Title: Crayola Create A Masterpiece

Publisher: IBM/Crayola

Summary:
This graphics program proved particularly popular with students. It is distinguished from other packages
by the animated "Scribbler" character who introduces the programme at start-up. He talks the user through different
actions with verbal prompts accompanying the visual cues. This is helpful in schools such as our own where many
students have below par reading ages and may not be native English speakers. Scribbler's camp French accent can
be irritating but the sound can easily be disabled with an icon. It was obviously designed with young children in mind
as all actions can performed with groups of on-screen icons rather than searching through the traditional grey/blue
drop-down menus. The tools all work in the same way; the colours can be chosen by clicking on the same area
at the bottom of the screen and the patterns.

We also liked the Suitcase function, a suitcase icon containing a library of photographs from around the world
arranged in categories like "Ocean", "Rainforest" and "Desert". These can form the background for the painting,
kick-starting the child's imagination. This counteracts a common problem when students open up other drawing
packages and having nothing to prompt them. Inspiring the students seems to be an aim of this
package. As well as the standard set of crayons, the colour of which can be chosen by clicking on a set of crayons
at the bottom of the screen, there are a lot of preset images and novelty effects. These include the paint roller tool
that paints patterns such as wall tiles, bamboo frames. It is also possible to paint a forest backdrop with a variety
of different trees. These allow the user to have quiet an elaborate picture very quickly. The neon crayon flashes
on and off and is good for text. The shaving foam canister and the popcorn also amused the students.

Apart from the gimmicks, there is also genuine educational value in this package. Students can click on a book
that gives examples of various styles from throughout the history of art with examples of paintings by renowned
artists. The theory is put into practice by showing the budding artists how to emulate particular techniques with the
software tools. I have little to fault about this program, but the few omissions are glaring: The rectangular drawing
area doesn't take up the entire screen and I was unable to make it larger. I was surprised that there was no
zoom/magnifying tool to allow users to inspect their work in detail, as this seems to be standard in drawing and
animation packages. The other main drawback was the fact that users are required to insert the CD every time
the program is run which makes it very impractical to use the software with a large class. Overall, this is a very
impressive program that allows users to produce interesting results fast and is a lot of fun.
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