How to sketch with a Nintendo DS

As promised, here’s a quick guide to sketching on the Nintendo DS:

Useful sites:

I like sketching on the DS because it’s something I can always take with me. I’ve thought about getting a digitizing tablet, but I’ve always held off because, well, I don’t think of myself as an artist. Not a proper artist–not like Diane, one of my best friends. She has sketchpads full of good stuff, and would definitely make the most of a tablet. Me, I doubt my artistic skill and hand-eye coordination. But I’ve been working on developing my visual vocabulary by taking pictures, looking at photos and great presentations, and trying to explain abstract things with analogies, and I’m discovering that maybe I do have a little bit of an artistic side. Sketching is actually a lot of fun. Maybe my drawings aren’t as cool as the sketches that people have posted in the Colors Gallery, but they’re my drawings, and they make me happy. =)

I’m starting to save up for a tablet PC. =) I think that would be fun to play with, and I’ve learned that it’s good to follow my intuition. I would love to mindmap and storyboard my presentations with a tablet PC, and if I can use that to sketch bigger things, even better! So I’ve made room in my spending plan, and at my current rate of saving, I’ll have the sum saved just in time for my 25th birthday. =) I want the Lenovo X61 multi-touch model, but maybe an even better one will come along by the time I’ve saved up for it. (And maybe there’ll be more software for it, too!)

In the meantime, I want to learn more about communicating with the tools I have. I’ve got so many things I want to share: things I’ve learned, things I’m learning from other people and from books and from the world around me. You can come along and learn with me as we figure things out. That’s what this blog is for. =) So I’ve checked out a whole bunch of books on visual storytelling, and I’m going to be drafting and drawing some other ideas over the next few weeks. (My Wicked Cool Emacs book may turn into a cartoon guide to Emacs… Yeah, right. ;) )

What would be some great ways to improve on this without springing for new gadgets? I’d really love to figure out how to work with the videos I can get from ColorsDraw and turn them into a slideshow where the pace is controlled by the viewer. I’d love to be able to move things around, cut things apart, and crop and greenscreen… I’d love to do proper animations of stick figures and drawings, too. (Wouldn’t it be awesome if someone came up with a DS homebrew app for that?) And there’s plenty to learn even with static images. =)

So that’s where I am with this Nintendo DS sketching thing. I’m learning a lot, and it’s fun. <grin>

  • Sacha, you’re genius! Both my sons have NIntendo DS, and I never realized we could use them for this. I’m ording the Homebrew chip today.

    I bet you’d enjoy Dan Pink’s book, A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future. He encourages developing our artistic side, claims it will be an essential skill necessary to succeed in the 21st Century workplace. I think, with your sketchcasts, you’re proving him right. My AP English Language students are reading the book for a summer assignment and discussing it on our class blog. We’d love to have you read the book with us, and join the discussion (they won’t be getting cranked up until July). You could add so much with your working experiences.

    Keep experimenting and sharing: You’re teaching me so much!

  • Sacha – word of caution on the tablet PC… I’ve had two now, and my main impression is that it’s an underpowered, expensive laptop with a swivel screen that I don’t really use :) Like your Nintendo suggestions… but it would seem like I’m carrying around yet another piece of technology :) I’m waiting for the day when they make the Asus eeePC with a touch screen ;) Hope you’re well otherwise.

  • Sacha, after seeing your other sketch blogs, I’m totally brushing off the dust on my DS to give this a go with my own blog. Thanks!

    As a kid, I had a toy that was basically a digital Etch-a-Sketch with which you could string together an animation. I remember wanting this thing *badly* one Christmas. It was a real pain in the ass, though! :-)

  • Carsten – nice to hear from you! =)

    Good thing I’m not running out and buying one right away, then! =) I’ve found a mindmapper and some interesting drawing programs, but I want to do so much more – storyboarding my presentations, dictating and sketching notes… =) We’ll see what the landscape looks like in August, although I don’t expect things to change very much!

    Keeping down the number of gadgets I’m carrying is definitely going to be a concern. I’m not going to get myself a new computer unless I can do some work on it as well, as there’s little point to carrying around two computers, and carrying two 2kg laptops is not my idea of travelling light. =) Hmm.

    The DS works out quite well for me. It’s a sketchbook, e-book reader (can read text files), MP3 player (great for all those conference sessions I missed), and even an emergency USB drive. It’s even helped me save the day. ;)

    Chris – Enjoy! =D

  • if you’re planning to have ur own tablet PC.. go for HP TX2000! it’s the latest Wacom Penabled table PC from HP :D

  • Sacha, there are two animation homebrew apps for the DS:

    Flickbook ( – I wrote this.

    Animanatee (

  • Ben, you _rock._ You totally do. Thanks! I’m definitely going to spend a lot of time with those two apps.

    And _thank_ you for making and open-sourcing ColorsDraw. Way cool!

  • sacha, how about i give you $200 cash the next time i see you (u coming to YVR soon?) and you give me a Nintendo DS pre-configured for doodling?
    seriously i want one of these but no time to set it up

    …Roland “wants to do more drawing but no time” Tanglao