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Art Application

Thomas Was Alone photo
Thomas Was Alone

Another artist speaks about having her work used by Feminist Frequency

Thomas Was Alone fan artist discusses her experiences
Mar 15
// Jonathan Holmes
Tamara "Cowkitty" Gray Smith made some noise last week about her artwork being used by video blogger Feminist Frequency without her permission. It turns out this wasn't an entirely unique situation. Artist Heather "Dinobot" S...

More tools for Miiverse with Art Academy Wii U

My stick art is now in color!
Jun 11
// Wesley Ruscher
If it's one thing that has surprised the folks at Nintendo more than anything it's all the fantastic art that has been made within the Miiverse from its fairly primitive tool set. Inspired by this, Nintendo has announced a new version of Art Academy for the Wii U. No release information has been given, but I'm all ready excited to see all the wonderful new fan art that is sure to arise.

Review: Colors! 3D

Apr 19 // Casey B
Colors! 3D (Nintendo 3DS)Developer: Collecting SmilesPublisher: Collecting SmilesRelease: April 5 2012MSRP: $6.99 Colors! 3D seems like a simple painting program on the surface. When you open the program up for the first time, you're presented only with a blank white canvas and an overlaying interface that pops up whenever you press the left shoulder button. This interface includes a color wheel, a couple of sliders to drag up and down on your right-hand side, and exactly three options for paintbrush 'type' on your left-hand side. Yet it's this simplicity that makes the application incredibly useful. The interface works for beginners without the need for too much instruction, because it gives you a chance to get a handle on your doodling without too much clutter that would otherwise make the whole experience a complicated and unfriendly mess. If you do need some help, a touch of the question mark on the lower right corner of your interface screen will bring up a cohesive and simple explanation of what every button on your 3DS does in relation to the program. However, this simple interface also works very well for people who are more experienced. The seemingly few options you are given in terms of paintbrush style, opacity and size open themselves up to reveal an incredibly varied palette that allows for all sorts of neat paintbrush tricks. As I grew more familiar with the program, I began to realize that the simple tools I had before me could be used in incredibly complex ways to apply shading, outlining, and watercolor effects. The biggest wrinkle in Colors! 3D that separates it from applications already available on the eShop (such as Inchworm Animation) is the use of 3D layering. With a simple flick of the main analog control nub, you switch between layers of the foreground and background on the fly. The program features a total of five layers to mess around with, though clever artists have already found ways to make their art seem even more three dimensional through a keen use of shading and blending. Personally, I've enjoyed making artwork of topographical features using this method, such as a simplistic Google satellite sort of view of a river winding through a canyon between two mountain ranges. After you're finished with your artwork, you can press a "play" button and watch as every stroke you've made with your digital paintbrush is shown in a sped-up movie. This is especially useful when you're viewing other artists' works online, as it gives you tons of insight into the creative process and how amazing artwork is achieved. At any time while this is playing, you can press the control nub in any direction and get treated to a side view of all five layers to understand which ones are being worked on at any given time. The online portion of Colors! 3D is possibly the most exciting aspect of the program and the greatest compliment to it's usefulness as an application. After you've finished working on your masterpiece, you can upload it to the Colors! online gallery (at -- my username is CaseyDtoid, natch). Once it's published, other artists can 'like' it (giving you stars that become larger and brighter with more comments) or comment on it. The top ranked paintings, as well as the best of any given week, are accessed easily from the main gallery page, and every painting that you 'like' is added to your favorites to be viewed or downloaded at your own leisure. After uploading a few of my doodles and getting a couple of accolades from other artists, I thought I was on the path to becoming an official 'artiste.' A week and a half later, and I'm continuously blown away by artists who make my sad little doodles look like something my 10-year-old nephew could outrank in a couple of minutes. The online 3D gallery of the Colors! art community is very nearly worth the asking price alone, as it provides an incredibly viable tool for aspiring artists and a continuous source of near-limitless inspiration. Beyond the program and the online gallery, the developers also saw fit to throw in some cool extras. At any time, you can use the 3DS' local play feature with others who have Colors! 3D to join in a cooperative painting session. This is a great way to have creative art sessions with friends, or just an excuse to have a party and draw a frightening 3D cavalcade of catgirls with penises and flying corgis. If you feel like your art skill is pretty low and you'd rather use the application as a coloring book, you can do that as well. In the 'Extras' section of Colors! 3D you'll find a page devoted to coloring book images, and selecting any one of these allows you to color in pre-set images that automatically apply shading as you go. The great thing about the coloring book feature also happens to be my one niggling concern about the application is a whole. It is virtually impossible to color outside of the pre-set black lines until you lift your stylus up again. This is excellent for total newbies (like me) who have enough trouble staying within the lines. After noticing this feature, I really wished it was implemented in the main program for whenever you used bold, black lines. I understood the absence of a 'fill' button that the developers purposefully implemented in order to get people to hone their craft, but for a doodler like me, using the black line as a guidance/outline line would've helped a lot when I was first getting my bearings with the program. That said, it's actually not impossible to work around this issue. Early on, I learned by watching other artists at their craft that using layers as you work to create your boundaries is incredibly effective. You can draw a quick outline of what you're envisioning in the immediate foreground, and then step a layer back and color it in without accidentally blotting out your outline. Once you're finished, copying this layer to the foreground 'fills in' your painting without blotting out the initial outline. In general, these sorts of clever uses of your five layers can be a great asset in creating some eye-popping, beautiful paintings. When all is said and done, I found very little to dislike with Colors! 3D and I urge anyone with even the vaguest interest in art, and especially in utilizing the 3D aspect of the 3DS, to give this application a purchase. At $6.99, the program offers an incredible amount of utility and ease for every kind of artist, from the lazy school doodler to the masterpiece painter honing his or her craft. Besides all that, it's a simple and incredibly fun tool with an amazing community of artists proudly displaying their beautiful and funny 3D images.

While Nintendo's 3DS system has seen the release of an abundance of great games recently on the eShop, there has also been a dearth of applications that really utilize the 3DS' functionality. At launch, the system saw some gr...

Colors! 3D lets you doodle in three dimensions

Dec 21 // Casey B
Colors! 3D (Nintendo eShop)Developer: Collecting SmilesPublisher: Collecting SmilesRelease: January 2012MSRP: $6.99 (US) I sat down with Jens Andersson, the founder of Collecting Smiles (and lead designer for The Darkness). He handed me a 3DS and showed me a few of the tutorial parts of Colors! 3D to help me understand how someone is even able to paint and draw three-dimensional images. Colors! 3D relies on five layers/planes on the Z-axis -- at any time, you can switch between any one of the layers and begin drawing and painting to your heart's content. What I really love about this is that it allows you to basically create diorama-like images where, for example, clouds float in the background while an animal grazes in the foreground and a windmill sits somewhere between those two planes. What's also really cool about this is that, at any time, you can press left on the digital pad and the application will begin to rotate the image so that you can look at all five planes at once and understand immediately where they sit in 3D space. Though the DS homebrew application's pressure-sensitive screen is no longer a part of the application's paintbrush thickness designator, deciding how thick you want your paintbrush is made incredibly easy with a slider on the right side of the screen. In fact, sliders for both thickness and opacity of your paintbrush sit on the right side while color selection and paintbrush type are found on the left. From there, you can pretty much go nuts with your doodles or sketches, while more advanced options sit in an inventory at the bottom of the screen (including a mode where you can take 2D images from your 3DS camera to work from). When you want to switch planes, simply press a button that allows you to switch from one to the next; if you paint with the 3D enabled, you can generally tell which plane you're painting on without having to keep checking by rotating your image. If this all sounds a little complicated, spending five minutes with the application is probably enough to get even the most casual of doodlers over the learning curve, as all of the controls feel intuitive and easily accessible. After the tutorial, Jens switched gears a little and showed me the collaborative mode with a fellow artist. In this mode, you and up to three other local users of Colors! 3D can jump onto a canvas and demonstrate your own creative talents on the painting, and the program saves your work even if one of you jumps offline. Having an actual artist on the other end, I was more than a little hesitant to add anything to the already cool painting he had begun, so instead I listened in and watched on my screen as changes to the painting were made in real time. Finally, Jens showed me one more cool feature that'll be great for the younger crowd: the ability to download images that are basically coloring book templates from the Colors! Live site. The great thing about these templates is that you simply cannot color outside of the lines. Though there is no "fill" button that cheapens the experience by instantly adding swatches of color, you don't have to worry about accidentally coloring over lines or creating a mess of an image based off your own low level of skill. You can color in areas with wild abandon and your work will look amazing. Jens even intimated to me that there are subtle little filters such as shaders that add a little bit more polish to what you're coloring in. My initial impression of Colors! 3D was incredibly promising. I've spent hours in the eShop's (unrelated) Inchworm Animation Studio making ridiculous little doodles, and though this application won't include animation besides the ability to watch one's work being created, the aspect of creating awesome little 3D diorama-like images or using 3D in new and interesting ways has me excited for the possibilities... ... especially the idea of creating horrible three-dimensional nightmares of corgis, Ekans, and flying Chou Aniki musclemen with fellow Dtoid staff.

One of the most exciting eShop games I had a chance to preview last week wasn't actually a game. It was an application and a continuation of a fan favorite DS homebrew app that never carried over to DSiWare (though it did mak...

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