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



Spring 2013 Mobile Apps
Ages: 6 & Up
Platform: iPad

PIXEL'D is a drawing and animation app for kids that allows young artists to easily create pixelated animations one frame at a time. The base screen might appear to be a simple drawing space, and it can be used that way. There are colors and brushes, and plenty of sticker-like images from Disney films and television shows (more of which, the app is eager to note, are available for purchase). Give the app and its Pro version a closer look, however, and you will find that PIXEL'D is closer to professional image-making programs like Photoshop than most other apps. Each image, for example, is a series of up to seven layers that can be added, merged, and deleted. Kids can use these images to construct their animation like a real Disney artist would using the "onion skinning" feature, available in the Pro Pack version of the app, to draw each frame of animation over a transparent image of the previous frame. Though some may find the $4.99 cost of expanding the free version of this app to the Pro version too high, our reviewers felt that the price was worth it.

Following the tutorial instructions on the PIXEL'D website, children were easily able to clone an existing picture to be the next frame in the video, and then tweak the picture slightly to make a full animation. The website also offers tutorials for "colorizing" artwork, a complex process of changing the color palette of artwork to, for example, sepia or pastel tones. Other tutorials explain the app's selection tools and camera import function. Each of these tutorials was clear and easy to follow, and completing them will give kids a grounding in digital image manipulation that will transfer to grown-up programs.

With the free version of PIXEL'D, kids can make twenty frame animations; the full version allows them to use up to 600 frames. Kid testers enjoyed sending their saved animations to friends and family, and they invested a good deal of time into finishing them. Given the play value of PIXEL'D, our testers felt that it is worth purchasing the Pro version of the app for kids with an interest in animation. Additional expansion packs with more Disney imagery are available to purchase and use, too, but kids will not need them to enjoy the full set of PIXEL'D tools.

Parents' Choice   ©2013 Parents' Choice

Look for this product at:
Disney Interactive Studios
Available on iTunes

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