I like Swapnote. It’s fun. And while I understand that it is mainly intended to be a chat app and not OMG SWEET PAINT APP, I have to ask…

WOULD A COUPLE OF COLORS HAVE BEEN TOO MUCH TO ASK, NINTENDO? Not to mention the limited ink supply!

[BREAKING NEWS: a recent Swapnote update did in fact add colored ink… while kind of forgetting to mention the part where you can only use one color of ink on your ENTIRE DAMN NOTE. WTF IS EVEN THE POINT OF THAT, NINTENDO]

Oh well. At least there do exist sort of kludgy ways around this. A couple of things to watch out for, though–first, because this kludge involves attaching a pic to a note, you can only do it with top-level notes and not replies. And second, some stationery is better than others. The best one I’ve found so far is the underwater one with the fish–although you will have translucent fish swimming all over your note, it’s displayed almost full-screen.

The Free Method

  1.  Go to Game Notes. That’s the little yellow pencil at the top of the Home menu.
  2. This alone gives you red and blue inks in addition to black. And an unlimited supply of all of them. Draw stuff.
  3. When you’re done, tap the little menu button in the lower right-hand corner of the screen, then tap “export.”
  4. Now your drawing is in the 3DS Photo Gallery. You may now attach it to your note as it is, or…
  5. Go to the 3DS Camera.
  6. Tap “View Photos/Videos,” then tap your picture, then tap “Graffiti.”
  7. You now have yellow and rainbow pens–plus an eyedropper which when used on a line drawn with the rainbow pen will give you a rudimentary palette of bright colors. You also have stickers and other such things to play with.
  8. Tap “Finish,” tap “yes.”

And this is all well and good for most people, but what if you want to get a little fancier with your artwork? There are now TWO apps for that–Art Academy and Colors3D!

Which should you go with? My personal recommendation is Colors3D. It’s a buck cheaper. It allows export of your images directly to the SD card without you having to go into the 3DS Photo Gallery and copy it there, which saves you a step. It has a Painter-esque color picker, multiple levels of undo (although be warned that undoing past three or four steps has some load time involved), an eraser that doesn’t stop working when you start working in color, direct access to the Colors online gallery, layers, 3D layers, coloring pages, local multiplayer, and a whole bunch of other shit I haven’t even gotten to poke on yet.

Art Academy has….well, pretty much none of that. But it does have pencils that behave pretty much like real pencils, paint that behaves a lot like real gouache, and some pretty sweet art lessons that translate very well to real live media. It also comes in two “semesters”, one more advanced than the other, depending on your skill level, and if you are interested in the lessons I would say yes, they are definitely worth the $7.99.

Sadly, Inchworm Animation is not Swapnote-compatible. Although it is a pretty powerful paint app and only costs $5, it exports images to a weird location on the SD card which renders it useless for Swapnote.

The Method What Costs 8bux

  1. Go to the eShop and buy one of the Art Academy semesters. DON’T buy the retail version if you just want to use Free Paint–even though it’s twice as expensive, the retail version has no means to export stuff.
  2. Go into Free Paint.
  3. Draw stuff.
  4. Tap the question mark in the toolbar when you’re done.
  5. Tap “Exhibit in Album.” Give your artwork a cute frame, or not.
  6. Exit Art Academy, go to the 3DS Camera, view photos.
  7. Your artwork is there, but it’s in system memory (note the gray border) and has to be moved to the SD card before you can attach it to your notes.  So tap your picture, then tap the “system to SD card” icon, then tap “Copy.”
  8. If you want, you can Graffiti it.
  9. You may now attach your masterpiece to your notes.


*NEW!* The Method What Costs 7Bux

  1. Go to the eShop and buy Colors3D. Go through the tutorial.
  2. Tap “New Painting” on the main menu. If you don’t see it there, tap “My Paintings” and then tap “New Painting.”
  3. Pick your canvas orientation.
  4. Paint stuff.
  5. When you’re done, press the Start button. Your painting will be saved. Give it a name.
  6. Tap “Manage Painting.”
  7. Tap “Export to SD Card.”
  8. Pick the smaller resolution. If you want to export it in BigMcLargehuge resolution you can go back and do that later, but the smaller resolution works a lot better for Swapnote.
  9. Adjust the 3D effect depth if you want to, then click the little pink “start export” button.
  10. You may now attach your painting to your notes.

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