17 Web-based Sketching and Painting Tools

Most business owners need a graphic design tool from time to time. From sketching out a new logo, animation for a slide presentation, or to create caricatures of your crew to increase morale, these tools can help you without the added cost of traditional art software.

This post highlights 17 tools to help you draw out your ideas. Most of these are free unless otherwise noted. Most run within your web browser with just one click or two and allow you to save an image file.

Skitch from Evernote is one of my favorite tools for drawing. Skitch for iPad is the one I use and it makes a lot of sense from a tablet or smartphone. They do have versions for Windows and Mac. You can mark up a web page easily or draw something from scratch, then save to Evernote which is part of why it is popular and effective. The red arrow, pink blob, and red box are my marks, not from the elegant Evernote team!

painting sketching tools

FlashPAINT v2 lets you draw and paint online with a Flash paint tool. Click the “Paint” link in the left navigation box to get started. You are able to save your drawings (and post them to the public gallery). Provides you with a grid paper option to make drawing easier.

Gliffy allows you to create technical drawings but has the added diversity of creating flowcharts, diagrams, floor plans, Venn diagrams, and SWOT analyses. It works directly in your browser with easy to use with drag-and-drop shapes from the available library.  Works with Windows and iOS; provides online sharing and collaboration. There is a free 30-day trial with $4.95 monthly subscriptions after that.

Myoats offers an interesting drawing tool because you can create multisided figures. It only allows you to draw, but the multifaceted effects work like a kaleidoscope. Simple one-sided drawing is available as well, but the strength of this website is in its ability to replicate what you have drawn.

Pencil Madness only creates sketched drawings, but it has interesting effects including spider webbing, bubbles, the leaky ink pen, grids, squares, a water smeared line, icicles, and spindles. I found it fun to play with this application and kept doodling. I even saved a few of my masterpieces, but I’m not sharing them. See image of a much better sketch in screenshot below.

painting sketching tools

Draw Island Allows you to paint or draw. It is unique in that you can create animations with this tool, as well. However, the animation feature only currently works if you have Firefox (Mozilla) for your Web browser.

Sketchpad is solely a free online paint tool, but the effects it can create are awesome. There are stamp, wallpaper, geometric design, and fill options. Its unique color adjusting method allows you to visualize your scheme easier. It also has an option of painting in two tones.

Viscosity is a unique abstract art creation site. Like other online painting and drawing websites, you are allowed to save your work on your computer. The difference is you begin viscosity with a mixed palette, which you drag your “brush” through. This tool is a little more difficult to use effectively, but it is also extremely enjoyable.

Do Ink is a drawing and animation application that allows you to use vector-drawing tools to create your pictures. Aside from the traditional drawing tool, you also get art props that will add to the drawings you create. Do Ink is only available in a downloadable form for the iPad, iPhone, and iTouch.

Odosketch is interesting because the sketches it creates resemble pencil and watercolor. The tips of your brush create both thin lines and wide ribbons. When you select your color you can also select the width of the tip. Create your sketch free online and then save it to your hard drive or disk.

FlockDraw is an excellent choice for collaborative business drawing. It allows an unlimited number of users to participate for free. Think of a community whiteboard in an online format and you will have the essence of FlockDraw.

painting sketching tools

Artpad is an online painting tool that allows you to see the paintbrush. You can change colors, brush sizes, paint opacity, and you can even splatter paint or write on your drawing. It will let you replay your drawing and save it or any frame from the replay.

Scriblink is an online whiteboard for users to share across the Internet. Use their board on their website or it allows you to download their whiteboard to fit your website for ($9 to $29 per month). It needs Java to run and I had a few problems with it, but overall it is a solid tool.

Graffiti Plado allows you to bring the street to your art. Using spray paint on a wall texture background create your ideas and save them. Allows you to adjust color, size of the spray, strength, and even whether or not you want to see and hear the spray can while you paint.

Wixie has all the traditional paint and drawing options, but adds in three-dimensional, crayon, and stretch functions. This website also allows you to choose the texture of your fills.

Brushter is a free online painting website with a twist. Its paintbrushes all produce textured strokes. Like other painting websites, you can choose your colors, shades, and widths. You need the Adobe Shockwave Player to use it. This tool is produced by the National Gallery of Art.

Onemotion is an online painting website. It allows you to adjust brush width and color, but its unique feature is that your speed controls the width of your line.

What art program do you use to sketch out your ideas?


TJ McCue TJ McCue served as Technology/Product Review Editor for Small Business Trends for many years and now contributes on 3D technologies. He is currently traveling the USA on the 3DRV roadtrip and writes at the Refine Digital blog.

18 Reactions
  1. Hi TJ, thanks for another awesome post about tech tools. I had no idea there were so many sketching and painting tools.

    How do you recommend using these? Can they be used along with mind mapping tools? Or when you have something specific to draw? Or both?

    – Anita

  2. Hi Anita,
    I see them as multi-purpose, but mostly I would use them as a whiteboard. A whiteboard that comes with pretty powerful markers. Sketch out ideas that you can save on the web. Doodle (ha) – some of them are quite addictive. I thought about linking to that mindmapping post we did long ago as some the images might pop right into a map.

    Also, the Evernote Skitch one allows you to grab a web page or image or logo and modify it. So, I could see someone doing mockups of web pages quickly with that one, perhaps.

    For the WAHM or solopreneur who sometimes has kids around, well, I think they would be a great entertainment option.

  3. I’m a huge fan of Moqups. It’s free, fast and easy. I’ve used it several times to prototype/mock-up an application or a web design. Super cool of them to provide it and it’s full-featured.

    Link: https://moqups.com/

  4. How awesome! Thanks so much for providing this resource, TJ. I had no idea there were so many paint and sketch tools. I’m def bookmarking this post for future reference.


  5. TJ,

    Another good one is http://www.picmonkey.com. Lots of Free tools for styling Online images.



  6. Great collection to bookmark when the need arises, TJ; actually passed it on to my readers: http://www.trafficgenerationcafe.com/my-espresso-reading-list-february-1-2013/

  7. Ben | Local Markets

    I am always looking for simpler ways to do things other than using GIMP – it is too slow and clunky and often the detail is beyond my cope. These little tools are just great.

  8. Paint doodler is fairly new website launched. Looks pretty useful. It allows user to edit images draw and connects well with social networking sites. It’s free to use. It has reasonable tutorials.
    URL http://paint.paintdoodler.com

  9. Considering I asked Google for online sketch tools, the first tool you referenced ‘Skitch’ is a download … and I sure don’t want anything I know ZIP about downloaded onto my pc. If you could simple stick to ONLINE tools.. that would have helped.

    • Hi Connie,

      Yes this is a download, but it is from Evernote — a very well known brand. It’s on the Evernote site. It’s a good tool. And about as safe as anything you’ll find online.

      – Anita

  10. We took a look at the sites that tanked and the sites that didn’t, and for both we looked at what their anchor text distribution was.

  11. Great collection to bookmark when the need arises, TJ; actually passed it on

  12. Pencil Madness has its log in,software, all mechanics to get in,and out, ruined and screwed upI CAN’T LOG IN, THERE, THEY CAN’T OR WONT FIX IT. PENCIL MADNESS IS NOT FUNCTIONING HARDLY; WAIT TILL THE SOFTWARE LOCKS YOU OUT, AND IT WON’T WORK.–YOU’LL GIVE IT A BAD REVIEW TOO.

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