DrawQuest brings daily art challenges to iPhone

DrawQuest is one of those iPad(s aapl) apps that, though it appears like an unlikely experiment on the surface, actually makes sense. Developed by 4Chan creator Christopher “moot” Poole, the low-pressure challenge to answer a prompt (“What’s in this swamp?”) with a drawing has cultivated a niche community filled with artists of all ages since it launched in February of this year. Now, it’s trying to do the same for the iPhone to bring daily drawing anywhere.

“We wanted to make an app that appealed to people of all ages, genders and skill levels, and that was a big challenge,” Poole says. “How do you make it inviting and friendly to non-artists, and also make it powerful enough and serious enough to make it useful for more serious people.”

DrawQuestEditorDrawQuest was actually built from another project Poole and his team worked on — a social image sharing site called Canvas. Poole says that he felt what made Canvas special was its ability to “remix” art — to contribute new and meaningful images based on works of other people — but that feature was only used by roughly 10 percent of the user base. So, it became DrawQuest for iPad, and its moderate buzz in the beginning was due to moot’s new, and kind of surprising audience — teenage girls.

“I didn’t know what the band One Direction was until Draw Quest, because there’s a crazy number of teenage girls who use the app,” Poole says of his younger audience, who are known for making many teen-idol related drawings.

In the last nine months that it has been around, Poole says that DrawQuest has developed a thriving community, and one he hopes to boost with the iOS7-minded iPhone version, out today on iTunes. While many people can anecdotally attest to the difficulties of drawing on a small iPhone versus an iPad, Poole says that the introduction of a zoom feature actually makes drawing detailed pictures much easier. The app also has a new “subquest” feature, which allows users to create their own templates to share with friends. The app is designed for accessibility and interactivity, which Poole says helps make the game feel less like a game, and more like a community.

“We’re a community for artists, but the message is that everyone can make art and express themselves creatively,” Poole says.