There are many painting and drawing Apps available for iPads and iPhones, and it is a must to have at least one of these on your device as they can be used in so many ways. The trick is working out which to get. Some are free, some are paid, some have very basic features and some have lots of bells and whistles. In addition to some great apps for children, there are a couple of great Art Apps for the more serious artist.
Features I like to see in a painting and drawing App
- Easy colour selection. It is much easier for children to tap on a coloured square than it is to choose from a spectrum.
- A variety of simple painting tools, such as pencil, spray, or wedge.
- Variable brush size for thick and thin painting.
- Erasing tools for small sections or the whole page.
- Shape tools to draw both filled and unfilled shapes. A circle/oval and square/rectangle tools are usually the minimum, however some Apps offer stars, triangles and other shapes.
- Stickers or stamps are not a must have, but they make the App more versatile.
- Moving tool – to move elements on the picture from one space to another.
- Background options including different colours, scenes, textures, patterns and even the ability to add photos.
- Photos can be added as backgrounds or items.
- Text tools. Even the most basic text tools can turn a painting program into a story publishing program.
- Save and share tools.
- Sound tools including sound effects on stamps, background sound effects and voice recording.
The more of these tools the App has, the more versatile it will be. At the same time, more features can also make an App more complex to use, so it can be a fine line. In a future post I’m going to talk a bit more about why these features are useful and how they can be used in activities across subject areas.
- Links to social networking sites. As most social networking sites are not available for children under 13, it is inappropriate to have these links where children can easily access them. If you really love an App and want to become a fan, it is nice to find a link, but that link could be tucked away discreetly on an information screen rather than on a main screen.
- Advertising – some free apps are sponsored by advertising and offer a “remove ads” option through in-app purchases. In many cases ads disappear if you turn off your Internet access.
- In-App purchases. It is important to make sure your in-app purchases are turned off in your General preferences to prevent your children accidentally purchasing add-ons without your consent. In many cases I’d be happy to pay a set price for a deluxe version that includes all the extras rather than have all the messiness of in-app purchases.
Some Art Apps to Consider
Treasure box of Pictures – This multilingual app by Yong Studio is designed to help children learn to draw. It has lots of fantastic features, including a variety of painting tools and controls that are very easy to use, and different sets of pictures to learn to draw. The thing is, I have a problem with it. One of the categories that children can select is Weapons. Yes. Call me a politically correct, wrap-my-children-in-bubblewrap mother, but I really don’t want my kids learning how to draw guns, missile launchers and tanks. It is simply inappropriate to have these things tucked in with bunnies and smiley faces. And yes, I know kids will pretend to play with guns, missile launchers etc, but I don’t encourage it by supplying the toys, and I’m reasonably sure no school would want this content on their school iPads. I have sent feedback to the makers asking them to remove that bit, and then maybe I can give it a good rating. I’m putting the link on the blog so that you can contact them too. iPad only, $1.99
Doodle Buddy – Choose either the iPad version or the iPhone version. I love this app as it has a lot of features that make it really versatile, Some of the features include a variety of paint tools, stencils, stickers and backgrounds. Drawings can be easily shared by email or can be saved in the device. There are different versions for the iPad and the iPhone/iPod touch. Both Apps are free but powered by ads. For a 99 cent in-app purchase, you can turn these adds off. A bit iffier is the way you can get extra stamps, stencils and backgrounds. You need to sign up to TapJoy and look at lots of game Apps to get points, or “Doodle Bucks” in order to purchase these extras. Personally, I’d rather the option of paying as TapJoy features many Apps that I don’t want anywhere near my children for various reasons. Still, the original backgrounds and stickers should be enough for many children. Some of the original backgrounds are fun, such as the maze, the dotted grid (ready to play lines and boxes) and assorted scenes.
KidPaint bt MiSoft is a great little painting app. The controls are all very easy to use. They have a good variety of drawing and painting tools. Children can tap the control buttons to select different shape tools and painting brushes. There are 29 stamps including emoticons, animals and common symbols, and these can be adjusted in size on a sliding scale. The text tool is available via the stamps, and you can alter the size, style and font used. It isn’t suitable for great amounts of text but is good for very simple sentences and labels. Suitable for iPhone or iPad and Free, or update to Paint for 99 cents, which will remove the ads (which also gives you a little extra drawing space).
Color & Draw for Kids HD by TipiTap – This App has a lot of features including 4 brush sets with three brushes in each set. You can also adjust the transparency and thickness of the brushes. There are also stickers (and an option for more stickers via in-app purchase), and a variety of page options that include plain black and white, photo backgrounds, Alphabet and numbers, and colour-ins. You can also import photos, and more colour-in sets are available via in-app purchase. The HD version is iPad only $1.99, but an iPhone version is available for 99 cents. An Android version is also available for 99 cents.
Toddler draw by Generate Learning – Anyone older than 3 may get put off by the name (I’m NOT a Toddler, I’m a BIG boy!, claims one of my children) but this is a cute little app that is user-friendly for little fingers. Children choose a background from 11 options and then select a line drawing to place on the background, which they then colour in. There is no blank background option, though some backgrounds are less busy than others. There is an option for no line drawing to be placed. The drawing and painting tools are very simple to use and include brushes, an eraser, crayons, sprays, wedged markers and several stamps. iPad only. 99 cents.
For the more sophisticated artist….
While I’ve looked at Apps for younger children, let’s not forget that there are some older children and adults who might need something a little more advanced than the basic tools available in those apps already mentioned. Here are a few Apps that are worth a try. Most of them have galleries on their website to show what truly gifted artists have been able to create with them, and just skimming through the screen shots in the App Store will impress you. If you are worried about doing fine work with a finger, have a look at Stylus Time on the Mad Scientist’s Art Laboratory blog for some information on using a stylus with an iPod or iPad.
Finger Sketch Paint BA.net for iPad – (Also available as Finger Draw Paint BA.net for iPhone) this is a drawing/sketching app that offers a lot of different sketching textures and options for students experimenting with drawing. Personally, I find it relaxing and love to doodle with it while I’m thinking. I’ve linked to the free version, which has enough features to keep any gifted amateur happy, but they also have the Pro Finger Sketch BA.net for iPad for $1.99 and Pro Finger Sketch Paint BA.net for iPhone for 99 cents. These offer many more features for a very reasonable price.
My Brush for iPad by effectsmatrix- – Another App that offers many different backgrounds, and painting and drawing tools. A great feature is the ability to edit your own brushes. It has a lot to offer those who are after some more realistic sketching tools that mimic the real-life media. $1.99 for iPad only.
Art Set – It would be remiss of me not to mention my favourite art set. It has some sophisticated drawing and painting tools but is simple enough that my children enjoy using it too. I created the feature graphic for this post in a couple of minutes while I enjoyed a coffee. Not high art, I agree, but you can see the different textures that I could bring in. And it was FUN. I guess I just love to doodle, and I find it relaxing. There are lots of different painting tools (including several blending and smudging tools) and a large variety of coloured and textured backgrounds. This is another “grown up” painting app so you won’t see stickers, and there are no text tools. I have the iPad version, but there is also Art Set: Pocket Edition for the iPhone. Both Apps are 99 cents.
- Tablet Apps for Art Making Fun (apartmenttherapy.com)
- Stylus Time by The Mad Scientist’s Art Laboratory (http://jaglab.wordpress.com/2011/10/13/stylus-time/)
- Auman Software Updates its Popular Handpaint App for iPhone and iPad (themactrack.com)
- Android Apps for Artists (mycricket.com)