As long as there has been a mouse connected to a computer there have been tools for making drawings on a computer. Here are five drawing tools that you might consider the next time you or your students need a free and easy drawing tool.
Sketchpad is a free, feature-rich, online drawing tablet that I recently came across in my stumbling around the Internet. Sketchpad offers users the ability to quickly create drawings. Sketchpad doesn't require you to create an account in order to create and save your drawings. All of the drawing tools that you would expect to find like brushes, pencils, and a large range of colors are offered by Sketchpad. Additionally, Sketchpad offers some unique tools for creating patterns, swatches, and blends of colors.
Art Pad and Sketch Pad (different from the Sketch Pad above) are both blank slate drawing utilities. Art Pad and Sketch Pad allow users to select from a variety of drawing tools and painting tools. Art Pad has a neat playback feature that shows you the steps you took in creating your images. Both Art Pad and Sketch Pad allow you to share your drawings via email or in a public gallery.
Graffiti Creator is best described not as a drawing tool, but a text editor. Users type select a font style, enter a word, then edit the look of the word to make it look like graffiti. This would be useful for students that are looking for a way to customize the font of words that they use in a slide show presentation.
Bomomo is an interesting drawing utility that creates images out of controlled chaos. Users select a drawing utility then the Bomomo program begins randomly drawing. Users can determine where the drawing starts with their computer's mouse. Users can also select general shapes and patterns to be drawn.
Crayola's online drawing canvas provides students with a blank canvas on which they can draw using virtual markers, crayons, pencils, and paints. Drawings cannot be saved online, but they can be printed. Pre-K Teachers looking for coloring pages can create their own or have students create their own using Crayola's Create & Color tool. Create & Color provides templates for creating custom coloring pages. You can pick a background template and modify it by adding speech bubbles and pictures. Coloring pages cannot be saved online, but they can be printed.
Odosketch is a free online sketchpad that, like many similar sites, provides a blank canvas on which you can create drawings from scratch. You can save your work to a free Odosketch account, share it online, or download it. Odosketch's niche appears to be creating drawings with "charcoal pencil" effects. Odosketch is well suited to use on touch screen computers and interactive whiteboards.
Draw It Live is a nice little website and Chrome Web App that I discovered in the Chrome Web Store. Draw It Live offers a free space for you to instantly create a collaborative whiteboard to use with anyone you like. To use Draw It Live just go to the site, click the "collaborative whiteboard" link, enter any nickname you want, then start drawing. You can invite people to draw with you by sending them the url assigned to your whiteboard. Draw It Live provides a chat box that you can use to talk to your collaborators about what each of you is doing on the screen. Draw It Live offers a Chrome Web App called Simple Whiteboard that can be used offline. Of course, when you're using it offline you cannot collaborate with anyone.
Coloring 4 All offers free printable coloring pages, online puzzles, and an online drawing board. The online drawing board can be used as a blank slate or children can select a picture to color. If puzzles are what you're after, Coloring 4 All offers customizable online jigsaw puzzles. To use the puzzles just select a picture then select the number of pieces you want the picture divided into. For the webmasters out there, Coloring 4 All makes many of their coloring pages and puzzles available for free re-use.
Draw Island is a free online tool for creating drawings and simple GIF animations. Draw Island offers you your choice of four canvas sizes on which you can draw. Draw Island offers two canvas sizes for creating simple GIF animations. To use Draw Island just head to the site and select a drawing tool. You can draw free hand (or should I say free mouse?) or select pre-defined shapes to use in your images. When you're done drawing just click the save button to download your drawing or animation.
FlockDraw is a simple service that allows people to quickly and easily collaborate on the creation of a drawing. To use FlockDraw simply visit the site, click the "start drawing" button, and start drawing. To invite other people to draw with you, just send them the url assigned to your drawing board. What's really neat is that anyone who visits the url after the drawing has started will see all of the drawing motions they missed unfold in front of them. In the future you will be able to embed your drawing board into your blog or website.