Future
“Future” by mrkrndvs is licensed under CC BY-SA

I have been saying to quite a few people that there seems to be change afoot in regards to Google Drawings. I base this hunch on a few signs. The majority of the information in the support site has been stripped back, there is no mention in the GSuite Learning Centre and there is a move to remove Web Clipboard. Google also have history of buying other products and integrating them within their core suite. Google have purchased a number of image applications, such as Nik (rebranded as Snapseed). This got me thinking about what I would actually want in a revised Google Drawings:

SCREEN CAPTURE

In my job, I often use Google Drawings to annotate images on the web. Whether it be taking a screenshot or using an application to overlay, capturing the web often involves third party applications. In the past, I used SnagIt until it was removed it from the play store. What you realise when you work with Google Chrome is that extensions are built on APIs provided by Google. Therefore I wonder whether Drawings could incorporate some of the features that SnagIt used and in the Insert Image option provide the means to capture the browser.

EXTENDED EDITING FEATURES

One frustration with Drawings is the lack of options in regards to editing. Fine you can adjust the transperancy or apply some basic filters, there is little options for editing elements or applying personalised effects. In addition to this, it would be good to have some way of visualising the order of objects. Although this might be pushing it. It would be good to have.

MOBILE DRAWING

It has been interesting to watch the use of Google Keep grow and develop. One of the functionalities offered is the ability to capture and create on mobile. This includes drawing sketches and rough drawings. Drawings is not available on mobile and does not necessarily allow any means for freehand drawings. It would great to be able to make and create via mobile, especially iOS. Although Slides offers many of the same functionalities, the iOS does not really make creating images and diagrams easy. The closest thing available is AutoDraw, however that seems to be designed to gather data, rather than fill a gap.

IMPROVED QUALITY

Google Drawings offers the means of integrating images within other applications such as Docs and Slides. However, one of the limitations is that as soon as an image is added, the quality is stripped. This means that if you are serious about incorporating images then they need to be complete before being inserted into the document.


Maybe the change will be different? Maybe instead of recreating Drawings, the answer will be incorporating Android applications into the web? Maybe I should just stick to using the alternatives. It will be interesting to see.

So what about you? What would you add to Google Drawings? What would make it better for you? As always, comments welcome.


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Finding the Edges of Your Page
“Finding the Edges of Your Page” by mrkrndvs is licensed under CC BY-SA

Some consider Google Drawings little more than a mimic of Microsoft Paint. On the surface this would seem true. However, this seeming simplicity is often also its strength. I would sum Google Drawings up as an application that allows you to format and arrange various objects on a flexible canvas. Nothing more and nothing less. Once you see the pieces, then the various possibilities open up, whether they be:

Sometimes the challenge with an application like Drawings is finding an idea that allows you to explore the various possibilities. In the past I used a task involving the creation of a visual quote. Although this ideas is both simple and creative, I felt that it does not capture all of the nuances. One activity that I have been working on lately that does capture many of possibilities of Google Drawings is the idea of creating a comic. Continue reading


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flickr photo shared by mrkrndvs under a Creative Commons ( BY-NC-SA ) license

Session Description

For some Google Drawings is just a dumbed down version of Paint not allowing for much. However, the collaborative and constrained nature opens up so many different possibilities. This session will explore some of the different possibilities associated with Google Drawings from making collaborative brainstorms to developing complex flowcharts to creating engaging graphics. It will be jam packed with practical samples and examples. Aaron hopes to spur on new ideas and start the conversation about why you should start using Google Drawings more today.

Often Google Drawings is overlooked as being a simple graphic program, offering not much more functionality than Microsoft Paint. You are able to add images, text, shapes, links and lines, while in regards to images, you can crop, re-colour and adjust the basic image settings. That means no touch-ups, no effects, no textures. However, what makes this more than Paint is the collaborative nature. The ability to easily share opens up many possibilities, whether it be working on a project, creating a brainstorm or just sharing a file to be remixed. In some respect the perceived limitations of Google Drawings are often its strengths.

For example, there are some out there who use Drawings to create eye catching visuals. Bypassing the many applications, instead using Google Drawings to create infographics. Tony Vincent has made a fantastic video documenting how he did this to create an infographic associated with Periscope.

Features of Google Drawings

Google Drawings has many features, this is a list of some of them:

  • Resize the canvas, either by manually dragging the edge at the bottom or in Page Setup within File to make something specific.
  • Insert a range of objects, including text, images, shapes, word art and tables
  • Draw lines
  • Format shapes: This includes colour fill, as well as width and style of the border.
  • Group, order and arrange objects
  • Access different fonts from the Google Fonts Library
  • Edit images, including cropping to a shape, adding borders, inserting links and adjusting the colour settings.
  • Red and blue guidelines helps you to organise the different objects both in regards to alignment and size.
  • Share shapes with other applications using web clipboard in edit
  • Publish to the web, not only is this useful in its own accord, but it also provides the means to embed within a website.

For a thorough step-by-step introduction to Google Drawings, I recommend looking at Kasey Bell’s Cheat Sheet.

Tips using Google Drawings

Here are some tips to help working with Google Drawings:

  • Holding SHIFT will allow you to make finer adjustments, constrain movement to the nearest axises and maintain relative proportions when resizing.
  • Holding down Ctrl allows you to choose multiple objects, when clicking and dragging off an object it allows you to create a duplicate, while when adjusting the node of an object allows you to maintain the dimensions
  • Holding ALT temporarily disable ‘Snap to Grid’
  • Canvases are transparent, but will turn to white if you download them as a JPEG. If you want to change the background colour, right click on the canvas to get the different options.
  • Clear formatting can be useful when copying in text to clear the formatting
  • Replace image, not only will this keep the same dimensions as the previous image, but it will crop it to fit
  • Use the workspace around the canvas to store elements and instructions offstage.
  • For my tips, here is an extensive list of shortcuts

Ideas for using Google Drawings

There are many ways of using Google Drawings. It like to break it down into six categories:

Graphic Organisers

Drawings provides the ability to create and collaboratively complete graphic organisers. This can be anything from a Venn diagram, to seating plan to a sporting line-up. Eric Curts has created a great collection of templates to easily copy into your Drive.

Visualising Thinking

By using shapes, lines and texts Drawings allows you to create brainstorms, concept maps, timelines, flowcharts and infographics with ease. What is good is that you can easily build upon past designs.

Digital Manipulatives

Whether it be working with a fraction wall,, making messages with magnetic poetry, moving the hands of a clock to tell the time, or organising different shapes into categories, Drawings allows you to create resources that allow students to engage with.

Web Clipboard

Using the line tool, create arrows to the different parts and then add text to describe them. This can be particularly useful when creating diagrams or annotating images for tutorials for Docs, Slides and Sheets. Using web clipboard, images can be created using Drawings then transferred to other programs. The benefit is that unlike copying a finished image, you are able to continue to make changes and adjustments. See Andy Hair’s course diagram for an example.

Desktop Publishing

Building on the idea of Web Clipboard, you can use the full suite of applications to create merges for any situation. Sylvia Duckworth provides a tutorial for how to quickly and easily create personalised cards.

Avatars and Images

Through the use of shapes and lines, you are actually able to make a wide range of images. From cartoon characters and vector portraits, to visual quotes, memes and motivational posters. What is great is the ease in which you can just remix an old design.

Activities

Wanting to explore Google Drawings, have a go at the following activities:

  • Create a Visual Quote: Use the ingredients provided to create your own visual quote.
  • Design a Flowchart: Choose one of the ideas provided and create a flowchart describing how you could use it in your own classroom.
  • Make your own Avatar. Using James Peterson’s tutorial as a guide, have a go at creating a new avatar by taking a picture and turning it into a vector image.

General Resources:


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Quickmakes Drawings
Digital Creating and Making at #DigiCon15 http://bit.ly/quickmakes

Often Google Drawings is overlooked as being a simple graphic program, offering not much more functionality than Microsoft Paint. You are able to add images, text, shapes, links and lines, while in regards to images, you can crop, re-colour and adjust the basic image settings. That means no touch-ups, no effects, no textures. However, what makes this more than Paint is the collaborative nature. The ability to easily share opens up many possibilities, whether it be working on a project, creating a brainstorm or just sharing a file to be remixed. In some respect the perceived limitations of Google Drawings are often its strengths.

For example, there are some out there who use Drawings to create eye catching visuals. Bypassing the many applications, instead using Google Drawings to create infographics. Tony Vincent has made a fantastic video documenting how he did this to create an infographic associated with Periscope.

To support this process, Alice Keeler uses templates so that all the different elements are already there off the page in the margins. In addition to templates, the simple ability to easily share and remix a make is sometimes enough. See Sylvia Duckworth’s wonderful presentation for different possibilities, including:

  • Creating flowcharts and mindmaps
  • Developing collaborative brainstorms
  • Making visual graphics

So what about you, how do you use Google Drawings? Would love to know.


Here are some resources to support:

Getting Creative with Google Drawings – Sylvia Duckworth

Google Drawings Graphic Organisers – Matt Miller

Creating a Drawingsing Template – By Alice Keeler

Making Mind Maps – By Alice Keeler


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