Tue, 28 Apr 2009 Graphic Designer Toolbox review
Can an application with a mathematically derived workflow interface appeal to creative designers??
- Manufacturer: Graphic Design Toolbox
- Pros: Saved projects serve as templates, astounding texture generation capabilities
- Cons: Generative workflow feels cumbersome for serious design work
- Price: $39.95 (£28)
- Star rating:
Graphic Designer Toolbox is a program targeted at professionals, giving them tools to create buttons, textures, logos, icons and other image components.
That’s the simple explanation – but this isn’t simple software. Sidestepping traditional methods of drawing and image creation, vector or bitmap graphics are built using configurable building blocks on a grid. You want some text? You start with a Text block. To add a bit of blur you drag, drop and connect a Blur block. The blocks get more complicated the deeper you delve into the application.
Described as a Graphics Synthesizer, we’ve seen this workflow before. It reminds us of audio tools like Reason, where filters are chained together and tweaked to create unique sounds.
During our first frustrating hours with Graphic Designer Toolbox, we thought we had a truly original tool. Then, we had a flashback. Loading up some sample files, seeing a luridly rendered texture that could be manipulated in real time by increasing seed parameters, it came back to us; 90s mathematical graphics creation suite, Kai Power Tools (KPT).
The interface in KPT was deliberately obtuse and ornate, with controls hidden and explanations arcane. The point of the software was that chance should guide you to new creative heights. But that’s not the intention here. Graphic Designer Toolbox’s grey and plain layout is logical to the core – but it’s driven by mathematical thinking, just like KPT. It brings a left brain, scientific approach to a right brain, creative activity.