Use iPad to edit handwritten paper notes or hand-drawn sketches

I like to sketch and take notes on good quality paper using fountain pens. However, it’s hard to erase mistakes, and I don’t always have the right pens on hand to add color or other effects. Also when I’m done, I like to be able to share stuff online.

Using an iPad, I can have the best of both worlds- start with paper-based notes or drawings, then upload them and add effects with Sketchbook Pro for iPad. (I use a stylus for this, which I recommend. Mine’s a Wacom Bamboo.) Here’s how to do this yourself.

Things you’ll need:

  • A scanner
  • You’ve installed Sketchbook Pro for iPad and can use it at a basic level (I tried to find a good Sketchbook Pro tutorial online, lots of bad ones. Thankfully it’s fairly intuitive.)
  • You’re willing to buy/install a file management app for iPad (GoodReader)

How to edit your hand-drawn work on iPad:

  1. Scan the picture you’ve drawn and upload it to the internet (Flickr, Picasa, your own site via FTP or other method, etc.) and take note of its URL. Here’s my picture, I uploaded it to my web site:
  2. Install the GoodReader app on your iPad. It’s 5 bucks. (It does a bunch of amazing stuff apparently, although I’ve only ever used it for downloading files.)
  3. Open Safari on your iPad and type in the picture’s URL. Put a G in front of the http part like this: g and tap Go.
  4. This downloads the picture to GoodReader. When you open GoodReader you’ll see the picture file listed under Downloads like so:
  5. Tap your file to open it. At the bottom of the picture, click the camera icon to send it to your iPad Photo app’s Photo Album.
  6. Return to your iPad desktop and tap the Photo app. (The Photo app, as you may know, comes with the iPad, and its icon looks like this:)

    You’ll see your picture in the Photo app’s Photo Album.
  7. Now open the Sketchbook Pro app. Tap Gallery. (This is a button in the upper left that appears when all the tools are showing.) At the bottom of the Sketchbook Gallery, click the “import from” icon (the flower + plus sign), and click Photo Library.
  8. Click Camera Roll and tap your drawing to start editing it in Sketchbook Pro.
  9. When you’re done, save your picture to the Sketchbook Pro gallery, where you can send it back to your Photo Library or other options (Facebook, print, e-mail, etc.). Here’s my picture after I erased some lines and added color:
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  1. Hi Cheryl,

    If you open your Web page in Safari, tap and hold the photo, your iPad will ask if you want to save image. No need to do all the GoodReader steps 🙂

    Do you take sketchnotes with Sketchbook Pro? I use Adobe Ideas and was wondering if there is any reason to change.

  2. Cheryl

    Oohhh… You know, what I was doing is using Google image search, and it didn’t seem like you could download images easily that way. Was clueless you could just tap and hold from the web site the image was on, thanks for telling me that! Sketchbook Pro has many more options and tools for freehand sketching, I recommend it.

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