PixelToy Manual Version 3.0
LairWare Software

Color Palettes
PixelToy is one of those rare programs that defies easy categorization. PixelToy combines nine different configurable actions with dozens of filters and a color palette to create beautiful still images to composite in an image editor, generate QuickTime movies of animated special effects for use with video editing software, or just chill out and watch the beautiful patterns react to audio.

PixelToy is freeware.

About Windows
Also see Windows Reference
PixelToy's windows allow you to quickly and easily control the graphic display with windows corresponding to menus on the menu bar: Options, Actions, Filters, Colors, and Sets. Additionally, a Color Palette Editor window lets you fine tune your current color palette with great detail.

About Actions
Also see Actions Reference
Actions are the shapes PixelToy draws on the screen; filters affect the trails they leave on the screen. PixelToy 2.8 has nine kinds of actions you can mix and match. You can adjust parameters for each action as described in the Sound Visual Options, Text Options, Particle Options, Image Options, and Misc Options windows. The images below are of each action using the Rainbow color palette and the blur filter.

Bouncing Lines bounce off the walls and floor, slowing down gradually until they disappear to be replaced by new, fast ones.
Wander Balls wander around aimlessly.
Insect Swarm resembles a swarm of one queen bee and any number of worker bees who incessantly follow her. The queen can either chase the mouse cursor or (if you're not feeling like constantly interacting with it) she will chase a random point. Any worker bees that catch up to her disappear and are replaced with a new bee at a random position.
Raindrops are random circles that splat all over the screen like fat raindrops.
Sound Visuals are a variety of displays including oscilloscope-style waveforms and graphic equalizer spectrum graphs, edited with the Sound Visual Options window. Most Macs have the capability to use either a microphone or an audio CD as audio input; you select which sound input device to use in PixelToy's Preferences window.
Doodle is used to draw on the PixelToy window with the mouse. Like any drawing program, the mouse button controls whether your 'pen' is touching the 'paper'.
Text is a very versatile action, with its own Text Options window. You can use text in any size or font, and choose from six different behaviors. Brightness and size can also be controlled individually by sound input.
Particles are also an extremely versatile action, with their own Particle Options window. Particles can be used to make waterfalls, fountains, snowstorms, bug swarms, and more. As you probably expected, you can make them react to sound input as well.
Images can be placed anywhere in the PixelToy display and assigned a variety of behaviors via the Image Options window.

About Filters
Also see Filters Reference
While the actions draw interesting things on the screen, the filters warp, blur, melt, fade, and otherwise alter what's on the screen. You can have any number of filters on at a time, but usually one is enough for a cool effect. The filters menu is like a series of switches; selecting a menu item turns it on, selecting it again turns it off. Some filters are more appropriate in some situations than others; for that reason, in the previews below the yin-yang is stationary in some and moving in others. In addition to these preset filters there is a custom filter which will let you create even more. On top of any filters you use, you may also horizontally and/or vertically mirror the display.

Blur More
Fast Blur
West Wind
East Wind
Horizontal Smear
Vertical Smear
Diagonal Smear
Zoom In Fast
Zoom In Smooth
Zoom Out
Horizontal Spread
Vertical Spread

About Color Palettes
Also see Colors Reference
A color palette is a collection of 256 colors. Color palettes directly affect everything you see in PixelToy. In the Color Palette Editor window, colors are displayed from upper left to lower right, in the same order one reads the words on a page. You can change individual colors in a color palette, but you'll get the most appealing results by setting only a few colors, far apart, then blending them together. Blending is achieved by clicking on a color and dragging to another color. While dragging, the affected color entries are outlined in white. You can avoid using the Color Palette Editor entirely by generating random color palettes until PixelToy comes up with something you like.

Once you arrive at a color palette you want to keep, you can save it and give it a name. In addition to the usual management commands to delete and rename palettes, you can cycle forward and backward through your list of color palettes, applying them to your current action and filter combination. Color animation features also allow the color palette to optionally change dynamically based on sound input.

About Sets
Also see Sets Reference
So you've got the perfect combination of actions, filters, options, and color palette? A "Set" can store all of these settings under a single name. PixelToy maintains your own PixelToy Sets file, stored alongside your other applications preferences. If you want to use a different Sets file, just double-click it or drag-and-drop it onto PixelToy. Once you are using a sets file, regardless of how it was opened, any additions, deletions, and renamed sets are automatically updated within the file. To create a different Sets file from your PixelToy Sets, either duplicate an existing Sets file in the Finder, or select Save Current Sets As from the File menu in PixelToy. When PixelToy opens a Sets file via drag-and-drop or double-clicking it in the Finder, it automatically loads and uses the first set in the file. You can disable this in the Preferences dialog.

When saving a set you can add an optional comment. Loading the set will then automatically display the comment. You can disable this automatic comment display in the Preferences dialog.

Tip: You can rename individual sets by option-clicking on them in the Sets window.

When selecting a set from your Sets window, all local settings are changed to those stored in the set. The window's title changes to the name of the set. If you do anything that changes the settings from those stored in the set, an ellipse ("...") is added to the window title to let you know that your settings no longer match those of the set you last loaded.

Aside from the usual organizational commands (add, delete, rename), you can start a Timed Set Cycle . This simply lets you set up PixelToy to cycle forward through your sets with a delay of however many seconds you wish. Selecting this command again will stop it. Note that you can still use PixelToy normally while a Timed Set Cycle is in effect.

Tip: To copy a set from one Sets file to another, first go to Preferences and turn off "Use First Set of Opened Sets". Now you can open a Sets file and load a particular set. Then open the Sets file you want to move it to, then "Add this set...".

Performance: PixelToy will run in any resolution and color depth, but you can improve its speed by making its window smaller. When in full-screen mode, you can dramatically increase PixelToy's speed by allowing PixelToy to change your monitor resolution to something lower than your normal desktop resolution. The first time you enter full-screen mode you are asked if you wish to do this, but you may also change this setting later in the Preferences window.

QuickTime: Generating QuickTime movies is easy, but for best results you'll want to read the Create Movie entry in the PixelToy Reference.

Technical Support, Suggestions, Comments: Is PixelToy misbehaving? Having trouble creating the effect you've got in mind? Visit LairWare Support for guidance.

Introduction | Requirements | Windows | Actions | Filters | Color Palettes | Sets | Miscellaneous | Reference