The 30 Best iPhone Apps for Art Teachers

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Since the launch of the iTunes App Store in July 2008, over 1 billion apps have been downloaded for use on the iTouch and iPhone.  Currently, the App Store has 63,000 apps to choose from and it is no surprise that many of the iPhone/iTouch applications have educational value.  Over the last few weeks, we sorted through our favorites to create The Teaching Palette’s Best Apps for Art Teachers, along with some tips and suggested uses.

best of show

  1. Love Art-Natl Gallery London This is an absolutely beautiful museum app that integrates audio and video presentations based on the collections in the museum.  A great learning tool containing snapshots of a wide range of art history.
  2. Brushes Familiar with the New Yorker Cover that was created using an iPhone app?  It was created with the Brushes painting app and tops our list. Easy to use beginning with the very young. Watch a speed portrait here.
  3. TypeDrawing Draw with text. This fun app uses a single letter or phrase as the drawing tool. A completely new way of drawing (and thinking about drawing). See some examples in this Flickr pool.
  4. TanZen Familiar with Tangrams?  This app combines math and art concepts together.  Move, rotate, and flip shapes to form a larger image. Great for improving spatial intelligence.
  5. Art (Lite version) This art history game features five famous artists.  Can you identify which artist created each work of art? Master this app, then upgrade to the paid version of Art. Another nice feature of this app is the option to load images into your photo gallery for use in other applications.
  6. Art2Go This app is an engaging and useful presentation of 19th and early 20th century artists and their work using audio commentary. Useful for all grade levels and art backgrounds.
  7. Color Splash This is an extremely simple app to use with some amazing effects.  Teach the principle of emphasis by isolating a single image in color while the remainder of the photograph stands in black and white. See how easy this app is to use in this video tutorial.
  8. Animoto Near identical to the traditional web-based version, Animoto coordinates your images to the beat of music.  Great for artist presentations or student portfolios. Completed presentations can be downloaded or emailed.
  9. FlipBook (Lite version) This is one of the best animation apps available.  Features allow for replication of images and transparency effects to see previous slide. Click here for a guided tour of the app.
  10. PixPop ArtThis is a challenging and very fun detail detective game. Utilizing fine art, detail images line the right side of the screen while you search for the match. Work in competition mode timing yourself or work at your own pace in Zen mode.

runner-up

  1. 3D gallery Be a curator of your own museum.  Enter this 3-D room and rearrange the paintings or choose your own images from photo gallery.  This would be a great tool to display artwork created throughout the year or to focus on an art time period or genre. Note: There is currently no “save” feature, but if you click your on/off button at the same time as the menu button, you can create a screenshot that saves in photos on the camera roll.
  2. Comic Touch (Lite version) Add some humor to art historical images or commentary to student artwork with this single pane comic creator. Save to photo library or email. Upgrade to the paid version of Comic Touch and get interesting special effects and fonts. Watch an intro video here.
  3. Life Strips This is a great tool for creating comic strips.  Utilizes a wide variety of comic strip templates and speech bubbles. Add photos and utilize filters to for adding special effects. Even add a Google map!
  4. Light Painting Have you ever created a photographic light painting?  While standard flashlights and LED lights work fine, this app offers additional light features otherwise hard to replicate. Use these tips and tricks to get started.
  5. Open Culture - Find a nice group of audio and video podcasts from well known art museums in the “ideas and culture” category.  The same category also contains animated New Yorker cartoons.
  6. AP Mobile Create a search for “Art” and get the latest news articles from around the world.  Useful app for older students to reflect on culture and current events.
  7. Jazz Sculptor Utilize a wide variety of virtual materials and textures to carve a sculpture from a variety of forms.  Rotate image to view at a 360 degree angle.  Nice exercise to understand the subtractive carving process. See the Jazz Sculptor gallery for inspiration.
  8. ScuptMaster3D Create three-dimensional art using a variety of colors with this virtual material that appears inspired by Henry Moore.  Great way to introduce and reinforce positive and negative space concepts. View this video tutorial for an overview.
  9. Architect Envi Deluxe – This app organizes architecture by building name, architect, or century created.  It is presented in a slide-show format with the option to learn more about the building and save in the camera roll for use/manipulation in other applications.  Yet, the best feature of this app is the option to view each architectural structure in Google Maps.
  10. Color Sudoku Forget the numbersthis is Sudoku in color!  Game has a different levels of difficulty and color schemes.

honorable-mention

  1. Eyetricks This app has a nice collection of optical illusions.  Good for early finishers or as intro to an OP Art unit.
  2. Color Wheel -This color wheel uses advanced color theory concepts to reinforce color understanding. Useful interactive app for older students.
  3. Brooklyn Museum Tour the collection of art at the Brooklyn Museum.  “Randomize” is a nice feature to view artwork you might otherwise miss.
  4. Symmetry Useful tool for teaching symmetry to younger students. Watch this video for a quick demo.
  5. MovieMaker This is a great tool for creating stop-motion animations and time-lapse movies. Since it requires the camera on an iPhone, this app is perhaps most useful as an extension for students who have access to iPhone technology.
  6. PotteryWheel While this is certainly not a a replacement for the hands-on wheel throwing experience, this pottery wheel gives the basic idea of the cause and effect.
  7. Artist’s Touch This app requires little artistic talent but is useful when teaching about abstract art.  Non-objective to representational- reveal your image using a variety of textures and paint tools. Be sure to watch video tutorial to get started.
  8. Google Earth This is a great app to integrate geographic locations of artists or cultures. Watch this video tutorial to get started.
  9. Gallery of Painters Contains a large collection of artists that can be searched alphabetically, by century, or nationality. View basic information or link directly to Wikipedia for detail information.  Useful for research.
  10. Juxtaposer and Juxtaposer Lite This is a fun tool for teaching about Surrealism. Reinforce juxtaposition  by taking a photo of your classroom and a selecting objects from a second photo to create a Magritte-like composition. Watch this video review to see what this app can do.

Ok . . so now what?  Here are some additional tips and considerations to start using the apps:

  • Not all the apps are free, but once purchased, an app can be used on multiple iTouch’s with no additional charge.
  • Most schools do not have access to multiple iTouch’s (yet). But even just one iTouch can be used as an extension for an early finisher or projected on a screen for the entire class to view using a document camera.
  • Some students may have access to a personal iTouch or even a parent’s iPhone.  Create a recommended app list for these students to try out at home. You could even tie it into an extra credit option.
  • Use it yourself to create your own art or brush up on art history.
  • Find useful tips, reviews, and connect with other educators using apps in education at IEAR.org

What are your favorite apps for art education?

Hillary Andrlik + Theresa McGee

The founders and primary authors of this blog are Hillary Andrlik and Theresa McGee, who both teach elementary art in the Chicagoland area. Hillary has been teaching art since 2002, received her art education degree from Illinois State University and masters from National Louis University. Theresa has been teaching since 1997 and received her bachelors degree from Northern Illinois University and masters from Benedictine University. In 2008, Theresa became a National Board Certified Teacher. Both Hillary and Theresa have earned the honor of being Illinois Elementary Art Educator of the Year. Together, Hillary and Theresa have presented at Illinois Art Education Association Conference on topics ranging from classroom management to technology and each have presented on numerous other occasions for other organizations.

24 Comments

  • August 3, 2009

    Tricia Fuglestad

    Wow~I feel like I’m missing out (or should I say, I’m out of touch) Time to write a grant for an iTouch.
    Will definitely site this posting -Thanks!

  • August 3, 2009

    David Gran

    Thanks for such a great list! More apps to love.

    You’ve mentioned a few of my favorites, but I’d also suggest Random Pose (if you feel the need to practice drawing from a model, but have no willing bodies), Idea Generator (or Movie idea generator) – although they occasionally come up with ideas that are not appropriate to all classes… and finally a digital version of Brian Eno’s Oblique Strategies – which provide random suggestions for breaking through mental blocks. Its actually helped when I’ve pulled it out in class from time to time!

  • August 3, 2009

    George

    Superb collection of Art apps, i have also found iWound the best art & fashion magazine which includes video and music content as well.

  • August 4, 2009

    adrian

    Art2go seems like an interesting apps. I laready have IWound on my Iphone which is based on Arts and Fashion

  • August 4, 2009

    Donna

    Nice list! Definitely will check out some of these apps. Artists Touch looks fairly cool

  • August 5, 2009

    Lisa

    The Love Art-Natl gallery app doesn’t work on my 2nd generation iPod touch. I do love this list though. Very exciting possibilities.

  • August 6, 2009

    Cassie

    Thanks for the great list! I plan on using my Touch in the classroom this year since I recently got the phone. I’ve already loaded TypeDrawing, PixPopArt, and TanZen, as well as some useful podcasts. So exciting!

  • August 27, 2009

    David Scott Leibowitz

    The App, “iCreated” should be noted for listing 80 photo/art app for the student or teacher, and creating a visual correlation between art, and apps.
    http://www.stone.com/icreated
    Although there is overlap, I want to thank you for your welcome additions to our listings.
    You’ve uncovered some real gems.

  • […] Today no rules apply to what is considered art thanks to Marcel Duchamp http://www.marcelduchamp.net giving artists the permission to do what ever they want with what ever they want to use as a medium or material. Argument settled. Well apparently not, maybe, I don’t know. Depends on whom you ask.  One thing for sure new technologies are emerging as art mediums and if you are bogged down in the debate of what is or isn’t art you maybe missing the new renaissance. Going back to IDISM today we use material we like and right material and wrong material are not necessarily going to be dictated to artists working in 2010. And neither is how images are viewed or delivered to the public. Who out there has their art on an iPhone app? http://theteachingpalette.com/2009/08/03/30-best-iphone-apps-for-art-teachers […]

  • March 27, 2010

    Emily

    I’m curious if there are any art teachers out there who have found some useful apps for the android operating system, droid phones, etc.?

  • […] a list of great iPhone apps for your students to try at home. An earlier post offers some great art app […]

  • […] The 30 Best iPhone Apps for Art Teachers – 3,500 page views in less than a month – guess you like it.  Can you add to our list? […]

  • May 31, 2010

    Michael

    Is there an app where you can take a picture of a piece of art and get the information for that piece?

  • Hillary Andrlik + Theresa McGee
    June 1, 2010

    admin

    Michael,
    I found an iPhone app to ID a piece of art but it got terrible reviews here

    Google Goggles made for Android smart phones looks more promising (but not helpful if you have an iTouch/iPhone)

    -Theresa

  • […] week I would like to foucs on just one of the applications I found from http://theteachingpalette.com/2009/08/03/30-best-iphone-apps-for-art-teachers/ – Animoto. If you are familiar with the regular web-version of Animoto then you will already […]

  • Hillary Andrlik + Theresa McGee
    October 6, 2010

    Hillary Andrlik + Theresa McGee

    Google Goggles is now available for iPhone users.

  • November 17, 2010

    Carolina

    There is a new iPhone, Droid app for the Art Institute of Chicago and it looks fabulous on an iPad!
    http://www.artic.edu/aic/interact/apps.html

    It would be great to get a 2010 list of apps to keep this post updated and alive with comments! Also check out http://www.iear.org which a site that rates educational apps.

  • December 9, 2010

    marisa Vitiello

    Hi. I am a Seattle Art Teacher. After years of being asked by students
    “what do I do noooooooooow”.. I decided to create an Iphone app for
    teachers working with students who want and idea and for artists who
    want to have fun with materials and trying something new.

    My app is currently super duper simple (I’m a teacher, not a
    programmer). 3 categories–Media, Prompt and colors–combine randomly
    and give a person a challenge. It’ll get more complicated if there’s
    interest and if I dig up some money to pay the tech person. For now,
    if you have an Iphone and a dollar to spend check out my app. It’s
    called ArtStart and it is new to the Itunes store this week.

    To Find it go to ITunes store and put in the word ArtStart. I’m
    working on putting up a blog with art made inspired by the app so if
    you or your students make anything new thanks to the app please get in
    touch with me at artstart.dotdot@gmail.com

    Let me know what you think!!

    thanks
    marisa

  • […] our best iPhone app list last year, there have been many excellent apps to appear on the scene for iPhone, iTouch, and the […]

  • […] our best iPhone app list last year, there have been many excellent apps to appear on the scene for the iPhone, iPad and iPod […]

  • February 22, 2011

    Bob

    Voxel is a great low-res sculpture app! Free to try too!
    http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/voxel/id333186489?mt=8

  • April 14, 2011

    RichardML

    I’ve been using ArtStudio for ipod touch for a while now. I liken it to photoshop in the amount of flexibilty over brush settings and layer adjustments. Although not AS big as PS (i have PS CS5) you can have 5 layers at a time and free transform/rotate/move each layer. I prefer Artstudio over sketchbook or brushes. From what Ive seen, brushes doesnt have the amount of flex as ArtStudio. On a final note, Strip Design is great for aspiring comic artists. Good templates to arrange your artwork and add bubbles. Lots of other built in filters. Animation is a fun animator with onion skinning and all. REALLY fun app. Reminds me of the days I used to draw comic strips on the corners of my notebooks. Cheers! Hope this helps!

  • October 25, 2013

    Kathy Kilday

    Google earth is an excellent tool for teaching perspective. Just click on street view!

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