By Deidre Bastian
Everyone likes freebies, prizes, rewards, discounts, sales and mark-downs. Ask any web or graphic designer and they’d tell you that they, too, are a part of this, as free software can truly make their life much easier, especially on the pocket. Why? Because software is not cheap, regardless of what they are trying to accomplish.
Fortunately, this concern is not a big deal, as there are so many handy programs available on-line, such as: In Design, Adobe, Dreamweaver, Photoshop and Illustrator. They are straightforward, friendly and, thank goodness, 100 per cent free.
I’ve used many of them, and am always amazed at how so many free programs can match (and, in some cases, exceed) the functionality of much commercial software.
So I am sharing with you a few of the most competitive programs you can experiment with at your leisure to create fabulous documents. Amazingly, these programs will not cost you a single dime, so do not feel guilty.They are all complimentary.
PHOTOPLUS is the ultimate free photo editing software for photographers looking for a simple, yet effective, way to enhance their images. It contains all the must-have tools required to make photos shine.
PhotoPlus Starter Edition is loaded with amazing features that allow you to import and edit common image file formats, straighten and crop to print sizes, repair old and damaged photos, remove red eye, smooth skin, whiten teeth, remove unwanted objects from pictures, adjust levels, curves, brightness, contrast, and paint and blend with artistic brushes.
WEBPLUS is just what the doctor ordered, as it takes the pain out of web design. This is website design software that needs absolutely no HTML knowledge. It is perfect for creating professional-looking websites in minutes, with no experience.
It can also create an interactive website by hosting YouTube videos, adding a Google map, inserting a Flash photo gallery, and using web gadgets such as blogs and forums.
It hosts more than 100 pre-designed stickers, buttons and icons, and imports your own text and images, plus tons of fonts. Webplus customises templates from scratch, alomg with colour schemes, drag-and-drop images, navbars, buttons and icons. And guess what? It offers 30 days’ free hosting as well.
DRAWPLUS is the ideal software for drawing and designing logos, vector drawing, sketching, painting and even making your own web graphics.
GIMP is a free bitmap image editor/creator similar to Adobe Photoshop. It is open source software that will run on Windows, Mac and Linux. Gimp can enhance photos, and crop, re-size and rotate images. It converts images from one format to another, applies filters and effects to pictures, and creates digital artwork for t-shirts or posters.
INKSCAPE is a vector image editor/creator, and will run on Windows, Mac and Linux. Some of its features are to create logos and other artwork from scratch; convert bitmap images to vector images; draw artwork for use in animations, such as cartoons; and design website and interface mockups
SCRIBUS is a free desktop publishing tool similar to Adobe InDesign or QuarkxPress, and is compatible with Windows, Mac and Linux. Some features are: Design and create magazines, textbooks, manuals, business cards, fliers and posters. It also does typography, and optimises publications for professional printing (or personal).
FONTFORGE is a free font creator and editor for Windows, Mac and Linux. You can create custom fonts from scratch, tweak, edit and alter an existing font, and convert it from one format to another.
DIA creates diagrams and flow charts on Windows, Mac or Linux. It creates visual aids for presentations, maps out a system such as a network or circuit, and createa diagrams to be embedded in blueprint documents.
GPICK is a color scheme maker and palette editor for Windows and Linux, and can discover and export flattering colour pallets and use them in other programs.
PAGEPLUS: PagePlus Starter Edition is an amazing tool for designing print documents, with amazing features such as total layout control, powerful word processing, easy drag-and-drop design methods, and sticky guides for exact alignment of objects. It also supports common image files such as JPG and PNG.
Take some down-time and download a few of the these free software programs to improve your skills today. After all it will not cost you a dime.... just your time! So until we meet again, fill your life with memories rather than regrets. Enjoy life and stay on top of your game.
NB: Columnist welcomes feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org
Ms Bastian is a professionally-trained graphic designer who has qualifications of M.Sc., B.Sc., A.Sc. She has trained at institutions such as Miami Lakes Technical Centre, Success Training College, College of the Bahamas, Nova Southeastern University, Learning Tree International, Langevine International and Synergy Bahamas