Friday, March 5, 2010

Graphics Toolbox - A Review

Product: Graphics Toolbox

Price: $149 for 1 user license

Company: Great Software Tools

Where to Purchase: GST

Homeschool Sales Specialist: Jennifer Southern @

Brief Overview:

Graphics Toolbox was designed as a real alternative to Photoshop for all non-photo effects, graphics needs. We created an extensive range of very easy to understand and use graphics tools, for the world's daily graphic needs. (From the website)

In-Depth Look:

I have very little experience or practice in graphic design. And the little bit that I do have is in vector programs such as MS Word or MS Paint. But this program is a pixel based program. So it was basically like starting from scratch for me.

In a vector program, you work in layers. For example, I can type on top of a red box. Then I can click on the text, and take it back off. In a pixel based program, there are no layers. If I want to put the text on the box, I have to type the text somewhere else on my "desk", then copy it onto my red box. If I want to remove the text, it will leave a blank spot on my red box and I will have to rebuild my box.

To see a comparison of Graphics Toolbox against some other popular programs, click here.

As I had no experience in this type program, I had to start from scratch. Thankfully, GT makes that part easy. They provide video tutorials, slide show tutorials, and ways to create special effects here. An 89 page manual is available. You can also sign-up for one-on-one tutoring for $65 an hour or on-site training for larger groups.

My first attempt was to make a banner for my blog. I found a beautiful template already available in the program. Then I customized the colors, using the color cards that help you find complimentary shades. Next I wrote my blog name, "We love to homeschool" and copied it onto the template.

It was very easy to pick a template. It was kind of easy to get the text in place. But the coloring was complicated, because when I would attempt to fill one section with a color, it would bleed over into other sections because of open lines in the template design.

I am happy with the final results. I like my new blog banner. You can view it at the top of this page.

My second attempt was to make a cute little edited picture of my daughters. I found a picture that I already had of all 3 daughters. Then I cut out just the girls, minus the background. Next I found an image of angel wings. This part was very difficult for me. I had to re-size the wings in proportion to the kids. Then I had to position them behind my daughters. But in an attempt to get them situated, parts of the girls would get messed up. Such as when I put a part of wing over my baby's head, it messed up her hair. So I had to re-color her hairline back into the picture. Once I finally fixed all the mess-ups, I found an image of some clouds and put my daughters with their new wings on top of it. I had to add more clouds to cover their legs. Last thing was to add the text. Again, this was the easiest part.

It took a LONG time to finish this project. I kept making mistakes since I was on a learning curve. And it took way longer than I planned. But the program was capable of the project that I had in my mind. And finally it was done and I am happy with the results. I think it looks really cute. Check it out here. Click the picture to make it much larger.

Graphics Toolbox has tons of capabilities and lots of potential. The company's customer service is wonderful. They truly want you to be successful with the use it and enjoy it.

But if you have not used a pixel based program before, be prepared for some frustration as you get a feel for how the program functions.

Read some more reviews about Graphics Toolbox here.

Disclaimer: I received this software free of charge to review, as part of the TOS Homeschool Crew. The above is just my opinion. Please remember that opinions may, and do, vary.

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