If you own a computer, then you’ve probably messed around with some sort of painting or photo editing software before. A lot of people are probably familiar with MS Paint, which is primitive, but effective. Others may use something like Gimp, which goes a bit further than MS Paint with what you can do with images. There are probably a lot of photo editing and painting software on the internet, but when it comes to video games, not so much. In fact, I can only think of two prior “games” right off the top of my head: Mario Paint (Super NES) and Color A Dinosaur (NES)…yes, I just said Color A Dinosaur. Keep in mind though that we’re talking a good two decades or so ago, so it’s not surprising that those games are quite primitive and limited in what you can do. However, Colors 3D is on the 3DS, a system with a touch screen that can be used like an easel. Does that make things any less primitive? Well, let’s find out.
First off, let me just say this; I am not an artist in any sense of the word. The best things I can draw are stick figures, houses, and Pokemon that are mainly shaped like a ball. That said, I’m not looking for this program to make me the next Picasso or Rembrandt. However, compared to some other programs today, it is primitive, even if it is just on the 3DS. Getting started isn’t too hard, as the program does provide a useful tutorial on how to access different brushes and colors. After that, you’re on your own. To start with, you can choose to do a picture in Widescreen (which the program recommends), Landscape, or Portrait. The only difference I can see between Widescreen and Landscape is that with Landscape you’re give more room to work with for larger or more detailed paintings. After that, you’re good to start painting…until you realize that your brush is pretty big.
Remember that tutorial you took the first time you played this? Time to see what you remember. Tapping or holding the R button is where you’ll find all of your tools, or lack thereof. Here you can change the color you’re using, the size of your brush, how dark or light you want the color to be, the style of brush, or the eraser to erase some of your painting. You’ll also see tabs at the bottom to go to various other functions, such as giving the options to flip the painting, undoing or redoing an action, changing which layer you’re working on (more on that in a bit), or even use the 3DS’s camera to make a background image or import an image. It’s a nice option if you’re like me and can’t draw worth a darn and want to start with a nice background image.
I mentioned that you can switch back and forth between layers, and with Colors 3D you can have up to five layers. This is definitely one of the main features of the program, as it lets you make a 3D painting with up to five layers, and I made sure to put all five to use in my pitiful attempt. Since you can either use the menu or move the circle pad to the left or right to swap layers on the fly, you can work on one layer without messing up what you’ve done on the other layers.
That’s…mainly it for the program itself. I mean, it’s a painting program so there’s not much in terms of explaining how it works, graphics, sound, etc. With that out of the way, it’s time to take a look at what I do and do not like about this program. To start with, for me it’s a lot easier to draw with a stylus than a mouse. Back in eight grade we had to use the Windows Paint program (this was when PCs still used Windows 98) to replicate a panel of a comic strip. I chose Garfield…and it turned out about 10% like the original comic. Needless to say, my motor skills with MS Paint never fully developed. Not that I’m much better here, but I feel like I’m more in control of what I paint, and any shortcomings are the result of my actual inability to draw and paint, not my mouse.
The 3D effects are pretty nice. Again, I’m not expecting anyone to recreate a Picasso and turn it into 3D (though I’d love to see that), and you can take or import photos on the 3DS as mentioned earlier. Taking a picture or importing a photo will automatically place it on the first layer, which makes sense since that’s probably intended to be your background anyway. You can also save your pictures to the SD card and put them on your PC, but don’t expect the 3D to have any effect here. If there is any 3D effect left on the image after saving it to your PC, I can’t see it.
Speaking of sharing, there’s quite a bit of extra options you can explore. If you’re stuck and looking for inspiration, there are a few images that you can check out, as well as some “coloring pages” to fill in. You can also go online to check out some other images that people have created, and some of these are just awesome! One of my favorites is a scene from Super Mario World that depicts Mario jumping over a Banzai Bill. At first, I figured someone just took the photo from the game and uploaded it, but thankfully the program has a feature that lets you see all the actions taken to make the photo, and sure enough, it was all done by hand. Finally, the game also has the option to connect with a friend and paint on the same canvas. That should get interesting I’d imagine. Just make sure you and your friend don’t have creative differences.
However, every game has its flaws, and there are a couple here. First off, saving your painting is pretty easy…actually, it’s too easy. Make sure to remember that using R brings up the menu, because hitting Start or Select will back you out of your painting, saving changes in the process. If you’re on the menu, hitting the little hand in the lower-left corner will give the same results. There is the option to completely discard all changes, but it would have been nice to give a small message like “would you like to save your changes”, as I’ve accidentally backed out of my painting a couple times.
On top of that, I’m also surprised at how limited the tools are. You have a paint brush…and that’s it. The tools I’m surprised that aren’t present are selection tools and the fill tool. The selection tool I can kind of understand, but if you’re making a painting with several objects that all look alike, using a selection tool to just copy and paste those objects would make the task easier. The fill tool, however, I felt should have been a dead giveaway to include. This lets you fill an area with a single color instead of having to run your stylus back and forth across the touch screen several times. It also could have helped with the small areas that you want to fill with one color, but you don’t want to risk messing up the portion of the painting outside that area.
Overall, Colors 3D isn’t that bad of a painting program. You can pretty much choose your canvas size (Widescreen or Landscape) or just go Portrait, zoom in and out to get as detailed as you wish, rearrange layers, or even copy layers onto one another (have yet to find a practical use for that yet). After checking out some of the paintings from the gallery, it’s amazing what people can do with this program. For a look at a couple paintings, check out my pitiful attempt of a painting
, Super Mario World by SuperStu
, and Lugia by Hylian
. The Super Mario World and Lugia paintings were indeed done by hand and just look amazing, especially from a distance. The program has a couple of things I wish were different, but the overall a fun program to mess around with.
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