Forget the Apps! 5 Innovative Ways to Create on the iPad

What’s the first question you ask when you see something done on an iPad? “What app is that?” We can’t help it. We’ve been brought up thinking this way. Just look at Apple’s slogan, “There’s an app for that!” But this is art. Forget the apps!

What if we spent more time creating instead of consuming? What if we placed the focus on the process instead of the tool? What if we started with the art instead of the app? How would we accomplish that? Let’s consider a few things.

First, let’s download apps that have more than one application. There are apps that turn photos into text or superimpose a photo of your face onto a sunflower.  While those can be fun, they are app centered and therefore aren’t as helpful on a daily basis in the art room. We’re not looking for ways to integrate art into the technology but rather the technology into the art. Painting and drawing apps that utilize multiple layers and simulate a wide range of media are preferable.

Second, the lines between art and technology need to be blurred. Currently, there is a separation between technology and art. And example of this is the school that teaches graphic applications in the Computer Art classes but doesn’t use computers in the traditional art classes. Can you imagine if we treated other art tools in this manner? Only those enrolled in the sculpture class would handle clay. Only those enrolled in the drawing class would learn how to use a pencil. I suggest incorporating technology into art projects no matter the class as long as its improving the overall art making process. So, what are some practical suggestions for doing this?

Here are five ways to create using the iPad where the focus is on the art making process and not the app.

1. Have a student take a photo of his or her work and then use the iPad to try out ideas. An app that allows layers is best for this process.

ipad drawing
2. Challenge students to mix media. Perhaps you assign a creative project, like asking students to photograph clouds and then draw imaginary images on top.
3. Have students create color sketches prior to acrylic painting. Take a picture of a pencil sketch then color it in using various brushes on separate layers.
ipad painting 1

4. Demo linear perspective by taking a photo of the classroom or hallway and then, on a separate layer, draw in the vanishing point and lines.
5. Create 3D creatures on a 3D app, and then have the students create clay versions.
3D ipad
If you would like to learn even more about creating on the iPad, be sure to come check out my presentation with Jessica at the NAEA convention this year. Hope to see you there!

How do you use integrate technology in your classroom?

Do you have favorite apps that focus on creation instead of gimmicks?




Magazine articles and podcasts are opinions of professional education contributors and do not necessarily represent the position of the Art of Education University (AOEU) or its academic offerings. Contributors use terms in the way they are most often talked about in the scope of their educational experiences.


Ian Sands

Ian Sands, a high school art educator, is a former AOEU Writer. He is a co-author of The Open Art Room and believes art teachers shouldn’t make art—they should make artists.

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