Comparing Online Drawing Applications: Queeky, Imagination Cubed, Bomomo, and Aviary
When you think of web 2.0 you may not think about drawing applications, but just as music and search engines have found new life and new use on the web, so have web based drawing tools. From the large desktop based drawing programs to the paint programs that came with the operating system, there are now online versions that allow users to create their own drawings from any place at any time.
This week we took a look at several of those online drawing applications. The first thing we discovered was how each had its own use, and how each offered users the chance to create their own drawings with a variety of tools and colors. Some had galleries to share the images, some had complicated effects, and some were just for fun. The chart below will cover some of the main differences, and we’ll talk about the applications in a little more detail afterward. If you would like to read the full review, please follow the links through the application logos at the end.
|Import your images||yes||no||no||no|
|Saving||yes||yes||gallery only||inside application only|
Queeky is an online drawing program that was the most social of the applications reviewed, channeling users’ drawings to a gallery (instead of the hard drive) where works can be rated, categorized, and commented upon. Users can mark their favorites, and create drawings in two ways: either draw their own, or draw with others on shared canvas. The shared canvas, called Multi-Draw, has a chat room structure, with rooms and chat.
Despite being an application with a goal of sharing, Queeky has enough tools for amateurs and artists to enjoy. Line, shape, paintbucket, and eraser tools are all on the toolbar, and there are other controls to change the transparency of fills, options to curve and smooth lines, as well as a color palette to get the exact color you want. There is the option to put your creation on full screen, and playback. Playback, a feature in Queeky and Imagination Cubed, records the actions during the drawing and lets users playback the movements. It’s a fun way to watch a drawing unfold and with Queeky every drawing can be played back in the gallery.
The downside to Queeky is that without a screen capture, there is no way to save the drawing – it goes to the gallery. For users that want to keep the drawing, this might make Queeky unappealing. For users who want to enjoy Queeky to its fullest can add Queeky in as a Google gadget, get the plugin for NetVibes, or add the Flash module into their blog or site.
For users that want to create a drawing more abstract or geometric Bomomo may be the way to go. Bomomo presents a blank canvas as the others do, but unlike the other drawing applications reviewed in this comparison, Bomomo’s tools all create movement on their own, following a path of motion indicated on the button. For example, the button that shows a crescent with a white dot at the end will produce a tool that draws a circle. Just hold down the mouse button and it draws a circle for you, in whatever color you have selected. As this tool suggests, the benefit of Bomomo is that it will do most of the drawing for you, and although you can alter sizes and colors, it is the patterns made by the tool that set it apart.
For users that want more control, Bomomo will be too abstract – there are no tools available for pen drawing, but for users who are looking to generate drawings of color and geometric patterns, Bomomo is the choice among the reviewed.
Of course, not all drawing programs are created equal, and there may be times when you just want to send something quickly. For this, the easy drawing tool Imagination Cubed is a good choice. With an optional grid on the canvas and a pen tool you can draw anything you like, send a link to it via email, and watch the drawing come to life with playback.
Imagination Cubed is another application where you can’t save your drawing to your computer, but makes up for it in two ways. One, Imagination Cubed saves a copy of your drawing (with playback) so that when you send a link to it, it comes up in entirety. Next it offers a selection of preformed shapes, ranging from clouds to triangles that you can put into your drawing with the color and size of your choice. A good choice for users that want to pass visual information quickly, Imagination Cubed and its playback feature are easy and fun to use.
The most versatile of the programs is definitely Aviary, which actually breaks its drawing programs into specialized applications. The Aviary suite includes Toucan, a color manager where you can create swatches and color combinations, Peacock, where users can apply a range of effects and distortions, including channel separations to their image, and the drawing tool Phoenix. Since we’re talking about drawing tools, we’ll focus on Phoenix.
Phoenix, the penthouse of the Aviary suite, has an interface more like Adobe or Corel than the other applications we’ve mentioned, so much so in fact that even some of the shortcut key strokes are the same (Control or Apple Z = undo). Even the toolbar – which includes selection tools (magic wand, lasso, rectangle, circle), a paint bucket for filling in areas, an eraser, and smudging tool – strongly resembles the toolbar you would find in graphics programs. For users unfamiliar with graphics programs, each of the tools in Aviary performs a specific function, giving you greater control over your drawing. If, for example, you wanted to blend colors (a task none of the other applications can do) the smudge tool will take the colors under the brush and blend them together. Aviary has also incorporated layers into the application, which let you create layers of drawing that lay on top of one another and can be edited separately.
The only detraction from the powerful Aviary is that a subscription is needed for long time use. Though on a trust system which allows you to sample their wares, there are two price plans at Aviary: $7.99 a month buys you one of the Aviary applications, and $14.99 enables you to use the entire suite. All users can save their work as jpeg, gif, tiff, png, or share it with Aviary’s gallery. For users that want to share with and explore the gallery, Aviary lets you set permissions, tag, and give a description to your work. Social artists will also like that you can mark works as a favorite, keep a profile and contact list, as well as join and make groups for your interest. Works can be searched or accessed through links for staff picks and undiscovered pieces.
Of the applications reviewed this week there’s little question that Aviary is an impressive web based drawing platform, with a wide variety of tools, and effects, but the pricing is likely to appeal only to professionals and serious artists. We found the playback function of Imagination Cubed and Queeky to be a useful feature for people trying to demonstrate a process, whether it be a schematic sent to a coworker, or a how-to for artists. Queeky, with its shared canvases, is likely to appeal to users looking for social interaction, and Imagination Cube’s email feature is a convenient way to send visual information. Users that want to create abstracts will like Bomomo’s movement tools and animated drawing cursor.
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