Common Sense Review
Updated June 2014

Paper by FiftyThree

Beautifully designed digital sketchbook for any age
Common Sense Rating 4
  • Store multiple sketchbooks.
  • The drawing tool comes free with the app, while the other tools are available as in-app purchases.
  • Explore creations from other people in the Made With Paper gallery.
The intuitive design makes this easy for anyone to use.
Experiencing the app at its fullest (with in-app purchases and Pencil stylus) is likely cost-prohibitive for most classrooms.
Bottom Line
Even at the basic (free) level, the simplicity and effectiveness of the app make this a powerful sketch tool for the iPad.
Megan Leppla
Common Sense Reviewer
Common Sense Rating 4
Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return? 3

Give kids a digital alternative to their notebook, with touch in mind, and a variety of drawing tools.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer? 4

Kids can use this digital sketchbook to store notes, brainstorm ideas, and practice artistic skills.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students? 4

Begin with a brief tutorial and then jump right into your sketchbook. Intuitive design makes it easy to get started, and explainers are available throughout.

About our ratings and privacy evaluation.
How Can Teachers Use It?

For teachers wanting to emphasize handwriting skills while keeping their classroom digital, Paper is your solution. The writing tool, which is available as an in-app purchase, makes for a slightly more legible option than the drawing tool when it comes to taking notes. For teachers wanting to integrate the arts and digital tools in the classroom, Paper is ideal. The drawing tool, which comes free with the app, is excellent for sketching out ideas. The app is designed to look and feel just like picking up a notebook. In keeping with this clean aesthetic, you won't find any buttons or login screens. Multiple sketchbooks can be added to each device, allowing kids to share a device, but without a multiple user login, there isn't anything to stop kids from accessing other sketchbooks.

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What's It Like?

Paper by FiftyThree is a digital sketchbook full of powerful tools to create beautiful illustrations. Begin with a brief tutorial and get started drawing. There are no buttons, and the emphasis on touch features makes for an intuitive design. Sketches are stored in sketchbooks that sit neatly on a shelf. Once your book is full, you can start a new one. Share your creations via Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, email, or save them to your camera roll. The drawing tool is free, but unlocking the additional tools (mixer, color, write, outline, and sketch) will cost you $1.99 each. Although all the creating can be done with your finger, there is the option to purchase Paper's aptly named stylus, Pencil (ranging from $59.95-$74.95).

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Is It Good For Learning?

The tools are all so responsive and intuitive that it’s possible to teach basic drawing and painting techniques using Paper by FiftyThree. The harder you push, the thicker your lines. Layer your paint to create darker values of colors, and use the mixer to create new colors. Create multiple illustrations, fill up your sketchbook, and start a new one. Paper is also full of potential as a productivity tool. Kids can use the app to brainstorm ideas, sketch out a story line, or take down notes. The versatility of Paper makes it easy to combine the arts and productivity while utilizing digital tools -- talk about a power combo!

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