Teaching and Learning through Art

5 best iPad Apps for Art Education, 2013

Thursday 25 July 2013 - Filed under Resources

The iPad can’t replace the rich experience of working with traditional art materials or seeing real art in a museum or gallery setting, but the iPad can enhance students understanding of art and also provide new ways of approaching drawing as well as editing photos and videos.  The following apps are all you need to enhance any classroom setting.  No, they are not free, but  the cost is incredibly low considering how they contribute to the process of teaching and learning.

ArtSite App for art education

With recent updates and a new intuitive design, ArtSite stands alone as the best overall app for art appreciation, displaying portfolios, and sharing art and writing. Teachers can customize the learning experience with their own art collections and students can collect and write about worldwide art as well as create portfolios of their own art and writing.  Students can post (teacher moderated) comments on gallery and portfolio pages, opening up an exchange of ideas.   ArtSite is packed with lots of new features including a searchable archive of student work, linked portfolios, and the ability to email Museum, Gallery, and Portfolio pages.  It’s cloud based, so students can work from home or school on any computer or iPad.  Price: Free for 30 days then $9.99 per year for teachers. Student access is always free.

Paper by FiftyThreePaper by FiftyThree is the most intuitive app available for anyone with experience using traditional drawing materials.  It’s beautifully designed and you can master the tools in about 10 minutes.  Unlike many painting apps, it feels like the real thing – lines are fluid and varied and color areas are rich.  The tools are limited, but students can easily create beautiful drawings or plans for sculpture.  You can save your drawings in multiple sketchbooks with custom covers.  I prefer to draw with a pen and recommend the Bamboo stylus, but there are lots of pens to choose from.  Price: Free for one brush and $8.99 for a complete set of tools.


Photography is a great way to observe and record all things visual.  The iPad starts you off with a built in camera and iPhoto gives you the tools you need take the next steps. It has an intuitive interface and is packed with everything needed to enhance your photographs.  Along with all the editing tools, the ‘Share’ button has many options including sending your images to iMovie, email, print, Camera Roll and ‘Journals’ where you can create, edit, and view journals. After selecting the photos you want for your journal, you can build a virtual storybook of events.   Price: $4.99


Students can shoot video on their iPad and it automatically appears in iMovie, ready for editing. Tap to add video and photos, drag to trim clips, and slide to preview your project. Drop photos into your project and enhance your images with graphics and text by selecting from a variety of title styles in each theme. Add soundtracks and sound effects or include direct audio recording from the microphone in your iPad. When you’re finished, view your movie on your HDTV.
Price: $4.99

iDrawiDraw is a powerful vector drawing app for both illustration and technical drawings. Choose from multiple canvas options for your background.  Tools include the pencil, brush, pen, line, curve, shape, and text. Each tool has it’s own unique set of options.  The brush and pen tools have auto-smoothing and the pen tool allows you to make changes by providing handles to move, add, or delete points in your line.  There are also fills, gradients, and layers. You can export designs for editing in other illustration applications like Adobe Illustrator.  Price: $8.99

You don’t have to spend any money on art appreciation resources.
The Internet is also full of great resources for Art teachers and students.  Museums from all over the world offer wonderful free apps, interactive features, and an amazing array of images from their collections; often including descriptions written by curators or historians.  Search “Art Museums” in the app store to find lots of free ipad apps. You can also open museum websites will exceptional images and descriptions by using ‘ArtSearch’, the ArtSite Internet search engine.  The Google Art Project contains over 30,00 high-resolutions images from multiple museums.

To save images to your iPad, simply touch the image until you see ‘Save Image’. The image is saved within ‘Photos’.   You can also save  images by taking a screen shot.  First  pinch/enlarge the image to fill the screen and then hold down the ‘Sleep/Wake’ and ‘Home’ buttons and quickly let go of the buttons. The image will be saved in your Camera Roll album.

With the PBS for iPad
 app you can watch the whole Art 21 series and American Masters on your iPad. Art in the 21st Century is an award winning, educational resource, archive, and history of contemporary art.  It allows viewers to observe artists at work, watch their process as they transform inspiration into art, and hear their thoughts as they grapple with the physical and visual challenges of achieving their artistic visions.
 Connect your iPad to a HGTV to share episodes with your classes. 

For most fine art classes, Paper and ArtSite is all you really need to spend a little money on.  They provide essential tools to enhance traditional art instruction at a fraction of the cost of sketchbooks, paint, brushes, pencils, art posters, art books, etc.  iPhoto and iMovie are great for photography and media classes and iDraw will enhance any design curriculum.


2013-07-25  »  Laurie Greenly

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