Debbie Ridpath Ohi reads, writes and illustrates for young people. Every few weeks, she shares new art, writing and reading resources; subscribe below. Browse the archives here.

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January 7, 2013: After some hard thought, I've decided to officially shut down this blog. I know I haven't updated it in a while, but I thought I should let you all know so you can remove it from your RSS feeds, etc.

Reason: I've decided that I need to find ways to make more time to read and create books.

I had great fun working on illustrating I'M BORED (written by Michael Ian Black, published by Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers in Sept/2012) and am now working on writing and/or illustrating new book projects. In addition to my picture book projects, I also want to get back to my novel writing.

My challenge: I want to do too many things and am currently involved in too many projects. My solution: To prioritize and cull.

You can find out what I'm working on at or follow me on Twitter at @inkyelbows.

Thanks so much for your support and interest in my projects.

-- Debbie

Entries in notetaking (4)


Notetaking apps for the iPad: iNapkin 2 Review

(Note: Also check the list of iPad apps for taking notes and writing that I've reviewed so far.)

iNAPKIN 2 | iTunes link | Website

Last updated: Apr. 27, 2010 - Version: 2.0.3

Size: 2.4 MB | Price $2.99

Developer: David Lukas


This newer version is big improvement over the first that I tried. The basic theme, as you might have guessed, is paper napkin note-taking. The default background image (768 x 1024) is a folded napkin, but you can switch to a yellow notepad if you prefer. Orientation can be locked, and you can rename your napkin note to anything you'd like.
Export options include saving to your photo album and e-mail. When saved to the album, the image includes the background image.
What I liked:

Easy to use interface.

I know it's corny, but I did like the background napkin graphic! 

Font size can be easily changed.

Pen line width can be easily changed, and there's also a choice of ink colours.

You can use the pinch gesture to pan and zoom.

You can have more than one text block per note. You can also resize each text block and move it around independent from the others. You can also drop text blocks on top of the images you've drawn.

On my wishlist:

Would be nice to change the font.

What I'd use this for:

Because the background image is included, this would be a fun way to send an informal note / ideas to someone, especially if you're including a doodle.

Great brainstorming/doodle pad.

What I wouldn't use this for:

Text that I want to use in another application. Whether you e-mail the note or save it to the photo album, only the image is saved, not the separate text.

iNAPKIN 2 - iTunes store link



Review of iPad notetaking app: Notably

(Also see my reviews of other writing and note-taking apps for the iPad.)

Basic info:

Notably (iTunes link) (Website link) (Twitter: @ThinkNotably)

Version 1.0.0 released Apr. 01, 2010 (new version is waiting for approval)

Developer: Derek Lyons

Size: 4.5 MB

Price today: $2.99

In my continuing obsession with note-taking apps for the iPad, I was intrigued by the interface for Notably. The basic layout is very similar to other note taking apps I've tried so far, but the user interface is markedly nicer. I'll be posting an overview comparison of all the notetaking apps eventually, but here are some comments specific to Notably.


Things I liked about this app:

I like the fact that the first line of a note is automatically assumed to be the title of the note.

REALLY like the fact that the list of documents (seen when the iPad is in landscape mode) includes an excerpt in smaller text and a timestamp.

Over a dozen choices of font faces.

Changing the size of font is straightforward and similar to e-book font size controls.

You can e-mail the text of your note directly from the edit page.

You can search your notes.

Easy to delete documents: just swipe to the left.


What I wasn't so crazy about:

You can't rearrange the order of documents in the list.

Feature wishlist:

Wish that I could add formatting, like bold and italics.

Wish that I could organize documents in folders.

Other file sharing options.

According to the developer's blog, new features include a new options menu that will be especially helpful for writers who regularly use a Bluetooth keyboard (ooo, looking forward to that) and workspace persistence (app returns you to the note you were working on last). The developer is also working on a folder system (yay!).



A good first version of a notetaking app. I'm going to keep this on my iPad for now and use it for one writing project, but the lack of list re-ordering and folders means I wouldn't use this for multiple projects. Looking forward to seeing what future versions bring.


Review: PaperDesk for iPad - Needs more export options

(Also see my reviews of other writing and note-taking apps for the iPad.)

Basic info:

PaperDesk for iPad Website link )( iTunes link )

Last updated: May 5, 2010 (version 1.2)

Size: 8.6 MB

Developer: WebSpinner.

Price: $2.99 (Free for Lite version, limit of 3 notebooks)


This notetaking app lets you take notes using text, drawing tools and even audio recordings.

What I liked:

Large, easy-to-read font. Being able to add audio recordings opens up interesting possibilities for this app's use. Could be useful for songwriters, for example, being able to write lyrics and record musical ideas, or even scribble down some written music.

Easy to delete documents in the doc list -- just swipe left and click on "Delete."

Pen options include colour, brightness, opacity, size and "quick pen" shortcuts. For my own use, however, I'd far prefer more choices in the text/writing aspect (see below).

Choice of paper textures.

What I didn't like:

No choice in font style or font size.

The deal-breaker for me: not being able to export the text to e-mail or another format I can use. The most recent version includes "VGA Output in Whiteboard mode," but I wasn't exactly sure what that is. I checked the online documentation, it has something to do with making presentations.

However, according to a note on the iTunes page for PaperDesk, a new version will allow users to sync with

Wish list (in addition to export options):

- Ability to reorder documents.

- Ability to remove the big icons beside each document and just have a text list, to save screen space.

- Ability to rename audio recordings.

- "Erase all" option for the drawing.


Decent app (once export/syncing is enabled) for those who want an inexpensive notetaking app that includes typing, drawing and audio tools, and aren't picky about text options.


Note-taking app review: Sketchpad HD - Great idea, but doesn't work properly in landscape mode

(Also see my reviews of other writing and note-taking apps for the iPad.)

 I'm a big fan of notetaking and writing apps, so as soon as I got my iPad I immediately started trolling the iTunes store. One of the first apps I bought was SketchPad HD (99 cents). With SketchPad HD, you can type text AND draw on a virtual notepad.

What I liked:

You have a choice of paper textures:

You can choose the colour of your virtual drawing pen:

What I didn't like:

To place text around the page with your artwork, you have to use the return key and the spacebar; you can't just click anywhere on the page. If you wanted your text to be at the very bottom of a page for example, you'd have to repeatedly hit the RETURN key until the cursor got to the right place.


The paper textures choice button disappears in landscape mode.

Scrolling doesn't work in landscape mode. This means that after type about a dozen lines, you can't see what you type anymore because it's covered up by the iPad keyboard:

When you e-mail yourself the document, you only get an image file. It would be nice if there was an option where you could get just the text sent, for use in word processing documents or To Do apps. Or the text-only file AND the image file -- that way you'd have the text info but also image to remind you of the layout.

I had hoped to use this app to work on my illustrated middle grade novel (story text illustrated with comics) but have had to look elsewhere.

Other wish list features:

In addition to the wish list features I mention above, here are some others:

- Be able to import an image from my Photo Library and be able to add text.

- Be able to Undo when drawing.

- Be able to change the thickness of the drawing line.

- Be able to change the colour of the text. Right now, the colour options only apply to the drawing line.


For the low price tag (99 cents), this is a decent app for fun scribblings and casual notes, but it's not an app I'd be able to use for my writing/illustration project planning and brainstorming.

Link to the iTunes store: SketchPad HD.