Design & UX
By Ada Ivanoff

Linux Design Tools: High-end Design on a Low-end Budget?

By Ada Ivanoff
Pencils - OliBac

Photo :OliBac

While the world’s best commercial graphic applications come with packed with features, they also come with a price tag many find hard to justify.

Though there are plenty of less expensive alternatives, the simple truth is: It’s hard to get cheaper than free.

Today we’re going to look some of the free, open source graphic apps available, and see if they are a viable replacement.

If you are currently unfamiliar with the abundance of free open source graphic apps now available, you may well be missing out.

The best open source graphic applications on this list are comparable in quality to their leading commercial equivalents.

Don’t be put off by the word ‘free’ either. This is a case where ‘free’ definitely doesn’t mean low quality.

I know what you’re thinking: “If I use free software, I’ll have far too much extra money!’

Relax. You can always donate to the hard-working developers behind these apps, and help them make them even better.

So, let’s get to the list, and see if open source can genuinely compete with their expensive commercial counterparts.

Sidenote: Although most of these applications were originally developed for Linux, they often have Windows and Mac versions.

1. Could You Use GIMP to Replace Photoshop?

Often the first application that comes to mind when you are thinking about free, open source graphics is GIMP (Gnu Image Manipulation Program).

While GIMP doesn’t have all the niche features of Photoshop, it certainly offers a lot. In fact, there are a good many professional designers who use GIMP and judging by their output, the results are stunning.

So, assuming you have some design skills, the limitations of the applications you use is secondary.


Image Credit:

What Can GIMP Do?

GIMP is a raster graphics application that is useful for image editing and retouching.

You can also use it to create raster images from scratch, as well as simple animations.

Cage Transform in action

Cage Transform in action

It supports layers and channels, has an advanced gradients function, includes paths and quick masks. There are rotation and transformation tools, as well as tools for scaling, cropping, resizing, file format conversion, and more.

GIMP can also be used for both Web and print design.

It even has a few tools that don’t have direct analogs in Photoshop — for instance, the Cage Transform tool that allows to warp just parts of objects.

Where Does GIMP Fall Short?

The main areas where GIMP falls behind are interface and feature list.

Any designer raised on the Photoshop interface, might not always find menus options where they predict them to be.

It’s true, the GIMP interface is different from Photoshop, and there will be an inevitable learning curve.

However, if the UI differences are a show-stopper for you, there’s always Gimpshop. Gimpshop is GIMP retro-fitted a very Photoshop-like interface.

Some may argue that reproducing Photoshop is not something to aspire to. You be the judge.

In terms of features, it’s hard to pinpoint exactly which Photoshop features are missing, as most missing functionality can be added via GIMP’s rich plugins ecosystem.

In theory, this is a better model, as you won’t have lots of unused functionality obscuring the features you need.

As an example, GIMP doesn’t ship with RAW image processing abilities, but this can be added via the UFRaw plugin.

GIMP does lack the granular text options of Photoshop, along with its adjustment layers. CMYK support is also somewhat limited by default, though additional plugins can plug this gap if required.

While the lack of these features may well be a show-stopper for some, I suspect many designers would not even notice their absence.

Interoperability is often cited as the biggest problem for dedicated GIMP users. Clients frequently want to provide you with PSD files, and while GIMP supports PSD in theory, the practical results aren’t always ideal.

This file format issue is often cited as a key hurdle for new adopters, and is likely the major reason GIMP is not as widely-adopted as it might be.

Price Comparison Between GIMP and Photoshop

While there are some obvious caveats to adopting GIMP, these hurdles often become less important when you compare costs. As I mentioned, GIMP is free – it’s hard to get cheaper than that.

On the other hand, Photoshop is no small investment. Currently, you can get Photoshop CS6 as a standalone application for $699-999 or for $1,299-2,559, bundled with other Creative Suite 6 products.

With Adobe’s new rent-only policy – i.e. their Creative Cloud the situation is similar.

If you are lucky to catch a promotion, you can get Photoshop for under $10 a month – otherwise the regular price is $19.99-29.99 a month.

If you decide to go for the complete Creative Cloud, the price goes up to $49.99 a month (on a yearly contract), which is $600 a year.

That is a lot money for most of us — especially if you are not using the software every day!

2. Could you use Inkscape to replace Illustrator?

Adobe Illustrator is another leading commercial vector graphic application that has a viable free open source competitor in the form of Inkscape.


SCREENSHOT, Image Credit:

What Does Inkscape Bring to the Table?

Inkscape uses the W3C standard Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) file format as it’s default. As you might know, SVG is a format that is becoming more relevant to web developers with every passing day.

It can also work with other popular vector formats, such as .ai, .eps, or .pdf, while most other vector graphics programs can handle its SVG files.

Inkscape ships with markers, clones, alpha blending, path operations, bitmap tracing, and other standard SVG features.

For a full list of features, check this.

Perhaps the most interesting section here is the list of features Inkscape has that are missing in Illustrator. According to, the following Inkscape abilities are lacking in Illustrator:

  • Edit SVG source directly

  • Clones, tiled clones, edit clones on canvas

  • Keys to move/rotate/scale by screen pixels

  • Shapes as objects

  • Edit gradients with handles on-canvas

  • Edit nodes with keyboard

  • One-click paint bucket fill

While this list may need to be updated, I think it’s useful enough to include regardless.

What Illustrator Functionality Is Missing in Inkscape?

If you decided to switch to Inkscape, you should also be aware of its limitations.

Firstly, file interoperability can be an issue, especially with older .ai files. also publishes a list of Illustrator features that are currently missing in Inkscape:

These include:

  • Gradient meshes

  • Multiple strokes and fills for one object

  • Color management for print (ICCProfiles, etc.)

  • PMS color management

  • Natively work with graphs based ondata

  • Free transform and perspective transform (available via extension)

  • Blends (available via extension)

Again, this list may be slightly outdated, but gives you a sense of what you might be losing if you decide to throw your lot in with Inkscape.

Now, I wouldn’t class myself as a ‘power-user’ of either Illustrator or Inkscape. But as an occasional user I can attest that my skills (or the lack of them) are certainly a much more serious barrier, than any software limitations.

From my point of view, there is no critical feature or tool that Inkscape lacks. For the majority of projects — even demanding professional use — I believe Inkscape is a very feasible alternative.

Price Comparison Between Inkscape and Adobe Illustrator

The price comparison between Inkscape and Adobe Illustrator is very similar to the earlier Photoshop comparision – free vs $599 for Illustrator CS6, or $19.99 a month for the standalone Creative Cloud version, or $49.99 as part of CC bundle.

Switching to Inkscape could save you $240-600 a year.

3. Could You Use Scribus Instead of InDesign?

If you are into desktop publishing, then you might be interested in Scribus as an alternative to Quark Xpress, Adobe InDesign, or Microsoft Publisher.

Scribus is not an exact match of either program, so you shouldn’t expect it to have all the features you know from these programs.


Scribus: SCREENSHOT, Image Credit:,0302-6428-150189.html


What can Scribus Do?

In simple terms, Scribus offers solid “CMYK color, separations, Spot Colors, ICC color management and versatile PDF creation.” It also can work with most common raster and vector image formats, as well as many text formats.

Features that Scribus Lacks

Similarly to GIMP and Inkscape, the Scribus interface is very different to that of InDesign. Until you become accustomed to it, it’s likely to take you some time to perform even the simplest tasks.

Now, I am no Scribus expert, and to be frank, my encounters with InDesign are pretty sketchy, but experienced desktop publishers tell me they couldn’t use Scribus for critical publishing tasks.

Aside from this, many common functions you will find in InDesign, are currently absent from Scribus. For instance, in Scribus you can’t even dock, move or hide individual palettes.

But what’s the main buzz-killer?

Currently Scribus can’t open InDesign’s default format. While Scribus’s PDF export facility covers most print situations, the lack of ‘INDD’ support will be a roadblock for some.

Again the savings are significant – free versus $19.99/49.99 a month for InDesign.

However, since Scribus isn’t anywhere near as competent a replacement to InDesign, as GIMP and Inkscape are to Photoshop and Illustrator respectively, I think the price comparison is far less relevant.

This comparison is truly an ‘apples to oranges’ situation.

4. Other High Quality Linux Graphics Tools

The list of open source useful applications that are compete competently with commercial equivalents is too long to cover comprehensively here.

However special mention has to go to the amazingly powerful Blender 3D, used for 3D design, video editing and special effects.


SCREENSHOT, Image Credit:

While arguably not be a complete substitute for Premiere, 3DS Max or Maya, Blender has become a rich and powerful platform — evidenced by Blender-powered, short films and games such as Big Buck Bunny, Sintel and Tears of Steel.

Big Buck Bunny: Created entirely in Blender.

Big Buck Bunny: Created entirely in Blender.

Krita and MyPaint are two other graphic programs in addition to GIMP you can use. for Windows is also a very viable Photoshop alternative.

Xara for vector graphics and Pencil for cartoons are also good. When you add FontForge (for fonts creation), Dia (for diagrams), or Draw from the LibreOffice package, you’ll see that you can do pretty well without a spending metaphorical dime.

These applications are just a sample of what’s available in the Linux world. Some are included in Linux distributions, while others need to be downloaded and installed separately.

If you don’t have the time to do it, you can get a graphics-focused Linux distribution, such as DreamStudio.

Dreamstudio includes all the applications listed above, plus some other graphics, sound, and video applications, like Darktable. Similar in function to Adobe Lightroom, Darktable helps you manage your digital negatives, view them through a zoomable light-table, as well as develop and enhance raw images .

Ready for Primetime?

Whether these applications can become your default editors is a question only you can answer. However, even if you decide they aren’t quite ready to completely replace your commercial suite yet, they may still may have a useful role in your toolkit.

Frequently I find it more efficient to use an open source application for many of the simple graphics tasks you might perform in a typical day — cropping, scaling and simple color tweaks.

Faster start-up times mean I’m often exporting from my open source app before it’s heavier commercial kin has had time to load.

And that can make a big difference to your productivity in a busy day.

As with many other decision in life, the choice of open source versus proprietary software isn’t only about the money.

  • Eimantas Kasperiūnas

    When I was using Ubuntu where does GIMP felt short, was that it didn’t fully support .psd files so for me as a web developer was imposible to work with frontend to open psd and see what’s inside. Luckily now I am happy mac user.

    • This was the one limitation I ran into with GIMP – very poor support for opening my coworkers’ PSD files. So unless I start doing all frontend design work entirely on my own, I’ll have to keep using PS in Wine or a VM/dual-boot with Windows.

      • Niko Lowry

        I switched to Mac in a VM because horizontal scrolling actually works.

    • Rambo Tribble

      You might try ImageMagick for the PSD file conversion. More often than not, when you’re having trouble getting what you want from open source tools, you’re either not using the right one or you’re suffering from operator error.

  • Jingqi Xie

    Any piece of open source software is either ugly or feature-short – or both.

    • Steve Browning

      This doesn’t seem that you have spent time with Gimp, Inkscape, or Blender. Granted their interfaces are different than Adobe products, but it doesn’t mean they are not well thought out. There is a learning curve but well worth the investment.

      Inkscape interface is far easier to use with a graphics tablet than Illustrator or Photoshop. Really great illustrations can be had using inkscape.

      For most Web graphics Gimp is great for resizing, resolution changes and cropping. Photo touch up is a breeze with fast and great results. Given great Web design should not be derived from a Photoshop mock but rather fit to the content and be responsive, Gimp can fill most every Web raster graphic need. After all many of the depth, gradients, shadows, and borders are now done via CSS, there is less of a Photoshop need for Web designers.

      Finally, Blender is an amazing 3d experience, advanced rendering, post effects, blob modeling, inverse kinematics, incredible lighting, particles, smoke and mist. It also sports a full fledged Audio editing multi track with post editing. All for free with great teaching tutorials.

      Please give these a try before such blanket and unwarranted comments.

      Nice overview Ada!

    • Jim Mortenson

      I agree with Steve Browning. I’m not a hard-core open-source fan boy, but I definitely see value in those tools. Blanket generalizations such as yours are risky… (with the exception that EVERYTHING Kenny G has recorded is a musical ABOMINATION.)

    • Rambo Tribble

      This post would appear to be flame bait. Most competent professionals know better. After all, I doubt Blender would have been used in producing “Avatar” if it were ugly or feature-short.

  • dojoVader

    Thanks for this article, trying to get into Simple HTMl5 gaming i use GIMP,Blender3d and Inkscape, GIMP is harder to use, Blender is superb but Pencil is new to me, thanks for writing for the OpenSource world. Not all of us got access/funds to Adobe Suite and we’d rather not use Piracy too .

  • Mike Schaeffer

    GIMP lacks support for anything beyond 8 bits per pixel and the RGB color space. For photographers that shoot in RAW, this means immediately discarding some of the color information produced by the camera’s sensor. Then, as the image is manipulated, 8bpp makes it easier to lose color information that can be preserved if your image manipulation tools supports 16 or 32bpp. Seeing as how it incubated GTK, and Gnome, GIMP is a historically important software project, but it isn’t a Photoshop replacement.

  • grovberg

    Since InDesign can’t reliably open it’s own files, it’s hard to fault Scribus too hard for this.

    I try GIMP every so often and it really is just a mess. And before you say it, it’s not just a matter of it being different. There are a half-dozen or so Photoshop alternatives for the Mac right now, and most of them are great even though they are different. I’m not anti-OSS at all (Inkscape is pretty great). But GIMP is the perfect go-to example of the dangers of design-by-committee.

  • Niko Lowry

    I was hoping to find some info here that I have yet to find in my year+ long quest for finding the perfect workstation setup using Linux as a UI/UX designer/OOP JS/PHP developer, but unfortunately there was none.

    I’ve worked for major start-ups and some of the biggest Creative/Media Agencies and it is nearly impossible to have a professional career using GIMP/Inkscape. We do most of our wireframes and layouts in Illustrator now, and Inkscape not supporting multiple artboards was a huge deal breaker(also who’s bright idea was it to switch the Ctrl and Shift shortcuts?)

    Bottomline, I’ve remedied the situation by having Mac OS X Mavericks in VMWare on it’s own dedicated workspace in the GNOME. I’ve tried Wine, RDP/RemoteApps, and any other configuration you might think of. What made me choose the Mac VM is that it supports horizontal scrolling from my laptop’s trackpad. In addition, I edited the Info.plist for both Illustrator and Photoshop to use LSUIPresentationMode 4(which autohides the menu bar)


    Here’s some screens of how I have my GNOME Shell setup:

    cl dot ly/image/2l1L2y3F0R1B

    cl dot ly/image/3Y313R3F3A40

    cl dot ly/image/2f402J241w0V

  • Niko Lowry

    Oh and I forgot to mention, even when I did try to use Inkscape and GIMP; There was no way to manage fonts. Suitcase Fusion is a must.

    Additionally, GIMP not having a built-in “save for web” is a killer. The extension that is available is way too old and feature lacking. I’m not a photographer and just do asset prepping in Photoshop, so GIMP not having that feature is huge.

    Also while we are at it, just kill Wilbert. How am I suppose to be a professional with that stupid cartoon everywhere? Actually scratch that, they just need a total rebrand. Change the name to GIM(Graphical Image Manipulator) and adopt a grown up look.

  • Lightworks is pretty good for video

    • Rambo Tribble

      Kdenlive offers a remarkably capable NLE in a true open source package. The problem I ran into with Lightworks was a remarkably limited ability to import video formats. Admittedly, that was a little over a year ago, and LW may have made progress since then.

  • Socrates1998

    I tried GIMP, but I couldn’t get very far, even though I didn’t have any experience on Photoshop, so it wasn’t like I was looking for Photoshop elements. I was a completely new learner.

    GIMP’s interface was just too difficult, it took forever to do the simple tasks I wanted it to do.

    I tried finding some tutorials and support, but they were very lacking.

    I finally decided to break down and get photoshop because a friend advised me to try it.

    I have never looked back. Photoshop is much much easier to use and there are tons more resources available to learn from.

    • adaivanoff

      At beginner level there are lots of tutorials, though some of them are kind of old. For more advanced stuff it gets harder to find what you need. I sometimes notice that I can’t find something more advanced simply because I search with the wrong search string. There was some filter or plugin I wanted to find – I knew it existed for sure because I had used it in the past but I couldn’t come with the exact name and the results I was getting were everything but adequate. I found it weeks later by accident when I was searching for something completely unrelated. It’s frustrating not to be able to find the info when you need it.

  • Soichiro

    I could point to specific features that these free programs lack (Inkscape’s tablet support is at least 10 years behind Illustrator’s), or how the support and documentation is abysmal (“” is down, and about half of the other links on are broken right now because they point to some missing “” server). But even worse than any specific things, this article completely misses the biggest fundamental problem with Gimp/Inkscape/Scribus compared to their Adobe counterparts: the Adobe apps all work well together!

    Photoshop users might complain that Gimp is different, and Illustrator users might complain that Inkscape is different, and InDesign users might complain that Scribus is different. And those may or may not be fair criticisms. But in the ways that bitmap, vector, and layout applications share common functionality — dealing with layers, or colors, for example — all of the Adobe apps do it in exactly the same way. Gimp, Inkscape, and Scribus all have completely different ways for dealing with layers, not just in user interface (palettes, icons, menus, keyboard shortcuts, etc.) but in their conceptual models (e.g., layer groups). You can spend years getting used to the Gimp way, and then when you go to use Inkscape for a small project you’ll find that all that experience was worth nothing. You have to start from scratch.

    I know lots of professionals who use all of Adobe’s tools. I know a couple design professionals who use *one* of these free programs as part of their workflow, but none who uses more than one. Can you blame them? If it were merely the case that Gimp was different than Photoshop, then we could just learn Gimp (or download “Gimpshop”), and that would be fine. But all of these apps are different from Adobe’s way, and *also* different from each other, for no good reason.

    It goes beyond just user interface. Can Inkscape import Gimp files (with their layers) yet, or vice versa? Illustrator has been able to import Photoshop layers since forever. These are not technically difficult problems to solve.

    Free design tools are never going to be able to approach Adobe’s tools until their developers lose their egos and learn to cooperate. There is no reasonable workflow possible when every tool is completely different for no apparent reason to the user.

    It’s like working on a car where the left side uses Metric, and the right side uses Imperial, and the front end uses Phillips screws, and the interior uses flathead except the cooling system which uses torx, and all the while everybody is telling you “We take usability very seriously, and we often knowingly depart from [the other guy’s] paradigms because we consider our approaches better” (actual quote from the Inkscape FAQ), and the poor mechanic is tearing his hair out. He really doesn’t care that much if you pick Imperial or Metric as long as you standardize on *something*.

    Who finds it “hard to justify” $50 for Adobe’s entire creative suite? I don’t know anyone with a computer who can’t afford $50 a month (most people I know pay more than that for their telephones, cable TV, or coffee!). You’ll save many hours a month in frustration.

    • adaivanoff

      There are lots of images online done with GIMP that show what somebody who’s fluent in it can achieve. Definitely, it has limitations but since a GIMP guru can do pretty nice stuff with it, then this must be working. I do agree, though, that integration between the different programs is bad but basically they are not a bundle – i.e. they are not meant to be used together. For instance, one designer could use GIMP and Inkscape, while another would choose GIMP and Xara, so you can’t integrate everybody’s choices in one bundle.

  • sdbritton

    Excellent article!

    Thank you for alerting me to Xara. I have been using the Windows version of Xara since 1996 – in fact it is one of few reasons why I bother to keep a Windows workstation and not go totally Mac and Linux.

    I just downloaded and installed Xara Xtreme and although it is certainly not as up-to-date as the Windows versions, it is still very usable. It also appears to only work on the 32-bit version of Ubuntu 12.04.

    I also think Xara would be a better comparison to Illustrator. Both are great vector programs. I have used Inkscape and although it is useful, I think it is a few years away from contenting with Illustrator.

    • adaivanoff

      Xara has times fewer options than Inkscape but for quick tasks it’s also OK. One advantage of Xara I can think of is that it usually manages to open .ai files other programs fail to even after the .ai is renamed to .pdf. At least this is what my experience shows, though it probably depends on the files one is attempting to open.

    • Rambo Tribble

      Sadly, Xara alienated the open source community by insisting, until too late, on using a proprietary rendering engine. Development of Xara LX has long since ended.

  • noobermin

    I really appreciate this article, I really do, don’t get me wrong, but the fact that “Linux” and “Low-end Budget” are both in the title shows one of the serious problems we have with open source: people seem to conflate linux users with “free”-loaders; that is, free as in speech and free as in cheapo 28 year olds living in their parents’ basement. That’s one of the biggest issues with convincing people like Adobe, as stupid and wicked of a company they are that there is in fact a number of us Linux users who are very willing to buy their software, if they just would port it to Linux!

    This conflation needs to stop. We aren’t all freeloaders.

    • adaivanoff

      Adobe are making enough money from the other OSes and this is why they don’t feel the urge to offer a Linux version as well. They are aware there are a good many Linux users who do pay for software but simply Adobe don’t need to make this move, even if we plead, beg, cry, etc. :) They don’t have competition to be pressed by and they can do whatever they please and we have to accept it – the Creative Cloud just proves this. If they had a real competitor, then it would be much different but now they can afford to miss potential markets that aren’t as lucrative as their existing ones.

    • Niko Lowry

      I pay $50 a month to run CC in a Mavericks VM via VMWare & Fedora. They are going to port to Photoshop and Illustrator to web apps before we ever see a Linux flavor of Adobe apps(It’s at-least 2-5 years away which sucks, but I can’t wait to see how they code the app to handle big PSD files).

  • Brian

    Also check out Krita:

  • ja_1410

    This is biased review. GIMP is lacking high depth bit support. Does not have macros. Is much slower than Photoshop in most operations. GIMP is excellent but it is no match for Photoshop yet.

    • Rambo Tribble

      The forte of the GIMP is web graphics; the strength of Photoshop is print graphics. This site is focused on producing for the web, so, no, it’s not biased.

      I switched to the GIMP over ten years ago when I found it did a vastly better job of compressing JPGs than any plug-in for PS. The fact it did it for free was just gravy. It’s just a question of using the proper tool for the job.

      • ja_1410

        I use both from time to time. However all of my photos are in RAW format with 14 bit color depth. I would hate to loose data by using photo editor that is limited to 8 bit. The good news is that GIMP will acquire higher color bit depth with version 3.0. There is still a second issue of missing macros – less important to me but still a problem. I do not believe that version 3.0 will get macros.

        • Rambo Tribble

          I, too, am excited by the prospect of high-bit-depth color in GIMP 3.0. The current 8-bit depth is an artifact of the GIMP’s focus on web images, where higher depths haven’t been relevant.

          The GIMP can, of course be scripted; that’s how the plugins are made. Scripting does, unfortunately, require greater knowledge than simple macros. I am led to believe there are efforts afoot to make scripting more accessible, though.

          • ja_1410

            Current GIMP scripting I call programming. This is good for geeks. Geeks are always vocal but very tiny minority of users. GIMP need mainstream macro engine that is very likely much more simplistic but accessible to anyone, Also good organizer with some batch processing would be nice, similar to Photoshop Bridge. More advanced users would also prefer to have nondestructive layers or some other mechanism that allows to apply modifications without loosing original data. I’m not sure if this is even on the GIMP radar screen.

          • “More advanced users would also prefer to have nondestructive layers or some other mechanism that allows to apply modifications without loosing original data.”
            Coudln’t agree more.

            “I’m not sure if this is even on the GIMP radar screen.”
            Meet GEGL.

  • Niko Lowry

    I tried to post this hours ago, but it remains pending because of the url’s I had in there. Repost:

    I was hoping to find some info here that I have yet to find in my year+ long quest for finding the perfect workstation setup using Linux as a UI/UX designer/OOP JS/PHP developer, but unfortunately there was none.

    I’ve worked for major start-ups and some of the biggest Creative/Media Agencies and it is nearly impossible to have a professional career using GIMP/Inkscape. We do most of our wireframes and layouts in Illustrator now, and Inkscape not supporting multiple artboards was a huge deal breaker(also who’s bright idea was it to switch the Ctrl and Shift shortcuts?)

    Bottomline, I’ve remedied the situation by having Mac OS X Mavericks in VMWare on it’s own dedicated workspace in the GNOME. I’ve tried Wine, RDP/RemoteApps, and any other configuration you might think of. What made me choose the Mac VM is that it supports horizontal scrolling from my laptop’s trackpad. In addition, I edited the Info.plist for both Illustrator and Photoshop to use LSUIPresentationMode 4(which autohides the menu bar)


    Here’s some screens of how I have my GNOME Shell setup:

    cl dot ly/image/2l1L2y3F0R1B

    cl dot ly/image/3Y313R3F3A40

    cl dot ly/image/2f402J241w0V

    • adaivanoff

      Congrats that you have managed to make it work for you! As for shortcuts, GIMP and the Export to instead of Save are definitely killing me – I do see the reasoning behind this change but it doesn’t make me happier. Open source with its freedom can really be awkward at times. :(

  • Steve Browning

    A few thoughts after reading others good and bad experiences with these tools.

    It would be hard to make these tools work as well for a graphic designer or photographers. The adobe suite offers the full feature set and interportbility to try to compete. Although for those with tight budgets they can make a selection of open source tools work and in some cases thrive.

    For a good lot of front-end designers I would argue that these tools are more than adequate.

    Most of layout, colours, borders, gradients, vector shapes, and shadows are now done without using any graphic tools other than online scheme designer, CSS, and SVG with a few lightly processes images and graphic icons. With Web font libraries the shortcomings of Gimps font handling is not very important to me.

    So is there a need for expensive and highly capable tools when we have standard technology with reams of great documentation ( CSS, HTML5 …) and communities and a few solid open source tools? I don’t think so and while I like using Photoshop more than Gimp I now use Gimp for file format changes, resolution and resizing, and batch processing, it does the job just fine.

    I find Inkscape very capable for icon and logo design and like how the interface layout is designed with tablets in mind. It also exports SVG animations and wire frames; a very capable tool.

    Although Blender 3d has a complicated interface, it also has the best documentation and tutorials of the lot. It is great for both photo post work and 3d. I also record multi track music with offline editing and nonlinear editing; amazing capabilities for a free tool.

    This certainly won’t work for ever type of designer but it is worth more front-end Web designers to get to know.


  • madmac10

    Since the graphic design industry already has too many barriers to entry–especially for people from low-income populations–these applications serve more of a purpose than just being open-source and LINUX-based. They could quite possibly start a career for someone persevering enough to use them. Anyone who came to my shop knowing them, but not Creative Suite, would still have a leg up compared to those who’ve always had access to Adobe.

Get the latest in Design, once a week, for free.