Are you interested in trying your hand at a little graphic design, but you don’t want to throw down the money for an expensive image manipulation program like Adobe Photoshop? There’s great news for you, then, because there are several free downloads on the internet that give you just the right amount of tools to learn the basics of digital design.
The best and most popular design software programs are Adobe Creative Suite, CorelDraw Graphics Suite and Xara Designer Pro, but this software was designed for professionals, not beginners. However, the following four free programs were created to give novice designers the opportunity to get their feet wet before diving headfirst into the water.
It’s pretty amazing that this program is free, because you can do so many things with it; including photo retouching and manipulation, image composition, image authoring, painting, batch processing, image format converting and much more. Although the GIMP code was written under X11 on UNIX platforms, there are options for installing and running the program Microsoft Windows and Mac OS X.
Inkscape uses the W3C standard Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) file format that is very popular with many professional graphic designers. The program describes itself as being similar to Illustrator, CorelDraw and Xara X, because it supports many advanced SVG features like markers, clones and alpha bending). There is also a huge community of users who are open to helping others learn the program. In addition, there have been several books published about the software, and there are tutorials available on the Inkscape website.
According to its website, the program features gradients, textures and anti-aliasing for both text and brush strokes, and it supports multiple layers and alpha channel editing. Unlike GIMP, though, Seashore has been redesigned for easy use on the Cocoa user interface (UI) for the Mac OS X.
For those interested in 3D modeling, SketchUp is an easy-to-use program that allows you to share your designs with others online. There is a free download for new users and plenty of tutorials to help you along the way. And if you have any additional questions, just ask a fellow designer through the online help forum.
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