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When Paper by 53 first appeared in the App Store, its beauty was in its simplicity. Unlike other iOS drawing apps, it didn't try to emulate a desktop workspace by cramming a bunch of features onto a small screen; with an elegant set of digital tools, it redefined our expectations of art in the Multitouch era.
In many ways, Pencil is the perfect complement to Paper's singular style. Designed to mimic the look and feel of a high-quality carpenter's pencil, it doesn't succumb to the usual stubby stylus pitfalls. When gripped like a normal pen, its soft, cushioned tip gives it a spongy, almost brush-like, quality that belies its precision, while a touch of weight adds just the right amount of leverage.
Pairing is as easy as pressing Pencil's point against a small circle in the toolbar, but if you leave Paper for more than a minute or two, you'll need to repeat the process. Once connected, the full power of the app will be at your fingertips — including all brushes and the color mixer — along with nifty palm-rejecting technology that lets you rest your hand comfortably on the screen while you work (though you'll still want to use your fingers to blend and undo).
Pencil responded well to our movements, and we only experienced the slightest bit of occasional lag, particularly when using the color brush. Building the eraser into the top of the stylus is a stroke of genius, as is the concealed magnet that firmly attached our walnut review model to the iPad Smart Cover while traveling.
The bottom line. Whether you're a painter or a doodler, Pencil will help you get a grip on your creativity.
iPad (3rd generation), iPad mini, or later
Elegant, smart design. Excellent features when paired with Paper app. Unlocks in-app purchases.
Needs to be paired before every use. Slight lag while drawing with certain brushes.