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I reviewed the innovative Whitelines pads a couple of years back, and the inventive Swedes have a new product out that will appeal to anyone wanting to get their sketches and notes digitised quickly, called Whitelines Link.
The system consists of a special Whitelines Link pad, and a free iPhone app from the App Store. The pad has the usual Whitelines white grid pattern, but with shapes in each corner to help the app to gauge the perspective and light conditions. The bottom of the pad has 3 options – Email, Evernote and Dropbox, and ticking/marking these will let the app know where you want the scan to go. If the light is low, there is a button for turning in the flash as a lamp.
Once your note or sketch is ready to go, you simply point the iPhone at the page – no need to press anything. When the app has detected the bounds of the pad, it does the rest. When you first use the Dropbox and Evernote options, it will ask you to authenticate those services, but thereafter you barely need to press anything. The Dropbox option is particularly appealing, as it’s very fast (Evernote’s fastest sync time is every 5 minutes).
Here’s an amateurish video I made of the process:
If I hadn’t marked the email box, it would’ve been more impressive, as the Evernote and Dropbox uploads happen automatically. Obviously the app asks for an email address when ticking the email option. Here’s the final output of that sketch:
I did a few tests, with pencil and pen to see how well it works, and the results were great. They recommend using an iPhone 4S or above for best results, but I’m more than happy with the output provided by my iPhone 4. The only caveats I discovered were that while it didn’t need strong bright light, elements like shadows can be picked up, or in the case of a bent page corner, prevent the app from detecting the pad bounds.
Other than that it worked so well I laughed with joy! This is particularly useful for scanning in sketches to work on top of in Illustrator, or sending a client quick sketches. Of course, once a sketch is in Evernote, the text (depending on the quality of the handwriting… ahem) becomes searchable as well.
It’s release has coincided with the Moleskine Smart Notebook, and its obvious that the two ideas were being developed simultaneously. However, the Smart Notebook is designed to work only with Evernote, whereas Whitelines Link provides email and DropBox options along with Evernote integration. The Moleskine looks sturdier as a notebook, but the wiro-bound Whitelines Link Pads are easier to get flat.
Whitelines have told me that if there is enough interest in Link, then an Android version would be developed as well, which would be excellent. I’m not sure when the pads will be available in the UK, but Whitelines provide free downloadable sheets for you to try on their Link page. Then if you like it, then obviously buying a pad will be more economical.
Whitelines + Behance Dot Grid Book
In Squared I mentioned that I’d ordered both a Whitelines pad, and the Behance Dot Grid book to try out. After trying them both for a few days, I thought I’d just post a few words about them.
First of all, the Dot Grid Book. The packaging was sublime (see my photoset on Flickr), and the book itself has a rubberised card cover, wiro-bound, with good strong stock inside. The rubbery cover freaked some people out that I showed it to, and has the habit of collecting fluff!
There’s no show-through using black ink (maybe just the very, very slightest hint, but not enough to be a problem). The dots work quite well, and provide a lot of freedom. It’s also US letter sized, which is a change from A4. The only downsides are the that the wiro-bound spine gets snarled up (I’ve heard this from others, and experienced it already) and they felt the need to slap their logo on every page, which is a shame. Overall, a good idea, but really rather expensive for what it is (don’t faint -£14!). The more costly and elite a notebook is, the less I feel like using it. Too much pressure! I’ll enjoy using it, but I probably won’t be back for another one.
I found I preferred the Whitelines layout the most. The grid lines are still there, but the use of negative-space whitelines is just enough to draw by, without being too noticeable. The tinting drops out when copying, and every page is logo free! The binding was very good, but the only drawback was the weight of the paper. It’s fairly light compared the Dot Grid Book, and you definitely get show-through. On the A4 perfect bound pad that I bought that’s not a huge problem. It’s not nearly as expensive as the Grid Book, and feels OK to leave one side blank.
Looking over their product lines, my ideal Whitelines notebook doesn’t exist yet. I need one with a heavier no-show-through-paper, perfect bound with similar dimensions as my Moleskine sketchbook (21 × 13.2 × 2 cm). If by any chance the Swedish gods of negative space are listening -any chance of it?
My name is Jon Hicks, and I’m a stationery fetishist. I’m sure many of you are too. I love the design, feel, and most of all, smell of it. Some of my earliest and happiest memories are of walking into WHSmiths and smelling the pencils and paper, looking at the pads and notebooks (and being allowed to buy a new one!). Even in an age when my work is solely screen-based, I still lust after the senses-satisfying joy of new stationery.
Just recently, I’ve started using graph paper pads again, particularly for sketching interface wireframes. I’ve tried plain paper, but I’m one of those people that can’t draw a freehand straight line to save their life. Then the wonkiness of the line just becomes a distraction.
I’d been using a Paperchase notebook, which had a very faint dotted line squared paper, but it was only a few sheets amongst a variety of other types. It was ideal, but Paperchase don’t make a pad or notebook of just this type anymore, so after fruitless local searching and googling, I asked for Twitter feedback on a suitable alternative. The response was fantastic, and here are the three best options.
The Original Designers Workbook (Available from the Design Museum Shop, although mostly out of stock at the moment) fits the criteria, as subtle graph paper pad:
Here’s a sample of it’s grid:
The most-suggested option by far was the Behance dot grid book (available in the UK from Strawberry and Cream):
Best of all though looks like the Swedish Whitelines series, as suggested by David Hughes (available from Foyles in London, Amazon and Papernation in the UK).
Rather than use the traditional lined approach, it uses the negative space, creating a less destructive white lined grid:
I should also mention the lovely Konigi Wireframe Pad, which also looked ideal, but sadly is US delivery only. Yes, I can always get someone in the US to send it on for me, but on principle I prefer not to. They offer a great range of free PDF templates that you print off, but that’s not a economical solution in the long term. Fine for the odd sheet here and there. Also, Inkjet prints just don’t have that lustfulness about them in the way new stationery does.
So, I’ve ordered both the Behance Dot book and a Whitelines notebook to try them both out!