After chatting with my print designers group, I realized a good handful of them used Aquario Textile Designer regularly. I wanted to try the plug-in again and give you an updated review for 2023. I was so enthusiastic to try it again that I even signed up for the Colorist add-on to the plugin. I was thinking Aquario could help with building the files for production, in addition to recoloring in Photoshop.
Here is what happened:
I checked my subscription and realized I still had a little time, but I did want to add the colorist portion of the plug-in. The checkout process was a little clunky. It was hard to know if they were going to honor my original discount and what the deal was with renewal, but my designer friends told me to have faith and just checkout. They had already been through it, and the people at Aquario assured them the discount would be honored. Yup. It worked just as they said it would.
I installed it as instructed and deactivated/ reactivated my license key and fired it up. I started playing with motifs and moving them around. It still takes me a minute to realize that my layers are being duplicated and split when I cross a seam line. Overall, not bad. It worked as promised.
I saved my half-drop trial and reopened it the next day. It was no longer in half-drop and all of the motifs were layered on top of each other. I didn't have the energy to redo it. I just moved a few things out of the way and tried to use the colorist portion of the plugin. I made palettes in Illustrator and installed them with the swatches window of Aquario. I opted to auto-reduce to 16 colors. I clicked the checkmark to process it, and poof! Photoshop crashed.
I tried other files.
I uninstalled and reinstalled. I updated Photoshop.
I relicensed. I restarted, and I tried again.
Crash. Crash. Crash.
I was encouraged to contact support. They were extremely helpful and very kind. You know when your car makes a sound, and then you take it to the mechanic and it promptly stops? I was doing a screens share with Aquario support and Photoshop crashed on my first try with colorist. I wasn't fast enough to grab the crash report, so we reopened and tried again. It finally worked. After at least 25 crashes. Weird. I told her I would try to keep running it and let them know.
Within 24 hours, it had crashed again. I kept trying thinking it was just a fluke. For about a day or two, it worked when it felt like it and the color reduction tool was powerful. After that, it started crashing when I refreshed the Aquario repeat window, long before I even got to the colorist portion of the plug-in.
At that point, I decided it was not for me and certainly not stable on my machine. I've got a really robust Mac with plenty of memory and storage that can run just about anything I throw at it, so this still confuses me.
My next PS file was a repeat design that was not constructed in Aquario and the plug-in was not even open. I got up from my desk for a few hours and then returned to my file. I resized the window so my design was front and center, and the entire design distorted with the window resize. Not good.
I restarted and ran all of my utilities. I reopened my file and started working again. I couldn't switch tools, and no matter what I selected, I got the crosshairs cursor. I'm used to my brushes having a brush tip shape that shows you the size, not to mention being able to change tools. This was unworkable.
Same deal. Sigh.
This time I decided to uninstall the Aquario plugin from Adobe altogether. I wasn't running it, but maybe it was giving me headaches as it was the only "new" thing.
Literally, the second I clicked uninstall my Photoshop cursor went back to normal. I didn't have to restart the app or my computer. Smooth sailing since then.
I'm so sorry to tell you that I can't give it a fair review because it didn't work for me. I do know other designers who have no problem whatsoever, so don't assume that you will suffer the same fate as I did. I reported back to Aquario just to let them know what happened. They kindly refunded me because they had trouble figuring out the issue. The company and the team are solid people and really tried to help me, but Aquario is unfortunately not an option for me. If you make art for production purposes, I encourage you to try Aquario.
If you make art for production purposes, I encourage you to try Aquario.
It takes some getting used to working with layers that duplicate and lock automatically, but once you get the hang of it, it can be very powerful. That is if it works on your machine. I'm not opposed to trying again when another, more tested version comes out. I'll let you know how it goes!
You may also be interested in my original review of Aquario Textile Designer.