Photography and design related apps are among some of the best programs, in my view, in the Mac and iTunes App Stores. A free application called DotMatrix is a good example of what I’m talking about. DotMatrix has hundreds of artistic designs, mask, and color filters that can transform any image you throw into it. It’s a useful program for website and magazine layouts, or even Facebook or Google+ profile images.
I’m not a designer, but if I were, DotMatrix would be a part of my designer toolbox because it can do what it would take hours to achieve in say Photoshop or InDesign. To use DotMatrix, all you need is a little time, patience, and creativity. And best of all, the program is posted for free download in the Mac App Store.
How It Works
The developers of DotMatrix say their program is an “instant pop art creation program for anybody with a right-brain. Talent optional.” And they are indeed correct. Basically you add an image to DotMatrix using either your Mac’s built-in camera or import one from your Finder or iPhoto library.
It really doesn’t matter what type of image you add to DotMatrix because it has over 400 designs, and thousands of color selections and filters that you’re bound to find something you like. All the designs are located in a small floating browser that you can select from in a drop-down menu. You can also access compositions from the Designs panel in the menu bar.
DotMatrix is a non-destructive image program, which means when you apply a composition, it doesn’t permanently change the original image. You can change and save new compositions much as you like. And instead of using the drop-down menu, you probably will prefer to browse and preview compositions and masks using the navigation buttons.
The other parts of DotMatrix include the Color Scheme Controls on the left side, in which you can use the slider to select from thousands of color schemes that are applied as filters on your image. You can use the color slider or the navigation buttons at the top to move between individual or groups of colors.
The right side of the DotMatrix editor consist of Customize Controls to modify the shapes, opacity, size of the masks, etc. Some filters and designs have more customization controls than others.
There’s also an Inspector (Windows > Inspector) that provides dozens of finer controls and customizations to your selected image, colors, and masks.
You simply press Command+S to save a design you like.
One of the biggest challenges to using DotMatrix is managing your designs. It’s easy to flip through hundreds of previews of compositions and overlook the design you had liked.
One of the ways to retrieve your favorite designs is to bookmark them (Designs > Bookmark Current Desgin.) Bookmarks get put into a separate panel under Windows > Bookmarks. Unfortunately bookmarks don’t get automatically labeled with the name of the design you used, so you will have to open the panel and rename the title to something you can remember.
If you’re designer, or if you find yourself using DotMatrix on a regular basis, you might keep a folder of sample designs you like. Each file could be titled with the name of the base design you used.
Parts of DotMatrix can feel a little confusing because there are so many designs and controls, but don’t let that intimidate you. Have fun with the program and use only the controls you understand. Experiment with designs and controls and allow DotMatrix to deliver up some abstract images.
You might use DotMatrix for example to add a variety of photos for your social network profiles. There’s no limit how the program can be used.
There’s also a B-L-A-C-K-O-P Flickr pool with a variety of compositions and collages using DotMatrix.
The only limitation to using the free version of DotMatrix is the maximum resolution size of your saved images, which is 640x480px. There are Standard ($59) and Studio Pro ($299) versions of DotMatrix which provided larger print size output, and additional camera support.
Let us know what you think of DotMatrix. If you have posted a few of your own designs, share the link and let us check them out.
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