The Nokia N900 and the Sketch Application Review

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I was excited when Paul contacted me from a Nokia-sponsored platform saying that they had seen and liked my blogs and my art. Paul asked me if would I like to trial the Nokia N900 handset and particularly the Sketch application which comes loaded free on it. Asking me to share my experiences good or bad with the WOMWorld blog.

I of course agreed, 1) I love to try out new gadgets/phones and especially applications and 2) I love to draw 3) I love to blog!

 … within 2 days the Nokia N900 was on my doorstep.

Another N900 Review

This isn’t a review on N900, there are currently countless of reviews out there and I’m sure you get the gist. However I would like to say that I felt very comfortable with it. It is pretty heavy compared to a lot of new phones but I soon got used to the size and feel of the handset. I found it straightforward and a pleasure to use…
You need to be very firm with the screen to get a response and that using the stylus is really a must but its something that you learn pretty rapidly.   I love the layout its very simple to navigate. The N900 became part of my everyday usage very quickly.  I always loved a Nokia phone but this is different it really is like a mobile computer – I will miss it.
All that said, I must say that it was a big shock to me when I first opened the free Sketch application to find that  it was nothing special. To be honest, I was devastatingly disappointed.  I’m used to drawing on a PC with up-to-date applications on a big screen with a mouse or a full-sized pen.
The Sketch application is a simple, uncomplicated application, it is more basic than MS paint. (which I use often).  It reminds me of game I used to play about 10 years ago called isketch  but you could use the mouse or a pen.  isketch – that’s ironic isn’t it 😉
Although the touchscreen  is a nice size “800 x 480″ the actual drawing area is exceptionally small indeed. This is due to the fact that you have the tools along the bottom and a tab at the top with a big border around it.

Tools available are …..

Pen – Line – Square – Circle – Eraser – Size – Pallet – Undo
Then on your tab at the top, there is  New –  Open – Save – Canvas Size  
When I first tried it, It felt unnatural to draw with the thin stylus, while also having to press it firmly. It took time to get used to the small drawing area and I found that the stylus wasn’t accurately calibrated but fortunately there is somewhere to calibrate which I found in settings, and we were off.
The hardest part for me was definitely the size, (size does sometimes matter) this wouldn’t have been a problem at all if you could zoom, but sadly its not available on the Sketch app. Zoom would have made an huge difference to the whole experience.
There is an option to make the canvas size bigger (at the sides bottom and or top) so with the absence of zoom I wondered if drawing a larger picture would work, even though you would not be able to see the whole picture.  I thought that would be ok, but it wasn’t – it was more difficult than you’d think to make things symmetrical or line up with the parts you couldn’t see. As I was drawing and enlarging as I drew and it suddenly it said maximum size reached, argh …with only one stroke that you can undo I just had to start again.
My mistake was that I was trying to draw as I would on other applications so I attempted some quick sketches, after all its called Sketch, duh!  This isn’t really my area but I did get a few half decent results – Basically its not an illustration or drawing application it is primarily for sketching.
I was steadily getting more used to using this app and the stylus, as I did it turned out to be great fun, and a big challenge which I always like.  Almost like a game that you have to master. I was just frustrated with my results after seeing some of the other sketches online.
These changes I feel would make it much better.
1 – More undo – very frustrating not to be able to undo more that one stroke.
2 – Saving the last pen settings, so that it doesn’t go back to default.
3 – Zoom – a must!
The following would be nice, but used just to sketch, maybe there is no need.
1 – Layers.
2 – Fill.
3 – Cut and paste selections.

So to sum up, its a free loaded app so you can’t complain and its fine just to do little quick sketches, write quick notes, routes or plans. It is a fun application, and it could be useful.  However to actually draw intricate, accurate drawings, I personally found it very difficult as you can see and these are the best. Others do find it easier it seems 🙂 

I’m flattered some people are saying they like my sketches, but I thought I should do better, here is some of my other art

I think I should have also tried Mypaint for N900 which is for digital artists but as I was just doing this for @womworldnokia  I didn’t think of it.  Maybe next time 🙂 

If I had more practice I would definitely get better at this application as it is, but the Nokia N900 Handset has been returned to its former home, to be shared with another lucky person. 

I’d like to thank 
Paul and @WOMWorldNokia  and @1000heads for giving me the opportunity to try the Handset and application – and the smoothness of the transaction.