With its built-in touchscreen and dual display, it's no surprise that the Nintendo 3DS is host to a plethora of applications and games based around drawing and creating. Comic Workshop, an application focused on the premise of creating pages for manga comics, is just one example from the selection of well-received products in this genre. Though released just under a year ago, Collavier Corporation has taken it upon itself to expand upon the original and release Comic Workshop 2, a 3DS application that does exactly what you would expect from it.
Just like the app that came before it, Comic Workshop 2 is a fully-featured drawing tool that places its emphasis on comics and manga. The option to freely draw on a blank canvas is present, but the defining feature is the canvas options that are pre-set to manga page dimensions, equipped with an array of different comic panel shapes and sizes. Though it may not be the most effective all-around creative tool available on the 3DS, it is definitely the best for those who want a digital canvas specifically for the comics medium.
All of the tools from the previous instalment are present, from pencils to a picture importer and even stamp rollers. The assortment of items at your disposal doesn't come close to more sophisticated drawing and editing programs usually found on home computers, but the selection is surprisingly vast. Most of the available tools can also be customized in one way or another, allowing for an added level of creativity when mixing the perfect colour or deciding the necessary line weight for your next work of art. As limited as the tools are compared to professional programs, a lot can be done with them if you're willing to put in the time to customize.
The controls here are exactly what you would expect from a drawing application on the 3DS. The console's touchscreen is used for the majority of inputs, from creating your art to navigating the menus, but there are physical inputs tied to most of these actions as well. The combined use of the touchscreen and hard buttons makes for a seamless experience once you've got all of the shortcuts down. Furthering the idea of this being an ultimately user-friendly experience is the ability to customize your tool menus. If there is a particular tool that you use frequently, or simply one that you happen to be using a lot for a particular project, moving it to the forefront of your digital toolbox is as easy as tapping and dragging it into place. Unlike the Art Academy games, there are no tips for fledgling artists who need a little help creatively, but there is a tutorial that explains all of the tools at hand.
As an application built on the premise of creating art, it's no surprise that sharing your work is a big part of Comic Workshop 2 as well. Finished drawings can easily be exported to an SD card and shared outside of the console, but a big addition here is the ability to post your creations on Miiverse. The lack of Miiverse posting was a prominent issue that we took with the original Comic Workshop, but an effective workaround has been put in place to make sharing feasible. The issue with sharing arises from the ability to import photographs on the 3DS into your drawings, a restriction that is completely understandable in following Nintendo's insistence on hosting a family-friendly social forum. In Comic Workshop 2, if you create a drawing without importing a photo, you can easily share it on Miiverse. If you do choose to feature a photograph in your art, then it is locked from being posted. It's a simple solution to weighty problem, and it's one that makes Comic Workshop 2 all the more enjoyable to use. In this age of the Internet, if the instant gratification received from sharing your art isn't available, then what's the point at all?
Without sugarcoating it, Comic Workshop 2 is nearly identical to the original Comic Workshop application that released just under a year ago. There are a few minor tweaks that optimize the overall package, including the notable ability to post your creations to Miiverse, but it hardly feels like a completely new release. All of the changes seen here are welcome improvements, but they feel like things that should have been patched as a free update to Comic Workshop rather than released as a numbered sequel. That being said, if you skipped the first Comic Workshop this is an excellent application that offers up a wide array of virtual equipment that makes both creating and sharing comics and manga a breeze.