capsule review

Kid Pix Deluxe 3.0

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Since its introduction in 1991, Kid Pix has been the premier children's art program on the Mac. The newest version, Kid Pix Deluxe 3, adds new features to the inspirational program. This fun software from The Learning Company is easy to use and offers kids a world of imaginative possibilities.

The Kid Pix Creation

With all the emphasis that's put on raising kids' test scores these days, developing a child's creativity often falls between the cracks. Not with Kid Pix 3 Deluxe, for children ages 4 and up. The program enables kids to create multimedia art with graphics, sound, and animation, and inspires imagination along the way.

A blank canvas surrounded by clearly marked 3-D buttons appears when Kid Pix is launched. Projects are created from scratch, or built onto more than 200 preprogrammed backgrounds. Tools amuse even before they're put to use. Everything clicked on gives audio feedback: the spray paint can rattles; the paint bucket handle jangles; even the Undo Guy shakes his head and exclaims one of many regrets including "Oops!" and "Uh oh!" while undoing an action.

New Additions

Version 3's new features include thousands of moveable and animated stickers, 20 paper textures, a mixer that distorts the picture or color, and a spray can that spews animated images and sound--bunnies jump and leap, vines unwind and bloom, and bubbles pop and rise across the canvas.

The new Sound Art feature goes beyond its built-in ability to add sounds to work and allows users to import sounds directly using a microphone. This way, kids' squeals and laughter become a part of their artwork. Although this feature is more a novelty than a real tool, it's fun to use and may have particular appeal to kids who don't yet use a mouse.

Unfortunately, the new Email Your Art feature was unreliable during our testing.

Like the Real Thing

Real-world art supplies are mimicked: paint creates shadows and appears in globs on the canvas; and color strokes are complete with brush marks. For a young learner, Kid Pix is an inexpensive way to become acquainted with the tools used to create art, before parents shell out a lot of cash on supplies.

One of Kid Pix's strongest aspects is that it involves building on images, objects, and animations. Special effects, patterns, and graphics are added by importing GIF, JPEG, PICT, and BMP files from other programs. A wide selection of background images and paper textures, along with stickers and animations, make creating art in the program fun and easy. And the variety of actions, including drawing with 3-D effects, using scalable graphic objects, and painting by voice, ensures a high level of continued interest and challenge.

Parents' Little Helper

Kid Pix Deluxe 3 is a great tool that both educators and parents can use to inspire kids' creativity through making multimedia art. The Idea Machine jumpstarts imagination with activities that include coloring book-style templates of insects and animals, project worksheets, and unfinished comic book strips. Choose Mountain Village, for example, and a partially drawn comic strip with an Alpine scene and empty voice bubbles appears. A young boy's voice says, "In the shadow of the mountains a tiny village is waking up. What will this day bring?" The question is answered by completing the comic strip. Additional projects include making a slideshow, creating a digital storybook, and uploading QuickTime or Flash movies and still images to the Kid Pix Web site for others to see.

Macworld's Buying Advice

For $30, Kid Pix Deluxe 3 is a worthwhile purchase. It offers kids numerous and imaginative activities, as well as hours of creative fun. After elementary school, kids may want to graduate to a higher-level package, but until then, Kid Pix Deluxe 3 has a lot to offer the young artist.

The Learning Company's Kid Pix Deluxe 3
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