Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978



Fall 2008 Software
Ages: 6 & Up
Producer: Fablevision
Price: $59.95
If your child is a doodler or aspiring artist, this program makes quick work of bringing to life their scribbles and drawings. Created by children's-book illustrator, author and animator Peter H. Reynolds, this software is easy enough for a 6-year-old but sophisticated enough that even adults can have fun and be inspired as they turn their most basic drawings into colorful moving animation.

The Animation-ish homepage interface is an open-ended, creative environment inviting would-be animators to work in three different levels. The most basic level is Wiggledoodle-ish, where you can use a basic set of drawing-pad tools (a mouse-controlled "brush/pen" with numerous sizes and pressure controls, eight colors and eraser) to sketch out your drawing. This level and the others also provides a Behind feature so you can draw background easily without drawing over your primary sketch. Once you're happy with it, click the Trace feature and go do the next frame (a three-frame limit at this level) where you can trace the same drawing but with changes that will lead to the perception of motion. Animation, in other words.

In the second level, Flipbook-ish, you get a few more tools and as many frames as you need to create your animation and you can regulate the speed of the animation and even loop it for continuous motion. Advanced-ish, the third level, provides even more tools, more colors, an art library where you can borrow images for your drawings, an Import feature for bringing outside images into your drawing, and features that let you to transform and move around your images.

On each Animation-ish level there's the Inspire-Me button, which opens a window of encouragement, ideas and mini-lessons from Peter Reynolds. You can connect directly from Animation-ish to Reynolds' website for more involved lessons.

While this program isn't likely to turn you or your youngster into a Pixar pro overnight, it's quick-learning and good enough to perhaps start off an interest in a career-and even provide the tools for creating impressive animations for homework or presentations.

Don Oldenburg   ©2008 Parents' Choice
A former feature writer and consumer columnist at The Washington Post for 22 years, Don Oldenburg is the Director of Publications and Editor of the National Italian American Foundation, in Washington, D.C. He regularly reviews books for USA Today and is the coauthor of "The Washington DC-Baltimore Dog Lovers Companion" (Avalon Travel). The proud father of three sons, he lives with his journalist-author wife, Ann Oldenburg, in McLean, VA.

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