Etch A Sketch – Controlling Processing from Arduino


Some projects call for more computing power and resources than an Arduino alone can supply. One solution is to use an Arduino as a way to interface between physical controllers and a computer. This is done by sending data over the serial port to a computer. Processing is a great option as it has so many similarities to Arduino.

To demonstrate how data can be sent from an Arduino to control what happens in a Processing sketch, we will draw inspiration from an Etch A Sketch.

What is an Etch A Sketch?

An Etch A Sketch is a drawing toy that was sold by the Ohio Art Company. It was first sold in the 1960s. The toy draws a line using two controllers: a knob that changes the horizontal position and a second knob for the vertical position. To erase what has been drawn, the toy is flipped upside down and is shaken.


We are going to mimic this interaction using Arduino and Processing. We will use Processing to draw on a computer, and we will control that drawing using two potentiometers and a tactile button.


This tutorial is broken down into 5 sections:

  1. Processing Sketch
  2. Adding a Button
  3. Adding the First Knob
  4. Adding the Second Knob
  5. Putting It All Together