Learning to draw with your finger isn't about fingerpaints anymore. It's not about hands, either. It's about the smartphone that you keep in your pocket, and give to your kid when they want to get creative. ReadWriteWeb surveyed three apps for children ages 5-6 that give them an opportunity to try and learn how to draw inside the lines, and to create visual effects that will impress peers and parents alike. Just choose your smart device.
How to Draw app: Full version ($1.99)
Open the How to Draw app, and a little boy's voice comes out of your phone. He is here to teach you and your child how to draw. Select from a variety of items, including three animals (cat, dog, pony, hippopotamus), a reptile that no longer roams the earth (dinosaur), iconic American pop culture imagery (Statue of Liberty, Santa Claus), transportation that you don't use in everyday life (space shuttle, locomotive, tank), a princess (no prince available) and a skeleton (subtle death reference). These are the available options. Pick one and learn how to draw it using easy, step-by-step instructions from the little boy, who guides you through the process.
After you and your child have completed the instruction on one screen, press the arrow to move on to the next one. To get more complex - to add color, that is - select the little white hand in the bottom lefthand corner, and you'll see a few paint palettes. Change the color of the line itself, or just color in the image that you are drawing. If you miss an instruction, hit the refresh arrow and the app will replay it.
And when your child is done drawing, they can email the image to themselves or you, or just save it to the app. There is no option to share on Facebook or Twitter - besides, what would a five-year-old be doing on Facebook anyway? Eventually, kids can go ahead and free draw if they'd like.
This app is fun and simple to use. Of course, you get what you pay for: It only costs $1.99, and there are not too many things to learn to draw. After a week or two of play, you can choose to ignore the app and move onto the next.
Art of Glow (free)
For kids who love shiny, sparkly, neon fun - this app is like a sparkly rainbow for the eyes - we present you with Art of Glow. There is a full version available for $0.99, but we decided to review the free version. If your kid loves the free version, spring for the full. If not, just stick with this one-trick pony. (Though be forewarned, if you want to see a pony, you will have to draw it yourself.)
With a few swipes of their fingers on the screen, kids can create a glowing, pulsing visualeffect that will probably hypnotize them and their friends for a few minutes. The default shape is a circle, but Art of Glow gives users the opportunity to switch that up. Choose a heart, a snowflake, a star, a pulsating cornucopia. Change the color of that shape, selecting from a dim-looking palette of red, green, orange, yellow, purple and three shades of blue. Pink and white are not on the color palette. After doing so, tap away on the screen and bring those images back to the screen, adjusting for amount, size, life time, speed and blink. Add more shapes, creating bodies, landscapes or just plain magical landscapes. Or keep it minimal and clean, using only a single finger swipe. After all, less can be more. These aren't images you are supposed to save - show them to people, then leave the app.
Because of the variety of shapes and forms, Art of Glow will keep kids engaged for longer. This app isn't trying to teach kids how to draw so much as it's focused on the visual effects produced by each sparkle and twist. (In other words, your child can go to a rave without actually leaving the couch!) The full version brings in the ability to shoot a quick video. If your child is intrigued by the regular version, drop $0.99 on the full.
iLuv Drawing Santa (free; full version $0.99)
iLuv Drawing Santa teaches kids about the art of consumerism. Christmas is the biggest consumer holiday of all time - and it's important that we teach our children this around 5-6 years of age. Here's how the app works. Tap on "Learn to Draw," and you'll be directed to a variety of images to draw: Santa Claus, a snowman, an elf and a gingerbread man are among the many things that you and your kid can learn how to draw. A woman's voice guides you and your child through the drawing process, complete with instructions on where to draw each line. You can color your image in and add a festive background of your choosing. Save the image to the app's drawing book or to a photo. Or share it via email, print it or share it with the makers of this app.
Even if you do not quite draw within the lines, the app doesn't penalize you. Besides, it's hard to get things just right, especially over the holidays.
Lead image courtesy of Shutterstock.