Art Academy for Nintendo DS (game review)

May 20, 2011

Every artist has to start somewhere, but not everyone has the circumstances or desire to attend art school, and even small workshops may be intimidating to the beginner. Opus has a great selection of instructional books, but now there is an additional option for anyone who has ever claimed, “I’m not an artist!”

Art Academy, for the Nintendo DS systems, is an engaging way to learn art techniques for drawing and painting. By progressing through lessons that include drawing an apple and painting a tree, you’ll quickly understand the basics. There is a mixing palette that teaches how to mix colour, and the digital treatment of the brushes and pencils is as realistic as you could expect. In addition to the lessons, there’s a Free Draw mode, which turns your DS into a useful practice tool – and is a lot of fun.

Art Academy is compatible with a regular Nintendo DS, but can also utilize the DSi/XL’s camera to take reference photos. The game comes with a range of stock images, if your system lacks a camera. The top screen can display reference images in black and white, outline mode, and other variations, while the bottom screen is reserved for mark making. When finished drawing and painting, save your finished works to the game’s gallery, complete with a digital frame. Unfortunately, there’s no way to share your work beyond the handheld’s screen, which limits its potential, but it’s still a good practice tool.

At under $20, Art Academy is an inexpensive way to turn your DS into an excellent digital sketch pad using Free Draw mode, and a fun introduction for children to art basics. Art Academy is available at game and electronics retailers.