Review – Colors! 3D

Colors! 3D – General Information:

  • Developed and Published by Nintendo
  • Released on April 5, 2012
  • Price: $5.99 (via Nintendo eShop)

*Note: Each image in this review was created using Colors! 3D for the Nintendo 3DS.


I danced around the idea of purchasing Colors! 3D on the Nintendo eShop for several weeks; since it technically isn’t a “game”, I decided to make other purchases until a recent weekend sale finally convinced me. For just $4, I downloaded this nifty 3DS image editing application – within minutes of beginning my first drawing, I realized how much of a mistake I had made by procrastinating the purchase for so long.

Basically, Colors! 3D is like a handheld version of Photoshop. Though its toolset may not be as extensive as the leading image editing programs, it allows a great deal of flexibility and provides both an intuitive interface for drawing and a simple layer management system for building 3D images.

I cannot recall where I originally found this, but as you can see, you can create some pretty sweet Zelda fan art using Colors! 3D.

I Liked:

Whether you start from scratch or use a picture taken with the 3DS cameras, Colors makes it easy for you to create and enhance with the 3D effect. The interface is amazingly intuitive; Colors uses the buttons and triggers of the 3DS in addition to the touch screen for all the basic functions, from drawing zooming to color-grabbing and correcting your mistakes with the “undo” function. I admittedly spent roughly 10 or 15 minutes trying to learn the setup before I felt comfortable, but even before I had finished my first drawing, I had mastered the pop-up menu and learned how to effectively use the color wheel to make subtle changes and opacity settings to add extra detail to my images.

Again, it took some additional time for me to learn how to use the 3D layers properly, but Colors really stands out as an image editing application by using the slick 3D effects to enhance what you create. You can switch between five layers – the lowest layer is the “deepest”, and the highest is the one that “pops out of the screen” using the 3DS’s stereoscopic effects. If you learn to build your images properly using the various layers, making 3D pictures is a breeze using Colors.

This image was created by a friend, Reilly Donaldson – he was working on building a 3D image of a futuristic rifle.

Colors! 3D wouldn’t be such a slick application if you couldn’t share your images; fortunately there are actually several different ways to do so. First, you can always export your images – both the 3D and 2D versions – to the SD card in your 3DS. From there, you can use the Interent Browser to upload your pictures to the web, or you can extract them from the SD card on any other device. Finally, you can share images with any friends who have also downloaded Colors! 3D, or upload them directly to a Gallery that other players can view in the main menu.

The last nifty touch is the time-lapse video that you can watch after saving your drawings; seeing the creation of your own image in fast-forward is pretty damn cool, particularly if you use the 3D effects properly. I would have really enjoyed being able to save these videos and upload them to YouTube; sadly there is no option to do this.

I Didn’t Like:

To be fair, the only qualm I had with Colors! 3D wasn’t really the fault of the software, but instead the stylus that comes with every 3DS system. Basically, when I first started drawing, I realized that the tip of the stylus is just too thick to allow for the highest level of detail, even with 400% zoom and the thinnest pen settings.

I ended up borrowing a high-end stylus designed for drawing tablets, and the results were much better – the touch screen is very precise, but the thicker tip of the 3DS prevents you from making the smallest possible marks, and ultimately makes the software slightly more cumbersome to use.

Recommendation: Buy It

Simply put, Colors! 3D is one of the finest downloads on the eShop, if not the best to date – it isn’t technically a “game”, but you would be hard-pressed to find anything with more value on the 3DS. I would prefer to use Colors over Photoshop; the touch screen and stylus are far better to use than a computer screen and mouse/keyboard, and the easy sharing of your drawings helps to make Colors! 3D the perfect substitute for virtually anyone on-the-go.

Unless you have no personal interest in drawing or editing 3D images, it belongs on your 3DS “Home” menu. The weekend sale that convinced me to download Colors reduced the standard price ($5.99) to just $4, but even $20 or $30 would have been perfectly reasonable for such an impressive piece of software.

Final Score: 9.5/10


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