Disney’s Magic Artist Studio is a superb art exploration program, guaranteed to provide any child with endless hours of imaginative fun. Time can be spent creating colorful (and often wildly innovative) graphics, learning to animate them (and then doing so, with the most pleasing results) or making slide shows of saved masterpieces. In any case, it is time well spent.
The program includes three different art studio areas:
The Desktop is equipped with a multitude of colors, textures and tools. Users can produce freehand creations in this part of the program, using the mouse as a drawing tool, or using the companion SketchBoard Studio. Also available are a wide selection of pre-created backgrounds that can be added to the user's canvas with the stamp tool. Over 15 sets of stamps give users control of familiar Disney cartoon characters and images. Users have the choice of coloring the scenes, or selecting an auto-color option. While the auto-color option is entertaining -- especially for younger users, it does not require much artistic expression. Other tools include the Doodlemorph Tool, which allows kids to create original animations, the Shapemaker Tool, for perfect squares, circles and triangles, and the Sliders, which can make simple lines into unique creations.
Finished masterpieces can be saved and placed in The Gallery, one of the studio areas. It is here that artists can produce slide shows by adding music and special effects to a collection of their favorite pieces. Users can also import graphics from other programs, scanners or digital cameras, or export works to include with other applications, or perhaps email to a friend.
In the Lesson Area, drawing skills are taught to the willing and determined user. Disney characters can be traced on the screen with the mouse, or drawn freehand, following detailed instructions. It is also in this area that instructions are provided for using the available animation techniques.
While our younger testers spent most of their time on the stamping and coloring activities, older testers were fascinated by the creativity and animation possibilities, and could not be torn away from their increasingly complex projects.
Disney's Magic Artist Studio provides endless opportunity to explore creative talents. Although the program is aimed at younger kids, it is sophisticated enough to provide older kids with experience in graphic art techniques. The Lesson Area actually offers drawing instruction, but is only beneficial for a patient user. Our reviewers found it somewhat difficult to use proficiently, and lacked the patience and desire to stick with a lesson.
Outstanding graphics, comical sound effects and a wide variety of usable tools and options will keep users entertained for hours. Although the program is aimed at younger users, even teens will enjoy experimenting with Magic Artist's almost limitless possibilities.
Ease of Use / Install
This program installed without difficulty on all platforms. It is relatively simple to use, and comes with an in-depth User's Manual and a laminated 'Quick Reference Card'. A parent's help is nonetheless recommended to get young users started and avoid discouragement.
Best for... / Bottom-Line
Despite the elementary look of this software, it offers more to the older, more advanced computer user. It is not highly recommended for the young and impatient, nor for the easily discouraged. Although the stamping and coloring portions of the program are easily learned by early grade-school aged children, it takes perseverance and patience to use the more advanced and educational aspects of the program. Because of this, however, the program will grow with a student, and appeal to kids at many different levels within one family.
Windows 95 or later,
Pentium class processor, 133MHz or faster cpu,
70 MB hard drive space,
32 MB RAM,
800x600, 256 color DirectX-compatible video card (millions of colors recommended), 1 MB video card memory
Quad-speed or faster CD-ROM,
16-bit DirectX-compatible sound card,
Serial/USB scanner or digital camera (optional).
System 8.1 or later,
iMac/G3 or faster processoror faster cpu,
70 MB free hard disk space,
32 MB RAM,
800x600, 256 color video display (millions of colors recommended), 1 MB video card memory,
Quad-speed or faster CD-ROM
USB scanner or digital camera (optional).