Creating a Project Template

A Concepts Tutorial for iOS

Instead of changing tools every time you change direction, save yourself some valuable sketching time by creating a template for your project. Free template downloads included.


A flexible sketching tool is helpful for all kinds of projects - jotting down notes, sketching a quick idea or plan, or taking a moment to do a character study on the train. The versatility is great, but when you’re entering a client meeting or responding to a project in motion, you want to jump in without worrying about your layout or tools. Save yourself some valuable time by creating a template for your project.
 

Creating a New Template

Creating a template is as simple as sitting down to sketch. As you begin a new project, follow these steps to create a template you can use for your specific project type.

1. Create a new drawing.

2. Set up your favorite tools, colors, canvas settings and preferences.

3. Exit to the Gallery and label the drawing “Template”.

4. Duplicate the template when you’re ready to start a new drawing.

Left to right, top to bottom: 1) Create a new drawing. 2) Set up your tools and layout. 3) Exit to the Gallery and rename your drawing "Template". 4) Duplicate the template for each new drawing.

A few notes on how Concepts approaches drawings:

Once you set up your tools and preferences inside a drawing, Concepts remembers them as part of the drawing’s saved data. Every time you re-enter the drawing, the tools, presets and settings will still be there for you to continue working with.

Concepts also remembers your last-used tools and applies them to the next new drawing you create. So whichever drawing you opened last, it will take those settings and apply them to the new drawing.

In fact, this is one way to shortcut back to your favorite tools - just open a drawing with the desired settings, exit again, and create a new drawing. The settings will transfer.

To save the most time, though, take a moment and set up a template for each project you make. It will always be available at the top of your project, where and when you need it.


Making a Template from a Previous Drawing

Do you already have a set of tools or layout you like in another drawing? Great, you’ve saved some setup time. You can create a template from the drawing like this:

1. Duplicate your preferred drawing.

2. Enter the duplicate drawing, and double-tap on any eraser tool. An overlay will appear with Quick Clear options. Clear your canvas.

3. Exit to the Gallery and rename your blank drawing “Template”.

4. Duplicate the template when you’re ready to start a new drawing.

Left to right, top to bottom: 1) Create a new drawing. 2) Set up your tools and layout. 3) Exit to Gallery and rename your drawing as “Template”. 4) Duplicate the template for each new drawing.

If you want to move the template into another project, tap+hold+drag it to either edge of the screen and switch projects. If you have too many projects to navigate easily, tap+hold+drag the drawing, open up your Project Breadcrumbs, and drop the drawing into the new project.

Left to right: 1) Tap+hold+drag your drawing. 2) Drag it to the edge of the screen to switch projects, or 3) Tap+hold+drag the drawing, open the Project Breadcrumbs, and drop it into the new project.


Questions to Ask When Setting Up a Template

Concepts is all about creative flexibility, so the app makes it easy to customize your menus, tools, colors and canvas. Everything can be moved, changed, adjusted, set or preset at any time. (We have a tutorial on this here.)

The number one thing you need to consider is how you want your final drawing to appear. When you open a new drawing, ask yourself these questions:

  • Is my project a sketch? What is my favorite drawing tool, a pencil or a pen? Which brush widths and opacities do I like to use most when drawing?

  • Is my project a sketchnote? Which pens do I prefer to ink with? What is my favorite way to highlight main ideas, with a bold brush tip or a marker?

  • Is my project a storyboard? How many frames do I need for the scene? Which pens do I prefer for sketching figures vs. writing notes? Do I want to print my storyboard?

  • Is my project a design plan? What scale do I need to display my plan correctly on the canvas? Will I need to use precision guides or measurement? Do I want a set of pens for straight lines, and others for notes?

  • Is my project an illustration? What are my print size requirements? Which paper background do I prefer? Am I looking for smooth or textured brushes to sketch, ink and fill?

Some people might have an idea of what their final will be like and can set up their preferences at the start. For others, it takes a practice sketch to know which tools will serve them best. Whichever way you approach it, that’s okay. You can create a template out of any drawing at any time.

And if you don’t get it right the first time? Not a problem. Adjust as you go, duplicate and clear the drawing once you’re ready, and use the new template.


Example Templates

Here are some example templates you can download to help you get started with your projects. They’ll give you an idea of how to set up a drawing, and you’re welcome to adjust them to your project’s needs.

Sketching Template

This sketching template gives you a couple pencils for outlining and shading, a couple inking pens, a fill for quick, organic shapes, the slice tool for editing lines, the soft eraser for smudging stroke edges, and the nudge tool for poking lines into place.

Download the Sketching Template - Righty
Download the Sketching Template - Lefty

Sketching Template Specs
 

Tools

  • Soft Pencil - Pressure-sensitive, tilt it for shading, feels like a real pencil.
  • Hard Pencil - A harder technical pencil, it has a great edge and finer texture.
  • Dynamic Pen - This pen is pressure-sensitive with tapered ends. It inks beautifully.
  • Fountain Pen - This pen is velocity-sensitive with tapered ends. It widens with speed.
  • Filled Stroke - This tool fills the positive space between your start and end points. Use it to create quick organic shapes instead of lines.
  • Slice - A destructive eraser, it edits your lines and slices them into independent segments. Make it bigger to erase your linework.
  • Soft Eraser - A soft-edged masking tool for blending and smudging your pencil edges.
  • Nudge - Useful for poking your lines into place. Make it bigger for gentler curves, smaller for tighter curves. Touch outside the line and shove it over, touch the line itself and drag it where you want it to go.

Settings

  • Artboard is 8.5 x 11 inch paper size. You can export and print your sketch on a standard printer.
  • Two-finger tap-to-undo is default.
  • Layers are manually sorted like standard sketching apps.
     

Download the Sketching Template - Righty. This template works with the free version of Concepts.

Download the Sketching Template - Lefty. This template works with the free version of Concepts.


Note Taking Template

This note taking template is set up with a few basic pens in different widths, fills and marker for highlights, a slice tool for erasing, and automatic layering that sorts by tool type for you. The background is heavyweight paper with a grayer color for less strain on the eyes in dark vs light settings. You can change it to dark print in Settings if you prefer a dark mode.

Download the Note Taking Template

Note Taking Template Specs
 

Tools

  • Fountain Pen - This pen is velocity-sensitive with tapered ends. Set to a thicker width for bold titles.
  • Marker - Feels like an actual marker. As layering is automatic, it will draw beneath your pen for you for clear highlighting.
  • Pen - Set to a thinner width, the ink is realistic and flows fast.
  • Fill 1 - Choose your favorite color. This tool fills the positive space between your start and end points. Use it to create quick organic shapes instead of lines.
  • Fill 2 - Same tool as above, but choose a contrasting color. This lets you switch quickly between tools instead of changing settings each time.
  • Slice - A destructive eraser, it edits your lines and slices them into independent segments. Presets are a variety of sizes, choose one that is big enough to easily erase your text.
  • Airbrush - A fine-grained, realistic airbrush for soft background fills.
  • Dynamic Pen - Set to a contrasting color as an alternate way to highlight text.

Settings

  • Grid is active for alignment reference.
  • Canvas is set to Infinite. Write as far as you need to go. Choose an artboard when you're finished to define the boundaries and export (Settings -> Artboard).
  • Heavyweight background for less strain on the eyes.
  • Layers sort automatically by tool with the Pen on top.
  • Selection is set to Lasso when you tap+hold the screen for easy selection of notes - just tap+hold+drag your finger around your notes to move, resize, re-color or delete your text.
     

Download the Note Taking Template. This template works with the free version of Concepts.


Storyboarding Template

The tools and layout in this template scale to large sizes and remain crystal clear, or you can zoom in for details. Export the entire canvas to view the bigger picture of your story, or use an artboard to isolate, export and print single frames (Settings -> Artboard Size).

Download the Storyboard Template

Storyboard Template Specs
 

Tools

  • Fixed Width - Create even line boundaries with this pen and the Shape Guides.
  • Fountain Pen - A velocity-sensitive pen with tapered ends, great for inking.
  • Pen - Choose a thinner width for jotting notes.
  • Slice - A destructive vector eraser - make it larger to erase notes and sketching.
  • Fill - Fill your shapes with a solid fill of varying opacities and create quick shadows.
  • Memphis Pattern Dot Fill - Color backgrounds and characters with a classic dot fill.
  • Selection Tool - Select and move elements around the canvas.
  • Text Tool - Tap the canvas and use the keyboard to enter text.

Settings

  • Infinite Canvas for boundless notes, sketching and exploration.
  • You can select a panel and duplicate it to create more boards for your story.
  • Canvas rotation is set to off to keep artboards from turning. Turn it on in Settings -> Gestures.
     

Download the Storyboard Template. This template works with the Essentials or subscription versions of Concepts. It requires the Memphis Patterns brush pack, but if you don't have it, you can substitute a second Fill tool.


Design Plan Template

This template features a few fixed width and wire pens with thicker and thinner presets, with 100% smoothing applied for instant straight lines. Files made with this template are exportable to other vector programs for further work. Note that the airbrush is a textured brush and will appear as a simple straight line in other programs - if you’d like, trade it out for another fixed width or wire pen.

Download the Design Plan - Imperial Template
Download the Design Plan - Metric Template

Design Plan - Imperial Template Specs
 

This template is set to Imperial units and scale - the scale is 1/4 in : 1 ft, the artboard and tools use imperial units.

Tools

  • Fixed Width Pen 1 - A black evenly-lined pen set to 100% smoothing. Fixed Width pens transfer well to other vector apps.
  • Fixed Width Pen 2 - A blue evenly-lined pen set to 100% smoothing.
  • Wire - A blue wire tool set to 100% smoothing. Wire also transfers well between vector apps.
  • Fill - A black fill at 10% opacity. Fills the positive space between your start and end points. Use it with the shape guides or objects for perfect shapes.
  • Airbrush - A finely-grained, realistic airbrush. Here it's set to a narrow, 20% opacity black with 100% smoothing for instant line shadows.
  • Fountain Pen - A velocity-sensitive pen in black for jotting down notes and measurements. 
  • Slice - A destructive editor for dividing lines into segments. Here it is set to 0 pts for zero disruption to your line measurements. If you want to erase with it, just up the size.
  • Nudge - Use this tool to move lines over with a nudge. If you touch a line end with the tip of your stylus, you can move the whole end over - smoothed lines will remain smoothed or straight.

Settings

  • 24” x 36” artboard set for ARCH C plan size. Change this under Settings -> Artboard.
  • Scale is set to 1/4 in = 1 ft; default units are displayed in feet / inches.
  • Grid is 10/100. Turn it off in the Precision menu. Change the type in Settings -> Grid.
  • Measure is on. Combine this with the Line Guide for quick custom measurement input. (Find a tutorial here.)
  • Objects are open to basic shapes for drag&drop onto the canvas. Objects’ line style in the library will match whichever tool is currently active.
  • Layers are set to manual so you can draw with the same pen type in multiple layers.
  • Two-finger canvas rotation is turned off in Settings so the plan stays level.
     

Download the Design Plan - Imperial Template. This template works with the Essentials or a subscription.

Design Plan - Metric Template Specs
 

This template is identical to the one above except it's built with metric standards - the scale is 1:50, the artboard and tools use metric units.

Tools

  • Fixed Width Pen 1 - A black evenly-lined pen set to 100% smoothing. Fixed Width pens transfer well to other vector apps.
  • Fixed Width Pen 2 - A blue evenly-lined pen set to 100% smoothing.
  • Wire - A blue wire tool set to 100% smoothing. Wire also transfers well between vector apps.
  • Fill - A black fill at 10% opacity. Fills the positive space between your start and end points. Use it with the shape guides or objects for perfect shapes.
  • Airbrush - A finely-grained, realistic airbrush. Here it's set to a narrow, 20% opacity black with 100% smoothing for instant line shadows.
  • Fountain Pen - A velocity-sensitive pen in black for jotting down notes and measurements. 
  • Slice - A destructive editor for dividing lines into segments. Here it is set to 0 pts for zero disruption to your line measurements. If you want to erase with it, just up the size.
  • Nudge - Use this tool to move lines over with a nudge. If you touch a line end with the tip of your stylus, you can move the whole end over - smoothed lines will remain smoothed or straight.

Settings

  • 457 x 610 mm artboard set for ARCH C plan size. Change this under Settings -> Artboard.
  • Scale is set to 1:50; default units are displayed in metric.
  • Grid is 10/100. Turn it off in the Precision menu. Change the type in Settings -> Grid.
  • Measure is on. Combine this with the Line Guide for quick, custom measurement input. (Find a tutorial here.)
  • Objects are open to basic shapes for drag&drop onto the canvas. Objects’ line style in the library will match whichever tool is currently active.
  • Two-finger canvas rotation is turned off in Settings so your plan stays level.
  • Layers are set to manual so you can draw with the same pen type in multiple layers.
     

Download the Design Plan - Metric Template. This template works with the Essentials or a subscription.


Mixed Media Template

This template gives you a mixed media style illustration setup. It includes a pen for initial ideating plus inking, textured chalk, charcoal and hard pencil for coloring in, and watercolor and a flat airbrush for some smoother contrast. If you layer on the pencil in both light and dark tones, the texture sets itself off and really gives the background some life. The painting below was created using this setup.

Download the Mixed Media Template

Mixed Media Template Specs
 

Tools

  • Dynamic Pen - A pressure-sensitive pen that inks beautifully. Tap the color dot to choose a different color for any tool.
  • Chalk - A realistic chalk with a lovely background grain.
  • 2H Solid Graphite - Acts like (and made from) real graphite.
  • Hard Pencil - A highly grained pencil that's great for texture.
  • Charcoal - Looks and feels like charcoal.
  • Watercolor - This watercolor has lovely transparency and texture. Colors blend wet on the same layer, paint dry on separate layers.
  • Flat Airbrush - Use this finely grained airbrush for smooth highlighting.
  • Soft Eraser - This eraser masks, it does not edit or delete your strokes. But it works better for illustrations - use it at a low opacity for blending edges and colors. (You can trade it for the Slice tool if you want to erase pieces of your lines away, just note that it will cut segments, not erase edges.)

Settings

  • 11” x 14” artboard for printable, framable art size. Change the size under Settings -> Artboard. The nice thing about drawing with a vector app is you can select and scale your entire drawing upward to a larger size if your initial resolution was too small. Learn how to do that here.
  • Paper background is lightweight for a light, soft texture. Switch to Heavyweight for a heavier texture in Settings -> Paper Type.
  • Layers will sort manually like standard art programs, so you can draw with the same tool in multiple layers.
     

Download the Mixed Media Template. This template requires a subscription unless you want to buy each brush pack separately. With a subscription you have open access to all tools and brushes in app.

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We hope these templates help you to start creating quickly. Is there a template you’d like help setting up? Chat with us at concepts@tophatch.com, or go to Help in app and tap Ask Us Anything. We’ll be happy to help. Good luck with your projects!
 


By Erica Christensen



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