This is a simple intro to Zotebook, an iPad app that recognizes your rough sketches and turns them into precise drawings for laser cutters or 3D printers. In a few minutes you can be designing your first Zotebook project, a Zote Monster.
We originally made this for a teen laser cutting workshop at a local maker space. But it can be used as an intro to Zotebook for almost anyone.
As an educator I want to see kids making and creating, not focusing on the the fine details of using CAD software. With Zotebook, students can get making right away. There are only a few simple gestures to create any shape intuitively by hand.
It is a completely new kind of interface that recognizes your freehand sketches. Want a line? Just draw one! Want to erase it? Scribble it out! Zotebook's sketch recognizers let you sketch with as much precision as you want.
Also, when you are logged in your files are synced to the web service at zotebook.io. From there you can export your designs to fabrication files (PDF for laser cutters or craft cutters, STL for 3D printers). This makes it really easy to get your models to the fab machine.
Step 1: Things You Need:
An iPad with Zotebook downloaded from the app store. Make sure you're looking in the iPad store.
A laser cutter, 3D printer, craft cutter or regular printer if you want to cut out your design.
Step 2: Open Up Zotebook and Create a Login
You can begin sketching before you create a login, but it's convenient to start out by making an account.
Adding an email is optional, and only so you can retrieve your password, Zotebook won't send you anything.
The group code is for organizing groups of users and you won't need it if you are trying this out by yourself.
You can also set the units you want to use, but don't worry you can change those later if you need to.
Tap the Draw button when you are ready to create!
Step 3: Use Your Finger to Start Sketching.
It's really that simple.
Just sketch with your finger on the screen.
There are a couple of things you might notice.
If you make a closed shape, it will be shaded automatically.
As you sketch, your input will start out as thin "wet ink" and then transform into thicker "dry ink". If a segment doesn't meet up with another segment, it will have red endpoints. Zotebook gestures like right angle and same length only work with dry ink, so wait a moment for your lines to dry, or tap anywhere on the screen to make them dry faster.
Step 4: Making Shapes, Joining Lines
A simple circling gestures lets you Join Lines.
One of the most important things to understand using Zotebook is that is it designed for making shapes to made on machines like laser cutters, not sketching pictures. Shapes that aren't shaded in won't print, so your goal should be to close up your shapes.
Step 5: Undo and Erase
Tap with 3 fingers to Undo.
Just scribble to Erase. To erase a big area, make a big circle and then without lifting up, make a scribble. When you see the red X, it will erase things in the pink region.
Since Zotebook is about making and sketching quickly, Erase and Undo are important. It's often easier to erase something rather than fuss around trying to fix a shape.
Step 6: Check Out the Help Section for Cool Features.
Drawing and erasing are all you need to get started, but there are few more gestures you need to get most out of the app.
Tap the help button on the tool bar to see animations of all the features.
A few popular gestures let you make right angles, parallel lines, same angle, and same length.
Right Angle - make an angle tick in the corner of a shape.
Parallel Lines - double ticks near the center of two lines.
Same Angles - make a tick mark in or on the angles.
Same Length - make tick marks on the lines you want the same lengths.
We will use the animations from Help as a guide to make a Zote Monster, a first project.
Step 7: Move and Zoom
To make a Zote Monster start with any shape.
Now grab a point to Move and stretch.
You can also Zoom and Pan with 2 fingers.
Step 8: Shape Widget
You will need to use the Shape Widget to rotate, move or cut and paste.
Just tap the center of the shape to activate the widget.
Use the cross to Move.
The rectangles to Paste.
And the blue dot to Rotate, and Size.
Step 9: Use the Widget to Add Eyes.
Now use the Shape Widget to make eyes on your shape.
Make circles next to your shape. It's easy to make perfect circles, just make your best circle and Zotebook will do the rest.
Use the shape widget to copy, size, and move the eyes into the shape.
Erasing anywhere will "cut out" the eyes.
You can also make the circles directly where you want, so you don't have to use the shape widget. It can be super useful though, especially if you want to make a few copies.
Step 10: Add More Cutout Features.
Any shape you can create can become a cutout.
Just make a new shape, select it, and slide it over to your monster.
Step 11: Use Other Gestures From Help to Add Features to Your Design.
A super fun gesture is the Recurve gesture.
Press near a line until you see it "heat up" with dots, then without lifting your finger up, push the line around to bend your shape around.
Step 12: Continue Adding Features to Your Monster Using Help As a Guide.
Here I made a rectangle using the Parallel and Right Angle gestures.
Then I sketched the spikey hair and used the Join gesture to connect them.
I used the Same Length and Same Angle gestures complete the look.
Step 13: Get Ready to Print
Before printing, check a few things to make sure your design is ready.
Erase any extra or interior lines and make sure your shape is connected all around with no stray lines on the outside.
Step 14: Add a Title
Click on the Untitled label above and type in your file name. You can do this at any point, even before you start drawing.
Step 15: Scale Your Design So It Fits Your Printer or Material.
There are a couple ways to do this.
You can click on a line in the project to activate the dimensions, and then tap the dimension to change it to what you want.
You can also make a line next to your project and then set it to a fixed length that you know will fit on your material, for example 5 inches. Remember to erase that line when you're done.
Step 16: Go to Zotebook.io to Get a Pdf File to Laser Cut or Print.
On the Zotebook website you can sign up to download laser cutting and 3D printing ready files.
This is also where you can sign up to make a group for classroom use.
Step 17: Want More? Check Out More Zotebook Instructables.
There's also a blog at zotebook.io/blog that has lots of other interesting Zotebook-related stuff including student projects, advanced laser cutting guides, and so on. Happy Zotebooking!