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Coloring Digitally on a Budget

Coloring Online in Sketchpad

Today I learned that I can import images into a free online program called Sketchpad and can color them digitally.

I’m an art teacher, and like most of you, I’ve been temporarily assigned to work from home until this pandemic blows over. I’m in the process of trying to figure out how to turn a three dimensional ceramics class into a virtual pencil and paper course without boring anyone to death.

In my search for ideas about what I can have my students do besides completing fill in the blank activities, I pulled up a program called Sketchpad. We use this program in my art classroom as an “I’m done” activity. I’ve been telling my kids for two years now that they can use their Chromebooks and go into Sketchpad when they’ve finished their work, but I’ve never tried using the program myself. Just out of curiosity, I uploaded one of my coloring pages in as a PNG with the background removed, which is essentially a digital stamp, and played around with coloring it digitally. I discovered a couple of pros and cons about this coloring program.

Pros

First, you can do what I call ‘point and click’ coloring in Sketchpad. You can click on Vector fill, choose a color or gradient, and click on the background. It will fill your empty background with the color of your choice. You can also color closed shapes by choosing the paint button and selecting Pixel fill. Again, choose a color or gradient. After that, you can click on a shape and it will fill it with the color you just chose. I was really surprised that I could do this. I thought I was going to have to sit there with a spray can icon trying to stay inside the lines.

Secondly, it’s online and it’s free. That makes it priceless in my book!

Third, I found that I can save my completed artwork to my Google Drive. All you have to do is go into settings, which is found in the lower left portion of your screen, and activate the “Store files in Google Drive” slider button. If you don’t have a Google Drive, it’s easy to get. It’s especially easy if you already use Gmail because you already have a Google account. Here’s a link for how to get started with Google Drive.

I also found out that I can export my work to my computer as a finished piece. There’s an icon that looks like a floppy disk on the lower left portion of the screen. It’s immediately above the settings icon. If you click that, you’ll see all the different formats that you can use to save your art to your desktop or to a file.

Cons

I don’t know how to lock my image into place yet. As a result, I had a problem with my drawing moving around. This is the biggest problem I’ve found so far with the software. It does have layers, though, so maybe if I put it on a different layer, then that might solve the problem. Sketchpad also appears to allow you only one ‘undo’ per mistake, so you can’t go back using that option. I think you might be able to delete more steps by going into your history. I haven’t tried that method yet, though, so I’m not sure. Auto save runs slowly, which may be an issue with my bandwidth. Last, it jumps around when I’m trying to make changes or add fills to small areas.

If you want to try a sample project, I’m attaching a digital stamp of my coloring page called “Poppies.” This is the same one I colored in the picture above. Have fun!

https://colorwithsteph.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/poppies-b-png-no-bkd.png

To import the image into Sketchpad:

Click on the caption below the picture and save it to your desktop.

Go to Sketchpad and set up a new page by clicking the Plus icon on the lower left part of the screen.

Click on PX (pixels) and change it to inches, then make it whatever size you want.

Next, click the clipart icon. At the top, it gives you the option to load your own image. Click the ‘load your own image’ button. Your desktop will open, and you can click on the picture you saved and open it up in the program.

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