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 🙂