Autodesk Digital STEAM Visual Design

App review by
Amanda Bindel, Common Sense Media
Autodesk Digital STEAM Visual Design App Poster Image
Cool, free interactive textbook teaches design in 3-D.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this app.

Educational Value

Kids can learn elements and principles of visual design with this interactive textbook. They'll learn about the elements of space, points, lines, shapes, forms, value, texture, and color. They'll also learn the principles of balance, emphasis, rhythm, unity, proportion, contrast, continuation, and economy. Finally, kids can practice reading and gathering information from nonfiction texts. Autodesk Digital STEAM Visual Design is a good tool for individualized, self-directed learning.

Ease of Play

There are no instructions, but moving through each section is relatively easy. Kids need to be able to read independently to understand the concepts.

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What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Autodesk Digital STEAM Visual Design is one of three STEAM -- Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math -- apps from Autodesk, known for many professional-level engineering and architecture products. This free tool is like an impressive, interactive textbook putting kids in a 3-D design environment to learn terminology and principles of visual design in an environment they very likely will use for design.

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What's it about?

AUTODESK DIGITAL STEAM VISUAL DESIGN takes kids through elements and principles of visual design in the same 3-D design space used in design software. Each element or principle is defined and then shown visually. The "learn more" section further explains the concept with text and images, giving how-to examples as well as real-world examples. The other apps in the Autodesk Digital STEAM curriculum include Measurement and Applied Mechanics and are designed to introduce kids to science, technology, engineering, arts, and math.

Is it any good?

This interactive textbook does a beautiful job of showing the principles of visual design, with written explanations that are easy to understand. The visual examples clearly demonstrate the principles and reinforce understanding, although it would be nice if there were more audio options.

This isn't a game or creation tool, though. Kids will take what they learn here and use other design tools to put their new knowledge into practice.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Check out SketchBook Pro to give kids a tool to practice their newfound visual-design knowledge.

  • Visit an art museum to explore and discuss the design principles your kids have just read about, or check out art and design books from the library.

App details

  • Device: iPad
  • Subjects: Science: engineering
    Arts: drawing, painting, sculpture
  • Skills: Tech Skills: digital creation, using and applying technology
    Creativity: producing new content
  • Price: Free
  • Pricing structure: Free
  • Release date: May 16, 2013
  • Category: Education
  • Size: 41.50 MB
  • Publisher: Autodesk Inc.
  • Version: 3.0
  • Minimum software requirements: iOS 3.2 or later

For kids who love to create

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