Monday, March 8, 2010

Graphics Toolbox® from Great Software Tools, a TOS Homeschool Crew Review

As my children develop interests in music and sports, my interest grows in finding and learning to use a software program that will allow me to be creative with all the photographs I take.

Computers are an important part of schoolwork for any student. My public-schooled children began using computers in mid-elementary school, and participated in a laptop program at the 5th grade level. They learned to put together PowerPoint presentations and use other software. In 6th grade, my eldest was designing tri-fold brochures for one of her classes.

Using the computer is a necessity. Knowing how to enhance computer work with graphics is also important for students and businesses. Being able to create fun projects as a hobby to create special memories is a side benefit of having the right software and knowing how to use it.

I think that students who need to enhance projects with graphics and photographs will like Graphics-Toolbox®. So will businesspeople, bloggers and scrapbookers.

Priced at $149, available in a download to a single computer, "Graphics-Toolbox® is a powerful, multi-purpose graphic software program used by people of all ages. Students, hobbyists and professionals alike enjoy using the fast and easy tools to create expert results for their daily graphics needs." (quote from the Graphics Toolbox web site)

Disclaimer: My TOS Crewmates and I were given a copy of Graphics-Toolbox® to use and review for you, at no cost to us. (We are not required to provide a favorable review.) We were also offered several opportunities to join Graphics-Toolbox® in group training sessions. I was able to take advantage of one training session (while leaving the computer several times to wait on a sick child) and am able to view recordings of the other training sessions.

I feel upset with myself because of how slow I am to be able to use this product instinctively without looking through the "how to" manual for cues or without watching another training session. It's one of those products that you learn to use by jumping in and creating, creating, and creating some more. [I remember when I began learning to use a PowerPoint at my job in a past life (back in the 90's before children). The learning curve seemed steep - but once I had the time to play with the program, I was able to create just about anything, even some complicated forms that saved the company money because the work did not have to be outsourced.] Fifteen or so years later, I feel like I am slower to climb the learning curve (but I haven't had huge chunks of uninterrupted time with it like I did at work when I was learning PowerPoint). I will conquer the learning curve! I will prevail!

All of the tools in the program are little icons that display a visual of what the icon does. There are so many choices that I have trouble remembering all my options!

Graphics Toolbox® gives users an incredible range of color choices and palettes. I'm not good with colors - I like the way I have a palette of colors offered to me, colors that work with one another, for backgrounds and color changes within a photograph.

Ever have problems getting all your children to look toward the camera and smile at the same time? I often take a gazillion photos in order to get just one where all the children are facing the same direction and have pleasant expressions. With GT, I can cut a face from one photo and add it to another, creatively editing my way around that problem.

The ability to create puzzles and special effects on the photographs I've taken of my family is attractive and exciting to me. I wish I'd been able to create something spectacular to include with this review; you'll have to wait to see what I come up with. (Yes, I'll show you in a later blog post when I'm finished creating a masterpiece or ten. Sick mom, sick children and a short trip have hindered my Graphics-Toolbox® playing time during the review period. *sigh*)

I know my kids will get a kick out of finding the all of the differences between an original picture and one I altered in making a picture puzzle.

This (see picture of boy playing baseball below) is one of the things I am learning how to do using Graphics-Toolbox's Transparency Glide (photo is from GT's web site):

One of my challenges in creating that photo using pictures of my baseball player is going through my SD cards to find the series of pictures. Yes, I know I have them. Finding them is my challenge!

Minimum System Requirements for Graphics-Toolbox®
•Microsoft® Windows® NT, 2000, XP or Vista 32-bit
•512MB of RAM
•80 MB of free hard-disk space

Great Software Tools offers a 30-day free trial to folks who want to try Graphics-Toolbox® before buying. Personalized training is available at $65/hour.

To read the reviews of my Crewmates about Graphics Toolbox®, go HERE.

1 comment:

Kim Shimer said...

Penny, I'd like to invite you to take part in a blog tour for Autism & Alleluias by Kathleen Deyer Bolduc. If you're interested, please email me (I couldn't find a better way to contact you on your blog).

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