The Nintendo DS family of products makes for an interesting platform for the mobile digital artist. The two versions of the DS that are of most interest to the mobile artist are the original DS and the DS Lite. The reason for this is twofold. First, the original DS and DS Lite both have an undocumented pressure sensitive screen, which the latter models do not have.
Secondly, these two consoles started a wave of “homebrew” applications, designed by independent developers and not licensed by Nintendo. These homebrew applications required a special game cart and micro SD card, easily purchased over the internet, that allow programs to be installed and run on the DS as if they were fully licensed Nintendo games. Nintendo caught wind of this development and fearing widespread piracy of their games, tried to squash the ability to run homebrew apps in their latter DSi consoles.
One such homebrew app was Colors. The developer of Colors discovered that the two original DS models have pressure sensitive touch screens and created a paint app to take advantage of this remarkable feature. Suddenly, an artist could use the DS and have full control over both the size of their brush and its opacity based on the amount of pressure placed on the screen. Take a look at their website (http://colors.collectingsmiles.com/) for samples of the amazing work still being done with the great app.
The newest version of Colors now has a natural brush to use in addition to the “hard” and “soft” brushes that originally came with the app. Also, Colors has the ability to re-render your painting at a higher resolution so that you aren’t tied to the limited screen resolution. Here’s a sample painting I did that was re-rendered to a higher resolution.
Recently, Nintendo released the game “Art Academy”. Essentially a series of very nicely produced painting lessons, Art Academy gives the user a very nice selection of pencils and paints to use. The Pencil selections allow for fine line work and shading. The Paint selections provide the user with three round brush and three flat brush sizes. In addition, you can control the amount of paint on the brush as well as how diluted the paints can be by adding “water” to the brush. Reference images that you’ve photographed with your DSi can be loaded or else use some of the built in photographs if you are using the earlier DS models.
Art Academy retails for $19.99 and works very nicely. One drawback to Art Academy is that the paint engine does not take advantage of the early DS models pressure sensitive screens so there’s no ability to alter opacity and line thickness on the fly.
Here’s an image I’ve done with Art Academy that give you an idea of what you can achieve:
The biggest drawback of the DS line as a mobile artist’s platform is their size and bulk. They are easily carried in a pocket but they are certainly bulkier than an cell phone, most of which now have cameras and apps that do similar things to what these two DS apps can do. Once again, the biggest advantage to the earlier DS models is their pressure sensitive screens. Hopefully, the next generation of cel phones and iDevices will offer this wonderful capability!
For more samples of what you can achieve on the Nintendo platform and these two apps, please visit my website at http://pierrefontaine.webs.com/apps/photos/album?albumid=9677463