Saturday, 18 August 2007

Free Graphics Software

Countless times since my student days (lets not say how long ago that was), when Ebay or (more often) my wallet could not supply my software needs, I have resorted to hunting down freeware. And let me tell you, when you have been looking for freeware for as long as I have, you accumulate quite a stash. So to save other people the pain of hunting - I listed it all on my website, among the mundane are some real treasures.

Of course the great thing about my site is - it really is freeware - unlike some other websites that rate high on Google in freeware searches, but are mostly full of shareware with the odd free tid-bit thrown in. (If I wanted shareware I would have searched for it - surely Google can do better).

Anyhow - you have been spared the pain, and while you are free to enjoy the fruits of my labours at your leisure, allow me to introduce some nifty alternative freeware offerings for the skint but honest digital creative:

The freeware alternative to Photoshop or Paint Shop Pro... of course The Gimp. There seem to be numerous download options for The Gimp, and while installable releases are available for Windows I have recently come to favour the trouble free Gimp Portable. Gimp Portable does not need installing, can run from a USB drive, or copy it to your HDD and shortcut to it in your Start Menu. It's a neat little package that just runs without having to mess about with all this GTK stuff.

The Gimp is pretty powerful, and in some places really does live up to the expectations of Photoshop users (layer masks, blending modes, magnetic lasso etc.) but if you need something less daunting I can recommend Serif PhotoPlus 6. I know Serif usually expect money for their software, but they are so confident you will like what they produce, and want to upgrade to the latest version, they are giving away slightly older versions of their graphics apps free. Definately worth checking out.

More here >

Dreamweaver or FrontPage are out of your budget...

...and Word is just too lame for words (forgive the pun), when it comes to web page design. In this case NVU is the best freeware alternative. I am of course assuming you want a web page design app that helps you manage your files, has built in FTP, allows WYSIWYG and Code View, previews CSS in design view, and doesn't "break" your PHP formating. All for the grand price of free.

More here >

Corel Painter also has a free alternative... the form of Art Rage. The software's designers Ambient Design offer this program in Full and Free versions. Admittedly the free version does not have all the features of the full version, but it is still a credible alternative for natural media simulation. And if Art Rage does not meet your needs, you can always try Deep Paint 2 or Project Dogwaffle 1.2.

3D comes free as well...

...with some very powerful software. In fact the options for 3D freeware are so exciting I hardly know what to say. So I won't say anything apart from to list them below so you can let them speak for themselves (I hear you sigh with relief):

Blender - 3D modelling, animation, rendering, powerful but tricky
Bryce 5.5 - 3D landscape generation, animation, rendering, powerful but not too difficult
True Space 3.2 - 3D modelling, animation, rendering, powerful but easier than Blender
Plant Studio - The easy way to produce 3D plants for use in the above programs

More here >

And finally...

I could go on and on, but why bother when it's all on my website anyway. Just one more thing before I go, an important point to be aware of. Just because software is freeware, does not mean you can pass it on to your mates. Make sure you check you are OK to do that. Some freeware allows it, other freeware is more strictly controlled by the publisher. Be nice to the people who are kind enough not to charge and stick to the agreements you make with them when you install.


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