Monday, March 8, 2010

Review: Graphic Toolbox

A few weeks ago the TOS Homeschool Crew was given the opportunity to check out Graphics-Toolbox (GT). GT is a graphics editing program. It was created by a team of software designers to be a program to manipulate graphics. I'm sure most people have heard of Photoshop or similar photo editing programs. This is not one of them. While photos can be manipulated using GT, it is a different type of program. The focus of this program is to make the creating and editing of graphics easier to do. There is a video at the GT site that shares the ins and outs of how GT came in to being.

GT has many different features. Some that are unique to GT are:

  • tonal color changes. Do you like the color of the hair band in your daughter's hair in a photo? Did she dress herself that morning and all of her clothes clash? You can select a color and then change colors on other objects in your graphic/photo. 
  • irregular framing. Do you want to cut the odd person out of the background of your photo? Do you want to add something to one spot? There is an "irregular framing" feature that allows you to "trace" around any object in your photo/graphic and remove it and change it. It doesn't have to be a square or a circle.
  • color library. GT comes with literally hundreds of colors already programmed in to the program. There are also a number of blank "color cards" so you can add your favorite shades to them for future use.
  • life images. There is a library of graphic images already loaded in to GT. These can be found in the "life images" files and include things for the office (paper clips, elastic bands) and tools (nail heads) and more. These can all be added to the graphic you are currently working.
The support that the TOS Crew received from Lynda Hollar at GT was fantastic. She began by hosting live training sessions to get us all going on how to use GT. Then she went above and beyond and offered specific training sessions for specific projects. These ranged from creating photo puzzles to scrapbooking pages to custom invitations. The tutorials offered really helped immensely in figuring out how to use GT. 

GT retails for $149 for a single use license. However, GT also offers a 30-day trial of the software. The trial is fully functional. I highly recommend downloading and using the tutorials and playing with the software (a lot) before purchasing the full license.

GT will run on Windows NT, 2000, XP, and Vista. I know that some Crew members were unable to get it work on their Vista 64-bit computers. Be sure to check your system programs before trying it out. If you'd like to check out their FAQ's, you can click here

So, how did it work for me? 

I was very excited when I first saw this program. I'm an avid scrapbooker and I have been wanting to try digital scrapbooking. I even attended the live training session that Lynda offered to Crew members (which is now on the tutorial page - "combining photos in a variety of ways"). However, I ran in to some issues. Due to the RAM on my machine, the drawing area is very small - much smaller than the I need to be able to scrapbook using this program. When I "read in" a 12x12 page guide, I have very little room left over to manipulate my photos and other graphics - especially if I'm using full sized photos. 

I also found that the learning curve for this program is huge - at least for me. I simply just didn't have the time I needed to learn how it all worked. I did sit down a few nights ago and watched the "photo puzzle" tutorial while I tried to recreate the project.  I just couldn't get it to work like the video. After 3-4 tries, I just gave up. 

Having said that, I do feel it's a solid graphic design program. However, I do think I have other options for digital scrapbooking that will make it faster and easier for me - which I what I need. However, if one wants or needs to manipulate graphics and is willing to put in some time learning how this program works, it would fill that need. 

I did create one thing in GT though....

I needed this for another product I'll be reviewing soon. Be sure to head over to the TOS Homeschool Crew blog to check out more reviews of Graphics-Toolbox.

*Disclaimer: I was not paid for this review. All opinions shared are my own. TOS Crew Members are given the product free of charge in exchange for our unbiased opinion of the product.

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