A nifty free piece of soft­ware that dis­plays all your ref­er­ence ma­te­ri­als on an easy-to-use board

ImagineFX - - Reviews - Price Free Com­pany Jonathan Richards Web­sign­er­­fboard Con­tact See web­site

Us­ing Corel’s iPhone app for cre­at­ing re­peat­ing, tiled graph­ics, you can in­tro­duce real-life pat­terns to your art via pho­to­graphs.

Ref­er­ence ma­te­rial is al­ways a weak spot in an artist’s work flow. You can print it out, but it’s a bit 20th century, plus your Wa­com can quickly be buried un­der a pile of paper. Look­ing up ma­te­rial on a tablet or smart­phone is an op­tion, but the con­stant back-and-forth be­tween screens can be dis­rup­tive.

This is where re­fBoard comes in handy. This small, free pro­gram is de­signed for view­ing im­ages in a win­dow on your PC or Mac. It stays on top of other win­dows so it’s al­ways view­able, and you can zoom in and out of your pic­tures, or re­po­si­tion mul­ti­ple im­ages as if they were on a pin­board. If you’ve built a board you like you can save the group of im­ages to load later.

That’s pretty much all it does, and we have to ad­mire its rather sin­gu­lar func­tion­al­ity. A few things we’d like to have added are the abil­ity to see what zoom level ref­er­ence ma­te­rial is dis­played at, as well as key­board short­cuts for es­sen­tial func­tions such as zooms and pans. At the mo­ment only JPG, GIF and PNG im­ages are sup­ported – it would be nice to ac­cess for­mats such as PSDs and BMPs.

How­ever, this is a bril­liant piece of soft­ware that ut­terly serves its pur­pose. It’s all the more im­pres­sive be­cause it’s been cre­ated by one per­son, Jonathan Richards. Jonathan has a his­tory of ac­tively lis­ten­ing to com­mu­ni­ties and is quick to add re­quested fea­tures, so it’s prob­a­bly go­ing to get bet­ter, too.

You can’t min­imise the PC ver­sion of the soft­ware, which is a mi­nor nig­gle.

Cre­at­ing a new pat­tern is a speedy process, and if you’re fa­mil­iar with In­sta­gram’s im­age en­hance­ments you’ll be right at home here.

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