Joy to the squiggly fishes in that deep blue salty ol’ sea

First impressions

Our sister is an accomplished artist, so we wondered if perhaps it was in our genes as well. We were therefore delighted to find SquiggleFish; a terrific little app that allows children (and no doubt many adults) to explore the artist within.

We had our markers, crayons and many blank sheets of paper ready to go and asked for complete silence in the house as we attempted to find some inspiration. All we had to do was draw a colourful fish on the paper, scan it, and watch it come to life courtesy of SquiggleFish. Could a call from Pixar Studios be far behind?

How it works

You need to have a completely blank piece of white paper and a nice collection of coloured pencils, crayons, markers … whatever takes your fancy. Just make they’re good, strong colours.

Next you draw a fish on your paper, following the tips and rules you’re given by the app, and then use your iPad camera to scan it in. Suddenly it’s swimming around in a cyber sea just waiting to be joined by other little friends that you dream up.

When you download the app it opens with the sea scene and then a hand appears, showing you how to swipe down to bring up the scanning window. In case you wonder what the rules are to get the best results, you can press the “?” sign which will take you to some simple, visual aids. Among these you’ll see that colouring the entire fish in with certain shades is a no-no, along with using lined or coloured paper. You also want to make sure you’re in nice bright light when scanning in your masterpiece.

This is quite important: the app will only capture your picture if it’s picking it up properly. You don’t press any buttons on your iPad, or part of the screen. You basically just hold the window steady over the picture and if it recognises it, it’ll scan it.

You can keep adding to your growing undersea aquarium, change the direction of your fish, or if you’re not impressed with one of your creations (or would like to start over) you can select a fish by tapping on it and choosing the trash option. Luckily it’s not real life, so you won’t need a Febreze option soon afterwards…

Sound effects include underwater bubbles and submarine noises, but of course the best part is seeing something you created swimming about. Children can have endless fun with this app, and it encourages them to be artistic whilst entertaining them at the same time.

When we tried it

Despite the intelligence we feel we possess, we confess that it took us a few minutes to grasp all the tips and tricks necessary to make this app work.

Our first drawing was an outline only, and then we swiped down on the screen to try and capture it but the app wasn’t having it. We kept tapping the iPad, followed by trying to find maybe a button or command we’d missed that would take the photo, but nothing was happening. We therefore looked like an idiot, trying to hover it over our beautiful first attempt with no luck whatsoever.

Obviously this was going to take a little bit more artistic effort on our part. We grabbed some colours and made sure the lines in the fins and the tail were easy to see. Time to try again.

This time it did capture it. We heard a very satisfying camera sound and there was our fish; only it looked like a ghost of a fish and we could barely see it swimming around. Hmmmm … maybe there had not been enough light in our dark corner of the living room.

Finally, after adding a few more colours for good measure, we got a great shot of our fishy, and hey presto, there it was swimming along, in and out of the soft corals or whatever was sitting on the sea floor.

We sent our ghost fish to the trash and then prepared to create some more treasures to give our swimmer some friends.

Final thoughts

Kids will absolutely love this app. I know ‘cos I tested a couple with it. It is so simple yet effective, and adults will get into it too. Just think; you can draw fish, whales, dolphins, lobsters … anything your imagination desires! Who’s to say a saucepan can’t swim?

Worth every penny; and it doesn’t cost much.

Pros: Very inexpensive. Easy to use. Brilliant for children.

Cons: A bit more written instruction would have been nice, but then maybe we’re an idiot.

SquiggleFish

Cost: $1.99

Seller: Stripey Design

Devices: iPad with camera

Rating: E for Everyone

Four stars

Sound effects include underwater bubbles and submarine noises, but of course the best part is seeing something you created swimming about.

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