7 Tools for Visual Digital Note Taking

At Ink Factory, we offer something called digital visual note-taking. All of our listening and drawing skills that we usually apply to marker and paper are instead manifested in digital programs like Adobe Photoshop. When we draw digitally, images can be projected huge above an audience as the image progresses. Our clients have used our digital visual notes to support keynotes, panel discussions, and capture audience feedback.

An artist creates visual notes on an iPad Pro with an apple pencil and visual note-taking app.

iPad Pro + Apple Pencil

One of the newest ways we’ve been experimenting with digital visual note-taking is our iPad Pro with the Apple Pencil. The Apple Pencil provides excellent pressure sensitivity, so creating detailed drawings is no issue. This is one of the most convenient setups we’ve ever used for visual note-taking! It’s also great for taking personal notes in meetings, like a digital sketchbook.

An Ink Factory artist creates visual notes on an iPad Pro with an apple pencil.

Adobe Draw

Our preferred app when using the Apple Pencil and iPad Pro is Adobe Draw.

It’s a slick and simple drawing tool that secretly has a lot of power. Because your drawings are created as vector images, they are infinitely scalable. That reduces any potential for lagging/slow computers, and means you can print your images at any size.

Surface Pro, Surface Studio, and Wacom Cintiq can all use visual note-taking apps

Surface Pro 4

If you prefer Windows to Apple, the Surface Pro is a laptop and tablet in one and is great for creating polished drawings. You can prop the Surface Pro into many angles so you feel comfortable drawing. The Surface Pro 4 has one mini-DisplayPort, so make sure you have the right equipment to connect to any projection software you’re using. Like the iPad Pro, the Surface Pro 4 is a great option for creating personal visual notes.

Microsoft’s Surface Studio

Our minds were blown when we first saw the Surface Studio in action. It’s truly a new kind of way to create anything you can think of. It’s like a giant tablet you can draw on. This device’s special dial allows you to travel through pen, ink, and color options quickly and seamlessly. The Surface Studio isn’t particularly mobile, however, so it would be a tool best used for remote digital scribing – where we tune into an audio stream of your event, and our drawings are streamed on a projection live.

An Ink Factory artist uses a visual note-taking app and cintique tablet to create live visual notes

Drawing Tablets

Drawing tablets like the Wacom Cintiq provide a more traditional way to create digital artwork, and it’s a process we’re very familiar with. When used with a Mac, a HDMI output is needed to connect to another monitor. This setup requires a bit more space (room for a large drawing tablet and a laptop), but it allows a great amount of flexibility when creating an image, as you can use any program on your laptop. Our preferred program for this setup is Adobe Photoshop – a staple of many creative industries.


It looks like a whiteboard, but Smartboards are huge digital drawing areas where we can create stunning visual notes. These incredible educational tools are installed in many offices and workspaces and we can use them to their full potential! Participants can even sign up to view Smartboard drawings remotely on their devices.

Tilt Brush by Google

Can you imagine visual notes in virtual reality? With Tilt Brush, now that’s possible. The entire room of a conference can turn into a canvas for visual notes and participants can literally walk through your content to experience it.

An artist creates digital visual notes on a Cintiq and visual note-taking app

Digital visual notes provide a quick and easy way to share content with your audience. We save the image as soon as it’s finished and upload to sharing platforms such as Dropbox or Google Drive. Then you can tweet, ‘gram, or email your audience with digital copies of your visual notes, reminding them of the powerful ideas they just experienced!

Interested in learning how to take visual notes, digitally or otherwise? Join our team for a custom workshop!