Do you use drawing apps on your touchscreen device?

Evan Selleck
Contributing Editor from Arizona
Published: January 1, 2013

I’ve seen a lot of different Windows 8 commercials as of late, which isn’t surprising. I should be seeing a lot of them, if Microsoft hopes to make any kind of impact. One of the most talked about ads is Microsoft’s Surface spot, the one where it’s all about keyboards, and dancing, and angry school girls. Or, at least that’s what I think it’s about. It could be about Surface, or Windows 8, or Windows RT, or something else entirely, who knows. In any event, that isn’t my favorite new ad from Microsoft, or even an ad with a touchscreen device in it.

There’s a Windows 8 advertisement for an all-in-one desktop, with a touchscreen. It’s a Sony-branded device, but that’s not really important in the ad, either. The main takeaway is the ability to “paint” on the touchscreen device, courtesy of an app called Fresh Paint. It’s a free application available in the Windows Store right now, and it’s a great app for anyone who likes to draw.

Which got me thinking about drawing in general, and the way that touchscreen devices have taken over our lives. As it stands right now, I don’t know a single person who doesn’t own a touchscreen device. It doesn’t matter if their cell phone is provided by a regional, or pay-as-you-go carrier; it doesn’t matter if they use their device as just an eReader. It has a touchscreen. They may own other non-touchscreen devices, but they’ve got at least one somewhere.

For artists, having more touchscreens is either a good thing or a bad thing. I asked a good friend of mine, someone I’ve always known as being an exceptional artist, if she’s tried drawing on a tablet, or her phone, or a touchscreen-based PC. She said she’s tried it with some app on an iPad, but that’s about it. She’ll always be drawing, but she doesn’t think she’ll be using a tablet to draw any great pieces anytime soon.

But she didn’t say she hated it, either.

In high school, I used to draw a lot. Then I started writing, and I only draw every once in a while now. However, Paper by FiftyThree, Inc. is one of the first applications I download when given the opportunity. (No matter how many times I reset a device.) I’ve even been known to download it on a friend’s iPad, if given enough time to do so. I just love the application, and it’s especially fun for someone like me: Someone who likes to draw for fun.

Drawing on a touchscreen device, at least based on my experience, isn’t obviously as good as having a pencil on paper, but I’ve been surprised at how accurate it really can be. And that’s right now. For the general consumer, I think drawing on touchscreen devices is just going to get even better, whether it’s based on applications, or the physical technology we incorporate into our devices.

Come to think of it, I think it’s going to be up to both hardware designers and application developers. It’s true that an app can only go so far, and the app itself is either limited or bolstered by the technology it is being used on. Using a stylus on an iPhone 5 is accurate enough, but using the S Pen on Samsung’s Galaxy Note II is better. A lot better, in fact. You can point a finger as to why that is directly at the difference in screen technology. (The screen size also plays a role, too, obviously.)

But even after my time with the Galaxy Note II, and admitting that the S Pen really is fantastic, I’d still prefer to draw using FiftyThree, Inc.’s, Paper app for the iPad. If I could use the application on the iPhone, you better believe I would. Even with the smaller screen real estate.

I’ve seen some pretty incredible drawings on an iPad, and I’m hoping that I see a lot more in the months to come as our technology gets better, and we see newer devices launch. But one of the great things I’ve found about drawing on a touchscreen device is the fun that my daughters have with it. They get an unlimited amount of paper, there’s no mess, and they can still use different colors, “brushes,” and even erase when they need to. My oldest daughter was able to help draw a picture of her favorite platypus, and she loved every minute of it.

Even if I may not be the best artist out there, I’m still a fan of drawing on a touchscreen device. I’d probably be pretty terrible at putting a paintbrush to a screen like that little girl in the Windows 8 app, but I’d give it a shot if given the chance. So what about you? Have you tried drawing on a touchscreen device? Do you like it? Hate it? Do you plan on giving it a shot if you get a particular device? Let me know!