iPad Drawings

Term: 3 Year: 2012

Do iPads have a place in an art lesson?

When the first permanent photographed image was produced by French inventor Joseph Nicéphore Niépce in 1826, some traditional artists felt it was not equal in creativeness to drawing and painting; after all it was made using a mechanical device and not created purely by human hand. Other artists felt that photography would be a useful tool in art.

Today we regard photography as a creative art form in its own right, demonstrating its complexity in composition, tone, colour and subject matter. I feel that the iPad is rather like our modern day camera. My current school has plunged into 1:1 iPads in the Level 4 area. Some might feel that it is a device that has no right being in our classrooms let alone our art rooms, purists at heart perhaps. For others it is a change worth embracing. For me as a photographer, I can now finally teach how to view and compose the world in a photographic image without the threat of harmful chemicals.

Firstly I wanted students to really look at how they were composing a photographic image. We explored what things make a good photo great. Discussing how an image is broken into thirds, which helps to create a more interesting photo. When looking at the subject matter – the main object in the photo – we should be utilizing a number of viewpoints, e.g. placing the object to the side and viewing the object from below, above, lying on the ground etc. We then went out into the school grounds where students had the opportunity to take a number of photos from a variety of angles.

Back in the art room, students were required to choose one image that was their favourite, keeping in mind that they would be applying drawing skills to replicate it onto paper.
Students applied an app called “ChipPhoto” to the photo, which automatically grids their image. Using pre-printed A3 gridded paper, students copied the photographic image as a drawing. Students were not expected to reproduce the image “like a photo” but rather develop their observational skills in composition. Once the outlines were completed students used charcoal to develop a wide range of tones.

We took this photographic image further by applying another art technique – collage. We discussed and practised a number of collage techniques and students were required to employ the most appropriate collage technique, relevant to their image.
There are a number of Art and Photography apps and it really is a matter of taking the time to search and experiment before deciding if it is the right app for your educational purposes. 


One app which I feel is a fantastic tool for art appreciation is ‘WordFoto.’ WordFoto allows you to load an image and apply words that relate to that picture. I have been using this app for an art appreciation component of my curriculum.  The students loaded a famous art piece – in this case we used a Margaret Preston print – and were required to respond to it using at least 10 words.  I use this app at the start of a new topic (pre-assessment) and then again at the end as a follow up, viewing any changes to their vocabulary or understanding of the art technique.
Some limitations of using iPads are, servers being down or, apps not loading properly and students being tempted to divert from work and enter into other apps. As with any student behaviour and classroom expectations it is important to discuss the proper use of equipment and the consequences for misuse during class time.

There is also the difficulty in acquiring the students’ photos and artworks from their iPads, as USB ports are not available. Our students and teachers have Gmail accounts, which allow students to email me their photos, Wordfoto pieces and any other creative works developed using their iPads.

Whether we like it or not our students were born into the digital age and the quicker we learn how to incorporate this technology within our curriculum the better. I am not saying “let’s throw the baby out with the bath water,” what I am saying is lets use technology in a clever and creative way while still teaching the fundamental skills and techniques necessary to keep our subject alive and relevant.


Claudia Michielin
Visual Art Teacher
Croydon Hills Primary School
Suitable for Level 4