(Wii U eShop)

Art Academy: SketchPad (Wii U eShop)

Game Review

Art Academy: SketchPad Review

Europe PAL Version

Posted by Martin Watts

A masterpiece or sketchy at best?

One of the most fascinating things about Miiverse is how Nintendo is paying such close attention to it. Not just in the sense that it is regularly updating it, but rather the company is actually listening to what its consumers are saying on the platform. It's remarkably unusual for a company that until now had been quite behind with its online services.

Nevertheless, Nintendo's attentiveness has done it a world of good, even if it still hasn't managed to achieve mass success with the Wii U. For years, Nintendo fans begged for a digital release of EarthBound, and only once a chorus of requests for the cult classic emerged on Miiverse did the Big N finally deliver. Now, after having seen the staggering amount of high-quality artwork that has been uploaded to its online network, Nintendo has responded and released Art Academy: SketchPad on the Wii U eShop, an app which allows users to create detailed and colourful drawings that simply can't be done with Miiverse's basic drawing tool.

In this regard, this is essentially Nintendo's way of adding extra functionality to its Miiverse service. It's not as extensive as previous Art Academy titles, and rather this app features elements of what will eventually become a full title. However, Art Academy: SketchPad still has a lot to offer, and it's the ability to share your creations online that makes it such a compelling piece of software. Not only that, but it's still pretty in-depth, featuring an impressive number of tools and colours with which you can create some pretty stunning artwork — provided you're talented enough, of course.

This is the most crucial factor when determining whether Art Academy: SketchPad is for you; it's an advanced piece of software that successfully emulates real-life drawing, and unless you're naturally gifted or instructed in the ways of art you may struggle to find much enjoyment. The app does contain a menu item for the popular lessons mode found in previous instalments — in which you are given guidance every step of the way — but much to our frustration it isn't included yet. If you're a something of a novice, you may want to hold off until it's available before picking this up.

Regardless of your skill level, Art Academy: SketchPad has a good number of tools available for you to create some impressive artwork. With the mixture of pastels and pencils on offer, it's possible to incorporate advanced effects and a number of styles into your work. Fans of creating 8- or 16-bit art will be pleased to know that you can place a grid overlay over your canvas, making it much easier to colour in equal-sized pixels. Unfortunately, the grid only comes in one size, so trying to reproduce especially detailed characters or large areas is trickier. On the plus side, however, you do have the ability to zoom in, thus allowing you to go into much finer detail than was previously possible in the Miiverse post-creation screen. Unfortunately, you are restricted to only pencils and pastels as your primary tools — for the moment at least — and we hope that paint options are added at a later stage.

As with previous Art Academy games, the tools you use all function in a realistic way; for example, when you draw a line over your canvas with a thick pastel, it won't turn that part of the page completely opaque — you'll need to draw over it multiple times in order to achieve that. It's this level of finesse that really allows you to create something that you would with an actual art kit. The benefit here is that Art Academy: SketchPad is very affordable in comparison, and the ability to share your artwork with a wider audience is seamless, albeit restricted to only Miiverse.


Art Academy: SketchPad is one of those small titles that truly emphasises the Wii U's unique abilities. Being able to create detailed artwork using the system's bespoke hardware and easily share it with its wider, online community adds a great deal of depth and purpose to the Miiverse service; you only have to view the Art Academy: SketchPad community to see the sort of impact this title is already having. While it's not yet a complete title that is on par with previous Art Academy releases, it's still relatively comprehensive and well-produced for its small asking price. Beginners may find the current lack of in-game lessons disappointing, but if you're already a budding artist — or just love to create colourful pictures — then there's little reason not to give Art Academy: SketchPad a try.

From the web

User Comments (46)



Volmun said:

i sorta preferd Colors3D! personly as i liked the 5 layer siystem thing



ScorpionMG said:

@Alshain01 No they didnt. And if you see art Arcademy on 3ds you have to pay for that to get it, Then it was obvious to pay for this one as well. I'm Really enjoying it on my wii u



Nintenjoe64 said:

I don't think it's fair to score this app.

It's a 10/10 if you're a bored artist with a Wii U but a 0/10 if you have no drawing skills.



TruenoGT said:

As someone who has used tablet pcs for doing digital drawing for the last 10 years, I wish I could somehow take the gamepad with me to use this on the go... it is an awesome tool. Having the physical buttons on the controller to shortcut functions is something desperately needed on a real digital art device. Furthermore, the tools and responsiveness are exceptional. Once they enable export to SD card and remove the 12 image limit, this is going to be a serious at home sketching tool for me. If you don't care about the paint functions and can sacrifice portability, it's miles ahead of the 3DS version with the larger screen, smoother response and quicker zoom tool. MiiVerse integration is icing on the cake.



KaiserGX said:

I'm glad I sold my old tablet for the extra cash. As this does exactly what I wanted it for. I sold my tablet for the same money I originally bought it for... lol.



Samurairu said:

This review is harsh IMO. I'm a beginner and have no problem using and exploring how to use this app. You don't need a tutorial to figure out hwo to use pencils and erasers, you just try them out! I'd give it a must buy for anyone who likes to doodle or more.



sinalefa said:

I still don't get how this works. Will this be updated in the future little by little, or will they release another, bigger, more complete edition as a different app?

Still worth taking a look I guess.



aaronsullivan said:

Weird to put a number on this based on that review. I would fault it for other things. The buttons would be better used to switch between blender and drawing tool or to quickly grab the eraser and go back without using the tray. No undo in a digital painting app is very sad, though I do understand that it was originally meant as a way to teach traditional art.

No lessons? Okay... but there is this thing called youtube...

So, to me it's just not made for what people want to use it for. Sharing art on Miiverse. It's re-purposed and not perfectly.

Still, it's awesome otherwise. It feels very natural and it's really fun despite no pressure sensitivity.

When it's a full version that's doing what it was meant for that will be even better. There is just still a place for something more made-for-digital and less teach-traditional.



AVahne said:

Extremely limited app for $4 if you were to compare it to Sketchbook Mobile and Sketchbook Pro on Android and iOS, but at least it's something.



AVahne said:

This is essentially a paid demo. Though since it's an art app, Nintendo probably thought it'd be fine to charge for it. Especially since this app is a bit unique in that it tries emulate creating analog art rather than digital art. Personally I think that no pressure sensitivity hurts this app by a lot.
They'll release a full version at a higher price later on.



KeithTheGeek said:

Finally decided to register just to say, you can view images on miiverse from within a web browser and save them to your computer that way if you need to back them up. I don't have the app yet but I plan to get it very soon. I love digital drawing apps like this.



valcoholic said:

@Nintenjoe64 Pikmin is a 10/10 if you love Pikmin and a 0/10 if you got no talent in strategy-actiongames then? you could probably say so for like everything. Of course, a drawing app is for people who like to draw. And actually it doesn't even matter if you're talented. just sketching around can be fun too. Just like in real life.

I misunderstood some stuff about that app. I thought it would be like a free upgrade for the whole miiverse functionality, so everything drawn in miiverse will be on this level in future. too bad it's a paid app and not even that cheap. on the mobile device sector, that's the price for full featured applications or games.
still, i might pick it up one day, if I got some bucks to spend.



Sceptic said:

"featuring an impressive number of tools a colors"?! That is so awesome! Nintendo does it again! Dare I ask: Does it feature GREEN, too?! Oh please say it does!!

Be honest. This is for MiiVerse only. It's a crummy drawing program by any standards except Miiverse. You're not showing loyalty by sugarcoating, just making a fool of yourself. It's ok to just say "hey, this is much better than what miiverse has, but it's not a real drawing program".

I mean seriously, the gamepad has a measly 854 x 480 resolution. Even if the program had the cabability (which it doesn't), you're drawing at less than 20% of your TV's resolution.



aaronsullivan said:

@Koto Pressure sensitivity is nice for some things, but I enjoy drawing with my hand resting on the screen without wearing a glove. Plus, the focus is different than those apps. I do all sorts of stuff from Painter to Photoshop with wacom tablets and also have many apps on iPad I've paid decent money for and even a $100 HEX3 JaJa stylus for almost good pressure sensitivity. (never done Cintiq though!) and I enjoy this quite a bit as an alternative.

The biggest problem is that it was never meant to be what it is.



Unit_DTH said:

@Koto Pressure sensitivity would be great for this app, but it would also require a different type of tech under the GP screen in order to recognize the pressure with which you are making a stroke. Maybe they will allow us to bluetooth in our wireless PC Artist tablets i.e. bamboo or the like. Maybe that's a pipe dream, but it would still be incredible.



rjejr said:

So, this isn't for the kids to have fun w/, it's for serious artists only?

Ever since the Wii U Gamepad was shown I'ld assumed those Wii uDraw tablet programs would be heading to Wii U. My kid likes Beat Skeetcher and he wouldn't mind having some fun waving the Wiimote around but this sounds strictly like work.



Grustein said:

This is actually what I hoped Art Academy was the first time I heard of it, just a painting tool, nothing else, and that's what I wanted. Was always a bit afraid that Art Academy was only tutorials without a "freepaint mode." So I ended up with Colors! 3D for the 3ds and now this on my WiiU



TruenoGT said:

@DerpSandwich I haven't tested the limit myself, but when reading through the digital manual to see if there was a way to export to SD card, it mentions that there's a 12 image limit per user account. Unfortunately, I can't re-verify this as I mailed my Gamepad back to Nintendo today for a creaking sound when using the d-pad. Can anyone else check their documentation?



Lunapplebloom said:

I made a pic with this game, and I'm loving what I've been able to do so far. I just have to get used to putting other colors over previous ones with no undo button for shading.



Alienfish said:

I always wonder if reviewers really take into account the price of the product compared to the quality and content. I give this game a 9/10 considering that it will have updates coupled with the sheer usefulness it serves in respect to Miiverse. It's also really easy to use. I took off one point since there is no real layer system, only a fixed layer system, which sucks. Anyone with kids or the desire to draw on Miiverse should get this.



WinterWarm said:

Not quite sure it's fair to say it might be hard to enjoy it if you're not artisticly talented, if you're not good at art, why BUY a art application?

@Martin Watts

Um, why does this review have a 'DS' tag?



SanderEvers said:

You can save up to 12 pictures. (At the same time) You can however delete these whenever you want and create new pictures.



WhiteTrashGuy said:

I downloaded it yesterday for my 8 and 3 year old to have fun with. That in itself is worth $4 to me.



Gameday said:

i have this game but i cant draw to save my life. the lessons are even available yet.. id love to learn something worth while. Ive seen some amazing stuff on there i think i might record some of the imagines ive found on the miiverse myself just to show the mind blowing stuff these masters are able to do !



GamerJunkie said:

@Sceptic These people for the most part live in a closed room with blinders on. They praise Nintendo for giving them hings that are free on any other platform. The indie games that come out on Wii U are 25 cents and $1-5 on pc or other consoles but on Wii-U they say "thank you nintendo, ony $14.99!!"

This drawing "game" or "app" is much more limited and basic that anything you can get even on your phone for free from any app store.



GamerJunkie said:

@SanderEvers Is this 1982 where we have 1 KB of memory? Nintendo seriously releases things that make no sense for the generation of games they are in. Save 12 pictures? WTF do we have a HDD on this console for LMAO.....



ikuwill said:

@Sceptic , please remember that you need to factor in the size of the screens in inches when talking about resolution. A 1080p gamepad screen would be nice but at its small size it is much clearer than 480p would be on a television screen.



SyFyTy said:

@Nintenjoe64 I find that hard to believe, the 3ds version is equal to an adult school / night school course on introduction to art. it was quote good and I can only presume this is almost as good. I know, I taught night school courses in 31 schools for 8 years running. The 3ds version is quality and I would expect nothing less of this one. A complete novice would benefit from it.



SyFyTy said:

@Gameday the 3ds version is much better than one would expect. A complete beginner could learn from it, if they only followed directions exactly. The Wii U will morph into something to behold in due time. And I'm hyper critical about most N stuff, even though I am a fan.



SyFyTy said:

@Lunapplebloom To layer and shade without the use of tools (or artificial layering) like on many 'programs' is what real art; oil on canvas or pencil on canvas is all about in real life. The 3ds version (much better than the DS one, is 'da bomb'. This (and earthbound) are the only 2 reasons I would want a WiiU. Sorry, and the upcoming Fire Emblem & SMT cross-over.



SyFyTy said:

@aaronsullivan most budding artists who have only used e-art programs are spoiled by the artificial re-production of varying pressures that are 'choose'able from the menus rather than learning it on paper. A practiced artist on paper could have a tough time without that ability but it can be done, as applied to limited art styles. My mother was a graduate (deans list) of 'Julliard' which was one of the US's top art schools years ago, I was brought up on art....



SyFyTy said:

@ScorpionMG people MAY be confusing the FREE thing because we got Flipnote free on the DS and were due (in the US) Flipnote 3D free as well, but have yet to get it. SO many may (incorrectly) expect this for free thinking it is a replacement for flipnote 3d... just a guess as to their confusion.



ScorpionMG said:

@SyFyTy Indeed This can happen. I have been enjoying some sketches on art arcademy now and then when i have time (which i dont have anymore) but my sister seems to use it more than me as she has fans and followers waiting for her next drawings

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