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How to draw with mouse in HTML 5 canvas ?

  • Difficulty Level : Basic
  • Last Updated : 20 Mar, 2020

In this article, we shall explore a few ways to draw with the mouse pointer on the HTML 5 canvas. The HTML canvas is essentially a container for various graphics elements such as squares, rectangles, arcs, images, etc. It gives us flexible control over animating the graphics elements inside the canvas. However, functionality to the canvas has to be added through JavaScript.

In the following procedure, we will use a flag variable to toggle the drawing on and off in relation to the mouse events. The events we will be listening to the mousedown, mouseup and the mousemove events in JavaScript.

The canvas element by default has some properties such as padding etc.(can be changed styles). Hence, properties offsetTop and offsetLeft are used to retrieve the position of the canvas, relative to its offsetParent (closest ancestor element of the canvas in the DOM). By subtracting these values from event.clientX and event.clientY, we can reposition the starting point of the drawing to the tip of the cursor. In the function sketch(), we use the following in-built methods to add functionality.

  • beginPath(): Starts a new path, every time left mouse button is clicked.
  • lineWidth: Sets the width of the line that will be drawn.
  • strokeStyle: In this regard, we use it to set the color of the line to black. This attribute can be changed to produce lines of different colors.
  • moveTo(): The Starting position of the path moves to the specified coordinates on the canvas.
  • lineTo(): Creates a line to from the said position to the coordinates specified.
  • stroke(): Adds stroke to the line created. Without this, the line will not be visible.
  • Creating a Canvas Element:

    <!DOCTYPE html>
    <html lang="en">
        <meta charset="UTF-8">
        <meta name="viewport" content=
                "width=device-width, initial-scale=1.0">
            Draw with the mouse in a HTML5 canvas
            * {
                overflow: hidden;
            body {
                text-align: center;
            h1 {
                color: green;
        <b>Draw anything you want</b>
        <canvas id="canvas"></canvas>
        <script src="index.js"></script>
  • JavaScript code to make interactive canvas:

    // wait for the content of the window element
    // to load, then performs the operations.
    // This is considered best practice.
    window.addEventListener('load', ()=>{
        resize(); // Resizes the canvas once the window loads
        document.addEventListener('mousedown', startPainting);
        document.addEventListener('mouseup', stopPainting);
        document.addEventListener('mousemove', sketch);
        window.addEventListener('resize', resize);
    const canvas = document.querySelector('#canvas');
    // Context for the canvas for 2 dimensional operations
    const ctx = canvas.getContext('2d');
    // Resizes the canvas to the available size of the window.
    function resize(){
      ctx.canvas.width = window.innerWidth;
      ctx.canvas.height = window.innerHeight;
    // Stores the initial position of the cursor
    let coord = {x:0 , y:0}; 
    // This is the flag that we are going to use to 
    // trigger drawing
    let paint = false;
    // Updates the coordianates of the cursor when 
    // an event e is triggered to the coordinates where 
    // the said event is triggered.
    function getPosition(event){
      coord.x = event.clientX - canvas.offsetLeft;
      coord.y = event.clientY - canvas.offsetTop;
    // The following functions toggle the flag to start
    // and stop drawing
    function startPainting(event){
      paint = true;
    function stopPainting(){
      paint = false;
    function sketch(event){
      if (!paint) return;
      ctx.lineWidth = 5;
      // Sets the end of the lines drawn
      // to a round shape.
      ctx.lineCap = 'round';
      ctx.strokeStyle = 'green';
      // The cursor to start drawing
      // moves to this coordinate
      ctx.moveTo(coord.x, coord.y);
      // The position of the cursor
      // gets updated as we move the
      // mouse around.
      // A line is traced from start
      // coordinate to this coordinate
      ctx.lineTo(coord.x , coord.y);
      // Draws the line.
  • Output: The function sketch() will only execute if the value of the flag is true.It is important to update the coordinates stored in the object coord after beginPath(), hence getPosition(event) is called. After linking the JavaScript file to the HTML file, the following code will be obtained.

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