Sketching with the iskn tablet

isknpackageIt was a quiet day at home on Saturday. Picked up the iskn tablet for the first time and installed the software. It was a bit mysterious at first, with some back and forth to the manual. Once it was connected and charged, I was good to go. The tutorials were surprisingly helpful. The only thing I had trouble with, at first, was the orientation of the tablet and screen. I wanted portrait, and it kept coming up landscape. If all else fails, read the directions. Got that sorted, and started drawing. It was an intuitive and expressive tool to use. I’ll be giving it a good try out over the next week, to see where it fits into my drawing patterns. My first impression: how easy and fluid it was to use. It felt just as natural as drawing with a pen.

BrolgaStandingRiaLoader2018WebMy first drawing, using the iskn, was about getting used to the pen device. I played around with pressure and such, angle of the pen, and pretty much stuck to the default pen setting this time around. There’s a ring that fits around your own pen, and a couple of magnetic rings around a stylus and pen that comes with the iskn. The drawing tablet has all these magnetic spots that line up with what you are drawing. It’s really quite smooth. Using any paper of your choice, you are freed up to draw and have the illustration appear on the screen as you draw it. It felt quite a lot more expressive than a Wacom tablet, which I already have. It also has a cord-free mode and some online storage, so you can use it on the go. Haven’t tried that yet, but will do so in short order.

I’m in the midst of illustrations for a kids book that’s set in the Australian Bush. The place is Billabong Flats, a mythical place where everyone gets along and has fun. The story I’m working on is about a Brolga, a kind of crane, who likes to dance. She meets up with Koala, who has been wistfully watching her from her perch up in the big gum tree. Koala wants to dance too. The set up illustrations are of Koala and Brolga, down near the water. I decided to draw Brolga in a steady stance, much like a dancer being in first position, before movement.

The iskn will record a movie as you draw, showing the process. That’s a fun and unexpected delight. It records all of your movements throughout the drawing and allows you to export it at the end.

Lists: Write faster by using patterns

A chum of mine at work asked how I manage to get so much written. I write specs, emails, documentation and how-to guides at work; I write novels, short stories, game outlines, nonfiction at home. Each of these pursuits has a different focus, however, there are some things in common:

  • Everything has a particular audience
  • In each case, there is a specific goal for the writing
  • Every kind of writing, for me, has a subject
  • There is always a beginning, a middle and an end
  • The writing is less about me than about the topic

Identify common writing patterns

Identifying common elements in a particular type of writing helps me to write more quickly. Until I know the audience, I can do research, but it is not time to start the email, the document or the story. When I have worked out who I am writing to, then it is easier to work out what needs to be said.

The pattern for documenting a meeting decision

When I am documenting a decision from a meeting, all I need to do is

  • State the problem we identified in the meeting
  • Outline the various positions on the topic (pros and cons)
  • Make sure there is an image or sketch to illustrate the cases
  • Summarize the decision and follow up actions.

Simple, right? Knowing those steps, I make a quick set of headings and start putting bullet points under each area.

Let’s look at another kind of writing and figure out the patterns that apply – blog posts for example, as that’s what I’m doing here.

Pattern for writing a blog post

  • Which blog am I writing it for – that tells me the audience
    (based on the theme of the blog)
  • The goal is to write an article that people will enjoy, one that shares actionable or thought-provoking information about some aspect of the theme
  • The subject should be descriptive and have key words
    The subheadings should also have key words to help people find the article, without being ‘click-bait’ or too catchy
  • I work out what I want to discuss and say that in the first paragraph
    The meat of the article should discuss the main elements to consider
    I ought to recap at the end and summarize – or not, depending

I’m working out the patterns for each of the types of writing I do, and will be putting it all together in a short guide.

What are some of the patterns you’ve noticed in your own writing?