Those looking to expand their artistic repertoire should check out "Disney Art Academy," released last week for the 3DS.
A full-featured suite of art lessons, joined with an amusing -- if superfluous -- campaign story, teaches you draw, shade and color several Disney and Pixar characters and settings, from the basic Mickey Mouse face to elaborately clad Cinderella.
Step-by-step instructions guide you through the process as you craft portraits with virtual pencils, markers and paintbrushes, and a "magic brush" feature lets you select themes and effortlessly add detail and structure. You can upload and share your creations, allowing for the potential of a strong community to thrive around the game.
Even better, the skills you learn are the bedrock tools that painters and animators use to translate their visions to the page. The lessons on form and structure can give you the means to craft your own characters.
The game works particularly well on the XL line of 3DS devices, which give gamers more touch screen real estate to work with.
As strong as the game is, it would have been even better had developers included Star Wars and Marvel characters as well. No doubt those are being saved for DLC or sequels. The ability to add animation to characters would have also made the game more worthwhile. But what you get for $30 sure beats the cost of art school.
Phil Villarreal's novel, Zeta Male, is available on Amazon.