Here’s something cute: an open source utility that lets you draw using your laptop’s touchpad.

While the tool (probably) won’t help you become the next Picasso, it is ideal for quick doodles, and adding signatures to PDFs documents and e-mails.

FingerPaint runs from the command line and requires you to specify an output (-o) file name, like so:

fingerpaint -o doodle.png

But the actual “drawing” takes place in a small GUI window with real-time preview (so you can see what you’re doing). It’s ingeniously simple yet incredibly satisfying to use:

fingerpaint screenshot from Ubuntu 22.04
FingerPaint (in dark mode) on Ubuntu 22.04 LTS

While FingerPaint is active your laptop’s touchpad is NOT be used to move the pointer (external mice will, the developer says, continue to work fine). Instead, your finger is a paintbrush, and the width of your touchpad the canvas for your art/scrawl.

Once you’ve finish daubing you can hit any key or button to finish the drawing. This will save your drawing as a transparent PNG image file you can send, upload, edit, etc elsewhere.

If you want to change line color, adjust line thickness, or specify a background color to draw on you can do so by passing the corresponding flag when you run the app:

  • --line-color COLOR
  • --line-thickness NUMERICAL_VALUE (1-6)
  • --background COLOR
  • --dark for dark mode GUI

FingerPaint boasts support for X11 (with any desktop environment) and GNOME under Wayland. Sadly, the tool didn’t work for me in the default Ubuntu 22.04 LTS (Wayland) session but it worked fine in Xorg — your own milage may, as people like to say, vary.

Install FingerPaint for Linux

FingerPaint is free, open source software.

You can install FingerPaint on most major Linux distributions using pip, the Python package manager. Be aware that you may need to satisfy dependencies to get it to run, so see the FingerPaint GitHub page for more details.

Alternatively, if you’re on an Arch-based distro — Manjaro posse make some noise, oi oi — you can install FingerPaint from the AUR for X11 or grab the Wayland versions separately.

Summary

In summary, FingerPaint is a deft, digit-based digital drawing aid that lets you doodle anything on your laptop’s trackpad using a finger. Ideal for impulsive illustrations or, more likely, signing documents digitally without needing any extra hardware.

Anyone for a game of touchpad Pictionary? 👉