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SDK Paint has an interesting history. Its developer, Hullbreach Studios, began making JavaScript applications for Wii, Nintendo DSi, and Nintendo 3DS using their respective Internet browsers. These include both the initial versions of SDK Paint — DSi Paint and 3DS Paint — as well as a full-fledged browser-based MMORPG called Hullbreach, which has a sequel currently in development for Wii U. Now, the drawing application's first "official" iteration comes to the eShop; all told it's probably best looked at as a platform for fun doodling as opposed to software for serious artists, due to a cluttered user interface and some confusingly implemented features that don't offer much utility.

When creating your next masterpiece, SDK Paint offers a number of useful tools: you can rotate and flip your creation, move between five layers, paint using one of 11 brush sizes, and even use simple effects like colour negatives. In particular, the ability to use layers is a huge help, especially since they can be locked and hidden individually to give you more visual wiggle room. Unfortunately, it can be quite difficult to discern what exactly some of the offered tools are going to do before you use them; while each one does have an accompanying thumbnail on the sidebar, they aren't intuitive enough to justify their lack of labels, meaning inexperienced users will have to tap blindly on their icons to test them out.

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In addition, basic features — such as the ability to select and edit sections of your image — are conspicuously absent. This means that many of the more interesting options affect an entire layer, whether you want them to or not — a frustrating limitation in an otherwise functional overall package. Speaking of limitations, don't get too attached to your art if you plan on creating a lot of it — there are only 10 slots to save your work. These problems are compounded with the fact that products like Nintendo's own Art Academy: SketchPad and the recently released Pixel Paint offer much more streamlined interfaces and focused artistic concepts at an only slightly higher price point.

SDK Paint does offer a few extra features, but none of these are likely to make much of an impression. There are "stencils" which allow you to draw over a pre-rendered background layer featuring grids, guides, and some concept art from Hullbreach's other projects, but it would have been nice to see these implemented in the actual app — as is, they have to be selected from a separate menu and feature preset dimensions. There's also a collection of 3D viewing galleries, where you can walk around a number of different wall textures in first-person and take a look at your creations. These are an interesting idea, but they're somewhat lazily implemented; none of these galleries seem to have a rendered floor or ceiling, for one thing. Also worth mentioning is that future support is promised for DLC and exporting tools with compatible games, yet none of that is in place at the time of writing due to the absence of these supported titles.

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Lastly, there's a Sharing function that allows you to prepare a screenshot for Miiverse posting. This, sadly, has one of the application's worst interface problems — beyond a complete lack of instruction on how to actually pull up your image, once the screenshot has been prepared it only appears on the TV. That means you won't be able to see it on the GamePad if you've elected to use it on its own, thus ensuring confusion over whether or not you've actually selected the correct picture (or even selected anything at all).


SDK Paint is a decent enough drawing application; it has most of the basic features you need, plus some extra tools that can be fun to work with. Unfortunately, there are already more streamlined offerings available on the Wii U eShop — and they only cost slightly more. Most confusingly, a number of ultimately useless added features will make you wonder why more time wasn't spent on the app's core tools as opposed to things like its first-person viewing gallery. If you're in the market for something focused it's probably best to look elsewhere, but this former homebrew application may offer enough functionality and affordability — for the least picky among us — for simple doodling and sharing on Miiverse.