Tools For Design

a digital toolbox

Tools For Design was a year-long funded research project by RIT that aimed at redefining the creative process for designers through new software tools. Through experimentation with technologies such as Generative AI, computer vision, augmented reality, and Three JS, we were able to develop four web-based tools. They are small, but mighty, and fill in gaps that exist within the designers’ current process.

Team: Chris Ference, Avinash Amudala

Type: Creative Technology, Software Development

Year: 2022-2023

🎨 Sample: Palettes from images

Sample transforms images into vibrant color palettes. By uploading an image, designers can instantly visualize a palette that represents the primary colors of the image in proportion to their prominence. With a simple click, users can download the entire color palette to integrate into their art-board or copy an individual color's hex code.

Launch Sample

💈 Revolve: Sketch 3D forms

Revolve allows designers to sketch profiles of cylindrical objects, and immediately visualize them in 3D. While similar functionalities exist in other tools, the speed of Revolve allows designers to explore dozens of ideas in minutes, rather than only one or two. The tool offers control over the form's profile, material properties, and the shadow it casts. Upon completion, users can download their creation as a PNG or OBJ file, ready for further exploration or presentation.

Launch Revolve

✏️ Underlay: AI for design sketching

Underlay allows designers to get started sketching quicker by creating a dimensionally accurate reference. Simple type in the object you are designing, and Underlay generates primitive 3d geometry that you can sketch over. Users can then modify dimensions, lighting, and perspective to compose their sketch.

Launch Underlay

🎬 Director: Your portable studio

Current designer’s workflows involves analog sketching, digitial sketching, 3d modeling, and rendering. Switching between these various mediums slows down the process and inhibits creativity. We built Director as a tool that allows designers to sketch, 3d model, and visualize their ideas in minutes.

Launch Director

User Response

Rebecca Falcon

Senior Lecturer

"I think it will be great for students who are increasingly nervous about sketching."

Hector Rodriguez

Creative Lead

"Dig it, thank you! Especially that it just runs on a browswer!"

Raphael Abel

Industrial Designer

"Amazing tool! Great for the early stages of a project where I want to visualize hundreds of options instantaneously. Will be using this!"


As this was a year long initiative, there was a lot of other experiments and tools created along the way. Early on, I conducted interviews and learned about designer's workflows and the softwares they use to build their ideas and visualize them. This lead me to explore Projection Mapping & Augmented Reality, as tools for material visualization. I also researched the seemingly magical interactions that occur when using products. For example opening the case to your Airpods and a friendly message appearing on your device. How can current poor experiences with AR be resolved with surprising delightful moments.

Through various AR prototypes, I strived to create experiences that felt immersive but also functional with various interface elements to adjust the virtual content. I experimented with various transitions to prepare users to view virtual content.

After creating dozens ui mockups, I knew it was time to begin coding and building out some of the mockups. As I wanted to make the program accessible, it lead me to start learning Three JS which enabled 3d content on the web. This would allow for a mobile and desktop friendly experience.

Begining to develop for the web and prototypes with three js. Wireframes of site ideas.

This project expanded my abilities as a designer to more of a creative technologist. I think there is such a power in being able to build and execute on your ideas. By learning the basics of Javascript, I was able to develop proof of concepts for interfaces.


Chris Ference is a multidisciplinary designer focused on developing more intuitive interactions with generative AI systems in creative applications.


Chris Ference is a multidisciplinary designer focused on developing more intuitive interactions with generative AI systems in creative applications.