This is a very simple tutorial on how to UTILIZE the coloring tools and program itself that is Nintendo's Art Academy for WiiU. I can't teach you how to draw or why shades go in the places they do (that is for you to learn ;3 ) But I can try to teach you some techniques on how to use this program.
This does not need to be followed to a T. If you learned just 1 small thing, then I did something right.

I'm not apologizing for the overload of Toon Links in this

Experiment a little...

Before I dive in I'll provide some color samples. I will sometimes like to try something a little different when I color each picture.

It can be a little hard to draw on the gamepad...

As humans we're very adapted to running lead on paper. Using a stylus on a smooth screen doesn't give us the traction we know and love. If there is a certain look on a character you are trying to achieve, draw it paper first! Get familiar with it. The Toon Links I draw are normally very 'chibi' looking and I wanted him to look less.....chibi....

TV vs Gamepad

My TV, as much as I tried to adjust it, just has very saturated colors compared to the gamepad. You're better off relying on your gamepad for the right colors and maybe have the TV to look at just to get the whole picture, especially when you're zoomed in.

I use the default paper color and style provided.

I use colored pencils all.the.time. Pastels are terribly messy (in my biased opinion).

The skin colors selected are the 3 I will be using in this tutorial. I don't ever touch the smudger. It's not a bad tool. It's just a tool I don't use. I like my pictures looking kind of grainy.

Gon' be a good time colorin' cowboy Link. After I completed this lineart, I went to the options/menu sceen and selected "fix artwork" This means that the marks you have draw become un-eraseable. They're there for good. USE WITH CAUTION.

When you open your tools and pick your colors, TEST THEM. With that little slot of the left side. Remember, you DON'T get an undo button. You really gotta take extra precautions.

Have your stroke size at medium (which is really the highest you can get with the colored pencils setting) Start with light strokes. This program is not pressure sensitive, no matter how hard you press down on the gamepad you will just get a light color. It's about LAYERING your colors. This is explained more below.

Always have a defined light source. Always.

Red marks indicate when my stylus made contact with the screen, blue arrow provides the direction I was moving after each stroke.

More strokes = heavier color. It's kind of like cross hatching. I keep layering strokes on to get that gradient I want.

All the white space that was left I scribbled on. No need to be elegant there. Also you might wanna consider saving before adding on the next layer of shade because if you apply it on wrong, you'll have to erase everything and start over.

Basically....same deal as the first. Simple strokes down the line.

Like crosshatching!

The rest of the face is once again filled in without needing to worry about being precise with strokes.

Gonna jump in and add the bits of purple. There isn't much, they're hugging the edges of his face.

Now select your normal eraser and have it set on small.

Erase all the marks outside his face. This does get a little flawed in that pointy edges (see his hair) can't get completely erased since the eraser tool at it's smallest, is still pretty thick D:

Fixing artwork...

I didn't hold the camera very steady xD Well, once you've erased your marks, and have double, triple, quadroople checked that everything is in the right place. Fix your artwork. Remember you can't go back and edit it again.

Now I'm gonna redo some of the linework that was lost. Have my stroke setting on small and selected this specific color, seemed fitting.

Used eraser on the mouth so it doesn't look so thick. Now his face is kind of back.

Hair is...different...

The color technique I showed you is how I color basically every other little thing - clothes, that horse over there, background. But hair is a little different. It's all long strokes.

I probably used more than 4 strokes but you get the idea of what needs to be done to get that nice transition. Remember, Art Academy is not pressure sensitive, layer your strokes.

Fill in the rest.

Now I bring out the same purple again. Here I used the small pencil size, to get that nice definition.

Same here, small pencil to get the right look.

Using the small eraser I 'sliced' off some of the yellow strokes to the left - where his hair is closest to the white. Now his hair looks a bit more defined.

Select the white pencil...

Use it to create more fine lines to bring out the highlights. This requires a steady hand, so maybe save first before trying this.

Erased and cleaned.

It's always a good thing to take a step back in a while to look at your overall picture. Make sure it.....looks good and stuff.

After the clean up I fixed the artwork. Selecting another dark color to redefine the lines that might have been lost.

Though the pencil I used was a little too dark. But I can always go back and erase if I want.

And there you go!

Find what inspires you

(I guess I'm going off track a little. But I want to demonstrate different coloring styles.)

I say this a lot. Find an artist you admire to death and try their style out. Try another. That's how you learn and grow. I love love LOVE Drew Struzan's art. I want to be on his level. A quick tumblr search will yield the best results of his work if you have an account. Otherwise google his name. Something. Just look him UP.

Anyways his style can vary but the top left image is one of my favorite coloring styles that I attempted. I didn't expect to nail it. I didn't. But I certainly learned something new and had fun trying something different!

The bottom left image is another one of his poster work that I thought was really cool, so I incorporated that look into this picture as well.

4 colors used

Fill using base color.

Using the medium sized colored pencil, fill in using shade 2. Again, I can't tell you where or why shades go in places they do. You have to study things like that in real life on a day to day basis!

Using the small sized pencil, added in more defined spaces.

Gets interesting here. Bring out shade 1 and fill it in the areas where you think it shouldn't be so dark. This might take some getting used to since it's a different approach compared to starting out light and working your way darker.

Fine lined with shade 2, note under his nose.

Now I'm going to go back to my base color and 'trim' some areas of the shading where it should be more sharp and not a soft gradient. Red lines show where my stylus made contact with the screen.

See a small difference?

Now bring out the highlight. I started with the small pencil size this time. Just preference. Got in the more defined areas.

Fill in rest using medium sized pencil

Erase colors going outside the lines. Save. Fix artwork.

Now going back to shade 2, add in some solid define lines on the edges of the shade

Using the small eraser, lines were erased a little to not look super thick.

Reclaiming back his eyes and eyebrows that got lost in the color.

And there's yet another style for you to try! I initially said I'm more about teaching you how to utilize the tools. In this case I took a weird route shading a face from the traditional way of starting light and going darker. I guess that's tool utilizing xD

I sometimes just like to color...

I drew a face just so I could try different coloring styles on it. I love trying out new things! So much this sketch became a picture...So if you have time to kill, it's just nice to draw a face and use it as a tester for coloring.

Some different coloring styles. And how to use the right colors.

This is a style I've yet to try. Kind of wish I did it on this picture!

Looks a little weird with the white background against it. Sometimes you're better off coloring in the background first then the characters so you get the lighting right. See the first picture in samples above to see a style like this used.

Using the right colors

I picked out 2 colors. One looks like a nice base skin color, and the other a nice shade.

Except when you blend them together, the end result isn't very much.

These 2 colors are what I used in the Link face example. Apart, they look extremely different.

But blended, they work pretty nice. Bottom line - Exaggerate a little when coloring on a single layer. These colors blend, not lie on top of the other.

Well, they could 'lie on top of eachother'

These are the 2 same colors I showed before.

Now I'll fix my canvas.

So when you use the darker color, it's really just kind of sitting on top of the lighter color. As if a glass panel has been put between them. They aren't blending on the same layer.

I'm really no expert on backgrounds myself but I've been asked about them. I sometimes use Pastel, and other times Colored pencil. Both have pros and cons.

Pastel Pros
•Really quick, fills in fast.
•Have all stroke sizes available.
•Fairly easy to blend

Pastel Cons
•If you have lineart and decide to color in your background first, you're gonna have a bad time. Pastel, unlike colored pencils will cover up your lines completely.
•I learned the hard way in the example above, that if you have some fine line pastel marks in your BG, colored pencil won't cover it up. Even if you've fixed your BG.

Colored Pencil pros
•Will not cover up your lineart.

Colored pencil cons
•Takes.for.ever. You get the medium sized stroke as your biggest option and it takes a lot of scribbling to fill in a whole background. Example used above gave me a migraine.
•More difficult to blend and get that smooth gradient look without looking blotchy.

Pastel is the easier way to go, but if you already have lineart drawn down, you might as well do colored pencil.

Pastel, colored pencil...same technique.

They're different tools but my coloring style remains the same.

I'll be painting an oceanic background. It'll be more about color and not a full scenic picture.

Heh, you can see my hands holding my phone. Well this is my base color.

I create strokes using the largest size pastel, very similar to the manner in which I color anything else.

Be sure to change up brush sizes as well!

Now it gets a little interesting. Go back to your base color and start running it over the darkest tips. Makes a nice 'in between' color to blend.

Now I'll take my lighter blue that I used to make the shine and spread it out a bit more.

And go back to my base color and do the same thing...It's all about layers your colors on top over and over again. Gives it a more finished look.

Afterwards I saved and fixed artwork. Then added little specks using the same dark blue, light blue and white (consistency is key!) I have my brush at the smallest setting and just...make little dots. They're great for pics that appear to be 'in motion' too, adds more emphasis on that....motion part.

Just for a little extra fun, I'll paint a castle.

If you planned on drawing characters, and your BG is done, save and fix artwork. I draw using regular pencils, and it does get pretty challenging to see my lines. But you can make it work!

One more...

Base color for sky

Light color roughly blended.

Back to base color and color over the transitional part of the colors, make it blend better.

Aaaaaand same thing, back to the lighter color.

Fixed artwork and added ground.

Don't forget, press Y for grid! It is very useful for me when I make BGs

Saved, and artwork fixed so I can move onto the next layer of the background.I never try to paint a scenic picture, but what I'm trying to show is that if you're painting a landscape with a house and trees, you gotta do it in sections. Starting with whats in the back, then fix artwork. Work your way towards the front. After each section, you fix your artwork then move on. I feel like I'm repeating myself a lot, but so you'll get it in your head....

Will save and fix artwork, then start on the windows

Draw in a happy little cactus

Then draw your subject matter (if you have any) but make sure you have an idea of where they are located. Although if I tried to color in this lineart with colored pencils, some markings of the background might still show through!

Thanks to this new Art Academy update, it's now possible to upload your images to ANYWHERE. Not just Miiverse. Have your artwork open here...

Press home and select browser

I am gonna use 'imgur.com' as an example. Imgur's just a nice place to have your images uploaded somewhere and organized. It takes an honest 30 seconds to make an account. After that sign in.

Select computer as your upload source

Pick one, preferably the TV screenshot...

This is what the full size of your gamepad screenshot is-

This is the full size of your TV screenshot. Note those scrollbars. I spoke with HipsterAnt (Nintendo network ID - DHHccg) and apparently the size may vary slightly depending on your tv size? But not by much, and "basically negligible".

HipsterAnt also tried this out on email and it works too. Just select the attachment option when you send it. More easier for those of you who would rather send it to yourselves instead of imgur.

Works on Facebook, most likely Tumblr and DeviantArt as well. Basically your WiiU is your 'computer' and the suspended screenshot is your 'file'.

This method does not work on 3DS.

I prefer using imgur as it's an easy way to store my images online somewhere and have ready to show on the internet, or be accessed from another computer to show others. It's also useful if something bad happens to my computer and I lose my files.

Game Screenshots too...

Also this method has been possible for game screenshots too. As of Dec 2013 this was uploaded 2 months ago. Which is why after the Art Academy update, I figured it was finally possible to upload from the program.


  • •Save, save save. Save every 10 minutes. You just never know when you might screw up
  • •Once you start adding the first bits of color onto your picture I suggest you 'Save as new artwork' so you still have your lineart

For any questions you have, best to send me a personal note to my DeviantArt account.

You can also find me on Miiverse!

Now pat yourself on the back and pet your kitty.

This is really the way I do it. It is extremely tedious, and sometimes risky. Art Academy is definitely the most difficult program I've used. No undo button, no layers and no pressure sensitivity?! But the fun part is drawing on a screen. There maybe be more to add onto this gallery, ask me about anything you're curious about and maybe I can add it here. Happy coloring!