Art Academy Atelier Review

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Art is a messy process. Just ask any bare-footed fine art student how many times they’ve come home looking like a Jackson Pollock enema, and the answer is usually “plenty”. That’s the great thing about art these days, with a shift towards digital tools and techniques.

Years ago, I’d have a desk that was cluttered in half-arsed sketches, blunt pencils and thoroughly-huffed marker pens. Today? That desk is still horribly cluttered due to my terrible lifestyle, but the art portion is restricted to a single tablet device and stylus.

But it does allow me to create art such as this:

Art is a messy process. Just ask any bare-footed fine art student how many times they’ve come home looking like a Jackson Pollock enema, and the answer is usually “plenty”. That’s the great thing about art these days, with a shift towards digital tools and techniques.

Years ago, I’d have a desk that was cluttered in half-arsed sketches, blunt pencils and thoroughly-huffed marker pens. Today? That desk is still horribly cluttered due to my terrible lifestyle, but the art portion is restricted to a single tablet device and stylus.

But it does allow me to create art such as this:

Bat Dazza 1

But that’s a very different kind of art not only in technique, but style as well. Modern digital art doesn’t truly capture the feel of oil paints or a textured canvas. And that’s the kind of game  that Art Academy Atelier is on the Wii U.

It’s old school art, with Wii U tools. Much like classic art, it’s also a slow experience that plods along. And that’s a  good thing.

I won’t lie to you: I freakin’ love drawing. I’ve recently acquired a Wacom tablet, which I use as a stress relief device, sitting down to get some sketching done. Whether it be Robocop or Harley Quinn, it’s nice to have a certain kind of technical freedom that you won’t find on physical paper.

But as a painter? I sucked. Sweet Van Gogh, was my technique terrible. And off-putting, when you realise that:

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  • Paint is expensive
  • Paying to study art at a university should come with an obligatory slap to the face, as that’s a bigger money-sink than my timeshare investment

Art Academy Atelier is pretty much an art course without the horribly-jaded lecturers who are out to kill your dreams, at a far more affordable price point. It’s not a game, but rather a detailed tutorial on mixing your paint and realising that linseed oil tastes kind of funky when you’re cleaning your paint brushes.

And it’s a good match with the Wii U. It’d be damn impossible to paint a still-life with any other input device, although I’m certain that someone out there is already proving me wrong. Much like actual art colleges, Art Academy Atelier not only gives you the tools to start painting, but it serves to educate as well.

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Some folks may find this trip through history interesting as the Baroque and Renaissance art styles are examined.

Lingering former art students, will most likely flashback to what is usually a seventh circle of hell when you have an assignment due and your lecturer is droning on about the Rococo period of art. I’m just sayin’.

But when Art Academy Atelier starts teaching you about actual art techniques, that’s when it shines, unlike those freakin’ lecturers who were content to take thousands of my Rands and teach me jack-sh** and instead laugh and knock me down as they drive around in expensive sports cars.

No, I’m not still bitter. But when your on-screen guide Vince starts giving you tips on mixing your paints, blocking the basic shapes on your canvas and rough sketching your ideas, that’s when Art Academy Atelier really stands out.

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The game does a fine job in breaking down the steps needed to actually create a digital masterpiece, even if my initial works resembled a Rorsarch test instead of a bowl of fruit.

There’s a  nice layout to Art Academy Atelier as well, with relaxing acoustic tones accompanying your efforts as they play over a lazy summer art studio backdrop, with your painting and sketching tools looking like the real deal.

The TV screen can be used to display different viewpoints, whether you want to see your actual progress or the still-life as you focus on the Wii U GamePad as you draw the scene in front of you. It’s a great combination, that feels like a natural pairing.

It’s just a pity that the GamePad itself isn;t always up to the task at hand. The screen is laughably small for this kind of tutorial game, despite precise tools that are available within Art Academy Atelier, with the resistive nature of the hardware impairing quick sketches or splashes of paint.

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It requires a slower hand when it comes to creating art on the GamePad, as well as a far more methodical application of paint and graphite. It’s a style that you’ll need to learn in order to move forward with your creations, something that may not fly with artists who enjoy using a quicker approach to their works.

There’s also the under-powered Undo function, which limits players to only being allowed to undo the previous move, not several. Suffice to say, I had to do a LOT of re-painting and erasing in order to get my canvas looking right.

I’m quite taken with the sharing of creations however. Art Academy Atelier allows players to post their masterpieces to Miiverse, save to an SD card and to display their works within the game.

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Art Academy Atelier is the kind of game that requires a lot of time, and patience. Much like real art. The software is mostly up to scratch, provided that you haven’t got too used to the idea of being able to instantly CTRL+Z any faults in other modern day art programs that are available on the market. It’s not perfect, but Art Academy Atelier is surprisingly relaxing and impressively deep.

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