Razzle Dazzle

10th September 2004 at 01:00
Dazzle 03 - PC only

Powerful, multi-level drawing package for special needs, foundation, KS1

KS2, KS3, KS4

Price: pound;79 + VAT

SiteNetwork - pound;367 + VAT

Indigo Learning Ltd

Tel: 01480 354335



Fitness for purpose ****

Ease of use *****

Features ****

Quality ****

Value for money *****

If you take a youngster to a sweetshop and insist that they choose just a couple of penny chews and a packet of jelly babies, it is very likely that they will want to choose something else, something more satisfying or exciting. It is then very difficult to say no. It would be so much easier if the shelves were only stocked with the sweets you wanted them to choose in the first place.

Dazzle 03 is a sweetshop of a program. It has much to tickle the creative taste-buds, but the number of possibilities is very wide-ranging, with some tools rather daunting for younger pupils. Fortunately, there are various entry levels, so access can be limited to give clear focus to the task in hand without too much distraction.

Dazzle has been around for 10 years now. This latest version is primarily an art package, which also has many cross-curricular applications. It is divided into five distinct menus: foundation (with the simplest tools on display); KS1; KS2 (with more options available): full (which, not surprisingly, has the full range of tools); and natural art materials (offering a wide range of painting effects).

The bonus is that menu bars can be customised, with any number of tools added to any of the menus - although the original tools in any level cannot be removed. These customised menus can then be saved and reopened for specific classes or tasks.

Throughout all the levels a voice tells the pupil what each icon is - this feature is easily turned off when no longer required. Tools range from simple geometric shapes, lines and freehand drawing, to airbrush, spray-can, smudge, cloning, text and the ubiquitous symmetry and rubber stamp tools.

The "natural art materials" menu, although much more limited than Revelation Natural Art, does include felt marker, crayon, watercolour, oil paint, acrylic and a dry brush tool (which can smudge areas of the screen in a satisfying manner). Photographs or other artwork can be imported for modification or development.

One innovation within the program is that there is a "save to web" option, which allows schools to create an online gallery of Dazzle images, hosted by the Indigo Learning website. This could be a useful place to store and display pupils' creations and see how others are using the software.

Dazzle 03 is a very satisfying and slick program, which has been well designed to meet the developing needs of pupils. It can be used creatively and works well on many levels, so will be a good investment for primary school use. As with all good sweetshops it should leave youngsters wanting more.

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