Free Drawing & Graphic Software

13 10 2010

As the onset of Open Source software has been making more headway in the past couple of years, there is a bounty of quality free software around for anyone to try on for size.  Some more notable than others, but most are very well made products, and regularly updated through a small army of programmers.  The most common license for these products is the GNU General Public License, but there are other, less notable licenses as well.  This licensing ensures the quality and trustworthiness of the products you will be using in the future.  Anyone who has spent some time with the Linux operating system will be familiar with most of this.  If you are not familiar with Linux, get familiar.  Without further ado, let’s get listing!

1. GIMP – The GNU Image Manipulation Program

GIMP is essentially a full on Photoshop alternative, and it is 100% free.  I use gimp for almost all of my graphic design, and you can save your files in Adobe friendly formats that allow you full functionality with any Adobe suite or products you may already own.  This program runs much more efficiently than adobe in my opinion, I just enjoy the interface more.  Sure, there are some shortcomings that you just cannot ignore, such as the sheer quality edge and color detection you have in Photoshop, but if this is not essential for you, then why bother.

2. Blender – model – shade – animate – render – composite – interactive 3d

Blender is a quality 3D modeling platform, also created under the GNU license.  It can be used for creating everything from 3D models and smoke simulation to creating animated films or video games!  Quality wise, Blender stacks up to other comparative programs, aka Maya and 3D StudioMax, rather well.  Sure it is limited in lack of Font Preview for text, lack of N-gon-based modeling workflow and some missing modeling tools.  It also is on the leading edge with advanced algorithms utilized for its UV unwrapping.  Basically, compare the price tag of Maya or 3D Studio to Blender and you definitely get what you don’t pay for.

Just a sample of what Blender can do:



3. Google SketchUp

Sketch up is essentially a simplified AutoCAD.  It has some one-dimensional aspects to it as well, and you can build houses for display in Google earth.  The simplicity lies in the interface, and the projects really just seem to come together.  I downloaded it on a whim, and wound up losing hours to trying to recreate my home, and building my dream one.  With some nice snap-to options, and a fun scaling platform, its worth the download.  And hey, who doesn’t trust Google?

This is really just scratching the surface of quality free drawing, image manipulation, and 3D modeling software out there, but if I had to pick, these are my top three.  Once you get into open source, or Google for that matter, it can be really hard to quit.  Hopefully this can help send you down a long and happy road of new, healthy computing options.