6 Tools To Grasp Your Initial Ideas
These are a few of my personal favorite capturing tools. Give them a try, if you can - and don't be afraid to use tools that belong to a another creative field. Different mediums capture different aspects of an idea, and switching between them can often melt down even the most stubborn of creative blocks.
Doodling: Paper for iPad + Wacom Bamboo
Doodling is the most simple and widely used way of capturing ideas. It has nothing to do with being able to draw: anyone can doodle an idea.
I’ve used the Paper + Bamboo solution to direct animators and story artists, design websites (yep, also CreativityWise), design game levels and applications (my own Android app, AppSpace, was captured initially on Paper), and much more.
The great thing about Paper is that it you can do real nice doodles with it, but you can’t really make a very precise drawing; which means you don’t get lured into actually drawing. That, and a beautiful and innovative user interface, makes Paper my top capture choice – for iPad users, at least.
The Wacom Bamboo pen for iPad makes a great combination of price, convenience and usefulness. It has no pressure sensitivity, but Paper does a great job of simulating pressure; and you don’t have to deal with battery life or Bluetooth connection or anything of the sort. And it’s infinitely better than using your finger!
Interactive Premake: Google Presentation
Google Presenation, or click the image
Google Docs is a ridiculously useful set of office-like tools. The PowerPoint equivalent, called Google Presentation, lets you quickly and easily create really nice looking slideshows, and add clickable areas for navigation.
This makes it ideal for premaking anything interactive (apps, websites, games, even interior design – imagine letting your client navigate through clicking on doors and passages).
What’s more, like all other Google Docs products, the Presentation tool allows multiple editors to work together, simultaneously, over the internet. You can literally work together with someone who’s on the other side of the planet, and feel like you’re in the same room and in front of the same computer (I know because I’ve tried it many times). There’s even a chat window!
If you want to work separately (at different times), no problem – you can add comments to everything, and your partners will get notified by mail.
Storyboard software: Springboard
Springboard, or click the image
Originally, storyboards have been used for for visual storytelling in films, TV and commercials. However – they make a great tool for anything that evolves over time. Writers, game designers and musicians (to take just a few examples) can and should use storyboards to capture the emotional and structural landscape of their work. Drawing is not even mandatory: doodles, photos and text can be mixed to create a very clear premake.
This is where Springboard comes in. I’ve been working with it for years now, and it’s one of my favorite little professional secrets. A small piece of PC software, it makes creating and working with a sequential series of images a LOT easier. You can doodle, import images, add captions and much more. You can use it for free forever, but to activate the printing feature you’ll have to pay a small amount. If you find Springboard useful I recommend doing so, as the printing feature is probably Springboard’s strongest advantage: it lets you create story sheets in literally every kind of layout you can imagine.
Cross platform capturing tool: Evernote
Evernote, or click the image
I found Evernote to be the best solution for capturing random thoughts on the fly. After all, the best ideas come away from your desk (and for a good reason!).
You can use Evernote to record sound, take photos, doodle ideas, and of course write text. But the real beauty of Evernote is that it is truly cross-platform: it’s available for android (including a cool widget), iOS, as a standalone desktop software or as an add-on to your favorite browser.
Because all these apps sync with the cloud, it really does function as an expansion pack for your brain – accessible anytime, anywhere, on any device you happen to be using at the moment. You’re never more than a few seconds away from everything you’ve ever deemed important enough to keep, in any form you wanted to keep it.
3D tool: Sketchup
Sketchup, or click the image
We live in a 3-dimensional reality, and so our ideas are often 3D as well. Some things are very hard to capture with only 2D and text; something is inevitably lost in translation. Simple 3D objects can also serve as a great supporting tool for doodles and storyboards. A 3D capturing tool might be just the thing you’ve always needed to help you get your ideas through.
For capturing purposes, sketchup is fairly easy to learn. It does not require any prior 3D software knowledge, and it comes comes with a great set of video tutorials that you can go through in just a few hours. And it’s free (there’s a paid version, too, but you won’t need it for capturing).
However – the thing that really makes Sketchup an incredible capturing tool, is its huge crowd-sourced library of 3D objects: cars, buildings, props, animals, you name it. So if you have, for example, an idea involving a lamborghini parking in front of the empire state building – with Sketchup, that wouldn’t even take 5 minutes to capture.
Get Physical: Toys, plasticine and junk
Digital capturing is cool, but there’s also something to be said for tangible, physical, rough-and-dirty creativity. Sometimes the simplest and fastest way to capture an idea is to just make it with your hands.
A good pile of Lego bricks and a bit of plasticine will go a long way to create a fast and rough model of your idea. Colorful paper cards that you can cut and and doodle on, post-it notes in difference sizes, toothpicks, paper clips, small toys, and anything else that happens to be around can be thrown into the mix. It’s a messy, intuitive, playful way to explore and express your ideas; and the sheer weirdness of the process will often help you think outside the box.
More about what we do and how it can benefit you in the next video
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