Unleash your inner Picasso with the ‘Art Academy’ app

  • Learn to draw with “Art Academy: Lessons for All!”
  • Share digital artwork via Wi-Fi with a friend
  • Available on Nintendo 3DS starting at $39.99

Nintendo’s 3DS can be more than a video game console, it can also help gamers develop their artistic soul.

With “Art Academy: Lessons for Everyone!” in a box or as a downloadable game on the Nintendo 3DS, children and adults learn to draw everything from a cherry to a field of barley to the Tower of London. The game offers two art courses, one as an introductory course and the other as an advanced course. In each class, players receive art lessons from virtual tutor Vince.

In the Getting Started course, Vince introduces the artistic tools available and demonstrates how to use them step by step. It explains the basic principles of drawing and painting, including perspective, the effect of light on a subject, and how to make a dynamic composition. Vince can also tackle subjects of art theory and history. The paint colors are pre-mixed for you, so you can focus on learning to draw. Players start with a cherry, then a tulip, a tree, and a melon. Then they graduate into a windmill, a barley field, koi carp in a pond, a torso, and a seascape.

The advanced course introduces color mixing and offers more complex lessons such as: a still life with a pitcher and peaches, an old man’s face, an arch, a waterfall, a bouquet, a girl wearing a headscarf and the landscapes of the Tower of London and Westminster Abbey.

Depending on how quickly you draw, a lesson can take between 30 and 60 minutes or more. Vince breaks down each painting into steps. For example, with the still life of a cherry, Vince teaches you how to fill in the background first, then outline the cherry, paint the shadow, and color the cherry. It also explains how the light hits the cherry and teaches you how to add a lighter color to catch the light shining on the cherry.

When you’ve finished a painting, you can choose to save it as a photo, share it over Wi-Fi with a friend, or place it in your own personal art gallery. For the latter, you enter a building where your framed artwork appears on the walls, displayed in any way you choose. It is a pleasure to live.

“Art Academy: lessons for everyone!” is a nifty package as it works for both doodlers and art lovers. Both courses—one for beginners and one for the artist with some experience—are available initially; although once you start a course, you must work on each lesson to unlock the next table.

The virtual art tools work impressively on the Nintendo 3DS. Like in real life, a brush starts with a strong color and fades as you continue your stroke. The colors can be mixed and you can layer the colors to achieve the effect you desire.

Players have access to a grid tool, originating from the 15and century with the artist Albrecht Dürer. The grid appears overlaid on your canvas (displayed on the lower screen) and your reference image (appeared on the upper screen). This tool makes it easy to place your objects in the right place on a canvas. The ability to zoom in for detailed work is also useful.

In addition to offering courses, the program offers you a free draw section. You can draw anything you imagine or select one of over 50 photos as inspiration. If you wish, you can use the device’s 3D camera to take a photo of a subject and then use that photo as a reference image.

“Art Academy: lessons for everyone!” is a remarkable software package for learning to make digital art. With Vince, the knowledgeable and upbeat instructor, players can create different types of art, from still life to portraits to landscapes. Her supportive attitude encourages kids to experiment with graphite sticks, crayons, paints and pastels to create gradients and blends without ever intimidating them. And he brilliantly incorporates snippets of art history, famous artists, and various techniques into his lessons and tutorials.

Both children and adults will enjoy this well-produced software, but its subject matter is sophisticated enough not to be aimed at small children. In-depth lessons should be read; and some tools and artistic concepts are complex, even in the introductory lessons. The coolest aspect of this software is that the lessons provided in this virtual art studio can be applied to creating real art.

Goal: 4 stars (out of 4)

Evaluation:E (for everyone)

Best for: From the age of 8

Editor: Nintendo, http://artacademy.nintendo.com

Platform: Nintendo 3DS

Cost: $39.99

Jinny Gudmundsen is the author of the new book: iPad Apps for Kids, part of the For Dummies series. Contact her at [email protected]

Mildred D. Field