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

Art Academy Lessons for Everyone

Art Academy Lessons for Everyone

Spring 2013 Video Games
Ages: All Ages
Price: $29.99
Gaming System: Nintendo 3DS

These art lessons are easy at first, and that's good for newbie artists, easy also being good for more experienced artists who are used to physical rather than virtual canvases and media. But Art Academy contains higher-end art tools for kids to grow with than pretty much anything else you can find in such a small package.

The 3DS touch screen is a tiny palette and canvas (imagine Cezanne doing this) and its artistic tools can handcuff the unbound artistic spirit. That said, the upside is that your child may already be fluent in the 3DS device and dimensions. If so, this program could launch an artistic career despite its limitations. In its small way, it's that good. Parents cannot force a child into being an artist, and this program can't do that either. But a kid with an artistic bent is going to discover some things about art and about his or herself with this sweet little 3DS lesson. Some kids will find out they really love to draw and paint using Art Academy Lessons for Everyone.

The art lessons are technically sound and encouraging. The instruments are up to the task, even if they are a bit touchy. After all, so is a brush loaded with cerulean oil paint. A nice aspect is that you can choose your medium-from a fine canvas surface to rough paper, and each in a variety of shades and colors. What's more, these surfaces behave almost as they would in real life. How cool is that? You can even change the direction of your lighting easier than in real life.

You won't find a book that introduces "doing art" to a young wannabe artist that does it any better. And while it's not as expensive as an art class, and certainly not as messy as doing it in real life (the app offers no scent of turpentine to make you dizzy), the game may encourage some kids to pursue the messiness of creating art on paper and, when the time is right, taking studio classes.

For a young artist, this is an excellent buy. The playability is good until it's replaced with actual art paints and tools-at which point it has served its purpose.

Don Oldenburg   ©2013 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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