How to Draw on iMessage With Digital Touch

Send sketches, heartbeat drawings, and more

What to Know

  • In iMessage, you can use Digital Touch to send a handwritten message, a sketch, a heartbeat, or a tap or series of taps.
  • You can also use Digital Touch capabilities with images and videos.
  • The iPhone and iPad support Digital Touch features.

This article covers how to use Digital Touch in iMessage on the iPhone and the iPad, including sending handwritten messages and sketching, adding a heartbeat, or adding taps to pictures and video.

How to Send a Handwritten Message on iPhone or iPad

Sometimes, writing is easier than typing, especially on the tiny keyboards on an iPhone. Fortunately, Apple has a feature that allows you to handwrite a quick message in iMessages. The thing is, you'd probably never find it if you didn't know where to look.

  1. Start or open an iMessage and then turn your device sideways into Landscape mode.

  2. You'll notice a new button on the right side of your keyboard. This is the Sketch icon. Tap it.

    The Sketch option in the iPhone keyboard.
  3. This opens a window in which you can use your finger or a stylus to write a message or sketch a drawing.

    At the bottom of the screen, you'll find messages that you've created in the past. If this is the first time you've used the Sketch function, a few pre-made samples are there.

    The Sketch box on iPhone.
  4. There's an Undo button in the upper left corner; if you make a mistake, tap it to remove the last line you created.

    Use caution when using the Undo button. It will remove the last line you created, no matter how long, so if you're writing a word in cursive without lifting your finger or stylus, for example, it will remove the whole word.

    The Undo option in the sketch feature of iOS.
  5. When you're finished with your message or sketch, tap Done.

    The Done option in the Sketch feature of iMessage.
  6. Now your handwritten message or sketch is in an iMessage. You can add additional text using the keyboard or add emojis using the App Bar.

    The text and emoji options in iMessage.
  7. When you're done, tap the blue Send arrow to send your message.

    The send option in iMessage.

A fun feature of messages made using the Sketch option in iMessages is that they play like a GIF when they are delivered. So, instead of just showing up as a handwritten message, they show up animated, so the recipient sees how you drew them.

Unfortunately, when you use Sketch, you can't convert the handwritten message to text, so if your handwriting is terrible, that's what the recipient will see.

How to Send a Digital Touch Message in iMessages

The sketch method used above is one way to send a handwritten message or a quick drawing, but there's another way to do it, too, and it doesn't require you to turn the phone landscape to access it.

  1. Open or create an iMessage.

  2. In the App Bar (also called the App Drawer), find and tap the Digital Touch icon.

    If you don't see the Digital Touch icon, go to the end of the App Bar on the right and tap the circle with three dots in it. If you still don't see Digital Touch, tap Edit and then look for it in the list (you'll use the slider to enable Digital Touch).

  3. In the Digital Touch window that appears, tap the color dot on the left side to change the color of the ink you're using.

  4. Then use your finger or a stylus to sketch or write a message in the text window provided. When you're done, tap the Send icon.

    Screenshots showing how to use the Digital Touch option in iMessage.

How to Send a Tap or Heartbeat Drawing in iMessage

Another fun type of message that you can send in iMessage is a heartbeat drawing or Tap Messages. You use the same steps as above to get into the Digital Touch messaging feature, and then you can do a few different things:

The Digital Touch messages listed below will send automatically once they've been created.

Screenshots showing a fire ball, kiss, and heartbeat in iMessage.
  • Tap With One Finger: This creates a 'tap' which is essentially a round burst of color on the canvas. The color you have selected in the color picker will determine the color of the tap.
  • Tap and Hold With One Finger: This sends a 'Fireball,' an extended burst of color. It will always have the color of a fireball.
  • Tap With Two Fingers: This sends a 'kiss' that looks like a neon pair of lips. You can tap a couple of times on the screen to send multiple kisses before the message automatically sends.
  • Touch and Hold With Two Fingers: This sends a heartbeat that lasts as long as you keep your fingers on the screen. The heartbeat will always be colored a red pink.
  • Touch and Hold With Two Fingers, Then Drag Down This creates a broken heart colored a darker red.

How to Add Digital Touch Effects to Images and Videos

Digital Touch effects can be used for more than just iMessages, too. You can also add them to videos and pictures.

  1. Start a message and choose the Digital Touch icon.

  2. Tap the video camera icon to the right of the Digital Touch drawing space.

  3. Tap the red button to record a video or the white button to take a snapshot.

  4. If you're taking a video, use one of the tap gestures from above to create a Digital Touch effect while the video is capturing.

    If you're taking a picture, once you capture the picture, use the Digital Touch gestures to add an effect to the image.

  5. When you're finished, tap the Send arrow to send the message.

    Screenshots of adding Digital Touch effects to photos and videos in iMessage.
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