Art Academy: Learn Painting and Drawing Techniques with Step-by-Step Training (Nintendo DS) Review

By Adam Riley 29.08.2010 21

Review for Art Academy: Learn Painting and Drawing Techniques with Step-by-Step Training on Nintendo DS

The Nintendo DSi download service, DSiWare, has become extremely popular since being introduced a year and a half ago, with some truly fantastic and innovative products being released on it. However, due to the low user-base, it means that certain gems have been overlooked by the majority of general gamers that do not use digital distribution channels. Therefore, Nintendo has plucked two of its own products, Art Academy: First Semester and Art Academy: Second Semester, then packaged them together for a wider release in the marketplace as Art Academy: Learn Painting and Drawing Techniques with Step-by-Step Training.

Many believed that the ‘Training’ craze had started to subside, with the likes of Maths Training, Sight Training and the two Brain Training games no longer being present in the charts, the slew of Third Party copycats has dried up, and the first Dr. Kawashima’s Brain Training on DS actually being recently surpassed as the biggest ever selling UK release in terms of single unit sales by Activision Blizzard’s Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. However, Nintendo is set to prove to the world that the market is not merely hungry for war-driven first person shooters, but is still eager for new blood in the educational genre, with the impending launch of Face Training and this drawing tool, Art Academy here in Europe.

Headstrong Games, formerly Kuju, is renowned for working with Nintendo on the Battalion Wars series, as well as with SEGA on House of the Dead: Overkill. Now it has helped Nintendo transfer the two DSiWare Art Academy games over to a full retail package, and done so in fantastic style. The visual approach of the game itself throughout is wonderfully artistic, with an almost water-colour painting feel to the graphics, and a wide variety of beautiful colours always filling the screen, normally accompanied by different cutely animated characters, such as Vince (Vincent van Gogh, except with two ears...), as well as a melodic soundtrack that is ideal for proceedings.

Screenshot for Art Academy: Learn Painting and Drawing Techniques with Step-by-Step Training on Nintendo DS

The basic idea of Art Academy is to show how anyone can discover their hidden, creative talent and enhance the artistic skills deep inside themselves in order to produce superb drawings and paintings in the future. Nintendo and Headstrong have attempted to break everything down into baby steps that make the product as accessible to the masses as possible, transforming the stylus into a variety of different pencils and paintbrushes that behave in an extremely realistic manner as you work on your canvas (the touch-screen!), working through various lessons and utilising a plentiful supply of art materials. For those that have the luxury of playing Art Academy the DSi or large Nintendo DSi XL system, there is a special feature whereby photographs taken with the portable’s camera can be viewed on the top screen and copied by hand in the ‘Free Paint’ mode so that you can easily recreate anything from your surroundings, and the beauty of it is that all creations can be saved directly to the cartridge and viewed using the slideshow feature included.

Screenshot for Art Academy: Learn Painting and Drawing Techniques with Step-by-Step Training on Nintendo DS

Before diving into the main section of the game, it is advisable to test the waters slightly by working through the demo tutorial that is on offer, where Vince the artist takes you through various steps in order to draw an apple - a very fresh one, he tells you, that was picked out of the garden that morning. After removing the leaves to make the image clearer and telling the player to sit down and relax, just as his dog, Bacon, has already done, it is time to begin the introductory sequence that will reveal that anyone can become an artist, with a little guidance, of course. In the demonstration version there are seven stages, starting with ‘Draw Outline’ with the point of a HB pencil, before bringing up a grid. The player is then given the opportunity to follow exactly what Vince did, whilst also able to investigate the other options available, such as selecting other pencil thicknesses (2H for very fine drawings or 2B for the thickest option, a rubber/eraser and the option of changing how to hold the actual pencil, using its tip or placing it on its side to do flat shading). Should you forget exactly what the objective is, a quick tap on the ‘?’ icon brings up a ‘Save,’ ‘Continue,’ (and so on) screen, but also shows the task outline on the top screen. This comes in very handy for when the action has been paused for a while and coming back leaves you pondering exactly what you were previously in the middle of doing.

Moving on from the first step there is ‘Blocking In,’ which involves starting to colour your outline, choosing from trays of paint on offer (in the main game you can mix to your heart’s desire, using ten tubes of paint and storing mixtures in any of the twenty empty slots in order to achieve the shade you want), then whichever brush (rounded, flat, large or small) is suitable for the situation. Following this, ‘Tonal Layers’ lets you choose darker colours to change the feel of the previous base paint, taking into consideration the source of light striking the object in question, giving a true sense of three dimensions, and clever use of the rubber/eraser must be taken into consideration for some of the most useful effects, as well as using a clean, wet brush for blurring to smudge colours together. Zooming right into the canvas is also possible so that budding artists can perfect their in-progress masterpieces by amending even the finest of details, turning on an overlaid grid for more accuracy were necessary.

Screenshot for Art Academy: Learn Painting and Drawing Techniques with Step-by-Step Training on Nintendo DS

Art Academy: Learn Painting and Drawing Techniques with Step-by-Step Training is the perfect tool for anyone looking to start from scratch, yet also has enough advanced art courses to appeal to those who wish to push the boat out further and develop their skills even more than before. There is a wide selection of pre-loaded images in the material library to help provide some inspiration to anyone wanting to jump straight in a draw to their heart’s content, as well as plenty of advice from Vince the tutor, who also serves up a healthy dose of art theory and intriguing techniques for players to test in their own time. With lessons being inspired by famous artists like Albrecht Dürer (German), Paul Cézanne (French), Leonardo da Vinci (Italian), Jan van Huysum (Dutch), John Constable (English) and many more, Art Academy is the ideal tool for any DS owner with some creativeness inside them waiting to burst free.

Screenshot for Art Academy: Learn Painting and Drawing Techniques with Step-by-Step Training on Nintendo DS

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

Rated 9 out of 10

Nintendo has taken what were two already extremely impressive DSiWare download collections and pieced them together perfectly, with the help of Headstrong Games, into one absolutely stunning package. Art Academy will successfully help both complete newcomers to the drawing field learn the ins and outs of the art, as well as guiding those who hope to expand their skills further through the intricate, step-by-step lessons.









C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10 (6 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date TBA   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   


Vince (guest) 30.08.2010#1

Looks like this would be right up my street. Was unsure unt now, though. Thanks for the review - think I'll definitely be picking this up soon! Smilie

Tony Hart (guest) 30.08.2010#2

Sounds like a 10 to me! Smilie The perfect tool for someone like me who wants to express their creative side in the cheapest possible way Smilie

I'll be getting this once it's out in the Americas since a proper class is out of the question due to my schedule.

Tommy (guest) 31.08.2010#4

Plus a proper class would be pretty damn expensive, I'm guessing, unless you only attend one or two! I'm lucky enough to be a DSi XL owner, so I'll certainly be making great use ofthe camera functionality of this.

When is it due out on the US??

JohnB (guest) 31.08.2010#5

25th October, according to - quite a long wait considering it's been out in Japan for nearly a month and the same in Europe!!

It does seem like one of those games that would be tested in Europe first, though, just like Cooking Guide was. Looks like it's doing netter in Europe than even in Japan! Smilie

This sounds fantastic and I'm very interested in it. I think I may have to buy this sometime. It might help me get more motivated to draw and learn some better techniques as well.

Thanks for the great review Adam.

Oooh, I like drawing but find it hard to get motivated, since I suck. Smilie Definitely considering getting this. ^_^ Good review!

Photoshop CS6 Portable DS Smilie
It's a great way to get inspiration. Sometimes looking at the blank paper doesn't get you anywhere Smilie.. I would pick this up, but I need to balance my pocket first...

Udkedae Everywhere! | PSN: Udkedae

Damn, whoever did the Yoshi has a lot of talent.

Some of those pre-drawn images are stunning, especially the Yoshi one. That surely must have taken at least five or so hours to do Smilie Smilie

This is pretty cheap to buy as well, not bad at all! Definitely deserves all the positive attention it's been getting here in the UK so far.

I was pretty bad at drawing even the most basic apple Smilie It does help you improve, though...

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

I've really enjoyed this since getting the DSiWare versions. You feel really proud when you complete one of the tougher lessons. Smilie

Here's some of my drawings. All these are first attempts at each lesson:

Also, here's a picture I created of my dog. There's the final version and an "in progress" version: Smilie

Image for

Image for

( Edited 01.09.2010 17:18 by Ifrit XXII )

Those are really impressive, well done. Smilie

Is there any way to get your drawings off the cart version? I only have a DS Lite, but I'd love to post some of my work up from the game.

Thanks. Smilie I don't think there is a way of getting them off the cart unfortunately. It would have been simple for them to add a way of uploading them too so the lack of an option seems to be down to being lazy. Smilie

Weird - so you can't save or upload anywhere? Damn, would have been an ideal feature :/

Cubed3 Admin/Founder & Designer

Um can talk about a new topic please um like Kingdom hearts birth by sleep for the psp I got it on tuseday and it is Awsome!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! it took all summer to pay for it but it is worth it, so can we please talk about kingdom hearts birth by sleep for the psp please and thank you

Ifrit, great work on the images! Other readers should submit their creations as well Smilie

jb said:
Weird - so you can't save or upload anywhere? Damn, would have been an ideal feature :/

Actually, I hadn't thought of that. Rather a big oversight, sadly.

Glad to see this getting a re-stock in the UK recently and jumping back into the main Top 40 at No.32. Here's hoping it can climb back up into the Top 10 like it did about a month ago.

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]
alana :) (guest) 04.10.2010#17

can the game be used on the original nintendo ds lite????

Cairen (guest) 29.01.2011#18

This game is awsome!! I bought it yesterday!!

PS: Great review!!

Cairen (guest) 29.01.2011#19

This game is a cool one, i am a suckish artist sooo... this might be the best game for me!! The review was awshome!!!!!!!!!!!

Cairen (guest) 29.01.2011#20

The game is great the way it is so leave it be!

Cairen (guest) 29.01.2011#21

Yeah yeah u can use it on the ds lite, just no photos...

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