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

 Art Academy

Art Academy

Spring 2011 Video Games
Ages: All Ages
Price: $19.99
Gaming System: Nintendo DS

When purchasing Art Academy, expect not a game, but a series of art lessons packaged in small-screen format. Against all odds, this mini studio is effective for beginners looking to have fun while learning the basics of drawing and painting. Players will learn to draw and "paint" solid artistic efforts, if not masterpieces

Let's look at Lesson One, for instance. With stylus (pencil) in hand, you begin learning how to sketch an apple and shade it to look 3D, then shade its environment to provide realistic depth. Art Academy uses this simplest of lessons to get your started in how to use the program and kick off your confidence in drawing something simple.

Step by step, your "tutor" Vince (yes, that Vincent cartoonized) talks you through the most basic of steps and use of tools to achieve results similar to what he achieves. There are 10 basic lessons and a number of mini-lessons that provide as specific skill exercises. The program actually does break down many techniques for drawing and painting. If you stick to the book and complete all of the lessons, you'll actually learn quite a lot about drawing and painting-the fundamentals of creating art.

If there's a downside, it's that Art Academy doesn't track what you're doing step by step, so as your drawing or painting progresses you can't look it over-a significant aspect of artistic creation as any artist will tell you. While each lesson continues to show Vince's progressing masterpiece, it doesn't show yours until you're working on it again. The program assumes you're following along lesson by lesson. But it does give you a chance to create on your own outside of the lessons. And, ultimately, you can save your finished product to the "gallery" and check out your progress there.

From crosshatching in paintings to choosing the right brush, Art Academy is all about basics and encouraging upstart young artists to pick up a brush and start a new canvas. Yes, there are limitations dictated by the DS media, but what a remarkable piece of software this is for anyone looking for a few basic lessons in art.

Don Oldenburg   ©2011 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.

Look for this product at:
Major, Specialty & Online Retailers
Nintendo of America

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