Best Apps For Tracing Pictures

When you’re sketching and drawing, sometimes it’s hard to get the lines right. This can be frustrating, especially when you’re trying to improve your skills. But there’s a solution!

The best apps for tracing pictures are great for helping you get the lines right, so you can focus on learning and having fun. They’ll help you take your drawings to the next level without worrying about getting stuck on the details.

Here are our top picks:

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SketchAR puts virtual images on paper to let you trace drawings from your  phone - The Verge

Best Apps For Tracing Pictures

There’s a lot of tracing naysayers out there who say it’s “cheating,” or that it doesn’t actually help you learn to draw, but I beg to differ. The best way to learn to draw is by doing, and if it takes using a lightbox or a projector toy to get started, so be it!

SketchAR is the latest iteration of the augmented reality drawing concept that hit the App Store yesterday, and will soon be coming to Android Tango and Microsoft HoloLens. It works by laying out a virtual image on the paper you’ll be drawing on, which is displayed on your phone screen. It’s pretty difficult to use it as shown in the promo video — i.e., holding the phone in one hand while tracing over the virtual lines with the other — so using a tripod would be ideal.

I gave SketchAR a try, and found it surprisingly easy to navigate the app and set up the whole process. The app comes preloaded with sketches you can draw, or you can convert photos from your camera roll into easily traceable images. Once you’ve picked the drawing you want to have virtually displayed on paper, the app asks you to draw five circles on your paper — three on top, one on the left side and one on the bottom. The camera recognizes your canvas when it detects and aligns with the five circles you’ve drawn, at which point the virtual image will be displayed on your screen. The rest is up to you to trace, draw, and make art.

The opening setup tutorials. Image: SketchAR
We’ve seen interactive AR drawing in various forms before, like this real-time texturing of coloring book characters from Disney Research, but SketchAR is the first drawing app I’ve tried that actually seems useful. It also gets bonus points for being available for download now and not just being a “research purposes”-only pipe dream. The app only works on A4 paper for now, but SketchAR has plans to expand to bigger canvases. For its upcoming version on the Lenovo Phab 2 Pro with Project Tango, it plans to use the phone’s built-in sensors to detect its physical location, so get those mural designs ready!

tracing drawing app

THERE ARE SCORES of drawing apps for the iPad, ranging from full-featured artistic suites to kid-friendly offerings complete with skeuomorphic crayons and markers. Trace might be the only one built expressly for designers.

The app is part of the Morpholio Project, an effort by a quintet of creatives to bring the design process into the digital age (the team, which met at Columbia University, includes Jeffrey Kenoff, Toru Hasegawa, Mark Collins, Anna Kenoff and Ciara Seymour). With their marquee app, Morpholio, they aimed to reinvent the critique, making it possible for “architects, designers, photographers, artists, or members of any creative culture to beautifully present, creatively share, and instantly discuss their work in one seamless platform.” Trace tackles the part that comes a few steps before all that: getting an idea down and rapidly iterating on it.

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The app’s tools are all geared to that purpose. The core functionality lies in its tracing paper-style layers, which let creatives draw on top of imported images, build on a number of included templates, or just add to doodles of their own. You can use it to flesh out a wireframe sketch, refine a hasty drawing, or mark up a project with notes or comments.

The new version, 2.0, adds a few new features. One is a series of filters which let designers transform their sketches with a single touch. Visually, they’re not much that will excite anyone who’s explored Photoshop’s filters menu, but in the context of idea creation, they add something a bit new. Mainly, they offer an easy way to look at an idea-in-progress from a slightly different perspective.

It’s the same workflow engendered by Instagram’s filters.

The filters revolve around the same workflow engendered by Instagram’s filters: when inspiration strikes, all you have to do worry about is capturing the moment. Then, the digital magic lets you see how you can reframe it or repackage it after the fact.

Another feature that comes with the new update is the ability to revisit layers of a sketch. With the first version, the virtual tracing paper was additive; you built on sketches, but you couldn’t break them back down. The new version offers just that functionality, letting you literally peel back layers one by one. As Jeff Kenoff, one of the co-founders of the Morphoilo Project puts it, sometimes “going in reverse can be as valuable as going forward.”

In essence, Morpholio is trying to bundle up a handful of tools from the analog world of idea-making into one digital product. It’s about recreating the simple, uninhibited usefulness of pencils, post-it notes, and tracing paper. Features like the new filters show how tablets bring transformative possibilities that go well beyond what those familiar tools can offer. Still, the app’s newly added ability to revisit old layers is just as important. Sometimes, even after several rounds of furious iteration, you need to go back to the back-of-the-napkin sketch and try a new direction.


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