Creating App Concepts - My Current Workflow


When it comes to my application design workflow and working from conceptualization to finished output, I am finding myself migrating more and more towards leveraging the iPad Pro.

For application design, I find sketching versus creating traditional wireframes allows me to streamline my thought process as I work. When sketching my mind is free from having to think about stencils and templates and I can just put the pen or pencil to paper, or in this case screen.


Like traditional pencil and paper, the iPad Pro’s replication of this behavior has become so compelling it has to be tried to believe. To be honest, when looking at these images close-up you would be hard pressed to tell the difference between traditional mediums and digital.

To make the experience even better, when you add PaperLike’s screen protector, the combination becomes so close to the real thing. Many peoples complaints when drawing with the iPad has to do with the smoothness of the screen. This is where PaperLike’s protector provides the right level of friction that makes crafting images via the device a real joy.


The app of choice right now when it comes to designing concepts for applications is Concepts App by Tophatch, Inc. Great name right? This application is available for iOS, Microsoft Windows and Android.

ConceptsApp - my app of choice when conceptualizing application designs
ConceptsApp - even though I like to keep a simple color scheme when sketching Concepts uses Copic color options that allow you to get real creative
ConceptsApp - every brush can be edited and adjusted to your preference. To be honest there is so much to learn with this app and I have only scratched the surface

There are a ton of tools neatly tucked away in this app, and the infinite canvas is what really sets it apart from others. Having an infinite canvas, the program provides plenty of space to just explore ideas and not worry about creating multiple pages. The app also uses a vector engine which allows you to manipulate or adjust individual elements as you see fit. This gives you plenty of flexibility and is where working digitally surpasses traditional mediums.

To be honest I still have a long ways to go to uncover everything this app can do. There are tools to help measure and create fixed shapes. I use these tools to create my mobile app outlines. From there we have access to a bunch of color options. Concepts uses the Copic® color palette which if you are used to their traditional markers you will feel right-at-home.

Keeping things simple

When creating software app concepts the key is to keep things as simple as possible. The goal here is to move quickly through ideas and focus on working out hierarchical and spacial issues within the content. I often start with the Soft Pencil tool with the size set to 3. From here I sketch out all of the core shapes and use minimum marks to identify textual headers. If a header is important then I may use written text, but most of the time you can just use lines with varying weights to represent your copy.


Traditional mediums

I still like to sketch traditionally and have used sketchbooks of varying styles and formats. I carry a small pack of drawing instruments with me at all times. However, the iPad allows me to streamline my carrying requirements and travel a little lighter all-in-all. I haven’t made the transition 100% yet and still rely on traditional mediums for other artwork, but I feel like the move to complete digital is becoming closer and closer.


In closing

I encourage everyone to take up sketching. It is a great way to think visually and to allow yourself the ability to think through ideas as you create images. You don’t have to be a designer or work in software design. Sketching as a visual thinking tool can be used in any type of profession.

It’s easy to get started and you don’t have to have an iPad Pro to do it. If you do happen to have an iPad Pro here are my top choices for apps when designing application concepts:

- Concepts App - my number one app right now

- Morpholio Trace - geared toward the architect but still offers great tools for the digital designer

- Infinity Designer - Adobe illustrator competitor. Fully featured vector app but more complex than Concepts

- Adobe Sketch - streamlined pixel-based drawing app, easy to use

- Procreate - great app for other art forms, pixel based