Tag Archives: Art Academy


I like screens.

Yes, I know. I assume that (well, one or two people notwithstanding) you’re patient with the fact that I like creating images on a variety of touch screens. Occasionally I like to create images on a lot of screens in one day and today? Well. Was one of those days…

So I started in a meeting about all sorts of rubbish and how to deal with it and, after that, I splurged pictures onto a Tesco Hudl using Photoshop Touch app:

After that I found myself in a Carphone Warehouse shop drawing on a Sony Xperia Z with the in-built Note app:

And of course the video won’t embed. Grr. Here it am though:

Xperias used to be phones and tablets that I avoided, as they normally had not a single drawing or visual note making application installed to play with. Now Sony have both Sketch and Note and both are very good apps to have a test on and the Xperias work very well indeed.

After that I found myself in an o2 shop drawing on a Note 3 until the guy on duty asked if I would draw on his Note 10.1 instead…

(although by this time I think I was beginning to become away I should really be at home, waiting for the school bus and cooking dinner for the evening. So I drew both pics as quickly as I could and dashed back for the bus…)

Which brings me to…

Every so often I tell people I draw on buses. I suspect they think this:

…which I drew on the last bus of the day, on a Nintendo 2DS using the very playful and enjoyable New Art Academy cart.

I don’t draw on the actual bus itself but, as I often say to the students I teach, it’s all about finding your zone. I’m never more happy that when I can sit on a bus with some good music in my ears and a fully charged tablet to draw on. It’s my comfort draw place and that, in many ways, epitomises the magic of this increasingly powerful generation of tablet computer power. To have so many screens to choose from, to have so many marvellous styli, so many awesome apps? At prices that are frequently lower than the 1gb ram upgrade that I put in my first computer?

Amazing. We live in fabulously interesting times.

Videos to come. Processing now. On a laptop that feels slower and cludgier than the tablets I’ve drawn on through the day.

Here’s to computing evolution and the screens that throw data around at the glance of a finger tip.


A million things on a never ending tick list…

I’m painfully aware I’ve neither blogged about Digital Surrey nor, from this weekend, Bohunt STEMfest. Both were college tech happenings where the students shone very brightly indeed and I look forward to writing about… But time, and stuff, just gets in the way.

The irony, as my wife would quite happily mention, is that I can find 30 minutes to draw a picture of Wolverine on a Nintendo 3DS XL (true) but can’t find the (probably) similar amount of time to do the other things that need doing.

Which is true. No idea – prevarication I guess. Just sometimes I sit and stare at a screen with a blank mind and a feeling of doom and other times I can sit and draw and that takes my mind off things.

This is one of the drawings (rather than the doom side). Yesterday had an EQR (External Quality Review) and it was very positive and kind and still threw up some things that I thought I was getting right but can obviously do better. Once I’d written up their feedback into a list of things that need to be done and so on I was sat with little in the way of energy left. So I drew, and it didn’t renew the energy levels, but it was a lovely escape. I didn’t know what to draw, nor what to draw on (I had an iPad and 3DS on me) but the 3DS came out of the bag first and the initial scribble looked a little like Wolverine so there you go, decision made. Art Academy is a fab art package (on both formats) and well worth using. Apart from the smaller screen ratio/size I don’t see it as a lesser tool than some of the tablet apps at all. The way the paint merges, pencils blend etc is beautifully realised.

So: Wolverine, drawn on Nintendo 3DS XL using the 3DS’ in built stylus and New Art Academy (which I mistakenly said on the video was Sketchbook but it suddenly strikes me that that’s the Wii U version = DOH ME).

(On a different but related side of things this was drawn as one of my Mornin’ Drawins on Sunday for a Nintendo Animal Crossing competition but, true to form, I couldn’t find the upload method until too late… boo, but nice enough to start the day with. Anyhow Wolverine was drawn on 3DS XL and the pic below was drawn on Wii U using Art Academy Sketchbook).

Hope you like, regardless of the criminal mis-information embedded into the moving visual…

Of MCM Comic Expo and more…

I should update with videos and pictures and all sorts…

And I will, honest. But the four days of MCM Comics Expo clocked in at 80 worked hours and 36 miles walked. So I’m a bit tired, if I’m honest… Stuff to come but in the short term:

The expo was fabulous, well run and a joy to be a part of. Drawing on the Samsungs was lovely and the Win 8 slate was excellent. Have had to send it back now but can’t wait to try one again. We were very kindly supported by Samsung, Nintendo, Microsoft and MCM themselves and I’m very appreciative of the fact.

The students were uniformly EXCELLENT. More to come on that later.

There was, sadly, a casualty of the show: Stylus T Frog, long time mascot of the graphics group, was stolen from the stand. To be honest better than than a tablet or anything but still, he’s been a loyal compadre for years now and it’s a sad moment.

Barbican this weekend: Sat and Sun 3rd and 4th. If you’re in the area pop in and say hi.

HUGE thanks to the MCM team for making the students and I feel so welcome. Someone asked on the last day if I would do it again… Really hope that was a hint, I’d be there again with more uber coolness.

Haven’t had a chance to edit any video but this captures some of the magic 🙂

Nintendo ‘Create Britain’ tour :) plus a little bit of Chin Chining… (updated).

So; think Mobile Digital Art, think iPad and iPhone eh? Brushes app, Sketchbook, Sketch Club and so on… Nomad or Pogo or Dagi styluses, maybe stylus socks before we even get to HDMI projection or Brushes app picture walkthroughs. It’s all about the Apple, right?

No, think again…

Mobile digital art is anything you can draw digital imagery on, from a phone (my daughter has a basic drawing tool on her LG cookie) to an iPad 2 and everything in between. One of the in-betweens, a very good in-between in fact, is the Nintendo DS.

The DS is a not just a fab piece of machinery but also a ubiquitous one. Game wise some absolute corkers have been released on it: Electroplankton, New Super Mario Brothers, Elite Beat Agents, Layton, Pokemon, Mario Kart and so many more. Yoshi’s Touch and Go is loads of fun, as is Advance Wars… But its Art Academy that’s most of interest to me. A series of art lessons in a box, an acceptably powerful drawing engine and a touch screen/sylus combination that allows you to work on screen immediately. That which it’s lacking is small in comparison to what it offers and I love the idea that, a year after release, it’s still in the top ten chart for DS software, no mean feat for the fickle games industry which normally sees a computer game release relegated to the budget bin in months and to historical musings in less than a year.

Saturday saw me plod from Guildford to Brent Cross to accidentally participate in the ‘Create Britain’ show. I’d gone only to see what was on offer, finding the tube journey easier than I’d anticipated (I still thought the Northern Line was shut from TCR onwards) but the walk from station to centre longer than I’d guessed it would be. I still arrived fairly early and found this stand (once I’d walked around the shopping centre twice).

The Create Britain stand. The centre was just beginning to warm up and the second art lesson of the day about to begin. I sat and had a chat with Paul the presenter as he was setting stuff up and, while we chatted, I drew this:

So: first impression (I’ve used Art Academy a few times but not for a concerted period of time) – the DSi XL is lovely to draw on. Nice big bright screens and the ability to zoom in on one screen and draw on another is dead useful.

Paul the presenter and Kim the stand officiator (maybe not her exact title, didn’t ask but we chatted happily about a million other things) liked my picture and asked me if I wanted to draw on the public screen between classes so, for a happy half hour I did so 🙂  Lots of fun and nice to have people come up and ask questions and say they’d liked my pictures. I don’t actually think the picture I did (the first one anyhow) was as good as it could have been but I was trying to be a smidge too clever and still learning the software. Picture two was better but you’ll have to take my word for that because I forgot to photograph it.

Me on the stand, photographed by Paul the presenter.

Close up of the picture I drew. If Super Mario Brothers Elephant Polo tournament crops up as a game in the future you saw it here first…

Once I’d done on the stand I was asked to do one more pic for someone: this time with a Doctor Who theme and that turned into this. Once again, all drawn on DSi Xl, all drawn in sub thirty minutes. By the time I got to this picture I was a: beginning to get a little peckish and when I’m in London my mind naturally turns to Sushi, plus it was getting on for half 2 or so and b: wanting to get to a couple of other places I like in London before heading home to watch Dr Who myself if I could manage it.

DSi drawn Dalek with a Nintendo theme…

So, Create Britain was lovely, lots of fun, excellent and friendly staff to keep things moving along nicely and very good to see Nintendo promoting the software and an area of Mobile Digital Art by association. Of course I mentioned IAMDA to them and invited them to the college I teach at, really hope something comes to be on either of those angles. Went down to the South Bank, which I like anyhow but had been told they had a second set up there but I couldn’t find anything… The walk between the book stalls and the eye is always good to do though so I didn’t feel like I’d wasted my time.

And then I finished up at Chin Chin Labs in Camden and had a lovely pot of coffee and doughnut ice cream. Yummers.

Last note: I’m something of a frustrated games designer, having worked in the industry for 10 years but never having made my own mark on software bar a few things in Theme Park and the Top Gun game which I can point to as having the ideas for. For Art Academy there’s an awful lot I wish I could suggest to them for a sequel. The beginning of the game is far less freeing than it could be and the tutorials, tbh, I’d love to get into and suggest amendments to. I’ve taught art to kids from primary to college for yonks so can see a few changes that would engage an awful lot more and a heck of a lot quicker for the target audience… One day, who knows… I’d love to see a sequel to AA come out though, it’d be an instant buy for me, but more than that I’d LOVE to work on a sequel or a similar application in some way. Art Academy’s UI is very good though and something a lot of art apps could learn from. It’s clear, concise and, bar a little confusion about saving does exactly what it needs to very well indeed. I hope the sequel, if and when it happens, manages to improve and continue everything that’s working so well for it s far. I’m especially interested to know if the developers have any ideas for a 3DS Art Academy. That would be interesting on a lot of levels.

Anyhow: fab day, walked my feet into submission but doodled happily. Not a bad mix at all…

Update 1: added a picture from Chin Chin…

Update 2: text above.

Original post: Only got 5% battery left but here are some pics from the day. loads of fun, got to draw on Art Academy on the Nintendo stand in London and thoroughly enjoyed myself 🙂