Free Software for the Arts

Anyone who has worked in the world of computer-assisted creative arts (graphic design, photography, video production, music, page layout, creative writing, etc.) knows that getting started using ‘industry standard’ hardware and software can be prohibitively costly. What many people don’t know is that there are quite a few free, very powerful software applications available that will run on all major computer operating systems in common use today. These applications are, directly or indirectly, a product of the Free Software Movement, which is founded on a philosophy that software should be free to use, open to development, and can be freely distributed. Some of the best known examples of Open Source Software are Mozilla Firefox, Android, and Open Office. The following list is a small selection of our favorite applications that are great cost-effective software alternatives for budding artists, hobbyists, and Open Source advocates . 1. The GNU Image Manipulation Program (GIMP) gimp As the name implies, the GIMP is a very capable image manipulation program, which can be used for anything from very simple image touch-up projects, to the creation of very complex, multilayered composite images. 2. Inkscape inkscape Inkscape is a full-featured vector graphics editor, very similar to Adobe Illustrator or CorelDraw. Open source images are also available that can be imported into Inkscape for additional editing. 3. Audacity audacity Audacity is a free, cross-platform audio recorder, editor, and player. It can record, play, import and export audio files in a broad range of formats, as well as mix tracks and add effects. In the free-software arena, Audacity is the standard to beat. 4. And, for now, last but not least, Blender. blender Blender might be a bit much for the average hobbyist to handle, but for the serious video producer, Blender is one of the most versatile and powerful 3D graphics applications available – and it’s free. Per Wikipedia’s web site: “Blender is a free and open-source 3D computer graphics software product used for creating animated films, visual effects, interactive 3D applications or video games. Blender’s features include 3D modeling, UV unwrapping, texturing, rigging and skinning, fluid and smoke simulation, particle simulation, soft body simulation, animating, match moving, camera tracking, rendering, video editing and compositing. It also features a built-in game engine.” For a taste of what Blender can do, check out the sizzle reel below:  

– David Arpee, IT Director