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ArcSoft PhotoStudio Paint takes many of the standard drawing tools in programs like Microsoft Paint and puts them in a simple, colorful interface that is easy and fun for kids to use. It includes a pencil, marker, crayon, and fill-in paint can, and you can adjust the width of the line of each tool. In addition to creating their own drawings on a blank canvas, kids can color in pictures that PhotoStudio provides.
PhotoStudio Paint would probably be most fun on a laptop or netbook that uses touch/multitouch technology. That would eliminate the difficulty of drawing with a mouse and let kids digitally fingerpaint. A stylus would be fun to use, too. My test system users neither, so my 8-year-old test subject had to struggle with the less fluid point-and-click of a mouse. Still, the awkwardness of drawing with a mouse did not seem to diminish her enjoyment. She eagerly colored in outlined pages, clicked through connect-the-dots pictures, added letters and numbers to the page, and placed clipart icons of bubbles and butterflies throughout her masterpieces. Once the drawing is finished, PhotoStudio Paint can play back the steps used to create it.
Kids can print their art or save it on the computer. ArcSoft hosts a community board on its Web site where kids can upload their PhotoStudio pictures and download new clipart and coloring pages, and parents can check on promotions and news items.
At $30, PhotoStudio Paint is reasonably priced. There are a limited number of functions and it's not very versatile, so kids in the 4-to-8-year-old range will probably enjoy it most. For them, it's easy to get going and fun to use.
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