SymmetryWorks Version 3 (MAC/WIN)

Reprinted with permission from The Kleper Report
on Digital Publishing
, Copyright 2004, Graphic Dimensions,
Pittsford, NY.

SymmetryWorks Version 3.0 is one of those rare programs with a very high "wow" factor. The initial reaction to seeing what the program can do is certain to elicit approval, and sustained use will undoubtedly provide equally high levels of productivity and creative expression. What does the program do? It is an Adobe Illustrator plug-in that enables the creation of professional-quality surface designs of extraordinary beauty, complexity, and sophistication. It is like a software kaleidoscope. It is unequalled in its category. It supports the creation of patterns quite easily, producing stunning output from almost any illustration elements (vector) or imported image (raster). The publisher cites its use for producing Web page backgrounds, fabric designs, technical illustrations, quilting patterns, endpaper decorations, and stained glass patterns, however it can be used to produce attractive patterns for virtually any purpose or design application.

A SymmetryWorks pattern is composed essentially of the smallest unit of the pattern, the "seed," which is repeated according to the selection of a "tile." The tile produces a pattern that steps and repeats the seed according to the tile's personality. Any time that the seed changes, the overall pattern changes. The user has complete control over how the seed is expressed, in size, orientation, number of repetitions, etc. The seed object itself may be copied, and form a new unit composed of "replicas." The replicas are hotlinked to the seed and change in response to edits applied to the seed object. A layout, which comprises the area onto which a design is applied, can display one or more replicas. The plug-in provides an extraordinary amount of control over the generation of a pattern. The user can combine vector and raster elements, clipping a portion of a raster image and generating a pattern, as well as creating a clipping mask around the seed objects (those that are stepped and repeated to form the overall pattern).

Among the program's major features are: a choice of blended or clear-cut units of repetition; control over raster and vector transparency; creation of opacity masks for blending units of repetition; preservation of text editing within a pattern; support for 3D effects; and much more. Users have extraordinary manipulation over patterns, including access to control paths, which provide the same functionality of an Illustrator bounding box. In addition the user can set the step and repeat pattern to conform to a rectangular grid or deviate from it in a uniform manner. The level of control is outstanding.

In addition to the designs that the user can create, Artlandia offers a CD with royalty-free predrawn designs in several categories, including geometric (two volumes), optical and certificate. We reviewed the certificate collection and were absolutely astounded by the ease in which complete certificate borders and backgrounds could be created. Having admired the designs on stock certificates and other forms of commercial paper, it was incredibly satisfying and empowering to be able to create similar effects. The plug-in is $215 for the download version; The Artlandia Design Collection CD is $149.85 for all four volumes, or $49.95 for each volume.