Review: Painting Workshop (Nintendo 3DS)

Painting WorkshopPainting Workshop
Publisher: Collavier Corporation
Developer: Collavier Corporation
Genre: Art
Release Date: 01/08/2015

A few months ago I reviewed Comic Workshop and judged it to be worth getting for people wanting to use their 3DS to draw. Specifically, I said, “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.” Now, Collavier Corporation is releasing Painting Workshop, a similar application geared more toward a general audience. This begs the question: is it worth picking up, especially if you already have Comic Workshop? My answer is “yes” if you don’t already have Comic Workshop, and “potentially” even if you do.

Painting WorkshopLike in Comic Workshop, first you tell the application your handedness (which hand you use to draw), and then you will have the ability to go through various tutorials on how to use the software. There are 24 optional tutorials to help you utilize the sixteen tools to their fullest potential. As was the case with Comic Workshop, this application will not teach you how to draw, just how to use the program. Nonetheless, the tutorials are helpful, though they can feel a bit windy at times for those who are generally familiar with the tools from use in other art software. Depending on what you’re interested in doing, you may choose to delve straight into drawing or take the more measured approach and go through a few–or all–of the tutorials first.

The canvas size is predetermined. The size is decent, but for people wanting to draw something bigger or on a canvas with “nonstandard” dimensions, this will feel limiting. This seems like an odd choice on the part of Collavier Corporation, given that Comic Workshop has more options for canvas sizes. You’ll also be able to choose a “theme,” which affects the background behind the canvas, as well as the initial color palette and tools readily available. If the background music isn’t to your liking, you can change the song. Taking these options together, Painting Workshop ends up being a relaxing experience.

Painting WorkshopThere are various tools available in Painting Workshop, including your standard pencil, color picker, eraser, paint bucket, and blur tool, many of which have additional settings you can adjust and save. There are, however, a few other tools that have the potential for interesting use, like stickers, patterns, and roller stamps. You also have the ability to create, delete, and combine layers, as well as adjust opacity and order of the layers. There’s even an option to paint using an already-created image as a guide of sorts, which is interesting. You have the ability to hide the tools to various extents, which is really nice since even with the 3DS XL you don’t have a lot of space with which to work. Unfortunately, there’s no ability to utilize pressure while drawing, so those used to using tablets may be at a disadvantage here. It’s also a bit odd that for a painting application, you only really have the “pencil” tool to work with. One could argue that the pencil tool is all you really need, especially because you can adjust the density and opacity of the tool, but it would have been kind of cool to be able to more easily simulate, say, crayons or various brushes. Still, the program manages to be versatile enough for those willing to fiddle with the settings, and as the gallery (mentioned below) shows, people have been able to do some really neat things with this software.

Painting WorkshopSo what do you do with your art when it’s finished? As was with Comic Workshop, you can’t post to the Miiverse, but you can save it to an SD card where you can post it online either through the 3DS itself or by transferring it to your PC first.  Collavier also has a gallery up for both Comic Workshop and Painting Workshop users, which sees more activity than I expected. You can see for yourself the creativity of many of its users. I was actually pretty impressed with what people were able to do with the application; I’m not artistically inclined, so it’s something entirely different to see what people who are talented can do.

Unsure about whether to get Painting Workshop or Comic Workshop? Generally speaking, there are a few improvements that have come to Painting Workshop that make it a little easier to use than Comic Workshop, but if you’re specifically interested in making comics/manga and/or the ability to choose your canvas size is important to you, I would recommend Comic Workshop due to its comic-specific tools like storyboarding and speech bubbles. If you’re only interested in having a general drawing application, however, then Painting Workshop should be your go-to application. I personally think both applications are worth having for the art enthusiast. Obviously nothing will replace an actual sketchpad or canvas, or a tablet, but for the 3DS, this is probably among the best you’ll find, and the price isn’t as inhibiting as art supplies or a tablet and associated PC software might be.

Short Attention Span Summary
If you don’t already have Comic Workshop and want a general drawing application, Painting Workshop is worth picking up. If you already have Comic Workshop but want to use the tools that are available in Painting Workshop that are not available in Comic Workshop, this is also worth getting. Either way, the software is easy to use and gives users a surprising amount of room to be creative at an affordable price point. Painting Workshop feels like a great start for beginners who want to explore their artistic options and share their work.

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