Apps to help plan a painting

Leverage technology to help you plan a painting

If the old masters had access to today’s technology, would they use it?    I think they would.   Let’s turn back time and see what devices were used hundreds of years ago:

  • Johannes Vermeer (1632-1675)  is believed to have used the camera obscura, which is an optical device that projects a real-time image through a small pinhole (or lens) into a darkened room.
  • Then there is the camera lucida, an optical device which merges an image of a scene and the artist’s hand on paper for tracing.  This device was invented by William Hyde Wollaston (patented in 1806) to facilitate accurate sketching of objects.

Fast-forward to today.  We have smart phones, smart houses, smart cars… and with all this “smartness” came along many apps to assist with art, creating art, inspiring art, making art.   Look at David Hockney’s iPad art.  IT IS INCREDIBLE!  (Sorry to scream.  I am a huge Hockney fan.)

Here are some I use and a few examples:  (I have iPad/iPhone, but most of the apps are available on Android.)

NotanIzer simplifies the photo into shapes and values. From 2 values (black and white) up to 10 values.

NotanIzer is great for creating pop art portraits!


Waterlogue converts a photo into various watercolor styles and techniques.

PhotoSketch converts a photo into an outline.

After doing the painting as a line and wash, I wanted to do it in a more loose way.

How do I use all the different apps?  

Here is a 32 minute tutorial that shows how I use some of the apps.


I want to trace my photo, but want it bigger than standard printer paper size.   How can I do that?

Use a local print shop, Office Supply store, FedEx Office.  They charge by size and paper quality.

I use Rapid Resizer.   It is an online (browser) service.  You import a photo, set the dimensions, print out the tiles/pages, tape them together — and you will end up with a large image from which to trace.  This service is not free, believe it’s USD 11.99 per quarter, or USD 39 per year.   It can end up being cheaper than using a print shop if you paint big often.


If you’d like to see more examples, here is a link to my training deck:  Leveraging apps to help with art – WBB.  Please note that some of the images in the deck are copyrighted, I do not own them.  I used them for learning purposes and I do not sell any art derived from these photos.

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Other resources you may like:

#appsforart #leveragetechnology #artapps #ipadart


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