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Graphics Toolbox Review by Cindy West

Great Software Tools
1511 Route 22, Suite223
Brewster, NY 10509

Graphics Toolbox is graphics software unlike any I have used before; it has many practical uses for the typical homeschool. Essentially, Graphics Toolbox allows you to create your own custom projects for any presentation you like, such as:

  • Posters / Flyers and other school related projects
  • Worksheets / Notebooking pages
  • Scrapbooks
  • Photo collages
  • Manipulating photos
  • Website headers and logos
  • Cards
  • And anything else you can dream of

The first question I asked upon receiving this software for review was, "Why would I want to use this instead of completing projects in a format like Word?" My question was quickly answered when I realized this program allows me to do project customization unlike anything I've ever been able to do in Word. (And I've used Word a lot!)

With Graphics Toolbox, I'm able to lay all my "working pieces" on a table of sorts. In other words, the screen becomes a large desk that allows me to see all my project components separately before putting them together. This is so cool! Another amazing feature is that I'm able to pull images so closely that I can see each and every pixel and match exact colors. I can easily pull photos, clipart, and the like from my computer onto my "desk" and, just as easily, send my completed work to other places on my computer. Most every task is just a simple click away.

A toolbox of all my options stays in view the entire time, giving me prompts as I scroll over each tool. I won't possibly be able to tell you all the features, but the list below should give you a good idea of the possibilities awaiting any project.

  • A color library supplies you with several color cards of tones that go well together.
  • The tonal change feature allows you to change all or part of an image from one color to another, with an amazing RGB glide that allows you to keep or change color ratios.
  • The auto frame allows you to click in the middle of an image and a frame is placed around that image no matter the irregularity of shape. This then allows you to make modifications to only that framed shape.
  • You can add borders, lines, and shapes and even draw freehand.
  • You can copy images so that the original is still on the "desk" in case you completely mess the other one up.
  • You can undo mess-ups a certain number of times depending on your operation system.
  • You can smooth out pixilated images.
  • You can easily transfer the project to a format like Word to add text if you'd rather not fool with adding text to the project while in Graphics Toolbox.

Most important for me, a complete novice when it came to using this sort of program, were the tutorials and downloadable instruction guide. Quite honestly, I couldn't have figured out how to use the program without them. Not that the program is extremely hard to learn, but it is quite different from Word and other popular graphics software programs out there.

The tutorials are online videos or slideshows that walk you step-by-step through four different projects and four of the more difficult to grasp toolbox features. The downloadable instruction guide gives you an easy-to-read, clear explanation of each of the toolbox features and how to use them. And if you have a question, there's an online contact form as well as a customer service phone line where very friendly help awaits. And if all that isn't enough, there's even an entire page on their website dedicated to the topic of how to use Graphics Toolbox in the classroom!

Depending on a child's computer familiarity, I would estimate that this program is most appropriate for children ten and older. I should probably mention, too, that there's a page on the website called "Fashion" that teaches you how to use Graphics Toolbox to complete silhouettes, design embroidery, recolor prints, reduce colors, make spec sheets and produce stripe patterns.

If you plan to really put the program to use, the $150 price is very fair. On the company website, you can download the full program for a free 30-day trial. Go ahead and try it! What do you have to lose? You and your children have a lot to gain from learning a new skill and creating super projects!

Product review by Cindy West, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, December 2009