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The Next Level In Gaming

Before taking the dive and purchasing Colors 3D, one of the latest apps to arrive on Nintendo’s eStore for the 3DS, I took a gander around at the available news sites to see if I could see any from people like me, digital artists who had been using the likes of Photoshop and the GIMP for years and, for nearly as long, looking for handheld versions of our favourite apps. Perhaps I didn’t search in the right places… all I seemed to find were reviews written by those new to the world of digital art creation, from which I have gleamed that this app is, indeed, great for beginners. But, what about us veterans? Don’t get me wrong, I’m not exactly David Kawena. But I believe the 7-odd years I’ve been tinkling with digital art, plus the amount of content I’ve created (for all kinds of purposes I might add), qualify me at least in part to bring you this ; a review of Colors 3D from an artist’s perspective.

I had my eye on this software from the get go...


I’ll start by talking about some of the important features (and arguably staples of art software) that Colors 3D does not include. Because this was perhaps the most important thing missing from the aforementioned reviews, and something which is of upmost relevance to the digital artists out there.

First of all, there’s no fill tool! I can sort of understand why they chose to omit it, given the app’s emphasis on emulating the real-life painting experience. But if I wanted to paint in real life I’d go out and buy paints. I must admit I’m pretty aggrieved at the extra time I have to waste filling in gaps myself when a fill tool would have been so simple and easy to add! Secondly you can only have a maximum of 5 layers. Thus far I’ve been dealing with this by amalgamating my layers often. Which really isn’t ideal though I must say… My last grievance is the fact you can’t toggle the opacity of layers, you can either have their visibility switched on or switched off, there’s no in between. Again there’s a saving grace : if you turn the layers’ visibility off this will only affect the bottom screen, while the top screen (as always) will show what the picture looks like with all layers switched on, so you can carry on your work, alternating your gaze between the two. Still, I miss my layer opacity options dammit. They allow for more control and accuracy in my opinion.


3DS running Colors 3D

Now you know about Colors’ limitations, allow me to tell you why I still believe this to be a worthwhile app. To start with you have the fact you can import images and photos from your SD card. Given all the limitations above, some of which I had predicted before using the app, the ability to import images was not something I took for granted. But without it the app would be more or less useless to me. So kudos to the developers for including that.

Then you have the brushes. Sure you have a lot less options than you would on the likes of Photoshop, with just one shape and hardness (although you can toggle opacity). But they work really well, and you’ll never experience things such as lag, which can plague digital artists on low-spec computers.

Lastly we have the two things that set this software apart from any other I’ve personally experienced, and its biggest selling points, in my opinion. For me the best thing about this software is the control system. Alongside stylus control Colours makes full use of the 3DS’s controls to provide really useful shortcuts. The left shoulder button, for example, will take you to the menu, while the d-pad can be used to toggle between tools. The analogue stick affords a convenient means of zooming in and out, while pressing the start button will take you straight to the Save screen. Another thing which will appeal to a lot of you is the fact you can view and save your creations in 3D, as you’ve probably guessed from reading the title. Personally I can’t see in 3D, so can’t comment on this too much, but have managed to gleam from the other reviews I looked at that it apparently works a treat.


Pic I drew in Colors 3D then touched up in Photoshop

In conclusion I do like Colors, and am glad I bought it, but felt it my duty to inform you of the flaws. Because at £5.40 is not exactly cheap (not considering there’s a free version for iOs, and with software such as the GIMP and Paint Tool Sai being free). Colors is a great application, but its by no means a handheld alternative to Photoshop. At least not yet.

What it is, however, is a brilliant accessory to the likes of Photoshop. The perfect way to use this to create masterpieces would be to import your digital creations or line art to Colors, colour them in/generally tinker with them, then send them back to your PC art suite and add the finishing touches. I would particularly recommend Colors for creating lovingly detailed water colour-esque backgrounds.

Plus there’s nothing so fun as sitting curled up on your sofa, doodling on your 3DS. Don’t prioritise this over more feature-heavy PC alternatives (unless you specifically want to create something in 3D), but if you have the spare cash and fancy creating work on your 3DS then do make sure you get this.

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HelenBaby On June - 6 - 2012

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