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Art Software Reviews

Drawing Discoveries,
from Brainstorm

For Ages 8 to 101

See also the Summary Rating Table for comparisons with other Art software titles, and the SuperKids Buyers Guide for current market prices of the PC and Mac versions.


Reviewed on:
Children's Software Screen Shot PowerMac 6100/60 with 8MB and 2XCD
Pentium133 with 16MB and a 12XCD

Content
Do you want to learn how to draw? Does your child giggle at your feeble artistic efforts? Or have you given up, and stayed with stick figures? If you (or your child) is interested in learning to draw, this program offers some amazingly useful drawing techniques.

Although this program contains painting/coloring options similar to those found elsewhere, the main strength of Drawing Discoveries lies in its step-by-step art lessons. Similar to those "How to Draw..." books used by budding artists for decades, this program not only takes the user through the creation of many attractive drawings, it also includes lessons about art history, art style, and the basics of all art! Beginning artists are encouraged to learn through imitation and practice, and given ample opportunity for both.

Drawing Discoveries embarks on a journey to Africa, where Akua (the gazelle guide) leads an art safari through three areas of the continent: the grasslands, the rainforest and waterways, and the desert. Each of these sections includes a number of wild animals to draw as well as full motion videos about the animals themselves. Once the user selects an animal, detailed instructions are given, both verbally and visually, and the artist draws along with the computer -- either onscreen, using the mouse, or independently, using a pen and paper. Throughout the drawing's evolution, facts about the animal are presented, accompanied by an adjustable African-music soundtrack.

Once the drawing is completed, it can be colored using the program's painting section, which features a 24-color palette. Color-mixing, shading, and texturing are not options, and the coloring process is more difficult than it is in many other programs because it doesn't confine coloring to within the lines of the drawing. Drawings print well, however, and are sure to elicit great pride in their designers.

Ease of Install / Use
This program intalled easily on our reviewer's Macintosh. Installation on a PC running Windows 3.1, however, required some experimentation, because of an error in the manual. The instructions state that the user should type "D:install" to install the program. In fact, there is no install.exe program on the CD! The user must type "D:\dd_win\setup.exe" to install the program. Even then, the installer is a bit finicky, only allowing installation to the C: drive.

After a successful installation, the program is intuitive to use, with lots of audio instructions.

Proxy Parent Value
Proxy parent value is SuperKids' measure for how well a program grabs and holds a child's attention. This program is great for children and adults who want to learn to draw. It teaches various tricks of the trade, and gives the novice a comfortable take-off point for future drawing endeavors. Done on-screen with the mouse it is a one person activity, but used as an instructional tool with pen and paper it could easily be used in a classroom and enjoyed by a number of artists at once. One parent reviewer said "It's like having an art docent right there with you."

Best for...
This program appeals to anyone who wants to draw realistic looking animals but isn't really certain how to go about it. The instruction provided allows even younger children to approximate the drawing styles taught. The art basics and art history interest the hopeful student, while the videos and facts appeal to the animal lover. Patience is a requisite, however, and children with short attention spans may find it tedious and never achieve completion of their drawings. Furthermore, children who don't trust their drawing abilities may be intimidated by the program, and never even attempt to duplicate its pictures.

Bottom-Line
Promising young artists will enjoy this truly instructional drawing program. Although it focuses on learning by copying given drawing styles, it does address individual creativity in art, and using Picasso as an example, stresses that art is a form of self-expression and can be achieved both by imitating nature, and by interpretting it in new and different ways.


See also the Summary Rating Table for comparisons with other Art software titles, and the SuperKids Buyers Guide for current market prices of the PC and Mac versions.



Children's Software System Requirements


PC

Macintosh
Operating System Windows 3.1, Win95 System 7.1 or later
CPU Type and Speed 486/66 or faster 68040 or PowerMac
Hard Drive Space 8 MB 10 MB
Memory (RAM) 8 MB 4 MB free
Graphics SVGA 256 color
CD-ROM Speed 2X 2X
Audio sound board
Other Needs mouse; color printer recommended color printer recommended

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