01 of 07
What Is MandalaMaker (tm) Software?
I love mandalas! The gentle complexity of the symmetrical designs is intriguing to look at and therapeutic to design and color. In this review I am going to take a look at the MandalaMaker (tm) software application and put it through its paces.
Before starting the review, let's take a little look at the background of mandalas. A mandala is typically a circular design, formed from a series of patterns which are symmetrically placed extending from the center.
Mandalas are much loved... by crafters. Whether to create a dramatic handmade card or piece of wall art, to make embellishments for scrapbook pages or for use as digital stamps to hand color, mandalas are used in many different ways. Ready made mandalas are available for purchase from places such as Etsy, however they are also fun, albeit a tad tricky, to create by hand. This video demonstrates the process of drawing a pen and ink mandala.
Of course, mandalas are not purely decorative and the mandala is a spiritual and ritual Hinduism and Buddhism. The process of creating a mandala is often painstakingly detailed, as is demonstrated in this video showing how a sand mandala is constructed.
MandalaMaker (tm) Sofware
MandalaMaker (tm), by Alan Goodwin, is a powerful application which helps users create beautiful mandala images. The software allows users to create mandalas made up from a series of individual shapes, which can be manipulated in a range of different ways. Color and transparency options provide an almost endless treasure trove of design possibilities.
The MandalaMaker website describes MandalaMaker (tm) as being a powerful yet easy to use application for drawing radially symmetrical designs, both traditional and contemporary. Reading the details of the program and looking at the examples, I could certainly appreciate that it is a powerful piece of software, however easy to use? In my experience power and ease of use don't necessarily go hand in hand. Therefore in this review I will be looking at not only what MandalaMaker does, but how easy it is to do it!
Installation is straightforward. MandalaMaker runs in a Java environment, however this is included in the installation package.
I installed the program onto an iMac, running OSX Yosemite
See the next page for my first impressions!Continue to 2 of 7 below.
02 of 07
The working area is clean to look at without distractions. The options palettes are moveable, and they can also be hidden. This gives the user control over the working space - which is particularly useful if you are working on a small screen.
Each palette offers a range of options allowing a full range of customization of both shapes and colors. The key palletes are:
Shape - this palette is where we pick the shapes we want to add, when shapes are selected the range of options is customized to... that shape
Ringshape - this palette provides the options for creating a series of shapes presented in a ring, there are a variety of options provided here, including rotation and size
Line and fill - this palette provides color options
Transform palette - this palette provides the options you need to repeat a single shape in steps around itself to create intricate shapes
Layer palette - this displays the items on different layers
Next Getting StartedContinue to 3 of 7 below.
03 of 07
Before starting, I took a look at the tutorial in the MandalaMaker manual - and I would highly recommend that anyone starting does the same thing. While MandalaMaker is intuitive, there is a lot of functionality to explore, and you really need to know what options you have so you can make the most of the functions available.
There are a number of ways to create designs, including adding shapes from the shape pallet, transforming shapes so they are repeated to create a pattern and using the Ring... of Shapes option to array shapes around a central point.
I wanted to create a pattern based on a series of shapes arrayed around the central point. To do this I needed to use the Ring of Shapes option. From here a whole plethora of options are available - and this is where the fun really starts!
To start I selected circles and arrayed a series of circles around a central point (image 1). To enlarge the circles it's simply the case of sliding the radius selector up (image 2) - and to change the number of circles - just slide the shape number slider up or down. And then I wanted to change the circles to flowers, so again, a simple change of selection and my circles are now flowers (image 3)and I can change options such as petal length, number of petals etc (image 4). I can also rotate the total design and individual flowers as required.
As well as using the shape pallette to change shapes, the shapes can also be changed on the live design.
Next: Adding ColorContinue to 4 of 7 below.
04 of 07
Having spent a while playing with the different options, I returned to the flowers and decided to try the color functions. Changing the colors is as simple and straightforward as everything else. The color options allows users to change the line, fill and background colors, as well as the line thickness. And of course, because everything remains dynamic, after you've selected colors you can still alter the shapes and other variations.
Alan has provided the option of different color modes,... including RGB, CMYK and Web colors. The application comes pre loaded with a color palette and a gradient pallet, however there is also the option to create your own colors. Each color can be given a transparency, therefore interesting layered effects can be achieved by varying the transparency option of different layers.
The color palette provided gives a good range of colors and gradients, however it is very simple to create both your own color palettes and gradient selections. The color picker would allow a user to create a color palette to match a specific project and custom colors can be saved.
Next: Creating More Complex DesignsContinue to 5 of 7 below.
05 of 07
More Complex Designs
Now, having explored the color and shape option I wanted to get a feel for the types of mandala designs that someone like myself - an absolute newbie - could achieve.
One of the key things to remember is that the shapes layer on top of each other, therefore designs appear to morph in front of you as you work, and create complex patterns which are almost impossible to anticipate. The undo feature is a real bonus here, as it allows you to keep exploring different configurations and if a tweak... results in something horrible appearing - just undo to go back to where you were.
Layers can be reordered by simply clicking on the relevant layer in the payer pallette and dragging it into place.
The patterns are changed almost instantly, with no discernible lag (however I was testing on a relatively powerful computer with 12GBs of RAM).
The image above looks complicated - however it was very simple to do by layering two sets of shapes arrayed in a ring together. The color gradients really help to achieve great looking results. Give more time I can see it would be very straightforward to create very intricate designs.
Saving and exporting is simple. Images are saved in the MandalaMaker format. However images can be exported in JPG, PNG and GIF format at up to 600 dpi. The image size is set by the user (remember this is a vector program, so there is no loss of image quality when a large file is exported).
Next: Making a Black and White MandalaContinue to 6 of 7 below.
06 of 07
Creating a Black and White Mandala
I particularly wanted to explore the options when it came to making black and white mandala designs. Why? Well, because I know that a lot of people love coloring mandalas by hand, whether full size mandalas or as motif digital stamps to add to cards or scrapbook pages. Therefore, being able to create black and white designs is useful.
I found two ways to create black and white mandalas. The first is not to fill the shapes with color. This means that all the lines are shown and that the patterns... which are formed by overlapping shapes are displayed (see the image above). The second is to fill the image with white. This makes the images solid and hides the lines underneath.
Next: ConclusionContinue to 7 of 7 below.
07 of 07
There's a lot to love about MandalaMaker. It is fun to use - almost addictive - and it gives users the tools they need to create fantastic mandala designs. Complete beginners can create great looking designs from the get-go, and with a bit more exploration and reading of the manual, some really sophisticated designs are very achievable.
There is a learning curve. I know my way around a lot of graphics software, however symmetrical design is something new to me, and I really needed the manual... to help me know what the software was capable of doing. However, the manual is extremely detailed with lots of screen shots and annotations, and this really helps users understand the different options and what they mean as far as design is concerned.
When I review software I like to spend as much time as I can really getting to know the software and what it offers. With MandalaMaker I have spent several hours playing around with different functionality - and even now I feel I am just scratching the surface of what it is capable of.
In my opinion MandalaMaker works on two levels. A new user can jump straight in and be creating great shapes within seconds. However, for someone who wants to learn more about working with shapes and how shapes can interact to produce new designs and how colors work together etc, there is plenty to dig deeper into.
The interface is straightforward, although I found myself needing to remember to make sure the right layer was selected and I kept forgetting to go to the bottom right of the page to add a new shape.
The software costs $99 from the MandalaMaker website. In my opinion it definitely offers good value for money. A 10 day trial is available if you would like to test the software before you buy - I would definitely recommend working through the tutorial before you start creating your own designs.
- Complex design options presented within a friendly interface with an almost endless range of possibilities
- Good set of color and gradient presets combined with ability to add your own
- Makes creating complex designs simple, even for beginners
- Excellent and detailed manual
- I would like to see an inspiration gallery and perhaps more tutorials
- I would have liked the ability to be able to enter numbers when changing shapes as well as using the slider (for example enter the number for the height of an option rather than use the slider), being a bit heavy handed with the mouse meant that sometimes it is difficult to move the slider to the correct number.