How to use apps to draw on a computer with Chrome

If you want to draw in the Chrome browser on your Windows, macOS or Chrome desktop or laptop, these apps are worth trying.

Illustration: Andy Wolber / TechRepublic

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When people mention drawing tools, they usually mean things such as pencils, pens, markers, chalk or more recently, tablets and styluses. That is appropriate, because people have been using those tools for years to draw.

But the Chrome browser can also serve as an effective drawing tool when used with a well-chosen web app. With all the apps below you can use a mouse or touchpad to draw on a computer in Chrome; If your system has a touchscreen, these apps also accept markings made with a finger or stylus. With these apps you can sketch a process, capture a concept or illustrate your thinking – all in a desktop web browser.

SEE: Multicloud: a cheat sheet (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

Google and various developers offer drawing apps that work in a browser. Google creates at least five drawing apps, although no Google drawing app contains a complete set of drawing tools. The other browser-based apps below are roughly listed in order of ease of use, ability, and price. (The two apps at the bottom of the list are both fully functional vector graphic design apps.)

1. Google drawing apps

Google Drawings, Chrome Canvas, Jamboard, Google Keep and Autodraw offer various drawing options.

  • Google Drawings works best to create diagrams, process maps, and other shape or frame style formats.

  • Chrome Canvas supports freehand sketches in four styles (pencil, pen, marker, and chalk) and lets you draw up to 10 different layers.

  • With Google Keep, you can not only draw a note, but also recognize handwritten words in your signed notes when you search in Keep.

  • Jamboard, a collaboration app primarily intended for meetings, lets people draw in one or more rectangular frames.

  • The primary purpose of the AutoDraw app is to find a professionally created image that matches the lines you draw.

For more information about Google’s drawing apps, read and compare the current Google drawing apps from Tom Mullaney.

SEE: How to use four Jamboard functions on the web (TechRepublic)

Google offers at least five apps with drawings: Chrome Canvas, Google Drawings, Google Keep, Jamboard and AutoDraw.

2. Limnu

Limnu is the most elegant and simple drawing app that works in a browser. It offers, among other things, a limited set of colors, shapes, pens and pen sizes. The app supports both private and collaborative boards, and also includes video conferencing capabilities.

You can subscribe to the Limnu Pro Plan for $ 5 per month (or $ 50 per year) or the Limnu Team Plan for groups at $ 8 per person per month (or $ 80 per person per year). More information about the prices of Limnu.

Limnu offers a simple and elegant drawing experience.

3. Sketch block

Sketchpad supports a variety of pen types, shapes, text and illustrations. With layer support, the apps allow you to hide, duplicate, or delete each layer, in addition to moving a layer forward or backward, or forward or backward. Even better, Sketchpad is free to use online, although you can purchase a desktop version of the app ($ 4.95), which allows you to save files offline.

Sketchpad offers many pen types and tools. The app also supports layers.

4. Boxy SVG

Boxy SVG (scalable vector graphics) delivers a powerful vector design app. As the name implies, the scale of vector images is scaled so that the size of images you create can be scaled up or down without loss of resolution. The app contains a long list of drawing, text, object and shape creation and manipulation tools.

You can subscribe to the Chrome app on Windows or macOS ($ 9 per month) or, on a Chrome OS device with access to the Chrome Web Store, purchase the app for a one-time fee of $ 9.99.

Boxy SVG offers a powerful vector design app, available as a subscription (in Chrome on a computer) or Chrome Web Store purchase (on Chrome OS).

5. Gravit Designer

Gravit Designer (free) and Gravit Designer PRO ($ 49 per year) are now offered by Corel Corporation and both offer professional vector editing functions. The paid version improves access to fonts, expands import and export options and adds many other image editing options. The upgrade also adds cloud storage, with access to the history of the project version.

There is a free version of Gravit Designer that everyone can use and a paid version with professional graphic design tools for vector graphics.

Your experience?

Android apps can also be an option. Many Chromebooks and Chrome OS devices support the installation of Android drawing apps, such as Autodesk SketchBook or Adobe Illustrator Draw. And while you don’t have access to those Android apps when you use Chrome on another platform, such as Windows or macOS, Autodesk and Adobe offer drawing apps for those platforms.

Which of the Google drawing apps do you use the most? Which web-based drawing app do you prefer that works on your computer in Chrome? Let me know in the comments below or on Twitter (@awolber).

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