Review: Comic Workshop (Nintendo 3DS)

Comic WorkshopComic Workshop
Publisher: Collavier Corporation
Developer: Collavier Corporation
Genre: Art
Release Date: 07/17/2014

The Nintendo 3DS seems a perfect outlet for drawing pictures to send to your friends, but Nintendo has had issues finding a safe way for people to share their drawings. Swapnote was a favorite for a while, especially among some of the DHGF staff, but the SpotPass features for that software were shut off in October of last year, making it useless for most people who enjoyed using SwapnoteComic Workshop, then, seems like it has the potential to replace Swapnote while adding additional functionality through more advanced tools. Of course, there have been other 3DS applications offering opportunities for artistic outlet, but unlike others that focus on building skill sets, Comic Workshop focuses on what the title suggests: the creation of comics.

Comic WorkshopOnce you’ve told Comic Workshop your handedness (which hand you primarily use to draw), you can either choose to jump right into the program or go through the 28 tutorials provided. Each of the tutorials allow you to explore the various functions of the application, from the pen tool to the different modes (Storyboard and Clean Copy) and layers. Note that these tutorials aren’t going to teach you how to draw. For something like that, you’d probably want Art Academy: Lessons for Everyone! for the 3DS. This isn’t to say that you can’t use the program unless you already know how to draw like a pro, as it’s certainly beginner-friendly. You don’t have to go through the tutorials in order to use the application, but I think the tutorials were helpful in helping me utilize Comic Workshop to its fullest potential.

Speaking of tools, there are quite a few that you can use in Comic Workshop. Of course, with so many tools, the interface can feel a bit cramped at times (think about the size of the 3DS screen–especially the regular 3DS rather than the 3DS XL–and how that might be an impediment for a drawing application), but the developers did a decent job integrating the 3DS buttons to try to maximize your ability to select different tools and change views to optimize your experience. Some of the buttons can appear a bit small, however, which might affect those with vision concerns.

Creating a comic comes in two main phases: Storyboarding and Clean Copy, both of which are easy to understand. When storyboarding, you will set up the panels the way you want to and create a rough sketch of the comic, using the pen tool and not much else. When you’re ready to focus on each panel individually, utilizing all the tools available at your disposal, you’ll move to Clean Copy. You’ll be able to use up to five layers. While drawing, you’ll also have a selection of tunes to listen to, all of which are pleasant to the ear.

Comic WorkshopUnfortunately, there’s no way for you to easily share your completed works online. You can export up to 6400 images up to 896px x 896px in size to your SD card or use Nintendo Image Share and post them online that way, but the ability to post your work to Miiverse has been suspended. I would prefer if Nintendo moderated the posts on Miiverse and kept an eye out for inappropriate materials rather than disallow people from sharing at all. Collavier is hoping to have a Workshop Gallery for English users sometime in the future, which will help like-minded artists find one another.

Comic Workshop is no Adobe Photoshop or Paint Tool SAI, understandably, but for the 3DS, this application is a welcome addition for those who like to create art on their 3DS. I am hoping that easier ways to share your art show themselves in coming months, but until then, exporting to an SD card will have to do. For those who want to create their own comics, this is probably the best application out there for that. While it does have its limitations, it is the best I’ve seen for the 3DS, and I recommend it for anyone who is fond of art creation on their 3DS.

Short Attention Span Summary

For only $7.99, Comic Workshop is probably the most sophisticated drawing application you’re going to find for the 3DS. While not a “teaching” application so to speak, there are a variety of tutorials available to show you how to use the tools available. It is slightly neutered thanks to Nintendo’s “a couple people screwed up image sharing so now we’re going to screw everyone else over with regards to image sharing” policy, but Collavier is working with what they have in order to best allow you to share your completed comics. Beginners and veterans alike will find Comic Workshop a fun way to create their own comics.