70 Open Source Resources for Designers
by Linda Goin

Linda offers some great deals for designers – open source Web sites and sources that are easy on designers' wallets, because they're free.

Open Sourcing the Web

Designers know that photographs, artwork, modelling and animation tools and other resources usually cost money. Often, that money is not available for a job that has a deadline tomorrow. No need to freak out, as more sites have come on board to offer open source help.

The following list is not inclusive of all the open source or free sites offered to a designer on the Web...but they're the best sites and the best lists around. The only issue with open source materials is that you often get what you pay for – and finding quality art and photos might become an issue. But, just as often, you might find a solution for that client that cannot pay a hefty price for your services, too.

It's up to you whether or not you use open source art and photos...but to deny yourself some trial runs on resources such as free modelling or animation software is crazy – you might want to give some of the tools listed below a shot.

2D Illustration Software

  1. Cenon: Built upon a modular graphical core, Cenon offers a wide variety of possibilities and applications for vectors and design functions.
  2. GIMP: This a freely distributed piece of software for such tasks as photo retouching, image composition and image authoring.
  3. GIMPshop: GIMPshop is a modification of the free/open source GNU Image Manipulation Program (GIMP), intended to replicate the feel of Adobe Photoshop.
  4. Gliffy: Gliffy is an online diagramming service that helps users communicate with a combination of shapes, text, and lines.
  5. Inkscape: The Open Source old-timer when it comes to vector editing, with capabilities similar to Illustrator, CorelDraw, or Xara X, using the W3C standard Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) file format.
  6. KoverArtist: This is a program for the fast creation of covers for cd/dvd cases and boxes.
  7. KToon: This is a design and authoring tool for 2D Animation inspired by animators for animators.
  8. NodeBox: This is an open source application for programming 2D animation and graphics in Python.
  9. POV-Ray: Otherwise known as the "Persistence of Vision Raytracer," this is a high-quality, totally free tool for creating stunning three-dimensional graphics.
  10. Skencil: This is a free software interactive vector drawing appliction. Known to run on GNU/Linux and other UNIX-compatible systems, it is a flexible and powerful tool for illustrations, diagrams and other purposes.

3D Illustration Software

  1. Animata: This is an open source real-time animation software, designed to create animations, interactive background projections for concerts, theatre and dance performances.
  2. Art of Illusion: This is a free, open source 3D modelling and rendering studio.
  3. Blender: Blender is the free open source 3D content creation suite, available for all major operating systems under the GNU General Public License.
  4. Bryce: Now up to version 7, you still can download this accessible and professional 3D landscaping and animation tool.
  5. Crystal Space: If you're into game development, try this free cross-platform software development kit for realtime 3D graphics.
  6. DAZ Studio 3: DAZ Studio is a free, feature rich 3D figure design and 3D animation tool that enables anyone to create stunning digital imagery.
  7. K3DSurf: is a program to visualize and manipulate Mathematical models in three, four, five and six dimensions. K3DSurf supports Parametric equations and Isosurfaces.
  8. Moviesandbox: Moviesandbox is an open-source realtime animation tool and 3D game engine. It is available for Mac OSX and Windows, and is currently in pre-release.
  9. Processing: This open source programming language and environment is for individuals who want to create 2D, 3D or PDF images, animations, and interactions.
  10. White Dune: This is a low level VRML97 tool for Unix/Linux/MacOSX and Windows. It can read VRML97 files, display and let the user change the scenegraph/fields.

Linda Goin

Linda GoinLinda Goin carries an A.A. in graphic design, a B.F.A. in visual communications with a minor in business and marketing and an M.A. in American History with a minor in the Reformation. While the latter degree doesn't seem to fit with the first two educational experiences, Linda used her 25-year design expertise on archaeological digs and in the study of material culture. Now she uses her education and experiences in social media experiments.

Accolades for her work include fifteen first-place Colorado Press Association awards, numerous fine art and graphic design awards, and interviews about content development with The Wall St. Journal, Chicago Tribune, Psychology Today, and L.A. Times.

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