Random Eye Offers Inspiration in a Box

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It's a moment every graphic designer has had. While working on a project you accidentally apply the wrong filter, type in the wrong size or otherwise flub the task and find yourself staring at a completely unexpected image. And hey, it actually looks pretty cool.

Random Eye Technologies (800/726-4126, www.randomeye.com ) has found a way to cash in on the fortuitous mistake, by offering one of the more unusual new products of Seybold Boston--the $249 Random Eye Images 1.0. The software randomly generates design ideas based on themes of images you select. Random Eye Images isn't a replacement for an image editor or finishing tool. Instead, its purpose is to generate ideas and spark your imagination by serving up images and relationships that might not occur to you.

With Random Eye Images, you create categories of images called lightboxes from images on your own hard drive and stock photography CDs. If you don't already have what you need, the program will also comb through stock photography Web sites and download appropriate images. When you're looking for inspiration you select the groups of images you want to use.

For example, say you're working on brochure cover for an international high-tech company and become stumped. You might choose to have a photo from your technology lightbox as a background with images of business professionals and globes on top. The program then begins to select photographs at random from each category and randomly sizes and positions them together on the blank page, creating entirely new compositions. You click through the suggestions, saving layouts you like and ignoring those you don't. You can lock down images that strike your fancy, reorganize the layers, or change categories anytime throughout the process. When you're done, you can export the layouts you choose to a photo-editing tool such as Photoshop for finishing.

As a brainstorming tool, the program appears remarkably versatile and generates an impressive volume of suggestions. Many of the concepts the program generated were cringe-worthy, but what Random Eye lacks in terms of generating quality ideas, it makes up for in volume. There may be enough interesting ideas hidden among the bad to make your hand itch for a shot at the mouse.

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