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Kid Pix Deluxe 3X

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Broderbund’s Kid Pix Deluxe 3X has been brought to Mac OS X by the folks at Software MacKiev, but this is no mere update to a previously released product—it’s a re-imagining of the once-popular kids’ creativity software, now integrated with Apple’s iLife applications.

Before this release, Kid Pix was an image-editing program designed especially for kids, which featured lots of fun and creative tools and tons of goodies to get them started. The original Kid Pix has long been a favorite of families and schools looking to let their young artists express their artistic side as well as experience the Mac as a creative tool.

Beside Mac OS X compatibility, the most obvious difference between this Kid Pix and the previous release is how much more space it takes up on the screen: Kid Pix Deluxe 3 occupies more than twice the drawing space, giving kids that much more room to realize their vision. It’s also a lot prettier to look at--gone are the skimpy Mac OS 9-style icons and cursors, replaced by a menagerie of lush 3-D objects.

There are host of handy tools on palettes; clicking on one of the buttons on the left-hand side yields drawing, painting, mixing, rubber stamp, cutting, text, and erasing tools similar in function to what you’d find in Photoshop or Painter. Admittedly, the tools here are a bit more limited, but it’s enough to get a young artist started. A handy help button offers pop-up instructions for showing kids what to do, and accompanies it with spoken instructions (the recorded voice is that of a friendly and enthusiastic young boy). While it would be nice to have a girl voice speaking the instructions too, Kid Pix developers deserve kudos for making this program accessible to kids who are too young to read and for those who have learning disabilities that would make the pop-up help tough for them to get through.

There are a lot of really fun tools in Kid Pix too--3-D spray paint, for example, which splashes objects like balloons, flowers, bugs, and candy on the page. Wacky brushes fill the screen with rich swirls and splotches. Kid Pix also features different paper textures, fill patterns, and mixer effects that let you add colorizing, posterizing, and other effects to a portion of a picture or to the whole thing.

Kid Pix goes beyond simple drawing: it also includes a host of background images, stickers, full-blown animations, pre-recorded sound effects, and short musical intros to help youngsters get started. Where the program really shines, though, is in its iLife integration: with a click of the mouse, kids can import photos from iPhoto, or use the music in an iTunes library as the soundtrack for a new creation (or annotate a picture with their own voice note, if their Mac has a microphone). They can also export slideshows and animated pictures to iMovie and Flash.

Kid Pix keeps it simple and fun--if there’s a downside here, it’s that there’s only one level of undo, so kids have only one chance to correct a mistake before it’s on the page for good.

Macworld’s Buying Advice

Kid Pix Deluxe 3X for Mac OS X provides a broad palette of tools to let youngsters explore their artistic side. However a few may get frustrated by their inability to back up more than one step.

Kids can create animated pictures with just a few mouse clicks.
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