Drawing Basics: Drawing on the iPhone

Digital art isn't new. But when a friend told me that people are now creating art on their iPhones, I imagined that the art wouldn't be anything remarkable. Then David Kassan emailed me an example that he said he sketched very quickly from previous studies. It's like a pencil sketch but not.

Like anything Kassan does, it was actually very carefully done. I'm hearing that a number of accomplished artists are experimenting with this approach, and I suppose that considering the popularity of the iPhone and the art-friendliness of Apple products, this shouldn't be too surprising.

I asked Kassan to send me his best example of iPhone art, and he emailed the below image.

early stage of the drawing by David Jon Kassan

early stage of the drawing


late stage of the iPhone drawing, from memory and from drawing studies by David Jon Kassan

late stage of the iPhone drawing, from memory and from drawing studies


Kassan used the iPhone app (application) named Sketches, and a Pogo Stylus. He chose a grayscale spectrum and adjusted his "brush" setting so that it made the smallest mark possibleessentially, one pixel wide. He zoomed in (up to 800 percent) to make small marks, then zoomed back out to see how these marks worked in the larger composition, continually adjusting. He points out that although one can't change the "brush" shape, the opacity of the marks is adjustable. Kassan recommends that anyone interested in drawing on an iPhone remove any protective plastic he or she may have placed over the screen.

The New Yorker featured iPhone art using a color spectrum on a recent cover. Here's a link to a short video showing how it was done.

Is anyone out there creating art on an iPhone? We'd love to see your work. Please post here and share it!


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Bob Bahr

About Bob Bahr

Hi. I'm the managing editor of American Artist, Watercolor, Drawing, and Workshop magazines. Drawing magazine is primarily my responsibility so I spend a lot of time looking at drawings, talking with draftsmen, and drawing ... but I love to paint, too.

9 thoughts on “Drawing Basics: Drawing on the iPhone

  1. The New Yorker cover was done with an app called “Brushes”. I’ve got it but have only fiddled with it a little. Enough to see that it is an absolutely legit sketch and image creation medium. And it only costs a few bucks.

  2. jb—my problem exactly!

    sfox, thanks for the info. I too am amazed that these apps are often around $2 or $4.

    Anybody have any examples of their work on the iPhone to send along?

  3. Thanks for sharing this. My husband programs apps for iPhone, and recently made a program for me called NOTAN. After I’ve helped him work out any “bugs,” it will be available to everyone else for $1.99. He also set up a free app for Lori Putnam’s art. The user just taps the screen and a new recent image appears. Pretty cool marketing.

  4. very VERY cool, Lori.

    You may want to consider giving that app to a few artists just to get the ball rolling. In fact, if you like, I will get Kassan in touch with you. He will likely give it a fair try and might blog or twit or FB about it.

  5. Wow that’s impressive, my husband has an I phone and he is going to be mad at you guys for showing this to me, Lol, cant wait to give it a try