download. So, you get the beautiful interface with unlimited moleskine notebooks plus a beautiful pen, eraser, and colors for free. Then you have to pay $1.99 for one brush. Or $7.99 for four additional tools. It even comes out slightly more expensive when you buy all the tools together than when you buy each tool separately! You get to try the tool for free in a small screen in the “store” portion of the app before you purchase. The developers said in their website that they went for that pricing scheme so that it would mirror the experience of going to a store, trying out a pen, then buying it. This however has led many users to compare the price of a brush in Paper with a brush in other drawing apps. There’s even an entire thread on the pricing in the Paper by 53 support website.

One of the popular drawing apps frequently mentioned is these discussions is Sketchbook Pro for iPad. So I went ahead and purchased the app. Sketchbook Pro costs $4.99 vs $7.99 for Paper with all the tools. So, it’s definitely cheaper. It has a LOT of features. It has brushes that “paint” cobwebs or feathery fringes or instead of plain lines. There are 45 options just for the type of line a brush will make!! Then, you can adjust the radius and opacity of every brush. So, one cannot even count the number of options available just for one brush!

When I was just doodling around with the features in Sketchbook Pro, my doodles looked quite impressive! Especially the lines of feathery fringes and cobwebs! When tried drawing some birds in Sketchbook Pro, the results were corny. There’s a bit of a lag from when you move your pen and when the line gets rendered. It’s distracting and gets in the way of the drawing experience. All the features and options in Sketchbook Pro are great IF you are used to using those kinds of tools. Big IF! If not, then there is a lot to learn and get used to. And then, the results tend to look very “digital”.

After spending some time with Sketchbook Pro, I now appreciate the design of Paper even more! Paper recreates the experience of using actual paper and pens more fully. It is a very different experience from using the usual digital drawing app. When you use Sketchbook Pro, you’re thinking: How does this app behave? How do these tools work? With Paper, the app fades into the background (of your thought process) because the tools feel just like their real-life counterparts! But better! In Paper,  you can erase an ink and watercolor! You can rewind. You have unlimited pages in your moleskine! You don’t run out ink. Your colors stay clean! There’s no mess. It really makes drawing fun!

Check out Made With Paper. The site features work done by different artists using Paper. I want to see drawings of BIRDS using Paper!


A Review of the Paper by Fifty Three iPad Drawing App

So, I really like buying iPad apps. And I get excited about them when they’re new. But lemme tell you, THIS one is something!

Paper by Fifty Three

It’s another drawing app, but it’s really different. Instead of giving you a ton of features, it keeps everything very simple. And for some reason this works really well for me. This is somehow related to another app, Draw Something. Draw Something is a drawing game. It’s like playing Pictionary. You choose a word to draw for your partner, draw it, then submit. Your partner guesses the word, you both get points. Then it’s your partner’s turn. The game screen has a pen, eraser, and colors. That’s it. And it’s a big, big hit. So big that the owner of the company is now a multi-millionaire after selling his company to Zynga.

So why was I, along will millions of other people, spending so much time drawing on Draw Something? Those simple tools on Draw Something are fun and easy to use. Paper by Fifty Three works along that concept of keeping things simple so you can just create. No overwhelming numbers of tools that you need to figure out before you can even start. You barely have a choice even. No color wheel, just nine colors! One (and only one!) size of pen. One size of eraser. Come to think of it, Draw Something had more choices!

Instead of all those features, you get a gorgeous looking app with tools that have a great feel and work well together.  It’s a great app to grab and just quickly sketch out things.

Here’s a screen shot of the app:

screen shot

I was so excited/intrigued/inspired by the app, that even if I already did my six drawings for my “drawings a day”, I drew three more birds!

I was wondering, can I draw a bird on this? There are only nine colors and the tools are not re-sizable. The first bird on my list to draw was a Snow Goose, so that was easy. That worked!

Snow Goose

It was a hard to fit in all the text. I ended up with more space and less text than I wanted.

My next birds were a Clapper Rail and a Greater Yellowlegs. These birds have more detail and color than the Snow Goose. I’m happy with how my sketches came out! I think that I was able to focus on the important features of the birds. I also like how my sketches look more alive and artsy!

Clapper Rail

Greater Yellowlegs

The question for me is: Will this drawing exercise help me to remember and recognize the actual bird if and when I see it in the US?
Answer: Maybe! It looks a bit cartoony, but I’m having fun and I’m drawing even faster! And, maybe I’ll improve and/or learn how to use the tools better. (Or the devs could upgrade and give us resizable tools!) So, I’m going to keep at this. And maybe I’ll try some of the other drawing apps I have just to compare.

Note: The app is  free to try, but to get all the tools costs $8. The only free tools included are the eraser and fountain pen.

How to Memorize A Lot of New Birds Using Your iPad and Birding Apps

I read Phoebe Snetsinger’s book “Birding on Borrowed Time. Phoebe Snetsinger was one of the most famous birdwatchers in the world. At one point, she held the record for seeing the most birds in the world. One of the things that struck me was how thoroughly she prepared for each and every birding trip. She wasn’t just a tourist being led around by a tour guide. She was known in the birding circles for her ability to find and identify birds. She had serious bird skills! One of the things she said was that she would study a bird until she could instantly conjure up an image of the bird upon hearing it’s name.  So if you said, “White-cheecked Bullfinch” to her, the image of a White-cheeked Bullfinch and complete with diagnostic field marks would immediately come to her mind!

I don’t expect to be able to memorize ALL the birds of the United States before my trip. Instead, I’m giving myself a very achievable goal of memorizing the birds I am most likely to see in Central Park, Prospect Park, Jamaica Bay, and Cape May in the month of May. And I want to memorize them Phoebe-level — I should be able to picture a the bird in my mind when I hear the name or name the bird when I it or at the very least a picture of it. I’ve figured that the best way for me to memorize the birds is to draw them since that will make me spend at least 15 minutes on each bird (probably more!). Plus, I enjoy looking at my sketches and they’re more memorable to me than some stranger’s photos.

Now, here’s where the iPad apps come in! The iPad is a great tool for looking at reference materials for drawing! I’ve already tried drawing birds from pictures in my iPad and I love it. I even scanned the pages of a book I wanted to copy because I find it easier to draw from the iPad than from a book.

Drawing from a Book vs Drawing From an iPad

  • the ipad lies flat!
  • you can zoom into the ipad!
  • the ipad can store a LOT of photos and take up very little space!
  • iPad wins!!

And so, obviously, I need a few iPad birding apps! I bought THREE:

Source: via Sylvia on Pinterest

This is the iBird app logo, it’s a Eurasian Hobby

iBird Pro HD . This app is on sale now! It selling now for $9.99, down from $29.99! I bought this app because I have been lusting after it since it first came out, but stopped myself from buying it because of the price and because I didn’t really have a use for it .. until NOW! This is my #1 reference tool for drawing US birds. This app is not arranged like a typical field guide with plates showing one family of birds. In this app, you can search for for a bird by one of the 15 “basic attributes” (things like shape, size,  or common location) or by keyword. For the keyword search you can search by common name, Latin name or band code.

When you click on the bird’s name there are several pages on the bird: overview, photos, Flickr, Identify, portrait, and  birdpedia. The “overview” includes a brief description of the bird and a field guide style painting. The “identify” section  has more detailed information plus a section called “Interesting Facts”, which really is interesting! There are also calls and descriptions of the calls. In the “Photos” are actual photographs of the birds.

So far, this is my favorite iPad app birding app for drawing because it’s easy to search, it has a lot of photographs, and it has the really interesting “Interesting Facts” section.  I get great but sometimes disturbing tidbits like, “Double Crested Cormorant: Captive birds will perch to dry their wings after eating, even if they have not gotten wet”.

Source: via Sylvia on Pinterest

This is the logo of the Peterson app. I now know that it’s an American Robin!

I also bought Peterson Birds of North America. This app is arranged like a traditional field guide, with families of birds grouped together in a single plate. This is very useful for looking at the differences among closely related birds. It doesn’t have photos. It was useful for drawing a Foster’s Tern because I couldn’t see the field marks in the photos that were in the iBird app. I bought this app because I’m a huge Roger Tory Peterson fan!

Source: via Sylvia on Pinterest

Audubon Birds – A Field Guide to North American Birds. I bought this app because it has a feature called “Find Birds with eBird”. Basically, you put in your location either manually or with the gps and it will tell you what birds have been reported in your area! You can also search for recent sightings in your area of a particular bird! Amazing!! The app integrates the data from eBird your iPad gps! I am sure this will be extremely useful when I am in the States. Right now though, not that useful. But, I’m excited to try it when I get to the USA! It’s also searchable and has descriptions, calls, and photos — just like iBird. It may have even more features that I have yet to discover. I haven’t used this one very much yet.

Next .. how I made my list of most likely birds and also the FREE iPad birding apps I downloaded!