Sketcher is a feature that is available to all registered artists at the TLKFAA, enabling anybody with a mouse or tablet to join a collaborative, networked drawing and painting board and draw and chat alongside fellow artists.

Although Sketcher is hosted at, it was developed by Thor Harald Johansen, who has made it a central feature of his site, The software is not freely distributed, but Thor donated it to the TLKFAA with the intent that artists who like to do TLK-style art will do so here at the TLKFAA, rather than putting it all on his site and consuming space and resources used by other types of artists.

The Sketcher home page

Sketcher Rules

The following FAQ is adapted from the original Sketcher FAQ at

What is Sketcher?

Sketcher is a real-time networked multi-user painting applet written for Java 5 or newer. In plain English, it's a program that runs in your web browser and allows you to draw on a shared canvas and write to people at the same time. What are Sketcher's requirements? Sketcher needs to have Sun Java 5 or newer installed on your system. For better performance, you might be interested in trying the Sun Java 6 beta. Macintosh users should read this page.

Does Sketcher support digitizer tablets?

Yes. After installing Sun Java, simply make sure to install Cellosoft JTablet on your system.

The "Pen pressure" checkbox is grayed out. What's wrong?

First, try restarting your computer. If that fails: Java installs each successive version of itself in a different folder. For this reason, if you have recently upgraded Java, please remove and reinstall Cellosoft JTablet, and retry. If this should fail, remove both Sun Java and Cellosoft JTablet, repeat the installation process, and retry. Should this fail, contact one of the site administrators.

I get an "Out of memory" error. What can I do?

Sketcher stores its canvas in a grid of tiles, 128x128 pixels each. Each time somebody draws in a previously blank spot, memory gets allocated. After a busy day, this can amount to quite much, and Java's standard memory settings just can't cope.

Windows solution: Go to Control Panel, insert the values shown in Media:this screenshot into the grid by double-clicking the cells, and restart your web browser.

''Macintosh solution: Open the startup hard drive, click Applications, continue into Utilities, open Java, and finally select Java x.x.x Plugin Settings. In the General tab, input -Xmx128M into the Java runtime parameters text box, and restart your web browser.

Is there an eyedropper tool?

Yes. Click the right mouse button.

The layers are behaving strangely. What's up?

Sketcher's layers are multiplied layers. This has several implications. Firstly, just like the operands of a multiplication, the order doesn't matter. Secondly, drawing with white is the same thing as erasing. Finally, layering several bright colors always results in a darker color. It may sound strange, but with time, you will learn how to take advantage of it.

Have I got my own set of layers?

No. The 4 layers you see in the layer list are shared between everyone who's signed onto Sketcher. Therefore, it is vitally important that you don't doodle on top of or erase other people's drawings, and that you ask everyone before you delete a layer.

Why do I keep getting disconnected?

This is somewhat of a mystery to us, but the main suspect is your internet connection. Don't run any P2P software like LimeWire or BitTorrent while using Sketcher, as these tend to eat up your connection.

Sketcher will disconnect you if:

  • Your Internet connection goes down.
  • Lag causes a peak of traffic that overflows Sketcher's input buffer.
  • Sketcher stops sending out keep-alive blips for more than 15 seconds.

If loads slowly for you or is slow to respond, even when your connection is otherwise idle, this would be lag caused by the connection or the internet. There needs to be a 15 second latency to get disconnected. Normal latency shouldn't exceed 0.5 seconds.

Don't load several large programs while running Sketcher, this overload of the CPU might delay the blips enough to get you disconnected. If something that you do on your computer slows everything down so much that your windows and buttons are become slow, you cannot expect Sketcher to operate properly.

If your instant messenger keeps disconnecting you all the time, this is a definite sign of an unreliable internet connection, and you should complain to your ISP.

Again, these are all unusual conditions. If you are able to predictably reproduce disconnects on an otherwise healthy connection, we'd appreciate to be contacted.

It just doesn't work! Help?

Imagine that a wife comes to ask a doctor for help: Wife: My husband is broken!

Doctor: Really?

Wife: Yes. He just won't work!

Doctor: I need to know a bit more th...

Wife: Oh! I don't know. Just give me some pills, please?

Doctor: But ma'am...

Wife: My husband's too lazy to come here, OK?! ... and so forth. Before you even ask us for help, you'll need to gather a bit of information about the problem. Write down error messages. Tell us about symbols on the screen, or other unusual things. This is vital for solving any computer problem.

The canvas is full. How can I empty it?

The short answer is that you can't. The longer answer is that you need to remove all the layers in order to do so. It is vitally important to ask everyone in the room for approval first. If you find notes such as Please don't erase. I'll be back in 15 minutes! on the canvas, and they are of recent origin, you must hold off clearing. The former rule is the only one to apply when you're alone in a room. Finally, it's wise to count down before you actually clear.

Another thing to remember is that the canvas is automatically cleared periodically, so you can just wait until that happens.

How frequently is the canvas automatically cleared?

Every four hours, beginning with midnight Pacific time. A warning message is printed into the chat window 30, 10, 5, and 1 minute before the board is reset. When the reset occurs, the Sketcher server is shut down and restarted, which means that you will be disconnected from the board.

===But I'm in the middle of drawing something! Can I cancel the automatic reset?

If someone else is in the room, be courteous and ask them before canceling the reset.===

Yes, you can. Go to and press the button, and the upcoming reset will be canceled.

Can I save my drawing?

Try typing /save in the chat box. File names must end in .png.


Press "Print Scrn" on your keyboard when you have your picture visable on your screen. Open a new file in an art program such as MS Paint or Photoshop and crop the picture down to your drawing(s) and save it as a new file.

I see a red "X" symbol. What's going on?

If you have Windows, you might have a version of Microsoft's old Java plugin installed. Uninstall any version of Sun Java from your system, follow the instructions on this page, reinstall Sun Java, and try again.

Why is the Sketcher user list sometimes wrong?

The user list is refreshed every 30 seconds. When changes are made between these refreshes, the list becomes invalid for a brief moment.

Java has blocked Sketcher. What is going on?

Sketcher's licence has gotten old enough to cause Java to find it potentially dangerous to the safety of your computer and has thus put up extra security to keep you safe. As it is annoying, it is for good reason, you simply have to guide Java's overprotective claws away. There is a simple fix to get you drawing again.

-Windows 8 Search: Control Panel> Search: JAVA CONTROL PANEL> Click Java Control Panel. >

-Windows 7, Vista Start > Control Panel > Search: JAVA CONTROL PANEL. > Click Java Control Panel.>

-Windows XP Start > Control Panel. > Double click Java >

-Mac OS X 10.7.3 and above Apple icon > System Preferences > Java icon>

From there it's all the same.

SECURITY PANEL> EXCEPTIONS SITE LIST> EDIT SITE LIST > ADD:> OK > OK > Refresh browser and it should work.

And you're all ready to draw again.