Open Source and Free Graphics Software


Open Source and Free Graphics Software 

Graphics Software:
Sites that track, review or recommend graphics software:

Libre Graphics Members:

Graphics Applications (last update 2007?) 

Design Applications (last update 2007)


Photo/Image Editing: (ala Adobe Photoshop)

How many alternatives are there to Photoshop?

GIMP and GIMPshop
GIMP (Graphics Image Processing) is a close to a legally free copy of Photoshop that you’re  likely to find.  It has been developed  for a long time, and continues to improve, racing alongside Photoshop. 
Admittedly Photoshop is more refined and likely more stable, but  there are GIMP users who simply prefer it.

GIMP's Home
Mac via X11:   (dmg)
RAW import/viewing:

GAP – a GIMP-based Animation Package
Glc – I’ve not installed this.

GIMPshop refines the GIMP interface to look and feel still more like Adobe’s Photoshop, trading off some speed and features. (Win, Mac, Linux…)
GIMPshop’s home site: 

GIMPshop Reviews

GIMPshop info



Paint/Photo Edit: 

Similar to GIMP.  A part of KOffice.  Opens/saves PSD files up to PSD v.6.
(Linux only? Mac install for the technically literate?)
Runs on KDE —  (designed for Unix/Linux, but available for Mac/Win) (must load KDE installer before Krita can be installed…I think)
KDE Windows:
KDE Mac:

MyPaint (limited functionality; Win/Linux only)

Drawing Applications:  (ala Adobe Illustrator)



Inkscape offers a rather full-featured drawing application. It is built on SVG rather than on Adobe's Postscript, but the web is likely to move towards SVG-capable browsers.
(Win, Mac, Linux…)
InkScape notes for Adobe Illustrator users.


Open Office (ala Microsoft Office Suite – Word, Excel, Powerpoint, etc.)
(Win, Mac, Linux…)
components: - Components
Draw, the graphics program is a bit like Illustrator (a bit).   Chart, Impress, Draw integrate with Write, Calc, Base and Math to provide word processing, spreadsheet, database and mathematical formula editing.  This is not really a professional graphics environment, but a program that is integrated with other office applications for adding, say, pictures to a Powerpoint-like presentation or to a word-processing document.

DTP Desktop Publishing (ala InDesign or Quark xPress)
(I’ve not yet installed/used this.  I’m not clear how active the development is currently.)
Scribus is a an open-source DTP application with a modern and user friendly interface.
Program's main goal is to provide flexible layout and typesetting together with ability to prepare files for professional quality image setting equipment.
( Linux/UNIX, Mac OS X, OS/2 and Windows )
; Mac: (Fink or MacPorts only.   No .dmg available)

Specialty Graphics Software:

These applications offer particular, sometimes narrow capabilities to the artist, photographer or designer.

Photo Mosaic:

MacOSiac (MacOS only
This is just a lot of fun. Plenty of nifty features to explore, and its a bit magical to watch an image first appear and refine over time. Check out the varied sources of images (Flickr, your own photos, glyphs (type) and even iTune album covers.)

(Win only)
I've not installed and run this, but the features appear loosely similar to MacOSaic.

Photo Stitching/Panorama/HDI:

Home Page:
Download:     (Mac/Win/Linux...)

This is simply amazing software if you want to stitch a bunch of photos into a single large photo, or if you want to work with high-dynamic-range images.
The features of this software are very specific to these photo-editing tasks, but it handles them beautifully. Explore what folks have donw with HUGIN on Flickr. Group1 | Group2

Mind Mapping:

it out. It is actually a very versatile way to present ideas, and to make notes-on-the-fly. Imagine using it live in a classroom discussion.
(MacOS or Win via Java)


Fractals are not quite as popular as a decade or so ago – but are still fascinating territory for those either visually or mathematically inclined – or both.
(listing:   -- nicely notated.  -- includes description/background. )
Xaos (includes user formulas)
FractInt:  (oldy but goody…but may not be available for latest operating systems)
FractalWorks (Mac):

3D Modeling/Rendering:


Google Sketchup:
Sketchup (and the $495 SketchUp Pro) offers some of the easiest 3D modeling you can find. The tools are good for architecture, interior design and mechanical engineering, but are not adequately versatile for character modeling, freeform sculptures or industrial design. Within its limits, Sketchup is a great into to 3D modeling, or an excellent conceptualization tool for architects and interior designers.

Extensive modeling, rendering and animation tools — excellent quality ( used in Spider-Man 2).
(Also GameBlender – for designing 3D games with collision-detection, etc.)
(Mac, Win, Linux…)

Big Buck Bunny:


Separate render needed (?)

At last check, this is a low-level, learn about modeling at the ground level, application. It has been developed over a very long time and can produce beautiful renderings and animations.  However, there are (or were) few decent modelers with which to design content.  (POV-Ray now owns/offers the Moray modeler for Windows users.)


This has always seemed a bit of an odd duck…but its been around so long it must have some power.
(from ) BRL-CAD is a powerful cross-platform Open Source combinatorial Constructive Solid Geometry (CSG) solid modeling system that includes interactive 3D solid geometry editing, high-performance ray-tracing support for rendering and geometric analysis, network-distributed framebuffer support, image and signal-processing tools, path-tracing and photon mapping support for realistic image synthesis, a system performance analysis benchmark suite, an embedded scripting interface, and libraries for robust high-performance geometric representation and analysis.

For more than 20 years, BRL-CAD has been the primary tri-service solid modeling CAD system used by the U.S. military to model weapons systems for vulnerability and lethality analyses. The solid modeling system is frequently used in a wide range of military, academic, and industrial applications including in the design and analysis of vehicles, mechanical parts, and architecture. The package has also been used in radiation dose planning, medical visualization, computer graphics education, CSG concepts and modeling education, and system performance benchmark testing among other purposes.

(Mac, Win, Linux…) (NOT quite free… ~$50US? )


[Inexpensive, consumer level Win graphics/web/dtp programs: ]


Photography lessons/tutorials:


Stock Photos free photos:





Painting and Photo Editing

Draing and Illustration



Greg Clayton
2D Design
Color Theory


Course Schedule
Course Schedule