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Friday, April 20, 2012

Review: Colors! 3D (3DS)

One of the best games on DSiWare wasn’t a game at all: it was Flipnote studio, a free little animation application that allowed people to make short, simple animations and upload them to an online gallery/ community.

Now, on the 3DS, we have Colors! 3D, a simple little art program that allows people to upload their masterpieces to an online community. Even though this one costs money, it’s still essential (though it would have been nice if they had fixed the spelling of the software’s name for people who use UK English).

The real selling point for this one is that it’s possible to paint in 3D. Aspiring artists can use quite a few layers to end up with an art work that looks a bit like 3D paper art. It’s also, of course, possible to create flat paintings if you’d like to export them to SD card and then print them out. It’s also possible to create some surprisingly high quality images through this software – images can be exported with resolutions as high as 1600x960. That’s big enough that even art enthusiasts could get something out of using Colors! 3D.


Bedouin Punk: Voyage of the Sand Maiden by Munin
It has to be said that the act of painting itself is a little unrealistic for my liking. The process of taking the stylus and applying it to the screen feels more like a basic paint program than a recreation of a real brush, pencil or pen. The virtual paint doesn’t fade away from a prolonged brush stroke like I would have liked it to, and the imperfect splotches and brush lines that a skilled artist can turn to beautiful effect don’t translate properly here. Nintendo’s Art Academy has shown us that it’s possible to almost perfectly recreate the experience of working on canvas, so this feels a little cheap by comparison.   

Further to that the range of tools available for use is very limited. A simple colour wheel, four brushes and that’s about it. By fiddling through an unintuitive menu great works of art can still be produced (and the software has some amazing examples built in to offer proof of that), but it’s a relatively clunky process compared to the simple-but-executed well Flipnote and the elegant Art Academy. Even THQ’s commercial bomb, uDraw, provides for a far more realistic experience when it comes to making art.

We do not Sow by Lucsdf
But Colors! gets things right in so many other areas. For those of us who are less artistically inclined, this software does a great job of saving us from sitting in front of a blank screen with no clue how to do anything. It’s possible to take a photo of a picture, and then paint over that picture. For even less artistically inclined people, there are pictures that have no colour that act as a colouring book.

And then there’s the community. It’s possible to jump online, view art works (filtered by either “newest” or “most popular”), and leave comments on your favourite pieces. It all works a bit like a simple version of Deviant Art, accessible straight from the 3DS.

This is a community that should hang around for a while because there’s no equivalent on the Internet for sharing 3D paintings (and it’s worth noting that Colors! is on other platforms, and already successful with a healthy community on those). If we were nitpicking, we’d point out that searching through older art works that aren’t deemed as classics by the community is next to impossible, but that’s really being over critical. As a genuinely unique art program and social network, Colors! 3D is worth overlooking the small faults for the $Aus9 investment. If nothing else it’s nice to see the 3DS and that unique screen being turned to non-gaming and creative applications.




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Review: Colors! 3D (3DS)
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