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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Turn your smartphone into a canvas

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Here's a simple drawing I produced in Didlr -- more-accomplished artists, some probably using tablets instead of phones, have produced far more detailed and realistic artwork.
You wouldn't think that drawing with a finger on a tiny little smartphone touchscreen would be much fun.

But you'd be wrong.

The game Draw Something ( http://omgpop.com/drawsomething ), a sort of online Pictionary, was a sensation earlier this year, with 20 million downloads in a matter of weeks. The result was that the game and its maker, OMGPop, were purchased by online gaming giant Zynga. The fad subsided after a while, although the game is still available and still being played.

In Draw Something, you use your smartphone's touch screen to draw something in hopes of getting the other player to guess it. The drawings don't have to be pretty, of course, just fast and recognizable.

Unfortunately, Draw Something isn't available for Windows Phone 7.x, so I wasn't able to get in on the fun. A couple of months ago, I downloaded a Draw Something competitor called Let's Draw, which is available for WP7, and I've enjoyed it. But since Let's Draw is a lesser-known game on a lesser-used platform, it's harder to find friends, which means you're generally guessing drawings from random strangers.

I also got to play around with Draw Something very briefly when reviewing a Galaxy SIII a few weeks back.

But the most unexpected form of drawing on your smartphone may be Didlr ( http://didlr.com ), which isn't a game at all. It's a drawing application with social sharing features that allows you to create little works of art on your phone or tablet screen and then post them for others to enjoy.

Didlr is available for iOS, Windows Phone and Windows 8 (the web site has a button you can click to request an Android version).

It's surprisingly fun and easy, and -- once you stop second-guessing yourself and just relax and create -- you might be surprised at what you come up with. The controls are relatively simple -- you have a small palette of colors, and at any given time you can paint with a color either as opaque or see-through. You have a selection of brush sizes, and you can work on up to three different layers. There's a feature (it can be turned on and off) that will automatically smooth out your lines.

Once you've finished a drawing, you upload it to Didlr, which has its own social network features -- you can follow other users whose creations you enjoy, or star individual drawings to express your approval -- but you can also post a link to your drawing to your existing social networks (Facebook, Twitter, and so on). You can also browse other people's creations from the app, either manually or in a slideshow mode. Some of the drawings are just amazing.

I'm guessing the program would be even more fun on a tablet than on a phone, although there's something to be said for the challenge of creating your masterpiece within the confines of a smartphone screen.

Just for fun, try drawing something relatively simple or abstract using your left hand. I once attended a retreat where they had us draw with our left hands, saying that the left hand is controlled by the right brain, generally considered the source of our more creative and artistic impulses. There may be nothing to it, but it's an interesting experiment.

Didlr won't turn you into the next Van Gogh, but it's a great diversion that lets you tap into your creativity, and maybe your inner child as well. It's definitely worth a download.

--John I. Carney is city editor of the Times-Gazette and covers county government.

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John I. Carney
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John I. Carney is city editor of the Times-Gazette.