multiuser realtime paint/chat system

Sketcher is a multiuser realtime system for painting and chatting together. It features adjustable soft and hard brushes (anti-aliased), Photoshop™-style layers, zoom and IRC-styled chat.

The client

The client runs as a Java applet in the user's browser. Initially, the GUI was Swing-based, but after some research and a serious refactoring, it ended up as a Thinlet. It's hard to say that a graphics-heavy application like Sketcher is thin, though...

There is support for pressure sensitive tablets via the Cellosoft JTablet plug-in. It currently only works with J2SE for Windows, but Mac and Linux versions have been planned.

The client has a "Jag filter" feature that helps make quick strokes smoother by recursively breaking up lines into smaller segments, resulting in a smooth drawing experience, even with a choppy $80 tablet.

Main screen

Brush tab

Color tab

Layers tab

The server

The server is a non-interactive console application written in Java. It features a configuration file, connection thread pooling and uses the >log4j library for logging.

Server running on remote screen

Current status

The project has reached maturity, but a major rewrite of Sketcher is expected to be completed some time in 2006. A working implementation of the older system is currently run and maintained at ArtGrounds.


Sketcher is currently not available for download. Future releases are expected to be under a closed-source license. Contact us at if your firm is interested in deploying Sketcher. Logo

Copyright © 2005-2006 Thor Harald Johansen
All rights reserved