Pencil by FiftyThree in Paper, Procreate and Noteshelf

Pencil by FiftyThree in Paper, Procreate and Noteshelf

Hello everybody! So today, I’m really happy
to show you the very famous Pencil by FiftyThree. This stylus launched in November 2013, so,
you might be wondering why I’m reviewing it now. Well the first thing is, it was only
available in the US until recently, but the main reason why I decided to share this video
today is because this very week marks an major milestone for Pencil. Up until now, if you really wanted to use all the powerful features I’ll show in a minute, you had to use Paper,
which is sort of the official app from the same company. But this week, FiftyThree finally
announced that third-party developers could now also make their own apps work with Pencil,
and so in the second part of this video, I’m really happy to be one of the first to show
you Pencil in action in other applications like Procreate, but also Noteshelf, which
is not a drawing app but a note-taking app. But before that, let’s do some unboxing. It
comes in this very nice and clean cylinder. Everything in this package, from the container
to what’s inside, is made of cardboard, and this of course makes a lot of sense when you
look at Pencil itself, which has this very organic design. You can open the top to reveal
the stylus, which is carefully protected and hold by these two cardboard parts. Behind
each of those two parts, they folded some documentation. One document contains all the
informations you need to start using the Pencil right away, and the other is a more detailed
product manual. It also comes with some spare parts, one for the eraser at the back, and
one for the main tip. For me, this is a container you want to keep, not only because it looks
nice, but mostly because I think it does a very good job at protecting and holding the
stylus in place whenever you want to transport it. This way, you don’t have to worry about
Pencil being in a bag unprotected, you can just very quickly put it back in, and then
out when you need it, and this box takes just the right amount of space in a bag. So this
is how I would transport it. Ok, so now let’s have a closer look at the
stylus. Each Pencil is milled from a single, solid piece of material which you can choose
between graphite and walnut, and the one I show here of course is walnut. In addition,
in this model, only the walnut, you have magnets embedded in the body of the stylus, which
gives it the ability to snap to a iPad Smart Cover for example like the one I have here,
but also to any other place where a magnet could snap, so you can really find unexpected
spots to snap you Pencil to. As you can see, the shape is unusual compared
to other styluses that are almost always cylindrical, and that’s because it was inspired by a
carpenter pencil which is also a bit flat like this. To be honest, it takes some time
to get use to it, but after a while, it really fits quite well in the hand, it’s well balanced,
and I like the fact that it’s one seamless piece of wood from one tip to the other. I
feel like it’s a bit too light for me though, but I’ve also ordered the other model, which
is made of metal, to see if it makes a difference. Of course, the tip is always the most important
part of a stylus, and the Pencil actually has two of them, each one being very different
from any of the styluses I’ve presented so far. This time, you have rubber tips, so the
idea is just to simulate a finger touching the screen. At this point, you have a passive
stylus that already does a pretty good job. But they didn’t stop there and put special
sensors inside those tips. With those, the stylus becomes an active stylus, which opens
the door for a whole bunch of really awesome features that I’ll show you in a moment, but,
it also means that you need some power to make it work.
That’s why Pencil has a rechargeable battery, so let me show you how it works. First, you
just pull on the tip, to reveal the inside of the stylus. To be honest, this procedure
doesn’t feel very comfortable at all, especially the first time, because you really don’t know
what to expect, and personally I was a bit afraid I’ll damage the tip while pulling it.
The good news is, you shouldn’t have to do this more than once a month, because the
pen is very energy efficient. Then, you can just plug this into any powered USB port,
on a Mac or PC, or on an iPad charger, for example. A full charge should take
approximately 90 minutes. While I’m talking about manipulating the tip,
let me show you how to change it using the spare one included in the box. Once you’ve
done this first step I don’t really like, then it’s incredibly easy to change the
tip. The only thing you have to do is to rotate it 90 degrees, it will unlock and you can
just pull to remove it. Then, you just have to do the same procedure backwards with the
spare part. Put the new tip in position and rotate 90 degrees to lock it, and you’re
done. The last thing to do is just to slide everything back inside the body of the stylus.
Just make sure that both 53 logos are facing up, and the two parts should fit nicely. Know
that you can also replace the eraser tip, even though it should logically last longer. As I said, Pencil would make a pretty good
passive stylus on its own, with no battery and no connection. Similarly, the drawing
app from FiftyThree called Paper is also a great product on its own. But, the real magic happens when
you use both at the same time, and that’s what I’m going to show you now. As always, I would recommend switching off
Multitasking gestures in the Settings of the iPad. And of course, you need to switch on
the Bluetooth. Pencil uses Bluetooth Low Energy so you need a third generation iPad or more;
in this video, I’m using an iPad Air. Now, let me open Paper. I will go to a blank
canvas and show you that, even when Pencil is not connected, it can still act as a regular
stylus. And of course, my finger works too. Now, let’s see what changes if we connect
Pencil. In fact, pairing Pencil with Paper couldn’t be easier, and Paper was the first
app to use this method that FiftyThree poetically calls Kiss to Pair. Here’s how it works: there’s no switch on
Pencil, no button, nothing. The only thing you need to do is to press this button on
the screen with the tip and you’re done. It just takes two or three seconds, and you
can see the ring is now white, which means I’m connected and it worked. The app can now tell if it’s Pencil touching
the screen… or if it’s my finger. Even better, the app can now make the difference
between the two tips, and automatically switch tools if you use the tip on the back of the
Pencil. So now, I can switch very quickly and very naturally between those three tools
that are the main tip, the eraser tip, and my fingers. The main tip can be used with
any of these very powerful virtual pens, to create nice painting effects, for example.
My finger can be used to blend colors. And you don’t have to press a button on the
screen to switch to the eraser: just use the eraser tip! It’s that simple. I would really like to show you the blending
again, because it’s actually more powerful than what you would imagine. It’s almost
like you have several tools in one, because what your finger does actually varies a lot
depending on the speed. If I go slowly, it’s almost like the virtual ink sticks to my finger
which can then spread it on the page. If I start to go a little faster, I can see some
blurring effect also taking place. And finally, if I swipe very fast with my finger, I get
this nice blur, instead of scrambling completely my drawing. Another thing I like about Paper is how it
uses multitouch very efficiently. Here for example, I can just grab a drawing with one
hand, while browsing with the other hand. Very effective, and very natural. There is
also the ability to fill the canvas with a color, to zoom in the canvas, and much more,
but this video is not a review about Paper, so I’m just going to finish by showing you
the Pencil control panel in the settings. There, you can also connect the stylus, and
have information about the state of the battery. You also get to choose what action you want
your fingers to do. But now, let’s move on to the big news of
the week, and that’s the fact that other apps can now pair with Pencil. Let’s start
with a very famous drawing app called Procreate. I can create a blank page, and if I go in
this menu on the top left, under Devices, you can see that the app is connected to my
Jot Touch. But, if I go in the list of the available styluses, I can find Pencil by FiftyThree.
Then, you’re presented with this now familiar button that Pencil has to kiss to connect
to Procreate. And that’s all I have to do, Pencil now works hand in hand with the app.
All three tools I mention earlier, that is to say the main tip… my finger… and
the eraser, can be independently configured using these menus. So again, here’s the
setting I currently have for the tip, the one for my finger, which is the equivalent
of the blending mode in Paper, and the one for the eraser. Let me show you quickly how
it looks like. No surprises there, everything works perfectly, as you would expect, for
all three of these tools. Or course, the big difference with Paper is that Procreate has
a ton, and I mean, literally a ton of settings available for each tool. So it’s a great
opportunity to take Pencil even further. The only problem I spotted is the fact that
you don’t have palm rejection in Procreate. If I rest my hand on the screen while I draw,
the canvas gets very confused, and you can see those blue dots where my hand was. I think
this is mainly due to the way you zoom in Procreate. It’s a real zoom, so to speak,
and the whole canvas gets magnified and can even rotate. The way you zoom in Paper is
very different, it’s more like having a magnify glass. Because of this, you can rest
you hand on the screen without worrying about accidentally zooming in the page or creating
those dots. Ok, that’s it for Procreate, let’s move
on to the last app of this video called Noteshelf. It’s very interesting that Noteshelf also
chose to be compatible with Pencil, because unlike the two previous apps, this is mostly
a note-taking app. So I don’t think I have to explain what’s going on here, I just
opened the app and a blank page, and then I can Kiss to Pair, and I’m all set to start
using Pencil. Unlike those two previous apps, though, I
only get to use the main tip and the eraser tip, while any input from a finger is ignored.
I thought this was good news, because it would mean palm rejection, but in reality, it’s
still not perfect and I still get those dots. It’s actually not really a problem because
Noteshelf already has a palm rejection technology which works pretty well. I can just activate
it by touching this button in the tool bar, and then, my page gets virtually cut in half,
and everything under the small delimiter you see on the right is ignored. For example,
if I try to write here, nothing happens. But, if I put the delimiter lower, I can then write
above it while putting my hand under it. Every input from my hand is ignored. As I progress
down the page, the delimiter gets lower and lower so I don’t have to move it myself. Of course, if you know me, you know that I
like to use this zoom window in GoodNotes for example, and Noteshelf also has something
similar. If you want to know more about Noteshelf, I would encourage you to subscribe to my channel
to be there the day I can do a review of this app specifically. And for now, I’m gonna
stop here about Noteshelf. So, as you can see, all this is very promising,
and now we have to wait for other apps to use the Pencil SDK. FiftyThree also announced
new features coming this fall with iOS 8, including the possibility to have different
effects depending on the angle of Pencil, so go check it out on their website, I put
the link is in the video description. Also, don’t forget to check out Paper on
the App Store, it’s free with in-app purchases to get some of the drawing tools, and those
same drawing tools can be unlocked for free if you connect a Pencil to Paper. If you want
to buy the stylus, it’s now available on and to celebrate this new worldwide
availability, FiftyThree is offering a special discount until August 4, 2014, so don’t
miss it if you’re interested. Next week, I will do a review of the new Adobe
apps working with the Jot Touch and I’ll put the link here on the bottom right when
it’s out. You can also click on the link on the top right to watch my video from last
week about the new Adonit Jot Touch with Pixelpoint. If you want more contents like this, don’t
forget to subscribe to my channel and to share this video, and as always, thank you for watching!
See you next week. Bye bye.

100 thoughts on “Pencil by FiftyThree in Paper, Procreate and Noteshelf”

  1. after connecting my pencil 53 to my iPad, theres a section on my canvas where if i stroke downwrds it becomes an eraser brush although i'm on pencil / brush mode ? why is it doing that ?

  2. i am looking for a calligraphy , can you advice e or give e the link, where its been used for calligraphy or some other stylus ..
    in btw great video

  3. I am a designer.  I'd like to use a stylus to draw/paint over a photograph of a client to show her the shape, color and line of the gown I imagine for her.  Which app would you recommend?  I am looking at purchasing a new Tablet (iPad or Samsung) to use this app so please recommend the combination of Stylus and app for either iPad or Samsung.  Thank you

  4. You mentioned you have a Jot Pro do you have a video comparing Pencil to the Jot Pro? If not, then if you could only buy one of these two styluses, which one would would you recommend?

  5. Thank you for the video. Very surprising to see the performances of this 'simple' pen.
    Why don't you do more videos? your channel is great as well as your presentation.
    Good work

  6. This product is compatible with SketchBook app – I know for sure. But is it compatible with the SketchBook Android version ?
    Please do reply.
    Thank You.

  7. Your review alone has secured my decision to pick up FiftyThree's Pencil over Apple's for use with my iPad Pro, especially since Apple's is on a 4-5 week backorder anyway.

  8. I have the FiftyThree Pencil and my major issue with it is the rubber's low material quality. I've seen and read other reviews and that was also their problem with it.

  9. I have notice that you did not use that IOS Notes App from Apple. Does the "Pencil by FiftyThree" work with that App?

  10. Aurelien, your review is perfect… thanks for covering pretty much everything…
    my mind's made up.. im getting this one for my ipad air 2.. thanks a lot 🙂

  11. Palm rejection on procreate has to be switched on you'll find it in the iPad setting …
    Forgive me if this has been mentioned before

  12. Dear Aurelien Excellent explanation I am over 77 years old and if I understood it it was so easy. Loved it thank your

  13. Some doubts:
    1) this stylus complete reject my palm? so can I rest my hand while using the pencil?
    2) does it work if I have screen protection in my iPad?

  14. Literally the best product review I have ever seen. I had no intentions of buying the product itself, heck i didn't even knew that it existed but you managed to keep me watching till the end, Good job !

  15. My only concern is about the latency that I noticed… for example when you write "hello", it is quite evident!! Can you tell me why?

  16. Hi,

    Can I use this pencil on Ipad 3 with astropad to do desing on macbook Pro? Does it work efficiently?

  17. Will this work as a replacement for my finger? I don't have any intention of drawing with a stylus, but I just want more precision for Shoot 'em ups, so will it work with YouTube, games…etc?

  18. Aurelien! Not very surprisingly, this is the most articulate explanation of an app or piece of equipment I have ever read. Bravo! I look forward to more in the future.

  19. I love to see these kind of reviews. You are the best! You really did help me a lot. I am disappointed that you have stopped uploading. You are great!

  20. This is a great review. I winder if it works for first gen. iPad Air? I have been unhappy with all of the syluses I've bought to date, finding them the equivalent of a 08 Micron pen when I'm looking for a 005: in other words, too thick, not enough control to get detailed creations, I feel as if my drawings display the level of fine motor control i would think I would only get from holding the stylus in a fisted hand like a toddler. Is this any different or is there something fundamental I'm missing? Should I instead invest in something like the Wacom Bamboo Slate to get more control from the pen? I can barely do Zentangles with what I have now. It's one of three things: The device, the app(s), or the syluses and I'm guessing it's #1 or #3

  21. Something I notice with round-tip passive styli is that it takes unreasonable pressure for them to be detected. I have an iPad Air 2, and unfortunately the Apple Pencil doesn't work with it. I'm trying to find a stylus that actually feels like I'm using a ball-point pen in its precision, can detect pressure, and has palm-rejection.

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