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TypeDrawing for iPad Ignites the Imagination

By Chris Maxcer MacNewsWorld ECT News Network
Jun 4, 2012 5:00 AM PT

TypeDrawing for iPad Ignites the Imagination

TypeDrawing, an app from Hansol Huh, is available for US$2.99 at the App Store.


One thing is clear after finger painting with text for an afternoon with TypeDrawing for iPad V3.0: I'm only limited by my imagination. Of course, the same could be said for an old-school yellow pencil, but the point remains -- TypeDrawing does what it says it does, and it does it better than I expected. In fact, for a few minutes, I was having a heckuva good time.

So what is TypeDrawing? At its heart, TypeDrawing gives you a free-form canvas on your iPad to use your fingers and draw with text -- words, phrases, sentences. There are even some emoticons, but I ignored them, though some of the possible shapes, such as squares or circles, could be used for filler here and there.

Meanwhile, I'm not a visual artist. At all. The best I can do is capture some interesting shots with a camera every now and then. Draw? I suck. Paint? Worse. Popsicle stick sculptures? No patience. Makes me want to eat a carmel apple.

TypeDrawing, on the other hand, is blissfully imprecise. Since you're using your finger, the creative process encourages you to just start swiping. Swipe and text draw long enough, though, and you'll eventually surprise yourself. Sure, you might not end up with something worthy of blowing up into a poster and framing above your kitchen table, but you could give it a shot. You could create a big rooster -- kind of like the one on the iTunes screenshot example page.

How It Works

To start, TypeDraw lets you type in the basic text you want to use -- a word, a letter, a phrase. If you want to create a self portrait out of XOXOXO for your mom, you could, though I just gagged a little bit in my mouth thinking about it. Like I said, TypeDrawing is about the imagination, and you've got to know when to let your imagination run and when to rein it in. Fortunately, there's an undo button that you'll likely get to know well.

Once you have your words -- over even entire sentences -- you can start drawing lines with your finger. The text will appear. To refine the text, you can select the orientation -- you can have it appear free-form along the path of your finger or only vertically or horizontally, or at an angle. You can use a customizable drop shadow or random multi-colors or all caps. You can even let the letters change their size based on the speed at which you move your finger.

You can change the colors, of course, as well as the background color, and you can do it all pretty easily after 10 minutes of messing around.

Import Photos

If you just want to use a photo and write on it with text in a creative way, you can do that too. Even better, though, is to import a photo and then recreate it by using text by drawing right over the photo. Paint by numbers, sort of. After you're done, you can make the photo fade out or disappear entirely, leaving only the text-based art. Try it with a portrait.

In some ways, I hesitated to mess around with TypeDrawing. I'm a man, right, and finger painting is for kids. But I do like to see what creative developers are coming up with, and TypeDrawing is executed so well that I just had to give it a real spin and share what I learned. Even if you're not at all creatively inclined, there's a decent chance that someone in your household is. For instance, I'd rather see kids messing around with TypeDrawing than playing most games. In fact, if you have kids, as summer roles around, give them an assignment for the day: Draw me a bee or a lake or a leaf. Draw me summer. If you get lucky, they might create something more than a parent would love. Send it out to friends or print it out and put it on the wall. TypeDrawing doesn't have to be about you.

Of course, it could be, even if you're not creatively inclined.

Remember that rooster? Well, I once met a girl whose favorite color was a vivid shade of blue. So she infused her life with blue, which included doing things like placing blue paper behind favorite photographs in their frames. Or maybe line the inside of a box with the color. She knew it was there and it gave her power, right, a subtle reminder to maintain her inner calm. Sounds kind of crazy, and maybe it was, but maybe not. She looked a lot like Angelina Jolie, so she could get away with pretty much anything.

But I've remembered the idea, the notion of surrounding yourself with things that have meaning beyond their appearance, even if no one else knows they are there. TypeDrawing, to me, seems like a pretty cool way of creating something with an extra layer of meaning. You can use any words you want, any phrases at all.

Back to the rooster. If you wanted, you could paint one for the wall above your kitchen table with a hidden message. As for me, if I were to create one, I'd paint it with this phrase: "OK, so you stayed up too late last night and managed to drag yourself out of bed this morning. Good. But do you think roosters congratulate themselves for waking up? No! Straighten your back, and attack the day. Attack it!"

See what I'm saying? TypeDrawing is the sort of app that can easily become something much larger, something more fun than the surface implies.

I like that sort of thing.

MacNewsWorld columnist Chris Maxcer has been writing about the tech industry since the birth of the email newsletter, and he still remembers the clacking Mac keyboards from high school -- Apple's seed-planting strategy at work. While he enjoys elegant gear and sublime tech, there's something to be said for turning it all off -- or most of it -- to go outside. To catch him, take a "firstnamelastname" guess at Gmail.com.

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a major product fail
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