What is the single most useful tool in your design arsenal? For me, it’s still a plain old piece of white paper. It may not be the coolest or newest tool in the tool box, but it’s been a real pal through every major design project I’ve ever worked on.
In this article, I’m going to discuss why I think paper is still THE most important tool a designer can use, how it compares to software and tablets, uses for designers, pros and cons of using paper and finally a few cool ways to make use of paper in your home or corporate office. If, by chance, this sounds boring to you, feel free to return to your regularly scheduled surfing. For everyone else, let’s go!
Pen Tablets Can’t Replace Paper
When it comes to pen tablets, most designers probably think of Wacom. In fact, there are a number of competitors that also make pen tablets such as Monoprice, DigiPro and Aiptek. While tablets are certainly fun and useful, I don’t think they beat paper when it comes to sketching out ideas.
If I have an idea in my head I want to get it out quickly so that I don’t forget and with as few distractions as possible. If I have to fire up my pen tablet to sketch an idea I have to find the pen and base unit, make sure they are connected, launch some software such as Photoshop (and wait for it to load), create a new document, adjust any brush settings and finally start sketching. To me, this takes to long and offers to many opportunities to get distracted in the process.
I wish that pen tablets came with a “quick draw” button right out of the box that didn’t require any programming that could simply open up a new document quickly and have some decent default settings. Until then, paper still beats a pen tablet when I need to do some quick sketching.