The all-gurgling, all-squeaking picture show

20th October 1995 at 01:00
Crayola Amazing Art AdventureCrayola Art Studio Windows PC graphics software forchildren aged 3 to 6, and 6 to 12respectively. Pounds 29.99 each.

Both packages come on floppy discs oron CD-Roms that have extra features.

From most software suppliers.

Micrografx: 01483 747531 The pre-school painting program, Amazing Art Adventure, is more like a toy box from which children can pick up something and use it, than a program with menus and options. The word is metaphor: crayons rub, felt-tips squeak, paint gurgles and there's a picture gallery to hide you from that file name, dialogue box and MS-Dos nonsense.

So instead of a tool box, there are Crayola crayons, a felt-tip marker and brush. Instead of a palette of colour squares, there's a line of crayons. Instead of a help button, there are pop-up talking guides which appear before you click on anything. It's useful when you use a program for the first time, though you might click the feature off before it starts to annoy.

When you choose a crayon, it moves into place, as if ready for action. If you scribble yellow over a cyan line, the overlap shows green. And there are animated stickers and magic effects that drop jungle animals and funny surprises on the page. You can colour a sticker or some text after you've typed it, and you can come back to it later and move it which you can't do in many programs.

You can start with a blank page, colouring books, dot-to-dot puzzles or food place-mats. You can play odd-one-out or find the hidden picture. These games and features usually each have a different way of working but that's less so here. A clever consistency runs right through this program, which makes it good for home and the early school years.

Crayola Art Studio is more of the same. There are more colours, plus sliders to control the size of your brush or adjust the water in your paint. You can also stretch and rotate text and stickers, copy and paste them, and there are yet more activity books. The hot key enables adults to hide some of the cartoonery but the American hard-wired fun will remain. Still, when the felt-tips start squeaking you can turn down the volume.

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