24 March 2011

A Tool for Digital Handwriting

It was the HTRYN course that forced me to use pen and paper to capture the rewrite of my story. After over 300 pages of handwritten scrawl that I'm typing back into the computer, I wish I had a way to handwrite it digitally, all those thousands of little tree deaths not only weigh down the desk, but my conscious.

I'd performed internet searches looking for programs that would allow me to hand-write with my tablet. Several exist for the iPhone and iPad, but I couldn't find something for my laptop.

So I developed a workflow, tedious but do-able, to hand-write using the tablet, an drawing/image-editing program, a PDF editor, and images of engineering paper. (If I have to use lined paper, engineering paper is my preference. Habits die hard.)

On a lark, I performed one more search and I found a program, Circus Ponies' Notebook with a free 30 day trial available, otherwise $49.99. It allows easy typing, drawing, handwriting - even with handwriting recognition to make it searchable, marking up photos and PDFs, all in one organized, customizable notebook. It's more powerful than I wanted, with the organizing and multiple templates, but a way better solution than my create-single-page-PDFs in one program, organize single-page-PDFs in another program.

Just a couple screenshots ...

Imported a PDF, used pen/ink function to mark changes.

Started a writing journal. See the engineering paper?

Just so you can see the handwriting function of the application.

They also have an iPad version, $29.99, so if I wanted, I could work on a notebook between my laptop and iPad, however they don't support Dropbox yet.

One problem, which I haven't yet solved, is how to print the pages without the handwriting shifting on the page. Should be an easy fix, or at least I hope so. If not, they have a nice support page so get help.

When my trial runs out, I'll most likely pony up (hehe) the $50 and buy it for my laptop. While the iPad version is nice, I can't justify buying it just now. (Unless my husband starts to use it for work. Hint, hint.)

FYI -- I was not contacted by Circus Ponies, nor do I, to my knowledge, know anyone at the company. Just thought I'd share just in case someone was searching for a similar solution, or maybe had other digital handwriting suggestions for me.


For those interested - my old process looked something like this:
1. Open digital image of engineering paper in a drawing program.
2. With a pencil or pen tool, write one page worth of words on image with tablet and pen.
3. Print to PDF. For added file-ease-of-mind, save the new "drawing" as an image file as backup.
4. Repeat the 1-2-3 sequence above as necessary to capture words/story.
5. Open individual saved PDF pages in Preview, arrange into one document, and save.
6. Proof-read/edit the new PDF document with tablet and pen in Formulate Pro, a free download.
7. Save marked-up PDF document. Can be used as reference for making changes in a typed story or typing in a story.

Note: My process was developed on Apple computers. I didn't mention which drawing program in my process as had been working out which one I liked best.


Alfonso said...

I sure hope that hubby of yours is good at getting the hints.
Or am I? I don't remember.

Anne Velosa said...