Colors Live Review – A Great Tool for Beginner Digital Artists

Live color review

I’m not the best artist around, but I’ve been doing digital art for almost two decades now. I’ve been around the corner when it comes to hardware usage, starting with using a keyboard and mouse to draw in Photoshop, a Wacom pen tablet, a display tablet and finally , on my iPad. So when I heard about the Kickstarter for Colors Live, I wondered how accurate and robust drawing software for the Nintendo Switch could be. I went through a few different emotions with this program, mostly positive ones, but I wish there were some things included in the software.

Once you’ve started the game, you’ll be prompted to calibrate the Sonar Pen along with other in-game options to make your workflow a little easier. I was quite impressed with the pressure sensitivity of the pen, and I’m so curious how they could make this item work just through the headphone jack. By plugging in the pen and making sure the volume is turned up, the pen will be able to sense the pressure. You can still use the stylus, even unplugged, as well as your fingers, but as you can understand there won’t be that pressure sensitivity. The pencil itself is a decent size and felt comfortable in my hands. Surprisingly, it felt better than some styluses I’ve used in the past.

While the pen is plugged in, I got used to being plugged in as it gives enough length to move the pen freely without feeling too constrained. Before you start drawing, when you check the pen, you’ll notice that weird and peculiar piece of transparent plastic at the end. Do NOT try to succeed (I was strongly tempted, but luckily I didn’t). This acts as a handle and also as a barrier to protect your screen from the inevitable scratches. It was a little hard to get used to because it can be hard to see where your pen stroke starts, but you’ll get used to it after a while.

Live Colors

Now for the program itself, it has some of the basic functions that any decent drawing program should have. You will be able to create new layers, merge them with the one below, reorganize them as well as modify the opacity. Unfortunately, the layer system is superficial at best and doesn’t offer masks or filters to create different effects. It gives you the standard soft and hard airbrush, a drawing brush, and a few other options. It would be nice to have a few more options, especially for liner, textures, and a watercolor brush, to name a few. Yet the choices we have are also perfect for beginners looking to get into digital art without bombarding them with options. I will admit that this program has one of the best layouts for pixel art. Lines will automatically be placed on the canvas, with boxes increasing or decreasing depending on the size of the pen.

Like the iPad’s Procreate program, Colors Live has an option for video playback that shows a quick timelapse of the design you just worked on. I love this feature on the iPad and was thrilled to see another program using this idea. Unfortunately, in my experience, the playback only worked when I was doing my initial sketches. Yet, as soon as I started adding new layers or moving things around, the whole video got messed up, not showing my progress properly.

Live Colors

Bowsette – drawn by myself

Although I wouldn’t necessarily call this program a game, they strive to bring challenges that provide a game aspect. You can participate in the Color Quest, which starts with drawing whatever you want to find in the tower a once you have completed your quest. From there, you’ll get daily challenges that give you different themes as well as rules. These can vary from drawing something sitting alone, using bold brush strokes, or just using the pixel brush and eraser. It’s a great way to learn how to use different brushes and techniques.

Another cool feature is the online community you can participate in. The Colors Live gallery is a fantastic way to get your art out there if you need some inspiration or just want to look at other people’s art. You can comment, view, and like each piece, and you can also check out these people’s video playback, which seems to work well for everyone but me. I haven’t posted any of my own stuff to the gallery, but maybe my reading would fix itself if I did.

Live Colors

Aerith Gainsborough – drawn by myself

One thing I wish the program itself clarified is how to save your work. Due to severe pain in my hands, I have to work much slower than usual, and one day I discovered that my game had become corrupted. It didn’t matter until I found out that I hadn’t saved my work. For some reason I had assumed there would be an autosave feature, and when I went to find the save feature, you have to navigate three menus before you finally find the save option. I wish Colors Live had implemented an auto-save feature, or at the very least a pop-up that pops up once in a while just to remind us to save our progress along the way.

Ultimately, Colors Live is a great little program for beginners or for those who just want to doodle while you’re on the go. It contains the basics that can help you learn the ins and outs of digital art without boring newbies with a plethora of brushes and features. If you’re serious about getting into digital art, there are plenty of programs and materials you can buy at low prices that will give you all the options for making great art. But for a younger person, buying a physical copy of this game for US$49.99, which comes with the awesome Sonar Pen, is a fantastic way to let that inner Van Gogh out.

*** Change the review code provided by the publisher ***

Good

  • Easy to use
  • Sonar pen and pressure sensitivity
  • The online gallery
  • Color Quest/Daily Challenges

82

The bad

  • Limited brush options
  • workflow can take some getting used to
  • Backup function should be easier to find
  • Color Quest/Daily Challenges

Marilyn M. Davis