How and why to use the new sketcher in Bear 2

How and why to use the new sketcher in Bear 2

Calling all brainstormers, note takers, and art makers—for those times when an idea is more fit for a pen than a keyboard, Bear 2 has a great new sketching feature on iPad and iPhone! There’s an expandable canvas, more creative tools, and some other tricks up its sleeve. Today we’ll explore how to get going with sketching in Bear, as well as some ideas for why and what everyone would want to sketch, whether you’re in a meeting, planning a project, or on a creative roll.

The basics

To add a sketch anywhere in a note, simply tap the BIU button, then tap the scribbly icon (yes that’s a technical term we promise). A canvas will appear and you can get right to sketching your next idea, project, or still life. Or you can sketch an un-still life, we’re not the boss of you.

Now for some quick tips:

  • Apple’s PencilKit drawing tools will appear at the bottom of Bear
    • On iPad, tap the more (⋮) menu in the drawing tools for a couple options including whether you can draw with your finger and quick access to more Pencil options in Settings
  • Tap the more (⋮) menu at the top of a sketch for a variety of options
    • Choose from different canvas backgrounds like ruled, dots, and grid
    • Share the sketch (instead of the entire note) to other apps
    • Copy a sketch
    • Clear the canvas
    • Delete the sketch
  • Tap and drag the handle at the bottom of a sketch to extend the canvas vertically
  • Bear supports both Apple Pencil and any other styli compatible with the iPad
  • You can undo/redo changes in a sketch as long as you do not leave a note
    • Yes, this means you can sketch for a bit, switch to typing in the same note, go back into the sketch and undo previous changes
    • Current changes to a sketch are saved once you leave Edit Mode or switch to another note
    • On iPad, undo/redo controls are in the Pencil toolset at the bottom of the screen. On iPhone, these buttons are in the sketch
  • With Bear Pro, all your sketches and notes sync between all your devices with the same Apple ID

Everyone has something to sketch in Bear

Sketching isn’t just for artists and drawings of life in varying degrees of stillness. Drawing and handwriting are great tools to explore ideas and brainstorm projects. Plus, putting pen to digital paper has been found to improve people’s mood and even critical thinking skills:

Experiencing art—from the act of painting and sculpting to a visit to an art museum—offers a variety of benefits to well-being including decreased stress and stronger critical thinking skills. Drawing and sketching in particular have been connected with improved creativity, memory, and stress relief, and are also used in art therapy.

To reap these benefits, you don’t have to draw with da Vinci’s level of accuracy. Instead, sketching can be used by anyone as a means to decompress and fine tune a range of critical thinking skills.

School and meeting notes

While some may not consider handwriting to count as a sketch, we still think it can be a good fit in Bear. Some studies have found that taking notes by handwriting instead of typing can improve memory retention. The key being that most people write slower than they type, so the act requires more deliberate thought of what to record, which can lead to be better chance of retention.

Fortunately in Bear, you can mix typing, lists, links, attachments, and sketches in the same note. It’s a powerful way to combine multiple mediums that each have their strengths. The next time you need to take notes, try handwriting them in a sketch in Bear.

Mind maps and brainstorming

For the times when it can be useful to visualize ideas and the connections between them, brainstorming and mind maps work great in a Bear sketch. Our friends at MindNode have a great example of building a mind map for starting a coffee shop. It’s a great look into how and why they can be useful.

Of course, MindNode is a dedicated app for mind maps, but you can also simply draw them by hand in a Bear sketch. With an expandable canvas, your mind maps fit great in a note alongside other content for any idea or project that you want to see from a bird’s eye view, of sorts.

Project plans

Another quite common thing to sketch are project plans of all types and sizes. These can range from visualizing how to wire up all the entertainment equipment in your living room, to how to launch that aforementioned coffee shop, to laying out the next major version of your company’s app or product.

Again, the idea is the same: even if you can barely draw a box, the visual format offers a powerful, unique perspective for moving projects forward. Definitely give it a try for your next adventure.


We hope this post gave some ideas to your inner sketcher, as there is always room in Bear notes to visualize ideas in this organic way. Be sure to grab Bear 2 for free in the App Store and Mac App Store, and we’d love to hear what you think on Reddit, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or directly at