How to use an iPad to cheat at drawing

One of my favorite uses for tablets is drawing.  It’s a similar experience to a pen and paper, but with all the bonuses of the digital world.  You can take a photo of a building and quickly draw labels on different parts or highlight certain areas.  You can add annotations or notes to photos, graphs, and graphics for a presentation.  You can draw something that would’ve ended up a mess of eraser marks if you had attempted it on paper.  You can even trace a photo of your friends and turn them into line-art cartoons (even if people tend to ask you what that squiggly pancake is when you doodle a cat on your notebook).  It only takes the same manual dexterity required to write a sentence legibly, I promise.

To make a line-art cartoon from a photograph on a tablet, first you need a drawing app with layers that lets you import a photo layer.  Translation for those of you who don’t speak photo-editing software, the free app Adobe Ideas works nicely.  This is a Pinterest board of examples things people have made using this app and these kinds of techniques.  If you prefer a different app, though, the directions that follow will work for pretty much anything with layers and photo import capabilities.

Once you’ve opened the app and started a new project, the base layer automatically gives you the option to import a photo if you just tap the camera icon.  (The layers list is on your toolbar on the side).  You can take the picture then and there if you want, grab one from your photo library, or even Google one to use (just keep copyright in mind when using someone else’s photograph).  I took a photo of our very own David Toccafondi in the lab (thanks Dave!).
different app, though, these directions will be basically the same as long as your app has layers and photo import.


Next, notice in the layers menu that there is a draw layer on top of the photograph.  Click on the draw layer and pick which kind of tool you want to use from the toolbar (a pen, a marker, etc.).  Now on the toolbar you can pick which color and opacity to make the pen.  You can also change the opacity on the layers themselves if you want your eye to focus more or less on the photo or draw layer as you work.  Now, just trace the major lines of your photo.  You can add more draw layers from the toolbar if you want.


You can always deselect the photo layer with the checkbox next to it as you work to see what your final product will look like.  I recommend doing this every so often to make sure you’re picking the right lines to trace.  Once you’re happy with your product, turn off the photo layer.  Optionally you can add a layer between the photo layer and your drawing layer(s) and use the bucket to add a solid color as your background.


And there you have it, a cartoonified Dave.  Stop by an iPad Art workshop if you’d like to try this out yourself on one of our WIC iPads!

2 thoughts on “How to use an iPad to cheat at drawing

  1. I have a midi keyboard and a midi to USB converter which plugs into the computer. What software can I use to make music, like Logic express but for windows XP???.


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