Using the Pic Collage Draw Tool in the Classroom

By Erin Flanagan

The Draw tool is one of many editing effects on Pic Collage and Pic Collage Kids that elevates this app from a simple photo app into a powerful classroom tool for annotating, creating, and mind-mapping. The Draw tool is basically a pen with a selection of colors and sizes that can be used to write on images inserted onto the Pic Collage canvas.

How to Use the Pic Collage Draw Tool


To open the Draw tool, students will double touch an image on the canvas – either one they have taken with the iPad camera or inserted via the Web Search function.

After double-touching an image, select Effects to open a set of specific image-editing tools.  We use a bunch of these photo editing effects in the classroom, but for today’s post, I’m focusing on drawing, so students should scroll left until they see the Draw icon.

Choose a pen size and color then use your fingers to add lines directly to the image selected.  Use the eraser tool to touch any pen lines you want to erase.

Pinch the image from inside the Draw window to zoom in and out which makes it easy to circle or draw arrows to specific places on an image.  When finished, touch Apply then Done to insert the marked-up image back onto the canvas.

From there you can crop, resize or move the image where you desire on the canvas.  I suggest using the Draw tool before cropping & resizing since it only marks up the original image anyway.

How to Create a “Stand-Alone” Drawing


You can make a white-board style drawing with Pic Collage too using this simple trick.  First use the Web Image Search and type “white” in the search bar.  A bunch of blank white squares come up – pick one (usually the first 3 are best).

Next double touch the white image and choose Effects, then scroll to the Draw button.  You now have a blank white canvas to draw on!

Adding student-created drawings to Pic Collage is a great way to personalize the canvas. I’ve shared a more detailed version of using Pic Collage like a whiteboard app on Erintegration for more information.

How to Draw Across the Whole Pic Collage Canvas


Since the Draw tool only allows you to write on one image at a time and not directly onto the canvas itself, you will need to use this easy hack to write on the canvas itself.  First, create and finish whatever the project is in Pic Collage and save it to the camera roll.

Next, open a new freestyle Pic Collage canvas, touch the plus sign, and insert the saved Pic Collage image.  Since the saved Pic Collage is now one flattened image instead of individual clips, you can double touch it, pick Effects, and use the Draw tool to write on it.

We use this hack in the classroom to label finished Pic Collages and grids.  Students could also add feedback to each other’s work without compromising the original piece.

Ideas for Using the Draw Tool in the Classroom

Annotate a reading passage by taking a picture of the text and have students mark it up with the pen or take pictures of the illustrations in a book, math story problems, maps, and other items in the classroom.  Students can then use the images as part of a collage on that topic.

You can even assign various pen colors to mean different things.  Make sure to remind students they can zoom in by pinching the image in the drawing window as this is key to annotating accurately!

Here are some ideas:

  1. Underline verbs in red, nouns in green and adjectives in yellow.
  2. Use different colors to denote the main idea and details.
  3. Underline various literary devices like foreshadowing and metaphors.
  4. Label the rhyme scheme of a poem.
  5. Circle the names of characters.
  6. Underline descriptions of the setting.
  7. Find and underline punctuation marks.
  8. Draw arrows to point to specific items of interest in an illustration.
  9. Underline words with different patterns specific colors i.e. short “a” in red, “silent e” in blue.
  10. Circle, draw arrows, or underline nonfiction text features.
  11. Edit sentences.
  12. Underline or circle keywords in a math problem.
  13. Label measurements of objects in the classroom.
  14. Create diagrams.
  15. Circle features on a map such as lakes, rivers, and mountain ranges or star important locations.
  16. Complete mazes, connect the dots, and other fast-finisher activities – just leave one copy for students to take a picture of and insert into Pic Collage.
  17. Create mind-maps, webs, and sketch-notes about a topic by making mini whiteboards as outlined above for each piece of the web.

These are just some ideas to get you started using this versatile tool on this versatile app!  I’m sharing many of these projects and more ways to use Pic Collagein detailed posts on my blog too.


Erin Flanagan is technology enthusiast, the teacher behind Erintegration, and a PicCollage Ambassador.  It is her passion to help teachers by sharing resources, lesson plans, reviews, and tips for using iPads, Google Apps, and other devices to engage digital learners in all curriculum areas. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram to see how she’s integrating technology across the curriculum and be sure to tag her to share other ways you have used the Draw tool in Pic Collage!

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