Project work in the early years often involves children expressing themselves through pictures and drawings rather than through prose. Students may be asked to collaborate together on a particular drawing, and send it to their partners in another school or indeed another country, so that they (their partners) may also be able to work on it. In such cases, conventional paint packages such as TuxPaint and KidPix may not be altogether adequate. Enter Sketchfu, the online collaborative sketch/doodle maker, which makes collaboration not only possible but user friendly and fun, even for the youngest of learners. Sketchfu is an online (cloud) application, and can be found online on http://sketchfu.com.
Upon loading, you will be prompted either to Sign In or to Create a New account (always recommended to be able to work more efficiently). Upon logging in, you will be transported to your Sketchfu Home Page, where your latest activity, and the activity of your friends, will be displayed. (In true Web 2.0 fashion, Sketchfu allows you to add your friends and collegues as 'online buddies' to make sharing of drawings even easier). From the menu at the top right hand side of the screen, you can also access your Profile (to view your drawings and drawing comments), browse other people's drawings (Browse Drawings), look into other people's Profiles (Browse People) or just start drawing by clicking on Draw.
To start your drawing simply click on Draw at the top right hand side of the screen. You will be presented with a canvas, around which are a few simple commands: just choose the colour and size of your brush, and you will be able to start your masterpiece in no time! To help younger students, there is a variety of wide tipped brushes to choose from. There is no conventional Eraser button found in similar paint packages; however there is an Undo button. When you are done simply click on Publish (at bottom right hand side of the canvas) in order to save your drawing online. (You can also give your drawing a name; otherwise it will be given an automatically generated number from Sketchfu).
Stop and Replay...
An amazing feature of Sketchfu, which the children like immensly, is the ability to replay their drawing after they are done - as if one is watching a movie of the drawing being made. It is as if an invisible hand is going through the motions and magically building a drawing. The speed of the animation in itself can be regulated by clicking on arrows on either side of the Speed button. Unfortunately the actual animation cannot be embedded in a Blog or Website, but the children can watch it many times over on Sketchfu.com.
Sharing your Creation
Sketchfu allows users to share drawings with one anther, so that another user may be able to add other details to the drawings without having to send complicated e-mails with attachments to and fro each other. Users can also comment on each others' drawings or write instructions to each other within the Sketchfu internal messaging system.
To share a drawing, simply click on the Save button on the right hand side of the screen (opposite the canvas), and then click on e-mail it to send to a collaborator. Note that, before you e-mail it to someone else, you will be able to lock the drawing and thus preventing other people from actually adding anything to the drawing (by clicking on Don't allow others to add to this drawing). You may also share it on Facebook, Blogger, and other online platforms by grabbing the embed code and pasting it on your favourite platform (sadly, you would be pasting the actual drawing, not the animation that goes with it).
When you send an e-mail to a collaborator to view the drawing, he or she will receive an e-mail notification to be able to view or edit your drawing (according to the permissions issued with the e-mail - see above) and once again he or she will be able to send it back to you for editing. It is also easier, for collaboration purposes, if the partners involved are added as 'Friends' on the Sketchfu platform.
A Final Note....
Sketchfu is monitored by the Sketchfu Squad, and any anomalies can be reported directly to them by clicking on their profile which can be found at http://sketchfu.com/profile/FU_MOD_SQUAD. Recently, Andrew and Matt, the creators of Sketchfu, have also released another version of this online sketch maker called Muzy, aimed at more serious artists or perhaps older students, with a bigger canvas, eraser button, collage layers and better brush tools. Muzy can be accessed from the Sketchfu home page or by going directly to http://muzy.com.
Sites to remember:
Report problems in Sketchfu: http://sketchfu.com/profile/FU_MOD_SQUAD
Muzy (for older students): http://muzy.com