How to make Apple Watch sketches that don't suck

Rene and I are not-so-secret hobbyist cartoonists, and we've been trading sketches on the Apple Watch all weekend. Here are some of the tips I've been using to beat his ridiculously awesome-looking Batmans, Hulks, and random robots — hopefully they may help your burgeoning sketching efforts as well.

Practice, practice, practice

Drawing with your finger is hard. Drawing with your finger on a canvas you can't really see or zoom on is harder. Your first couple of drawings are going to be terrible, and that's okay. And if you're really self-conscious about people seeing your first attempts, practice on the iPad!

And no, you don't need a stylus. Don't be silly. Any capacitative stylus that works on the Apple Watch will be as big as your finger, anyway.

Trace the same outline multiple times

When you're drawing on a surface and can't see your line, you can find your spacial awareness by tracing the same area multiple times. It also helps to define the general outline of whatever it is that you're drawing.

Use custom color to make your drawing pop

Want to really blow your Apple Watch-wearing friends' minds? Use a custom color by tapping on the color picker, then tapping and holding on a specific color to open up the full color wheel. (Unfortunately, you can't get custom shades of white or grey — only colors or flat white.)

You are limited to one color in your drawing, but don't look at it as a terrible constraint — instead, think about how a single color can really emphasize whatever it is you're drawing. Use the color most appropriate for your drawing, whether it's blue for a perky Star Wars robot, red for a 1UP mushroom, or green for far-away mountains.

Brace your watch for stability (and don't forget to breathe)

You can use your thumb to brace your Watch's body while you sketch with your index finger or you can rest it on your leg if you're sitting down; this gives you a bit more stability when sketching and allows you to press a little harder on the canvas. Also, though it seems like common sense, breathing normally will allow you better control over your Watch — holding your breath will only make your Watch shake more when you eventually take a breath.

Draw with your dominant hand

Turns out: If you're used to drawing or writing with a certain hand, you're probably going to be more comfortable finger painting with it, too. But if you, like me, tend to wear your Watch on your dominant hand, there's one other option...

Take the watch off

This is perhaps a little extreme for most casual doodlers, but if you really want to show up your friends, you can take off the watch, stabilize it how you wish, and draw away. They'll never know.

As long as you're drawing, it won't send

There's about a four second pause before your drawing is whisked away into the mists of Digital Touch land toward your friend's Watch, but you can extend that time by repeatedly shading, sketching, or drawing a single line while you think of what to add to your drawing. I'll often trace over something I've already drawn if I know I want to add something but am not really sure what to send next.

Draw layered images

Remember: your friends see what you draw in the order that you draw it. You can have a lot of fun with this by starting with one object, then turning it into something completely different. Recently, for example, I drew a small stick figure with a broken half-heart, then drew another stick figure next to it and the other half of the heart, and a lovely beach side.

(I also drew a content little sheep — who then got eaten by a dragon. Dealer's choice.)

Draw cartoon sequences!

If you really want to have some fun with your drawings, consider planning and sending a multi-panel cartoon! If you draw multiple sketches for your friends, they'll play in sequence; as such, you can script and send wordless comics to your buddies if you put a little bit of thought into your sketches beforehand.

Most importantly: Have fun!

The Digital Touch feature is meant to be fun. If you're stressing out about it, don't — it's just a silly fun feature to enjoy with your friends and family. Find what you like about it, and use accordingly!

Serenity Caldwell

Serenity was formerly the Managing Editor at iMore, and now works for Apple. She's been talking, writing about, and tinkering with Apple products since she was old enough to double-click. In her spare time, she sketches, sings, and in her secret superhero life, plays roller derby. Follow her on Twitter @settern.

  • Step 0. Know someone else with an Apple Watch. At least no one will know how bad I draw....
  • Yeah, I imagine I will find a friend with an Apple Watch probably within the first year or two of wearing it.
  • I will be your drawing buddy.
  • Same here. I'm the only person I know who has ordered one.
  • Sane to you. I will draw with you for fun.
  • Well, thanks. Now I just have to wait until May 15-28 for my Watch to arrive! grrrrr haha
  • Same here. I have the same ship time frame.
  • 42 mm Space Grey Sport by chance?
  • Yup. Sent from the iMore App
  • I'm six hours away from the nearest Apple Store but I was in Las Vegas on vacation last week so I went to a store and tried one on. I was shocked by how much better it looked in real life. I even took a picture of it on my wrist. How sad is that? haha
  • I thought the same thing when I saw it in person. I live about 6 minutes away from a store though. ;-). I did take a picture of it but not on my wrist.
  • Oh, sure, rub that in! What was really surprising is that it doesn't look so BIG in person. It's like they only took pictures of the Watch on tiny people or something. And every picture I've seen makes it look really thick but not in person. It's kind of confusing.
  • This is like Draw Something, the Sequel. Lets hope Apple isn't bought out by Zynga. ;)
  • Please no more "hit the right button to read this article." More ad views, but bad user experience on mobile.