Graphic Design Program for Kids?

My eleven year old really likes to make pictures in MS Paint, but I was wondering if there were some other software product that is a little more robust, where she could get the hang of creating images on the computer.

She mostly likes to create comics (complete with balloon dialog), color drawings of houses, flowers, etc, and unflattering pictures of her brother. She is interested in poking around with software. A few weeks ago I found a pie chart she created in Word by just fooling around with the UI. This week she made a Power Point.

I have a copy of Photoshop 6, but I am not sure she will grasp the Photoshop UI as easily as she has picked up on the latest Office UI. I could get her Microsoft’s Expression Design, but I don’t know that UI very well myself. I wonder if there is a better choice that I just don’t know about?

Pens and paper? :P

Painter SE comes with low end Wacom tablets sometimes.

Go to and search out their Photoshop brushes. There are going to be (quite literally) hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of them. Download a whole bunch you think she’ll enjoy, animals/houses/flowers/whatever, and then teach her how to use the brush selector in Photoshop, how to choose colors, and some of the tools, perhaps even the layers. Turn off or hide all the other confusing UI elements that you know she won’t need to use.

Kids are great at experimenting and figuring things out, I wouldn’t be afraid of showing her Photoshop if you start with the basics and set it up for her to play around.

edit: And that pie chart is adorable… “nicenes in the family.” That’s great.

Our school district’s technology group was at a local art fair demo-ing some of the free tools they have found and used with the kids. Here are a couple

Easy, free 3-d modeling program

Simple animation creator (free, but they sell extra stuff to animate)

Try this one…
It may be for slightly younger kids though, I am not sure.

My neice is about that age and loves ArtRage 2:

Has anyone ever done a PC update of the old DeluxePaint program for the Amiga? That program was amazingly intuitive.

The closest thing I’ve seen to DeluxePaint is Grafx 2:

Project Dogwaffle also shares some of the same basic principles:

Neither of these is as easy for kids to learn and mess around with as ArtRage 2.

Project Dogwaffle

Thanks guys. This is an interesting thread. It looks like you can either use a little kiddie kind of program or you can use something that looks similar to Photoshop. Tonight I set her up with Photoshop and showed her how to use the pallet, brushes and layers. We’re off to a good start.

What she really wants to do is the stuff they’re advertising with the new DSi. Looks pretty cool, but she just got her DS for Christmas so it’s too soon to re-up.

I like Pogo’s idea about getting add-in brushes. All the cool stuff that DSi does, I am certain that what she longs for most is to Photoshop her brother’s nose three times its normal size and then stamp mustache, dark glasses and tears on him. I ought to be able to cobble something together with our existing digital photo albums and some brushes. I am pretty sure there is a way to do the trippy pull the nose 3x its size in Photoshop, but that’s going to require a little research.

I appreciate all the helpful suggestions. I am amazed at the variety and robustness of the graphics editing packages you can get for free!

I believe there’s some tool to magnify, it might be mixed in with smearing. You would set the brush to the size of the nose and then hold the button in to get your desired effect. It’s probably one of the most fun tools to use when you’re first starting out in Photoshop.