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Free Open Source Design Software

With my recent studies in learning and technology, I’ve been focussing my efforts on including free open source design software alternatives within my curriculum. For many students—especially in post secondary—they are unable to afford costly subscriptions and design software in order to complete their work outside of the classroom. Closing the gap on the financial constraints that prohibit students from furthering their education in digital design is a personal goal that I would like to contribute towards in the future. I’ve already started by creating physical design tools and donating supplies to students who are in need, eg. Sketchbooks, UI Stencils, prototype kits etc…. Most institutions instruct graphic design and web design courses through licensed software and provide classroom/lab access with state-of-the-art hardware to their students who are enrolled in their programs. However, over the years I’ve noticed many students spending late nights in the design labs on campus and even staying over night to complete their projects and assignments. Let’s face it, many students and or their parents can’t afford the high price tags of technology in addition to their tuition, books, transportation, housing etc…. Once a student leaves the classroom they may not have the financial or technological access to gain access to the tools that they require for school at home. There are many factors and impacts that arise due to the lack of funding and access to technology; however, I’ll leave that to another post.

Below I’ve suggested some free open source design software or low-cost graphic and web design software alternatives for students. These applications were chosen based on their ability to provide diverse functionality, support and user-friendly interfaces. Open source applications are great for students who need something light-weight, flexible and user-friendly that allow them to gain access to the production tools they use at school for little or no cost. Most open source applications work on Windows, Mac and Linux based operating systems, which make them appealing for users with various devices and hardware specs. eg. mobile devices, Chromebooks and low-end PC’s and laptops. In addition, other free open source design software that I’ve suggested are web-based apps that can be used within a web browser.

So let’s check out some of my recommendations and if I’ve missed any good ones, please feel free to leave a comment below.

Free Open Source Design Software Alternatives for Graphic Design and Web Design

Adobe Illustrator Alternatives

Free/Open Source:

Inkscape | Free: Windows/Mac/Linux

Low Cost:

Sketch App 50% off for students | Mac

Affinity Designer | Mac


Adobe Photoshop Alternatives

Free/Open Source:

Gimp | Free: Windows/Mac/Linux

Pixlr | Free: Online

Low Cost:

Affinity Photo | Mac


Adobe InDesign/Publishing Alternatives

Scribus | Free: Windows/Mac/Linux

Adobe Digital Publishing Suite Alternatives

Laker | Free: HTML5

Font Creation

FontForge | Free: Windows/Mac/Linux

Adobe Edge Animate Alternatives

Free/Open Source:

Google Web Designer | Free: HTML5

Low Cost:

Hype | Mac

Adobe Dreamweaver Alternative

Brackets | Free: Windows/Mac


Wireframe.cc | Free: Online

Database Management

Sequel Pro | Free: Mac

FTP Client

Coffee Cup | Free: Windows

Filezilla | Free: Windows/Mac

Web Hosting/Blog

WordPress.com | Free: Online

Audio Editor

Audacity | Free: Windows/Mac/Linux

Video Editor

JahShaka | Free/OpenSource: Windows/Mac/Linux

Project Management

Basecamp | Free: Online/App

Gantter | Free: Online

Font Management

Nexus Font | Free: Windows

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