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Free Open Source Alternatives for Adobe Creative Suite

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  • Free Open Source Alternatives for Adobe Creative Suite

    For a few years I have had a signature that noted the various open source projects that could be used as a replacement or alternative to a program Adobe has offered their creative suite software bundles. I realized that a signature cannot be linked to, and created this thread.

    I found that throughout my college years and early in my career, I did not have the funds to obtain the Adobe software. Even purchasing the educational version of the software was beyond my reach. Adobe's monopoly in the creative software market has always bothered me. While their products have always remained strong, the lack of competition has created high price points. I also thought it was well beyond the reach of most artists or children that simply wanted to dabble with digital art.

    Here is my master list. Feel free to distribute as you wish.

    Replace Photoshop/Photoshop Elements with...
    (Windows, Mac, Unix)
    GIMP stands for GNU Image Manuipulation Program. The program has the ability to edit bitmap images and photos. It saves files in formats that will work with other bitmap editors, including Photoshop (jpeg, tiff, gif...). There is also a modified version of the client for Windows called GIMPshop, which "skins" the interface to emulate Photoshop.

    Replace Illustrator with...
    (Windows, Mac, Linux)
    This program creates scalable vector artwork. It can import and export SVG, Illustrator (.ai), PDF files, and also handle many common raster format files (jpeg, png, gif..).

    Replace InDesign or Quark Xpress with...
    (Windows, Mac, Linux)
    This open source program is designed for desktop publishing. This program supports PDF/X-3 standards and comes with a limited amount of vector tools. It supports SVG importing and Open Type fonts.
    Designer Note: If you plan on using software on a semi-professional or professional manner, it is best to ask your printer first. Unlike the other programs on this list, your printer will want to be able to access your native Scribus file. Ask your printer in advance to install the software before sending out a print job.
    Replace Flash with...
    (Windows, Mac, Linux)
    When looking to replace Flash I had to consider the usage. Flash serves a dual purpose for designers, as a means to animate/present content or to use as an interface. Synfig is a little more confusing than Flash, espcially if you're a novice user. It can export to a variety of video formats, including Flash (.swf), mpeg, and SVG. This program also supports ActionScript.
    Designer Note: While you may be creating with an open source tool, you might want to save your work in a widely-used format (SVG or SWF). Most of the audience will view your work with Adobe's Flash Player, which is free to download. If you goal is to avoid all proprietary software, then check out Gnash, a free open source Flash player.
    Replace Director with...
    (Mac, Ubuntu)
    While this may not be the ultimate solution, its one of the few products that allow users to develop rich-media interfaces. Perfect for a kiosks and presentations. The interface is nothing like Director, so be prepared to learn a little bit.

    Replace Dreamweaver with...
    (Windows, Mac, Linux)
    This HTML editor allows code view and WYSIWYG design view, similar to the way Dreamweaver does it. It also allows users to handle their files neatly, integrate forms, and more. This is a great program for those learning web design. It also offers a clean source code view for the people that like to create their HTML from scratch.

    Replace Soundbooth with...
    (Windows, Mac, Linux)
    Imagine a stripped down version of Soundbooth with the same amount of power. Don't worry though, because you'll be able to download all the sound filters you want through the web site. Handles all the major audio file formats (wav, mp3, aiff, ogg vorbis).

    Replace Premiere with...
    (Windows, Mac, Linux)
    While this doesn't have all the features of Premiere, its great for simple linear editing and encoding. This allows you to input MPEG, Quicktime, AVI, ASF, images, H.263 format, and more. Output your work into AVI, MPEG, MP4, or OMG. While an advanced user might need more control, this will do the trick for the majority of users.

    Replace Encore with...
    (Windows, Linux)
    If you've created and edited your film, and want to share it, you'll need to burn it to disc. Encore no longer exists as a stand-alone program, since it was rolled into Premiere in CS3. Open source solutions have yet combine editing suites and DVD authoring into one. Adobe has jumped into the format war and have given Encore the ability to burn Bluray discs. Until the format war is over (and Bluray drives become standard) most people, including the open source community, are sticking with DVDs.

    DVDStyler is a great tool that allows the user create simple and beautiful menus for DVDs. Although this program doesn't give advanced control over video playback, it is great to learn the DVD menu structure.

    Replace After Effects with...
    (Windows, Mac, Linux)
    This is very similar to After Effects. The one thing missing is the After Effects library. Not to gret though, since Jahshaka comes with a slew of their own effects. It even lets you import projects from Photoshop, Premiere, After Effects, Lightwave, Maya, 3DS Max, and more. It lets you export your projects into many formats too.


    So that is my list. Obviously, this list can change and grow with time. Please add your links and suggestions to this thread and share it with the aspiring artists in your life.
    Broke or just cheap? Read my list of free open source alternatives to Adobe Creative Suite software.

  • #2
    As a replacement for Dreamweaver, I always really liked Bluefish. I think they're still working on getting it stable under Windows, but it's available for Linux and Mac OS X (via Fink).


    • #3
      Nice work Surf ... you put a lot of time into that post ... good stuff .. thank you
      Hello... My name is Kittie and I'm a Font-a-holic.


      • #4
        Resources I think
        Hello... My name is Kittie and I'm a Font-a-holic.


        • #5
          I say sticky it here. Resources looks mighty crowded with stickies.

          I should also add this article from Linux magazine (which I mentioned in another thread) about creating a Newspaper using Open Source software (primarily Scribus). There's a lot of good information in it if you want to go this road (whether you're actually using Linux or not).

          (All PDFs)

          Part 1
          Part 2
          Part 3


          • #6
            Here is fine too then lol

            I'm not hard to get along with
            Hello... My name is Kittie and I'm a Font-a-holic.


            • #7
              Okay, well I've made it sticky here. If anyone thinks I'm wrong, it can always be moved later, but I didn't want to forget about it and see it get lost.


              • #8
                Good job
                Hello... My name is Kittie and I'm a Font-a-holic.


                • #9
                  Thanks Surfpark!

                  I've always had to search for your name and find one of your posts to see your sig, a sticky is much easier to find...


                  • #10
                    Viva La Resistance!

                    Back in the day which of course was a wedsday this would have been great to have around. Nice to have it stickied for new-comers.


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by hewligan
                      I should also add this article from Linux magazine (which I mentioned in another thread) about creating a Newspaper using Open Source software (primarily Scribus).
                      Yeah, when I was looking into Scribus, I noticed that there was a Linux magazine being published using the software. I also noticed there were several books that used it too.

                      Doing this list, I found a lot of great alternatives, but my main objectives were to find software that was:
                      • A comprable alternative
                      • Open source (free to users and developers)
                      • Cross-platform
                      Doing this list I found there were some awesome Linux-only applications that offered more functionality than Adobe's offerings. I've faced a lot of complaints from people that this free software isn't as good as the real creative suite applications, but I think its only a matter of time. Most of these projects are less than 5 years old. Given equal maturity time, they will catch up.

                      I'm passionate about this because I believe design should be accessible to anyone. Of course not everyone is going to be a designer, but I consider many of these tools the "crayons and markers" of the digital age. If we don't have these to at least exercise or imaginations, then we're missing a one of the most fun fuctions our computers can do for us: allowing the users to make creative visual content.
                      Broke or just cheap? Read my list of free open source alternatives to Adobe Creative Suite software.


                      • #12
                        very nice resources, for us the YOUNG designers out there...that work and work, but never can afford Adobe Photoshop....X))))))
                        bella e perversa valentina



                        • #13

                          love inkscape.
                          it is a "best friend."
                          xara xtreme
                          should be mentioned
                          as well.


                          i create fonts
                          on occasion with


                          i'm using ubuntu 7.10 (with xfce not gnome),
                          i think i'll be migrating to zenwalk rather soonish.

                          my desktop


                          • #14
                            What's a good resource to create a story book?


                            Hope you can help. I'm a MAC OS 10.5 user and not really a graphic designer except for the great tools on my MAC, which for my particular application I find limiting.

                            I'm looking for a software (open source or an affordable one) to do a "story book" for our adoption profile. Think scrapbook but with lots of text and pictures. So a good page layout tool with existing templates where I can add stuff here and there. (picture editing not required). I think the Adobe CS suite would work but I just can't afford it.

                            This is a great list of resources. Where do I start???
                            I saw a lot of digital scrapbook tool (iRemember, iScrapbook) but all had bad reviews specially on the print quality.

                            Any insights or suggestions from the pros? I don't mind buying a tool that I can use again for other stuff.

                            Many thanks


                            • #15
                              It sounds like Scribus is what you are after. I haven't used it myself, but Scribus is the open source equivalent of Indesign or Quark which are the programs that pros use for publication design.
                              It is more fun to talk with someone who doesn't use long, difficult words but rather short, easy words like "What about lunch?" Winnie the Pooh






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