Thursday, March 4, 2010

Review: Graphics Toolbox

As part of the TOS Homeschool Crew, I received a pretty amazing software package called Graphics Toolbox from Great Software Tools.

In addition to the software, I also had the chance to attend some online training courses.  They are making some of the videos from those sessions available to all users, which is a huge plus.

I have to point out that this software is only available for PC users who are running Windows NT, 2000, XP or Vista.  This made the program a bit difficult for me to review, as I just don't get much time on our Windows machine.

I did play with it some, though, and I'd love to be able to show you a completed project as an example of what this software can do.  Unfortunately, it's just been too crazy of a month and I don't have anything impressive to show for my efforts.  So let me talk to you about the program instead, and describe some ways I plan to integrate it into our homeschooling life.

Graphics Toolbox allows you to do so many things to manipulate graphic images.  It takes a little getting used to, and it is not a program that you can just load and start using, as the interface is unlike anything else you have probably seen before.  If you use the manual, and/or if you watch some of the tutorial videos, AND you go play with the concepts presented, the way the buttons work does become very intuitive.  But I spent a very long time trying to figure out how to do something as simple as pull up a photo that was already on my hard drive.  (I quickly figured out how to scan a photo in... so some things are quite simple -- but I didn't want to have to print out the photo and scan it in order to work with it, you know?)

Once you do get the basics down and start using it more seriously, it is fun to think about the possibilities.  Creating custom birthday cards, thank you cards, or invitations -- not canned ones from some of the greeting card programs out there.  I like the idea of using this to create more interesting presentations of information for scout projects (I can think of LOTS of uses for Graphics Toolbox for scouts).  Or a different twist on a lab report.

Here is a sample from the GT website of the type of project I plan to assign for scouts:

This is exactly what my kids need right now to finish up a merit badge.  Whatever my kids do come up with, it will be posting on my blog soon (this blog is the closest thing they have to a school bulletin board!)  The kids end up with a lot of requirements or electives to create posters... so this will be great.

Check it out for yourself at the education page of their website.

And you can check out what my fellow crewmates have to say about Graphics Toolbox at (I'll update this link when things are posted at the Crew blog):

Any questions? I'd love to know what you would want to know in deciding whether or not this is something you want to purchase.

Disclaimer:  As part of the TOS Homeschool Review Crew, I did receive this software, and some online traiing for free from Great Software Tools.  The fact that I received a complimentary product does not guarantee a favorable review.  It does guarantee a review. A fair review. But I am not going to praise something unless I think it deserves the praise.  If I don't like it, you'll hear that.  And hopefully with enough detail as to why so you can decide for yourself if what I hate about it makes it perfect for your family.  For more about my take on reviews, visit my blog post 

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