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