Sunday, March 7, 2010

TOS Crew Review -- Graphic Toolbox

Do you love to create? Are you always looking for new tools to enhance your projects? I had an opportunity to review an interesting program called Graphics Toolbox that has lots of goodies for those that love to play with images and design.

Product: Graphics Toolbox
Details: A program designed to allow you to do more with your graphics. This program allows you to create professional quality work from your home computer and printer with a number of unique features to help in creating school projects, scrapbooking, business cards, greeting cards, blog designs, and more.
Price: $149.00

What we loved . . .
  • Unique functions. This program has some really amazing abilities. With it you can fairly easily change the color of some part of a picture or layout, not just one single color, but the tonal color (every shade of brown that is in that hair). I think that was my favorite feature. If your family forgot to wear their matching shirts for the photo, you can spend some time changing them all to the same color without it looking like a toddler took their crayons to the photo to "touch it up."
  • High quality capabilities. Graphics Toolbox functions at a high resolution so you retain the quality of the photos that you are working with.
  • Color, it's all about the color. During the training sessions that we were able to attend they emphasized the great access to color in this program. It comes with ready made color cards if you sometimes struggle choosing colors that complement each other well (can I just say, I really need those . . .) You can change colors and shades and still have a quality product. You can choose from limitless choices for colors.
  • Ribbons and borders. In addition to all the great colors, GT offers a wonderful assortment of backgrounds, borders and really cute ribbons to enhance your work. I loved playing with these!
  • Lots of help available. The creators are great to work with. Helpful, knowledgeable, and friendly. You can download the user's manual for free which will answer many of your questions about how to use Graphics Toolbox. You can also have an hour of one-on-one time (for $65) to learn how to better use the software and create the projects that you want to create.
  • Tutorials available online. On their site they have recorded a number of tutoring sessions so you can really see how the program works. This is especially helpful for those that need something more than a printed manual to really grasp something new.

Some considerations . . .

  • The Price. I didn't do a lot of comparing, but for me, for what I would use it for, $149 was a lot to spend on a program of this type.
  • Quite a learning curve. While this program does lots of great stuff, it does it in a very different way than I was used to. Just a few examples of the different ways of operating: It doesn't use drop down menus, you can't minimize the program to look at something else on your computer while GT is still visible, and you need to save and resave your work constantly if you want to be able to go back and change something from much earlier (she compares this to creating a poster -- once you glue something down it's stuck there, so you need to save multiple copies of your project as you go so if you don't like how something looks you can revert to an earlier saved version rather than completely starting over).
  • That bears repeating, this takes time to understand. I found that the more I used it, the more questions I had, and the more I ended up looking things up to figure them out. I did learn a lot and figure things out in the process, but it did not come easily.

Personally, I did not fall in love with this program the way I was thinking I might when I first took a look at it. However, I'm not a crafty person in real life, and definitely not on the computer. I personally don't like to just play around with pictures and layouts. If you enjoy creating and crafting and scrapbooking this might be a great program for you. Or, if your kids are looking for something a step up to use for their school projects and you know they would put it to good use, it might be worth the purchase.

I do appreciate that it has a free 30 day trial that you can download to see if it is something that you would make good use of. That is a nice amount of time to really get to play with the program and try creating some projects to see if it suits you and your family. Be sure to check the system requirements before doing so, this is a very large download, and you will want to make sure it fits with your computer specs.

For more TOS Crew reviews on this product, check out the TOS Crew blog.

Disclaimer: This design program was provided to me free of charge from Graphic Toolbox as part of my participation in The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew. I received no additional compensation and the opinions expressed here come from my personal experiences and sincere thoughts.

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