A canvas based drawing app that you can integrate easily on your website.
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This is a canvas based drawing app that you can integrate easily on your website.

drawingboard.js consists of a blank canvas surrounded by a few UI elements that control it: a color picker, a pencil, a paint can, an eraser, a pencil size chooser, navigations and reset buttons.

You can draw with mouse or touch on pretty much every browser that supports <canvas>. Didn't test that much on IE but hey, WIP.

local and session storage are supported: your last drawing is restored when you come back on the website.

You can set a background image at initialization, or let the user drop one on the canvas.

The drawingboard is really lightweight, but also really simple: if you want something more complete, go look at similar projects at the bottom of this doc.

Requirements and Installation

Check the source of the demo page to see how to integrate the drawingboard in practice

The board requires jQuery. Since its usage is pretty light, it may work as usual if you use zepto but I didn't test it.

If you use Bower, getting the files is easy with command line: bower install drawingboard.js.

After jQuery, you can include the minified script and stylesheet contained in the dist folder. drawingboard.min.js (~4.1kb minified and gzipped) contains everything whereas drawingboard.nocontrol.min.js (~2.6kb) does not contain controls. Don't worry about having to store icon files on your server: they are directly embedded in the CSS as base64 strings.

Creating a drawingboard

Check the source of the demo page to see how to integrate the drawingboard in practice

The drawingboard is tied to an HTML element with an #id. Set the dimensions of the desired board with CSS on the HTML element, and create it with one line of JavaScript:

<div id="zbeubeu"></div>

	#zbeubeu {
		width: 400px;
		height: 600px;

	var myBoard = new DrawingBoard.Board('zbeubeu');


When instantiating the drawingboard, you can pass a few options as the 2nd parameter in an object:

  • controls: an array containing the list of controls automatically loaded with the board. The 'Color', 'DrawingMode', 'Size' and 'Navigation' controls are loaded by default. You can pass an object instead of a string to pass control options (ie ['Color', { Navigation: { reset: false }}]).
  • controlsPosition: define where to put the controls: at the "top" or "bottom" of the canvas, aligned to "left"/"right"/"center". "top left" by default.
  • color: the board's pencil color. "#000000" (black) by default.
  • size: the board's pencil size (integer). 1px radius by default.
  • background: the board's background. Give an hex/rgb/hsl value for a color, false to have nothing (transparent board). Anything else will be seen as an image. "#fff" (white) by default.
  • eraserColor: color of the eraser tool. Set to "background" so that the eraser takes the background color, "transparent" to make transparent lines or set any other color directly (rgb, hsl, #). "background" by default.
  • webStorage: do we enable webStorage support? can be "session", "local" or false. The drawing is saved in sessionStorage or localStorage and restored when you come back on it. "session" by default.
  • droppable: do we allow the user to drop an image on the board to draw on it? false by default.
  • enlargeYourContainer: how should be sized the drawingboard? When true, the CSS width and height will be set on the final board's canvas, ie the drawing zone. In the example above, that means the board's container will be taller than 400px because of the controls height. If false, the CSS width and height will be set on the board's container. That means the addition of the canvas and the controls will be 400px high. false by default.
  • errorMessage: html string to put in the board's element on browsers that don't support canvas.
  • stretchImg: default behavior of image setting on the canvas: set to the canvas width/height or not? false by default


A "control" is a UI element designed to let the user interact with the board. Change the size/color of the pencil, navigate through the drawings history, have an "eraser" button... you can pretty much do what you want.

The drawingboard has a few simple controls loaded by default, but you can easily create your own if the given ones don't satisfy you or else.

Included controls

  • DrawingBoard.Control.Color: the color picker.
  • DrawingBoard.Control.Size: a pencil size chooser. Choose your type in the options: "dropdown" is a simple dropdown menu, whereas "range" uses a range input. Default to "auto": if the browser supports the range input it will use it, otherwise it will use the dropdown menu. As seen in the example page, you can set the type to "range" and add a range input polyfill if you want it on every browser.
  • DrawingBoard.Control.DrawingMode: show buttons to draw with the "pencil" (normal mode), the "filler" (the paint can) and an "eraser". You can choose which buttons to show with the options.
  • DrawingBoard.Control.Navigation: undo, redo actions and reset the canvas to blank with 3 buttons. You can choose to show or hide each button individually with options.
  • DrawingBoard.Control.Download: show a button to download current drawing (not loaded by default).

Creating new controls

Every control extends the DrawingBoard.Control class. You can define a new control by extending it in the same way Backbone.js works:

DrawingBoard.Control.Example = DrawingBoard.Control.extend({

A control has a few attributes and methods:

  • name: name of the control. Used to add a class on the div element that will be appended to the drawing-board-controls container (prefixed with "drawing-board-control-").
  • $el: the jQuery object that will be appended to the drawing-board-controls container.
  • initialize: the function invoked when a new instance of the control is created. A DrawingBoard.Board object is passed as 1st argument and an object of options as 2nd.
  • board: the DrawingBoard.Board attached to the control.
  • opts: the options passed at initialization of an instance.
  • defaults: default options of the class.
  • addToBoard: appends the control to the DOM.
  • onBoardReset: method bind to the board:reset event.

With the board property you can pretty much do what you want: bind to and trigger events (this.board.ev), manipulate the canvas through the rendering context (this.board.ctx), etc.

Note: since the controls are displayed as table-cell, you might want to add a div.drawing-board-control-inner when you create your control template (like in the 'Color' and the 'Size' controls) if you need to position relative/absolute things.


The drawingboard has events included that you can rely on. Events are all dispatched in the ev attribute of the board, which is based on the microevent.js library.

Events currently triggered are:

  • board:reset
  • board:restoreLocalStorage
  • board:restoreSessionStorage
  • board:saveLocalStorage
  • board:saveSessionStorage
  • board:clearLocalStorage
  • board:clearSessionStorage
  • board:mode
  • board:startDrawing
  • board:drawing
  • board:stopDrawing
  • board:mouseOver
  • board:mouseOut
  • board:userAction
  • board:imageDropped
  • color:changed (from the Color control)
  • size:changed (from the Size control)

When using the drawingboard or adding features, follow the MicroEvent simple API:

var myBoard = new DrawingBoard.Board('zbeubeu');

//listen to an event
myBoard.ev.bind('board:reset', why);

//stop listening to it
myBoard.ev.unbind('board:reset', why);

function why() {
    alert('OH GOD WHY');

//you can also trigger new events
myBoard.ev.trigger('readme:example', 'what', 'up');

//and listen to them
myBoard.ev.bind('readme:example', function(one, two) {
    console.log(one, two); // 'what', 'up'

Getting the image inside the board to store server-side

A common thing you may want to do is to store images drawn with the board on your server. This is simple to do with the getImg method that returns the board content as a 64 bit encoded PNG URL.

One very simple example of storing drawingboard images with PHP is shown in this gist.

Building your own

If you have style changes to make, you can use Compass. If you've added some controls or changed the drawingboard a bit, you can rebuild the minified files with Grunt:

  • in the Gruntfile.js file, update the concat task by setting all the source files you want
  • install grunt globally if necessary, and run npm install in your command line in the project to install the project-specific grunt tools. In the end, run grunt. Minified files in the dist folders are now updated.

Third party stuff used

The drawingboard works thanks to:

Want more? Alternatives to drawingboard.js

drawingboard.js is a library I built because I couldn't find anything like it in the beginning of 2013.

It's really lightweight, simple to use and integrate, works great on mobile and draws really smooth lines! But it misses a few important features and it's not that extendable…

Here are a couple of other tools you can try if the drawingboard doesn't satisfy you:


drawingboard.js is MIT licensed.

Copyright (c) 2013 Emmanuel "@Leimina" Pelletier.