Google+ Hangouts: A Promising Tool for Online Artistic Collaboration

I'm a newbie at Google+ but yesterday I tried the Hangout feature, where several children's illustrators met online to video chat and experiment with collaborating in real time. Debbie Ohi, writer, illustrator, and blogger extraordinaire, organized the hangout and reported on it yesterday at her website Inky Girl:

screenshot from Inky Girl post on Google+ hangouts

She discusses some limitations of hosting public Google hangouts (mainly that there is no way to moderate and block inappropriate behavior). Our hangout was a private one in the sense that she had invited people from her InkyGirl: Kidlit/YA Writer & Illustrator Google circle, but it was not exclusive, because any kidlit/YA illustrator or writer on Google+ can join her circle.

What I found fascinating was the ability of each participant to draw and create on a joint sketchpad in real time. One can also share links and files and simultaneously chat in the sidebar. Here are some possible ways to use these collaborative features:

  • Jointly working on a specific project: for example, an illustrator/designer and an author can review a book cover; a designer and a client can review a project; or an illustrator and an art director can work out design issues of a preliminary sketch in real time.
  • Online critique group:  artists or illustrators can share their work with their critique group and everyone on the video chat can provide comments. Using arrows or the sketch tool, one can make concrete suggestions (for example, if the perspective is not quite right, instead of having to explain what the problem is, one could just draw the correct line on the work being critiqued).
  • Online art class: a professor can show a certain technique (though the drawing tools are limited to what Google+ provides) and students can copy it in real time on the same screen
Find me on Google+ here and lets hang out sometime.