Art can be found everywhere in the world. As long as you are looking for it, you can find it in the trees that you drive by each morning, the crowded cityscape that hinders your drive home, and even the simple bowl of fruit that may adorn your dining room table. This is the biggest lesson taught through Art Academy: Home Studio for the Nintendo Wii U. This isn’t exactly what I would call a “game,” at least not in any traditional sense. It is more like a piece of software that helps players/users focus their artistic eye and hone their skills with brush, pencil, or numerous other artistic tools.
It is important to note form the start that Home Studio is exactly what its name implies: a virtual art studio. There isn’t a game here; you won’t be “winning” or “losing” in any manner. What you will be doing is gaining a better understanding of the artistic process and of the various tools that are available to artists in order to express their vision. This is both an interactive tutorial as well as a digital toolset for aspiring artists.
As with the previous entries in this franchise, the cartoony Vince has returned to guide you through the artistic process. He will guide you through a variety of lessons, 30 in total, that vary in difficulty. These aren’t quick experiences either; the lessons here are extremely thorough and filled with information, from art history to techniques and tips that aim to make you a better artist. It can take anywhere from 45 minutes to over an hour to complete a lesson, provided you are focusing on what is being taught and applying it to your work.
The lessons are all spread out across a variety of tools (pencils, coloring pencils, charcoal, pastels, and paint) and canvas types, all with the purpose of teaching you the difference they make in the artistic world and in your work. There are benefits to choosing pencils over pastels, or paints over charcoal, depending on your subject. This is all stuff that you will learn along the way, as well as the best drawing/brushing techniques with each type. All of your work will be done on the Wii U gamepad with the stylus, while your instructions and subjects are shown on your television.
Your first lesson introduces you to the world of still-life drawing and challenges you to draw and shade a simple tomato. Yes, you’re drawing a tomato, and, if done properly—meaning listening to what you are being told and attempting to apply the lessons to your work—it will take you roughly an hour to replicate your subject on canvas.
Not all of the lessons are as simple as fruits and vegetables. You’ll move on to flowers, landscapes, and even people. Each lesson is packed with useful information meant to improve your ability to draw and paint, and, I have to say, I found it all to be very beneficial. I have always been someone who liked to draw, but never felt that I was very good. I have found my personal work to be marginally better since taking the time to work through the various tutorials offered in Home Studio. When you’re ready to move beyond the lessons and create pieces on your own, you can do just that. It is easy to jump right into a blank canvas and begin bringing your vision to life; the game even offers you a variety of reference objects that you can use if you don’t have any inspiration of your own.
Of course, what good is it to create a masterpiece if you can’t share it with the world? This can be done a couple of ways. In addition to being able to upload completed works directly to the Miiverse to share with other players, you can save them to a SD card which you can then load up on your PC or laptop and share however you would like. It would have been nice to see more sharing options built into the software, such as Facebook or Twitter integration, but the extra step of transferring them to your PC isn’t a huge deal. The coolest sharing feature, however, is the ability to record timelapse videos of your creations. You can set it up to take short clips at specific time intervals, showing how your work came together over a period of time. Once recorded, these clips can either be output to your SD card like the regular images or uploaded directly to YouTube from within the software.
There are only a few small issues to be had with Home Studio. First off, you can’t mix and match your tools. If you start off a drawing using pencils and wish to switch to pastels, you have to make all of the work you did with pencils permanent. This isn’t a huge deal, especially if you’re just looking to sketch things out with a lighter tool and then paint/color over it for the final work, but it still would have been nice.
Also remember: there isn’t much of a game here. If you are coming into this expecting something akin to a typical gaming experience, you are going to be disappointed. This is more of a piece of instructional software; a collection of guided tutorials and a variety of tools that will allow players an artistic outlet within the confines of the Wii U. You won’t win or lose at anything. The game doesn’t even grade you on your performance or work in any manner, which can be both a blessing and a curse. The only judge on your progress is the visual comparison that you will make between your completed work and the subject you’re using, be it an image of Vince’s that you are trying to copy or a real-life object your using as a subject model.
Art Academy: Home Studio has ended up becoming one of my most valued titles in my Wii U library. This title is targeted at a specific audience and isn’t for everyone. If you are a person who loves to draw, even if just doodling or sketching, you will enjoy what is found here, both in terms of what it can teach you as well as the tools it gives you. If you don’t have an interest in the world of art though, then this certainly isn’t for you.
* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company.
Guess who's back!!! If you have been here before, you know the basics: lifelong gamer, father, and of course, former certified news monkey. I still consider myself all of those things, just maybe not in the grand scale that I once did. I’ve been blogging on the industry for more than decade now, in some form or another. It wasn't until I landed here at Gaming Nexus that I really dove in head first. Now, writing about games has become what I do for fun (and sometimes work) and something I intend on doing until the day I die (in some form or another).
I'm a huge fan of just about everything you can interact with using a controller, no matter how old or new, good or bad. If you put it in front of me, I will play it (at least once).