Disney Art Academy Review (3DS)

Once upon a time, in a faraway land, the Art Academy series has a long history on Nintendo platforms, going back to 2009 and the DS. Since then, it’s seen a few general releases across 3DS and Wii U, and a couple of entries based on licensed properties. We’ve seen a game with Pokémon at the helm, and now we come to Disney Art Academy, featuring a group of popular characters from the House of Mouse.

Disney Art Academy is being offered as a tool for fans young (and young at heart) to make artistic recreations of their favorite Disney and Pixar characters. If you’ve never played an Art Academy series game before, think of it as “Photoshop: The Game…For Kids”. The core experience of Disney Art Academy boils down to two modes: Lessons and Free Drawing.
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A grand total of 80 lessons feature Disney and Pixar characters from Mickey and Minnie Mouse all the way as recently as Sadness from last year’s Inside Out. Completing these will unlock special new brush tools and templates for the Free Draw mode, where you can truly test your budding artistic skills. Disney Art Academy isn’t going to necessarily replace your copy of Photoshop, but it works well and is plenty intuitive. You’ll open the door to work in a variety of mediums, from pencil line drawings to charcoals and pastels, each simulating the real thing reasonably well.

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Disney Art Academy shares many similarities with 2014’s Pokémon Art Academy, but upon digging deeper, there are a lot of subtle improvements made to previous Art Academies on the DS and 3DS. Out is the series stalwart guide character Vince and in are four stand-ins that act as a conduit for teachers and pupils. The working interface has also been improved upon and streamlined from past games, with everything looking nicer and more clairvoyant to easily spot what drawing tool you need or to change the tool’s opacity and size.

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Sub-menus and quick steps are logically mapped to button controls, making for quick shortcuts to when you need to open the toolbox, redo or erase a stroke of the stylus, or change the layer of the drawing that’s being worked on. And new to this entry for New 3DS players, you can pan across your work-in-progress with the C-Stick, a highly convenient feature for inspecting your work(especially for lefties). It makes one wish these newer features were retroactively in past Art Academy games on 3DS, where they’re needed the most.

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What’s also nifty here to check your progression is a grid-style achievement board that tracks the lessons you’ve completed. The lessons themselves do an admirable job guiding beginners through the process step-by-step. More appreciable are the factoids provided about the various Disney characters, from introducing their histories to tying them into artistic principles.

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So while Art Academy has a stellar interface and reasonable controls, there are some niggling distractions around the package. Music lacks any Disney themes, undoubtedly for licensing reasons. Generic muzak-style melodies are the order of that day, and these tracks get old fast. (If you want that Disney touch to while you sketch, just put on a YouTube video of Disney music in the background, perhaps.)

One of the helpful guides in question.

And while the art style that packages everything together isn’t generic per say, it just doesn’t feel very Disney-like. The graphic characters and colorful, tropical vibe feel more like it’s ripped out of a Disney animated TV series than any of their classical feature films that more people recognize.

Sharing your art too is a bit limited in efficiency. Outside of the standard sharing via Miiverse, the only way to export your finished pictures is by copying to an SD card or sharing online (via Facebook and Twitter through the 3DS’ internet browser) and with a local 3DS owner (you can also send over select lessons through Download Play). The chief problem is all of these options are in deeply buried menus that will give the younger audience some fumbling in the dark. Copying your hard work to an SD card also requires some menu fumbling, rather than being able to copy the image over right after you save it. These options are about what can be expected of the 3DS given its limitations, given that this was made on the same foundation as other Art Academies on 3DS but it’s still inconvenient.


Disney Art Academy wears its casual game pride on its sleeve, a quick fix to give the younger audience something constructive to play. If you’ve seen this kind of game before or you’re just not into Disney, it’s hard to be terrible excited about Disney Art Academy. It’s the same kind of Art Academy that we’ve seen since 2009 outside of the license. But if you’re a die-hard Disney fan, it’s a fine recommendation for a time killer.

If you have or are a younger player, Disney Art Academy is perfect for you. It’s a good game for parents to pick up for their 3DS-toting kids needing a fix for the summer, as creating good art in the game takes some time. As a teaching tool, Disney Art Academy does its job well as expected. Depending on who you are and your gaming needs, approach this Art Academy as needed.

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*TL;DR version: Same game you’ve played before, different license.

Review copy provided by Nintendo

Disney Art Academy Review (3DS)
Disney Art Academy is exactly what it says on the box: Art Academy with the Disney license. The good news is, this art tool works exactly as it should, providing a window for younger artists to learn how to create digital art work based on characters everyone knows and loves. Just don't expect anything mind-blowing from the latest Art Academy.
The Good
  • Expansive, intuitive art tools
  • Easy-to-follow lessons
The Bad
  • No Disney music
  • Generic art
  • Lessons can be restrictive
7Overall Score
Reader Rating: (1 Vote)
8.0
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About The Author

Editor-in-Chief (Former)

A man with a plan. My favorite video game franchise is Pokemon, but his favorite video game is Resident Evil 4. I can also tell you trivial cartoon factoids.