Organizing reference images with Kuadro – Quick Tips

In the recent past, Kuadro has become an indispensable tool in my workflow. If you're an artist who uses reference images (well, who doesn't?), I would definitely recommend giving this tool a shot as it will save a lot of your time, while making the most of your screen real estate.

Kuadro was released in 2015 and I discovered it only a few months ago. This proves that I've been living under a rock, or that this handy piece of software is probably not getting the love and attention it deserves.

Kuadro is an isolated executable that can be launched from anywhere on your disk or a remote drive. Download the latest version from the Kruel Games website.

Kuadro logo

If you don't have a couple of minutes to watch the walkthrough video on the product website, here's the low-down on the features I find most useful.

  • It's free!
  • Kuadro gets parked in the system tray once it's open. Right-click and choose 'Add Local image' to open your first image window.
  • Kuadro makes use of every pixel of screen real-estate, and the only interactable controls are the resize handles on the four corners of a window. Everything else is in a right-click context menu.
  • Use the mouse-wheel to zoom into an area of interest. If the same image has another area of interest, use the Duplicate option and zoom into a different area.
  • You can load more images by dragging the file icons from your folder or images directly from a website into a previously open image window.
  • When you have overlapping images, arrange them by using the 'Send to Top' option
  • You can use the 'Always On Top' option from the menu of a particular window; or globally for all image windows - by selecting the same option from the system tray menu.
  • When you have a layout that works, you can save it as a preset. Hit 'Ctrl+S' after clicking on any of the open image windows. Load this preset when you get back to work the next day
  • Additional display options include a Grayscale mode and adjustable Opacity for individual or all image windows

PureRef is another noteworthy mention, though I find myself using Kuadro most of the time

PureRef is a similar tool, but functions more as a canvas(think Adobe Illustrator's workspace) where you can arrange multiple images, than each image having it's own freely floating window. I found this to be a bit cumbersome on a single monitor setup.

PureRef's biggest plus though, is that it can load all images from a specified URL; an example would be when you want to use multiple reference images from a single Artstation or Behance project.