Art Academy Home Studio Makes An Impression


Developer: Headstrong Games; Nintendo SPD Group No.3

Publisher: Nintendo

Platform: Wii U

Release Date: June 25, 2015

I…can’t draw. I established that fact pretty firmly last year, when I reviewed Pokemon Art Academy for the 3DS. So it was with some trepidation that I picked up the full-blown Art Academy: Home Studio for the Wii U. A look at the website and title art indicates that this game will be a far cry from the adorable little Pokemon sketches I painstakingly outlined last time. Here, we have fancy portraits of fruit and flowers, gorgeous landscapes, and some very curious-looking Yoshi’s.


Art Academy: Home Studio sports a familiar interface to anyone who has picked up one of the previous titles in the series. The menu offers Lessons, a Free Paint mode, plus lots of sharing options. It’s easily navigable, and all options are open to you immediately. Whether you’re a beginner or an old hat, Home Studio won’t make you jump through weird hoops to get to the parts of the game you’re after.

The Lessons are a difficulty jump from my Pokemon experience, but still mostly accessible.  You can choose between Beginner Lessons, and Advanced, with an optional introductory lesson and a separate lesson that teaches you about the various artistic tools available. Adorable, claymation Vince is happy to walk you step-by-step through drawing fruits, landscapes, animals, and more. He has a particular fondness for nature, but uses those natural objects to teach you the fundamentals of art. The reference–either the finished product or Vince’s drawing of that particular step–is displayed on the television. The GamePad serves as a sketchpad and provides you with easy tool-swapping via buttons or a menu on the Gamepad itself. Plus, it’s totally playable on the Gamepad only if no television is available.

Each Lesson is engaging and informative. I learned about different kinds of shading, light, shape, and how to use my tools to produce the desired effects. Vince is wonderfully warm, and the lessons are framed as if you were taking a private lesson from him in his home. Even tentative artists should feel at ease.

That being said, don’t think the lessons are a cakewalk. Even the Introductory lesson asks you to delve into use of light and shadow, perspective and style. A far cry from a simple coloring book, Home Studio provides a decent challenge no matter where you start. Most lessons will take you 45 minutes to an hour to do properly.

Though, really, there is no “proper” way to art. You don’t get points for more accurate drawings, and Vince is constantly encouraging you to put your own style into your art. If you want to draw stick figures in every lesson, you can. Likewise, if you want to create more elaborate works, that’s great too. Home Studio is there to provide you with information and a canvas to experiment with. The pace and goals are entirely up to you.

Free Paint mode is glorious. Using no references (not your own, nor any of a huge library of those in-game), you can create whatever you wish with a wide variety of artistic tools and colors, including a paint mixer. Should you create something you want to share with the world, Home Studio provides a wide variety of options for displaying your work. A 3D gallery provides a place to “hang” your artwork and explore at your leisure. Posting to Miiverse is easy and the community is rife with interesting artworks. You can also send images to your computer using an SD card, and even add new references to the game for Free Paint mode using a similar method.

One of my favorite features is the ability to export videos to YouTube. These time-lapse videos of your process can be taken from either Lessons or Free Paint and show, step by step, what you did to arrive at your finished creation. With this feature, Nintendo has ensured a long life for Home Studio. The artist community can share new creations and give one another an endless supply of patterns and lessons to mimic and expand upon.

Here’s a gorgeous example from

Corvax Draws


I don’t feel my artistic skills were improved drastically from using Home Studio…certainly not enough to share any of my hopeless apple sketches. I did pick up some skills and understand some artistic concepts better, but it’s not quite enough. There came a point in the Lessons where I was faking my way through, because even with a mountain of patience and Vince’s sage advice, I just couldn’t replicate the detailed human forms and colorful horizons he asked me to. Home Studio will not turn a non-artist into an artist overnight, or even over the course of a week. Those with more artistic expertise than I will surely enjoy it much more than I.


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In spite of this, I had a great time playing Art Academy Home Studio. The tools are easy to use and there’s a ton of them; it allows you to pace yourself comfortably, and the sharing functions are near-perfect. The cheap price ($29.99) and vibrant community ensures that this is a game with plenty of content for its price tag. My only wish is that there were an even easier mode to help salvage my sad tree and cat pictures, and perhaps introduce new concepts a bit slower. Oh, and some ambient background music during the drawing phase of the lessons wouldn’t hurt, either.

A copy of this game was provided to GameSided for the purpose of this review. Click here to learn more about our Review Policy.

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