Designing The Awesome Box Part 1b

When it comes to getting ideas down and solving problems you can't beat pen and paper. But when we set about designing the Awesome Box for Central Working we knew we were creating something different, something truly ground breaking and we wanted to make a point of challenging our own work flow break a bit of new creative ground ourselves. Below are some screenshots of some of those drawings, a concept we ended up not using, as well as our thoughts on the new medium.

You can also view the final peice of work.

cwab hero

Old Methods, New Tools

The first thing we do is draw. So far, we've found nothing that beats pen and paper for quickly conceptualising and moulding ideas. Whatever the ultimate execution of work, we always start with pen and paper. We've tested wireframing tools for websites but the process can be slow in letting a creative make fast desicions and collect all thoughts. An idea that doesn't feel right in the moment might not neccesarily be the wrong idea in the bigger scheme of things - it just needs working.

Pen, paper and good old fashioned drawing affords us the fastest path to make solid and considered iterative creative choices. For the Awesome Box we wanted to try something different. We understood that presenting the concepts would require a slightly different approach - before reaching the point of presenting high fidelty mock ups, we needed an impression of where we wanted to go. Rather than create clinical, computer generated mockups at stage 1, we used an iPad mini loaded with the Paper app, along with a Jot Pro pen.


Things started slowly. We were actually transferring sketches from our notepads (squared notebooks by Moleskin) to coloured and more defined(ish) sketches within the Paper app. The learning curve was steep to say the least. At first we felt there wasn't enough flexibility, that the interaction between screen and digital pen didnt feel natural enough. But the more we uncovered the real power of the Paper app, the faster we got at making the right strokes first time. In fact, the speed of being able to draw, delete and redraw came to feel more convienent. The ability to copy and paste pages wholesale to new blank pages was also a bonus. We started with a basic outline, and would then copy and create new pages from it - going back and adding colour and life to those structures - which helped to keep things feeling consistent, but without the rigidity of strict templates.


The paper app handles drawing in an incredibly life like manor. Using the pencil tool had all of the nuances of drawing a line over slightly pulpy stock paper in the real world with all of its imperfections adding some character and softness to what we were drawing. The watercolor brush actually behaves truly like a wet brush, allowing us to quickly block out shapes and colour without having to worry about massive amounts of definition. It felt real. Move the brush faster across the screen and the ink starts to fade with your stroke. Move more slowly and deliberately and the ink settles and bleeds. FiftyThree, the company behind the Paper app, have done an incredible job of marrying the utility of the medium with the very human interaction of the various tools.


The various pen, brush and colour options are invoked via a swipe from the bottom of the page (most are available as in app purchases, they're worth every penny). From left to right:

  • Eraser (although the app has a 2 finger rewind gesture - if only that existed in the real world)
  • Fountain pen
  • Pencil
  • Marker
  • Pen
  • Watercolour brush

The colour pick is another humancentric solution to a digital problem, when selecting a color you can mix it with the previous colour to find exactly the shade and tone you want.


Closing in on the details is well handled within the Paper app. Using a natural outwards pinching motion a magnified loupe appears, letting you zoom into details at different levels, as well giving us the ability to grab and move the loupe around the page. You simply continue drawing within the loupe - which lets you to add quite fine detail with the pen, meaning far less mistakes when trying to precisely place a line or mark.


One of the concepts we ended up not using. It's the most obvious take on a gamified version of the Awesome Box, but together with Central Working we felt it might not age so well over a longer period of time and might add a dimension of novelty (that we didn't want) to the core message of what we wanted to get across with the box contents. The communication of the box had to be beautiful, funtional and (serious) fun - but this concept might have felt overly transient.


Overall, the use of an iPad and Pen was great - and we've used them for a couple of different projects since creating the Awesome Box. Have we ditched pen and paper altogether? Nope, and we don't intend on doing so anytime soon. It's still by far the fastest way of communicating and jotting down an idea or concept. But, working with both methods hand in hand has shown that making the leap from a pen drawn concept to a high fidelity mock up does benefit from a middle phase where something can be fleshed out in a more illustrative style, bringing a concept to life. Without the knock on effect of adding a great deal of additional time to the creative process.

close menu