In good news for parents who don't like watching their little ones become tablet-clutching screen zombies, games are increasingly merging real-world play with digital experiences. Chromville is an app which brings children's coloring to 3D life with augmented reality, and lets them use their creations in on-screen games.
Designed for children aged 5–12 years old, Chromville consists of Android and iOS apps, along with a series of coloring template pages which can be downloaded and printed off ready for kids to color in. The pages tell the story of a distant world where color is fading away and environment-based characters are losing their power, and only you can save them by coloring them in.
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Once youngsters have finished each of their artistic masterpieces, the Chromville app can be used to scan them with a smartphone or tablet. The app then recognizes the coloring pages, and brings them to virtual life on the screen, complete with 3D animations incorporating the children's designs into the story.
As the chapters progress, there are a series of on-screen mini-games which form part of the narrative, and also feature the characters as colored by the user. This is similar to the way in which Lego Fusion incorporates a user's physical construction, and is what sets Chromville apart from other augmented reality coloring apps like ColAR.
In addition to the story aspect of the coloring book app, there's also a customize section which gives children more design freedom. Here they also get the ability to use their creations in other mini-games which are not tied to the Chromville story, such as a World Cup football one.
The Chromville app is free to download from the usual places, and a selection of free coloring pages can be printed out from the Chromville website. There are plans to release paid-for coloring sheets, along with a more educational version of the app designed to help encourage story-telling and narrative writing.
You can check out Chromville in action in the video below.