With creative industries, Adobe Suite is the most commonly used tool. The Adobe Creative Suite consists of a variety of different software packages, the four main industry standards being Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign and Flash.
There are other that can be used for different reasons though; you do not necessarily have to stick to just one. They can also all be used in synergy with each other, with the option to import a project from each of these different programs into another piece of Adobe software.
However, it doesn’t come cheap. Even though it’s pretty much essential for business users, as a home user/hobbyist it may be a little out of your budget (especially if you’re only just starting out.)
But it’s not all doom and gloom, there are FREE alternatives that you can download from the internet that can provide a great service for your designs as well! They aren’t the industry standards, but they can get you used to the general basics of design programs and understanding how to create a piece of design, whether that be a logo, illustration, web layout or even photo manipulation pieces.
These are all completely free!
Gimp is fairly popular amongst beginner artist. Gimp is completely free, every features, every save, all free to use. Gimp is known as the simplified version of Photoshop, available to most operating systems. It is open-source and has the ability to have plugins installed into it, giving the user the opportunity to custom what effects and tools they use in this program.
You can even import and export Photoshop files if you really wanted to use both or needed to open a PSD document without owning Photoshop, handy!
Here’s an epic example of someone using GIMP for a piece of artwork;
Inkscape is a really handy program to have if you want to get into vector artwork or want to start creating branding (such as logo’s). A lot of people tend to use Inkscape to trace and vectorise bitmap images, however it can be used a more creatively than just for traces images. Inkscape can be used to create vector images, which can be scaled up or down to any size you desire without ruined the resolution/quality like a bitmap image would.
This is really great for creating logo’s, packaging, illustrated advertisements and general branding pieces.
Due to it’s easy-to-navigate workspace, Inkscape is absolutely perfect for first-time vector artists; it gets to used to the concept of vector files and teaches you how to use the typical vector tools.
Paint.NET was originally supposed to be a more advanced version of the MS Paint package you usually get free with your PC, however over the years it has developed into a lot more than that.
Nowadays it has similar tools to Photoshop (only simplified) and even includes layers and masking, which is previously didn’t. Paint.NET is great for if you can’t get your head around GIMP, as it’s easy to use and has great features; even for a free program!
Here’s an example of how you can use Paint.NET to create a cool, 3D looking object;
So, if you’re a beginner illustrator or artist and you are looking for a free piece of software to sink your teeth into and get creative with, be sure to download at least one of these programs, if not all!