Thursday, January 22, 2015

Pokemon Art Academy: Game Review

So many firsts already this year and we're only in the first month! This is my first video game review on the blog, but I've reviewed books...well one book, but more are on the way! I promise! Anyway, unless you're new here you know I love Pokemon! it as a series/conglomeration is probably at my top slot in the best video game list that I mention in this post. Therefore it's fitting that the first game I discuss is from the Pokemon family (plus it's artsy...its like both sides of my personality combined in a game)

I reluctantly asked for this game for my birthday for two reasons. 1. The Sapphire and Ruby remakes were coming out less than a week after my birthday, that was tempting...But 2. I was skeptical if this would even be a fun game. I've always done my best to resist the siren call of  "art games" because in my mind I've always relegated drawing/painting to a different sort of entertainment than video games and didn't think that the two should be mixed.

I'm glad I took the chance though! Pokemon were just about my favorite thing to draw as a kid. For most of elementary school my time outside of school that wasn't spent doing homework, reading, or playing Pokemon silver was spent pouring over the illustrated Pokedex at the end of the Gold/Silver guidebook.

The game has a really fun premise, which was also unexpected. I thought it would just be about teaching you Pokemon drawing skills, which it is of course, but they actually give it a storyline! You are an aspiring Pokemon card artist who is attending Pokemon Art Academy to learn your craft so you can be the best Pokemon card illustrator ever! I found that to be brilliant, even if I'm not sure it was necessary. Someone has to make the Pokemon cards in the Pokemon universe though and I'm glad we got an explanation about it.

There are 3 different modes of gameplay. You can follow the "storyline" and attend lessons to learn everything from  basic shape construction to shading and hatching (plus what all the different tools do). You can free paint and try your hand at drawing any of the Pokemon you've unlocked from the lessons or you can try quick sketching. Quick sketching is learning how to draw very simply shaped pokemon (think jigglypuff, ditto, and diglet)

They don't get super complex with the tools that you use at the academy, it's a level above MS paint plus you use a stylus. Outline pen, marker, pencil, spray paint, pastel, paint, blender, and eraser are what you get in your arsenal. You also can work in layers can save your Pokemon sketch and then go to the save file and add on more, like a background or fellow Pokemon. 

Some of my Pokemon Art:

One of the first full-bodied Pokemon I drew, the background is also not mine.

This was an apprentice level that taught you about a "sketchy" art style.

This was a quick sketch that I later went back and added the background to.

Sure digital art is awesome and all, but if I wanted to start actively making more large scale art that way I would need to invest in a tablet. I do want to get one eventually but it's just not workable in the budget for a while. So... I tested the translation from on-the-screen instructions to an on-the-sheet product and I am so unbelievably happy with the results. I sketched this little guy out, lined him, and then watercolored it. This was one of the apprentice (2nd level) sub-courses, teaching you about hatching.

Next I want to try drawing my Pokemon figures and plushies for practice (that way I control the lighting/shadows). After I get good at that I'm going to move them to outdoors for scenery! I'm excited.

In conclusion, although this game is aimed at a younger crowd I still really enjoyed it and learned a lot from it. If you have never done well with drawing books that try to teach you step by step drawing techniques you may find this method of receiving instruction better for you.If you want to read more about my love of Pokemon, check out this post, or this tutorial for Pokeball Christmas ornaments.

Til Next Time!

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