"Colors! 3D is a must-have."
Developer: Collecting Smiles
Release Date: April 19, 2012 (EU)
Colors! 3D, henceforth mentioned without annoying exclamation point, is not a game. That said, it should be clear right away what the focus of this title is: Drawing. The 3DS program allows players to come up with designs and create and see them in 3D on their screen. It sounds simple, but it isn’t. However, Colors 3D makes it easy with clever design choices and an unrivaled accessibility level.
Starting off is as simple as running through a fairly decent and concise tutorial and perhaps learning a few advanced tricks in the other adeptly summarized texts. Strong point number one: People want to draw, not sit through lectures. As insightful as elaborate tutorials can be towards creativity, Colors 3D will have a radically different approach and therefore can cut any unnecessary fat to focus on what’s important. Within a few minutes, the first crude painting should sprawl to life.
The drawing panel of Colors 3D is divided into 5 different layers, which can slide to give a 3D feeling. At first, it will be a bit tricky to keep track of layers. Drawing on the wrong layer will mess up the drawing with the 3D effect on, so it pays off to keep a steady head and check layers frequently. As the program becomes more familiar, these layers will turn from a reminder to an additional strength in regards to designs. There are even some unexplained advanced tricks to merge and copy layers, by dragging them in the 3D panel section. This can seriously enhance and facilitate creations.
But the true forte of Colors 3D is its intuitive design, both in screen as in controls. Naturally, moving on the touchscreen and seeing the design firsthand is an advantage towards most design tablets that can get confusing by drawing blindly. Still, it’s the implementation of controls based on the hand used that is the true winner. Depending on the left or right hand, all intuitive go-to controls are set on the opposite side of the drawing arm. This gives players the ability open the color and brush panel; use an eyedropper tool and apply soft or hard touches. In short, this is everything needed in just one hand. It frees up the drawing arm to stay focused and creates on-the-fly adjustments. There couldn’t be a more natural control scheme, not even on computers and that is a strong suit that should be heavily commended.
The other side of the 3DS focuses on correcting mistakes, shifting layers and zooming in and out organically to add more precision. Once more, the ease and speed at which this can be done is so accessible, everyone can do it without prior knowledge. The only real minor issue is that redoing a move requires going into the drawing panel. There, budding artists can also access more options, such as importing photos, managing layers, flipping the canvas and so forth. It’s also here where players will manage their color wheel and set pencil width and opacity or access the eraser. That means that most controls are just 1 button away and others are one mere button further. Making good use of the eyedropper tool can even cut down on time and the more that is learnt, the faster creating better things will go.
And here is where Colors 3D really takes off and sets itself miles away from the competition. Beyond its unsurpassed natural controls, this game also includes some of the most ingenious learning tools into its amazing community. Every painting session gets recorded and players can play back their progress to clearly see just how a masterpiece comes to pass. There are 3 adjustable speeds for levels of precision and buttons also allow shifting layers to see which is being worked. Going into the online community and seeing the tons of amazing creations get made in a time lapse is a much more effective tool than any tutorial can ever be. It’s here where players will learn a vast amount of tricks and where they can pick and choose styles on mere sight alone. It’s actually quite intimidating to see the level of skill most players can climb up to in such short times, but that also means that Colors 3D is just that good. Unsure how faces get painted? Click on a portrait and watch the framework being built step by step. More of an anime fan? Scope some anime drawings and see how they’re built from scratch. It’s virtually endless in what it can teach and every video will add to the pool of creative knowledge.
Here's a first attempt. Watch it get made here.
If this seems like a gushing review, it’s because it is. Where other programs require some adaptation or skill that messes with learning curves and practice, Colors 3D does none of that and instead adapts itself to the user. After feeling confident enough, players can share their painting online where others can judge it or just see the process for themselves. As a bonus, the game also features shared local painting sessions.
The only real downside is messing about endlessly can apparently mess up the recording. At some point, the memory will give way and the painting at hand becomes corrupted. It won’t be destroyed, but additional progress becomes prone to wiping, the recording doesn’t save anymore and players can’t undo moves. Though that might not be in every case, it is a blemish on the otherwise picture perfect presentation of this title.
3 step progress before it got corrupted. Watch the full 3D process here.
There are no two ways about it: Colors! 3D is a must-have for anyone clutching a 3DS. Its level of accessibility and ease of use, strong learning tools and its great community make this drawing program a powerhouse of success. Given just a minor few adjustments, it could even start competing with established design tools; that’s just how powerful this game is. Forget the 3DS’ standard software, as it will wane in comparison. This drawing tool is exponentially worth its admission price.